25 June 2013

Ghani Othman is new Sime Darby chairman

KUALA LUMPUR: As earlier speculated, former Johor menteri besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman has been appointed Sime Darby Bhd chairman effective July 1, taking over from interim chairman Tan Sri Samsudin Osman.

In an announcement yesterday, Sime Darby said Ghani will be appointed as an independent and non-executive director. He had served as the Johor menteri besar for four terms lasting 18 years before losing to DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang in the 13th general election.

Samsudin, who was made an interim chairman following the sudden resignation of Tan Sri Musa Hitam on Nov 8 last year, will revert back to his former post of non-independent and non-executive director.

Following Ghani’s appointment as independent and non-executive director, Sime Darby’s board of directors will comprise 13 directors, of whom five are independent directors.

Industry observers say Ghani, who had recently retired from active politics following his defeat to Lim for the Gelang Patah parliamentary seat, is well-versed with Sime Darby’s businesses and operations.

"He always met with Sime Darby’s top bosses whenever there were matters related to the conglomerate’s assets in Johor, which comprise mainly oil palm plantations and properties. Sime Darby management and staff should not have any problem dealing with him," an analyst said.

Another industry observer said Ghani’s appointment as Sime Darby chairman could be a prelude to his appointment as the next chairman of Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB). PNB is the majority shareholder of Sime Darby.

"Market talk has it that current PNB chairman Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid, who is already 74 years old, is making way for a new and younger person to head the important government institution.

"Ghani, who is 66 years old, fits the bill well. He has the clout as a former federal minister as well as a menteri besar of a very important state. Furthermore, he has the business acumen to carry PNB to its growth trajectory," she added.

Ghani, who holds a master’s degree in political economics from the University of Queensland, Australia, was a former dean of the Faculty of Economics and Administration of Universiti Malaya from 1980 to 1984. He started as a lecturer in 1974 in the same university before taking a plunge into politics as a Senate member from December 1984 to July 1986.

He later became a member of parliament for the Ledang constituency in August 1986, and was subsequently made deputy energy, telecommunications and post minister (May 1987 to November 1990), deputy finance minister (November 1990 to November 1993) and youth and sports minister (December 1993 to March 1995). In March 1995, he was made Johor menteri besar.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on June 25, 2013.


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