It is indeed good news. It is another testament to Dato Seri Najib's willingness to hear and accordingly respond to genuine concern words from the ground.
Maybank's questionable acquisition has long been an issue. Below is Lim Guan Eng raising it in Parliament:
Reme Ahmad asked why The Malaysian Insider which freely takes their story, but did not on this story. I'll tell him why.
The short answer is Amirsham was part of Tun Lah's questionable circle of people. Reme should know who is behind The Malaysian Insider.
For the long answer, read first the news below:
KL raps Maybank board, orders changesThere are certainly names here that have expired their shelf life.
It paid too much for Indonesian banks
By Leslie Lopez, Senior Regional Correspondent
Singapore Times, August 11th, 2009
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's central bank has directed a sweeping overhaul in the board of directors of the country's largest banking group Maybank, in an unprecedented government censure on a board of a financial institution.
The little-publicised revamp followed government displeasure at the controversial acquisition of an Indonesian lender by Malayan Banking (Maybank) last year, officials say.
Bank Internasional Indonesia (BII) was bought from a consortium led by Singapore's Temasek Holdings at a price that was deemed too high.
Prime Minister Najib Razak, who directed Bank Negara to review the transaction, has endorsed the central bank's decision calling for a Maybank board revamp, the government officials say. 'The decision was also made that the board revamp will be carried out in stages and directors who are retiring won't be re-elected to the board,' said a senior government official who was involved in top-level discussions on Maybank's Indonesian venture.
Maybank's main shareholders are national equity fund Permodalan Nasional and pension fund Employees Provident Fund.
Bank Negara declined comment for this article, citing its policy of not discussing issues involving individual financial institutions.
Maybank executives, including its chief executive officer Abdul Wahid Omar, also declined repeated requests for comment for this article.
But the bank did announce the retirement of two directors and the appointment of three new members mid-last month. Between end-October last year, when the acquisition of BII was completed, and this March, three directors have resigned.
'This is part of the reforms that the PM is pushing for and it will raise the sense of greater accountability in the boards of government-linked companies,' said a senior adviser to PM Najib who is familiar with the central bank's decision on Maybank.
In March last year, Maybank entered into an agreement to buy a 55 per cent interest in BII from Sorak Financial Holdings, which is majority-owned by Singapore's Temasek Holdings. The Malaysian bank agreed to pay US$1.5 billion (S$2.2 billion) for the stake and then make a tender offer for the remaining 44 per cent for roughly US$1.2 billion.
But the global financial meltdown raised questions over the health of banks in general and reignited criticisms that Maybank was paying too high a price for BII. Maybank's position was further undermined when Indonesia introduced changes to its corporate takeover rules, which called on the Malaysian financial institution to sell down 20 per cent of its holdings in BII within two years of its takeover.
Bankers close to Maybank had argued that the disposal was surely to lead to massive losses.
Faced with the prospect that the deal could adversely hit Maybank and the Malaysian banking system, Bank Negara had revoked its approval for the BII acquisition.
The approval was later reinstated. The deal was finalised after the Temasek-led consortium lowered the purchase price for the transaction by US$220.5 million for the 55 per cent interest in BII.
In Bank Negara's review, which was completed in April this year, it concluded that Maybank's purchase price for BII was too expensive. The central bank also concluded that the Malaysian financial institution did not put in place adequate measures to protect itself in the event that the deal encountered problems, the government officials said.
Looking through the names, it is truly surprising the Board of Directors could approve a bad deal like BII. There are quite few of them, as I personally know of, are men of conscience and integrity. There is even the Chairman of the Operations Review Panel of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
In fact, I personally know Tan Sri Amirsham Aziz and I believe he still knows me.
Amirsham is not as brilliant and personable as his predecessor in Maybank, Tan Sri Ahmad Don and as a person is a bit sensitive. He was an honest and hardworking person. But now, he may have changed.
Unless the real story of BII is revealed, I have lost any respect I ever had for Amirsham.
Now the long answer on why MI did not picked up this story.
There are few links and associations that is hard to not mention. Here is one.
BII was purchased from Temasek. The mere mention of Temasek and one is reminded of the key man representing Singapore, Kalimullah. There is then Khairy who was involved in past sales of GLC's asset to Temasek in the early part of Tun Lah's administration.
This raised the suspicion that Tun Lah's people, particularly Kali and Khairy was collecting crumbles from this big cookie of a deal. The common sense is when something is paid too much, the excess could be shared among the dealmakers and enablers.
Amirsham may have access to Khairy. One link that leads to this association was during GE2008. Reliable sources in Negeri Sembilan informed seeing Amirsham hanging around several times as election tourist at Khairy's family home.
This was at about the time the BII deal became the talk of the market. And Amirsham was retiring from Maybank. Around that time, one may have suspected he was lobbying for a new job but why with Khairy when he knows many other people?
As Bank CEO, he had already developed friendship with Tan Sri Nor Mohamad Yakcop, the former MoF II with a son owning a Lambourghini.
It was the "soalan bocor" incident in Parliament with Khairy that revealed to the public his close association with Khairy. Why does a lifelong Banker with a reputation want to be associated with a young man with a soiled reputation?
After GE2008, Tun Lah appointed Amirsham as full Minister in Jabatan Perdana Menteri. For someone who is neither an economist nor have familiarity with public policy, it was strange to assign him the important EPU portfolio.
With Tun Lah practically an economic illiterate, MoF II Nor Mohamad was Amirsham's real boss. It was Nor Mohamad who answered unconvincingly in Parliament when LGE posed the above question on BII purchase by Maybank.
Amirsham just sat timidly quiet doing a Gwo Burne. Was he kept on a tight leash by Tun Lah to keep quiet? Or was it for services rendered?
Najib did not kept Amirsham in the Cabinet. He was just wasn't fit for such political position. Nor was demoted to Amirsham's portfolio and Dato Husni Hanazlah was given the MoF II post. [Folks! Watch this Tok Pa in the making. Capable and with integrity. Even if the remote possibility of Najib being ousted, he will most likely remain by whoever come to power.]
Then the surprise again. Out of names like Tun Dr Mahathir, Tun Daim and Tengku Razaleigh being bandied around for the job, Amirsham emerged as the new Chairman for NEAC. Again, is he suitable for this post that require the same experiance in economics and public policy?
It goes without saying that it is the PM's prerogative. But did someone recomended him to PM Najib? Tun Lah or perhaps Nor Mohamad? Why? Was it facesaving for Amirsham?
Returning to the BII deal, Amirsham have never made any statement except when he was CEO and only that prepared by Maybank's corporate communication people. Any Q&A with the press have been the typical cliched and non-commited corporate answers.
Before getting comments and nasty ones from the over protective KJ fans of bloggers like Wenger or Bro Jinggo under their own nic or under anonymity or other nics (Don't waste your time children), let's suppose Amirsham was not there to cover up a corrupt commision taking scheme.
Supposed as a conservative Banker, Amirsham was a reluctant player in all this. Then who forced the BII deal on Maybank through him? Board Members have yet to give a convincing answer.
Another guess is Khazanah. They are the de facto approving authority for all major decisions by GLCs under the leadership of Nor Mohamad and ultimately, Tun Lah. That points to the deal maker extraordinaire, Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar. He is extraordinary in getting involve in so many deals but not necessarily delivering success.
Until all this is revealed and Amirsham speak his mouth, I have no more respect left for him, former boss or not.
With the BII deal having such close association with Tun Lah camp and Kalimullah's friend and fellow Penang mamak, Nor Mohamad, was it a surprise MI did not pick up on this story?