MALAYSIA - Malaysia's biggest banking group Maybank yesterday named Abdul Farid Alias as its president and chief executive with immediate effect. The 45-year-old had been the bank's deputy president and its head of global banking since July 2010.
His predecessor, Abdul Wahid Omar, resigned early last month after Prime Minister Najib Razak, opting for more technocrats in his administration, made him a senator. Mr Wahid serves as a minister in the Prime Minister's department, heading the Economic Planning Unit.
Maybank chairman Megat Zaharuddin Mohd Nor said that Mr Farid was selected "after a comprehensive review and assessment of internal and external candidates led by the Board Nomination and Remuneration Committee".
Having started his career in the Maybank group in 1992, Mr Farid will have to helm the bank through challenging times.
Malaysia's central bank has started to clamp down on easy credit which has helped fuel banking growth while a recent warning by Fitch Ratings of a possible ratings downgrade on the country's sovereign credit because of persistent weakness in the public finance will also add to the pressure.
Mr Farid will also have his work cut out for him, continuing the momentum set by Mr Wahid, whose baptism of fire in the group was to ensure Maybank's controversial acquisition of Bank Internasional Indonesia in 2008 for 4.3 times its book price - then considered pricey because prices had slumped after the global financial crisis - paid off.
In his time, he boosted the bank's market capitalisation from RM19 billion (S$7.41 billion) in 2009 to nearly RM90 billion. It is now the 95th biggest bank in the world.
Having grown up without all the comforts of life, Mr Wahid's industry is well known, but his sense of thrift is also legendary. His former colleagues said that he opted to fly cattle class on an investor road show to New York and, shocked at the price of bottled water in his hotel room, walked out to a mom and pop store in search of more reasonably priced beverage.
Mr Farid holds a BSc degree in Accounting and is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University. He also holds an MBA in Finance from the University of Denver and has worked with multinational institutions such as Schroders and JP Morgan as well as Khazanah Nasional where he sat on the board of several public-listed companies.
Maybank group chief financial officer Mohamed Rafique Merican had acted as the officer-in-charge since June 4.
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