Former Malaysian Deputy PM named Chairman of world’s largest listed oil palm firm

By NNN-Bernama

Kuala Lumpur : Former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Musa Hitam has been appointed chairman of Synergy Drive Berhad, the company set to become the world’s largest listed oil palm plantation company.

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The company, being formed through a 31 billion Malaysian Ringgit (about 9.1 billion USD) merger of three major listed plantation companies majority owned by the government, Sunday named six new directors, including Dr Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid, the former chairman of PNB Berhad, the national asset management company, as deputy chairman.

The other new directors are Dr Arifin Siregar from Indonesia, Henry Sackville Barlow, Dr. Abdul Halim Haji Ismail and Zaitoon Othman, CIMB Investment Bank Berhad said in a statement here on behalf of Synergy Drive.

Dr Siregar, a former trade minister and former Indonesian ambassador to the United States, has broad leadership experience in economics, finance and diplomacy and was an international adviser to Goldman Sachs ( Asia ) LLC for 8 1/2 years until July 2006.

He is currently the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of Medco Energy Internasional Tbk, the largest private national oil company in Indonesia and a board member of Saudi Economic Development Company, a leader in Islamic equity funds in Saudi Arabia .

The new appointees join the six directors who were appointed on September 14 — Dr. Wan Mohamd Zahid Mohamed Noordin, Dr. Ahmad Tajuddin Ali, Raja Arshad Raja Tun Uda, Andrew Sheng Len Tao, Mohamed Sulaiman and Ahmad Zubir Murshid.

Barlow sits on the board of Golden Hope Berhad, Guthrie Ropel Berhad, HSBC Bank (Malaysia) Berhad, the International and Commonwealth University of Malaysia Berhad and Sutra Foundation, Dr Abdul Halim was formerly managing director of Bank Islam Malaysia Berhad while Zaitoon is the President of the Muslim Lawyers Association of Malaysia.

The new Board held its maiden meeting on Sept 29 during which Musa, Malaysia’s deputy prime minister fropm 1981 to 1986, was elected chairman with Ahmad Sarji as deputy chairman.

Founder directors Mohamed Nor Yusof, Zainal Abidin Putih and Wan Razly Abdullah Wan Ali announced their resignation at the same meeting. The new additions in effect completes the transition of board control of Synergy Drive ahead of the completion of its acquisition of assets and liabilities of the Golden Hope Plantations Berhad, Kumpulan Guthrie Berhad and Sime Darby Berhad group of companies.

Pursuant to the acquisition, Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB) will emerge as the single largest shareholder of Synergy Drive, said the CIMB statement, which added that the board composition reflected Synergy Drive’s positioning as a multinational company with a focused set of business interests.

Under the guidance of the board, Synergy Drive will continue to implement growth strategies for its five core businesses of plantations, property, heavy equipment, motor and energy and utilities.