Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Who's who in the search for the next Malaysian Central Bank Governor

Who's Who in the Search for Next Malaysian Central Bank Governor
2015-12-08 01:04:42.224 GMT

By Chong Pooi Koon and Elffie Chew
     (Bloomberg) -- As Malaysian central bank Governor Zeti
Akhtar Aziz prepares to leave in April after three decades at
the central bank, here's a snapshot of people who have been the
focus of speculation to succeed her.
     Whoever is chosen as her successor will have "very big
shoes to fill," said Wellian Wiranto, an economist at Oversea-
Chinese Banking Corp. in Singapore. "This is especially so since
the global environment remains uncertain and Malaysia is deemed
relatively vulnerable to swings in global investor sentiment --
in part due to domestic political rumblings."
     Zeti served as a deputy governor before she took the top
job in 2000. The central bank declined to comment on whether any
of the three current deputies are in the running this time.
Given the precedent, they are included in the following list:

           *Awang Adek Hussin, ambassador to the U.S.

     The former deputy finance minister has been approached by
Prime Minister Najib Razak to replace Zeti, according to three
people with knowledge of the matter, asking not to be identified
as the information is private. Awang has a PhD in economics from
the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School -- Zeti's alma
mater.
     He worked at the central bank for more than a decade from
1985 in departments including economics and banking regulation,
and later became an assistant governor. He was appointed U.S.
ambassador in 2014. Awang and his assistant didn't respond to e-
mails seeking comment.

*Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah, Finance Ministry's top bureaucrat

     Irwan, secretary general of Treasury, is also among those
being studied to be central bank governor, according to people
familiar with the matter. He started his government career in
the Economic Planning Unit in 1984 and in 2003 joined the
Finance Ministry, where he has held various positions.
     Irwan has a PhD in economics from the International Islamic
University Malaysia and holds a masters of science in energy
management and policy from the University of Pennsylvania. He
also sits on the boards of state oil company Petroliam Nasional
Bhd. and one of Malaysia's biggest pension funds. Irwan, as well
as the three Bank Negara deputy governors, are part of the
central bank's board of directors. He didn't respond to a mobile
text message seeking comment.

               *Deputy Governor Muhammad Ibrahim

     Muhammad joined the central bank in 1984 and has been
deputy governor since June 2010. He oversees international
reserve management, and money market and foreign exchange
operations. He has served in areas from banking supervision and
regulation to insurance and offshore banking.
     Muhammad was previously managing director at Danamodal
Nasional Bhd., a bank recapitalization agency created during the
Asian financial crisis in the 1990s. He has a masters degree
from Harvard University.

            *Deputy Governor Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus

     Nor Shamsiah joined the central bank in 1987. The Certified
Practicing Accountant was involved in policies to strengthen the
banking system during the Asian financial crisis and in the
development of regulation and guidelines for the financial
sector.
     She also helped formulate the Malaysian financial sector's
10-year master plan through 2010. She became deputy governor in
2010 and oversees areas including banking, insurance, financial
intelligence and enforcement.

                *Deputy Governor Sukhdave Singh

     A member of one of Malaysia's ethnic minorities in the
Malay-majority nation, Singh joined Bank Negara Malaysia in 1986
and was promoted to deputy governor in 2013. He has served in
the economics department, headed monetary-policy research and
was director of the monetary assessment and strategy department.

     With a PhD in monetary and international economics from
Vanderbilt University, he has represented the bank at global
macroeconomic and monetary-policy forums and chaired Southeast
Asian task forces on regional exchange rate and currency
cooperation.

    *Abdul Wahid Omar, government minister and former banker

     Wahid's name had been mentioned in banking circles as a
possibility for the central bank's top position. The son of a
factory worker who grew up in poverty, Wahid earned his British
accounting degree through a government scholarship and has since
been a promoter of Malaysia's affirmative-action policy aimed at
helping ethnic Malays.
     Wahid, 51, has held top management positions in several
government-linked companies and was chief executive officer of
Malayan Banking Bhd., the country's biggest lender. Najib made
him a minister in charge of economic planning in 2013. Two past
CEOs of Maybank went on to become central bank governors. Wahid
also currently heads the Economic Planning Unit, which served as
a launchpad for another former Bank Negara chief. Wahid's office
said that he doesn't normally comment on market speculation.

     *Ismee Ismail, pilgrims' fund CEO and 1MDB director

     Ismee was cited as a potential candidate several months
ago, according to two people familiar with the matter. His name
has resurfaced in recent weeks, according to one of the people.
Since 2006, Ismee has been CEO of Malaysia's Lembaga Tabung
Haji, or the Hajj pilgrims fund, an organization that oversees
more than 58 billion ringgit ($14 billion).
     He is also a director at troubled state investment company
1Malaysia Development Bhd. His assistant and the pilgrims fund
didn't respond to e-mails seeking comment.

     *Noor Azlan Ghazali, Monetary Policy Committee member

     Noor Azlan, vice-chancellor of the National University of
Malaysia and one of the newest members of the central bank's
Monetary Policy Committee, is also a possible candidate,
according to two people familiar with the matter. He worked with
Najib's predecessor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and served on the
National Economic Action Council and at the Economic Planning
Unit.
     Noor Azlan has a masters in public administration from
Harvard University and a PhD in economics from the University of
Nebraska-Lincoln. He didn't respond to a text message seeking
comment.

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