KUALA LUMPUR (June 14): Ahmad Zulqarnain Onn, who is currently deputy managing director (MD) at Khazanah Nasional Bhd, has surfaced as the front runner to replace Jalil Rasheed as the chief executive officer (CEO) of Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB), should the latter step down as the head honcho at the country's largest asset management company.
Sources told theedgemarkets.com that Ahmad Zulqarnain's name is being bandied about, but the appointment is pending PNB's board meeting in coming week to decide whether Jalil, who has held the post for barely eight months, will stay on to steer PNB.
"He (Ahmad Zulqarnain) is the front runner. He is experienced and knows the local landscape pretty well," one source said.
Another source said both Ahmad Zulqarnain and another former MD of an investment fund are being considered, but added that Ahmad Zulqarnain will likely be the chosen candidate.
Ahmad Zulqarnain, 47, joined Khazanah in May 2014. He is one of two deputy MDs appointed by Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar, who was then the MD, in 2018.
Previously the CEO of Danajamin Nasional Bhd, Ahmad Zulqarnain graduated with Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Harvard University. He also had stints with UBS Warburg, Pengurusan Danaharta Nasional Bhd, CIMB Group, and Symphony Group.
The Edge Weekly reported in its latest edition that Jalil could be stepping down as the CEO of PNB after discrepancies arose over his appointment last October.
PNB, which has as much as RM280 billion in funds under management, is the controlling shareholder of companies such as Malayan Banking Bhd, Sime Darby Bhd, S P Setia Bhd and UMW Holdings Bhd, with stakes held either directly or via its units under Amanah Saham funds.
The companies under the PNB banner have a collective market capitalisation of a few hundred billion ringgit, making PNB the largest investor in the local equities market behind the Employees Provident Fund.
Jalil is said to have started out at Aberdeen Standard Investments in London and after five years returned to expand Aberdeen's operations here. He then took on the top job at Invesco Ltd as CEO for six-and-a-half years, before joining PNB, to which he was appointed by the Pakatan Harapan government.
Jalil, 38, has been touted as a young dynamic leader — a fresh face who would change things at the conservative PNB.
If he does indeed leave, he will also have the distinction of having had the shortest stint of any PNB CEO.