Prime Minister Najib seems to have moved swiftly to avoid further crisis in FGV by replacing Isa but he is offered another plum job

UPDATED

KUALA LUMPUR: Felda Global Ventures Holdings (FGV) Bhd chairman Isa Samad has stepped down from the position with immediate effect, and he will be replaced by former civil servant Sulaiman Mahbob.

Sulaiman will be undertaking the role in an acting capacity, announced Prime Minister Najib Razak today.

As for Isa, the Jempol MP will now assume the post of acting chairman at Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD), replacing Syed Hamid Albar who had been helming the agency since June 2010.

Earlier today, FGV in a filing to Bursa Malaysia said Isa has “ceased as his appointment as government-appointed director to focus on his personal undertakings.”

Isa was appointed chairman and non-independent executive director of FGV on Jan 1, 2011.

Sulaiman meanwhile is no stranger to the company as he is already an FGV board member. Sulaiman, vastly experienced, has served the government for 38 years in various capacities.

These include serving as Director-General of the Economic Planning Unit (EPU), Prime Minister’s Department, Secretary-General of the then Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, and Under Secretary (Economics) of the Ministry of Finance (MOF).

Yesterday, Felda chairman Shahrir Samad hinted that there should be a leadership change at FGV, including its chairman,

However, he was coy when asked whether the person he meant was FGV’s present chairman Isa Samad.

He only said: “Just wait for an important announcement from the special shareholder on this matter.”

Shahrir noted that the special shareholder is the government via the Ministry of Finance as FGV is a government-linked company, and that the special shareholder could appoint the FGV chairman, chief executive officer and directors.

Over the last week things came to a boil in FGV after Isa and the FGV board of directors decided to remove FGV group president and CEO Zakaria Arshad.

It has been speculated that Isa was said to have proposed the move during a recent board meeting, allegedly citing a late payment by an Afghan company called Safitex, of which an FGV subsidiary had dealings with.

Isa’s sacking comes a week after former minister Idris Jala completed his fact finding mission on the FGV crisis and was prepared to handover the report to Prime Minister Najib.

Zakaria was suspended along with three other top executives, pending a probe.

Isa, a former Negeri Sembilan menteri besar, initially helmed Felda. He was replaced by Shahrir Samad in January.

In appreciation of Isa’s role

Najib said he had earlier met with Isa and former minister Idris Jala to discuss in depth FGV’s future and Isa’s role.

“Isa voluntarily agreed to relinquish his position as FGV chairman.

“In appreciation of Isa’s role, I agreed to appoint him the acting SPAD chairman,” he told a media conference in Putrajaya.

Najib said internal action would be taken to determine the legal process and through the FGV Inquiry Board on those actions against the FGV CEO Zakaria and three other individuals directed to go on leave from June 6.

“This is necessary as it represents the governance principle of a public listed company. The investigation does not mean they are guilty.

“The FGV Board will make a just decision as soon as possible,” he added.

With the restructuring, Najib said it reflects the government’s desire to place FGV on a firm footing and ensure a bright future for the company.

Asked why Sulaiman was named as the acting chairman, he said: “This is until we make a final decision. We needed a quick change. if a new person is appointed by the board,it will take a while. We want FGV to operate uninterrupted,” he added.

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