End of the road for architect of bank’s rise

End of the road for architect of bank’s rise
Mr Nazir Razak. Photo: Reuters

Published: 4:06 AM, April 19, 2016
SINGAPORE — Malaysian corporate figure Nazir Razak (picture) is a well-respected banker in Malaysia and around the region who steered CIMB Bank into one of the region’s major banking groups.
A career banker, Mr Nazir joined the corporate advisory department of Commerce International Merchant Bankers Berhad (now known as CIMB Investment Bank) upon his return from the United Kingdom in 1989 after completing his studies, and rose through the ranks to become Malaysia’s youngest CEO of a bank at the age of 33 in 1999.
During his time in CIMB, Mr Nazir spearheaded the bank’s transformation from a Malaysian investment bank into a regional universal bank via the acquisition of numerous local and foreign regional banks.
He also turned CIMB into Malaysia’s second-largest bank by assets and one of the Association of South-east Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) leading banking groups, offering services such as consumer, investment and Islamic banking, asset management and insurance products.
“Nazir is one of CIMB’s key drivers of success. He saw through the merger of CIMB with other banks and spearheaded CIMB’s expansion into a major regional bank,” said economist Dr Yeah Kim Leng, who is the Dean of the School of Business at Malaysia University of Science and Technology.
“Nazir is also one of the key players to develop the ASEAN banking integration framework,” Dr Yeah told TODAY, in reference to the banking structure that aimed to achieve ASEAN-wide banking sector liberalisation.
Headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, CIMB Group has about 1,000 branches in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Brunei, Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos, as of December last year. It also has market presence in China, Hong Kong, Bahrain, India, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Korea, the UK and the United States.
During his tenure as CIMB’s CEO, Mr Nazir was conferred top awards.
He was the youngest recipient of FinanceAsia’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009 and was also awarded Euromoney’s 2012 Outstanding Achievement Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the Asian financial markets.
Last year, he was conferred the prestigious Asia House Asian Business Leaders Award for his overall contribution to economic success, professional excellence, moral leadership and service to society.
Mr Nazir, 50, stepped down as CEO of CIMB in 2014, and assumed the position of chairman, and has been vocal about national issues, often posting his views on his Instagram accounts.
In a 2014 newspaper article, Mr Nazir had subtly criticised his brother, Prime Minister Najib Razak, by praising the frugal lifestyle of their father — Malaysia’s second Prime Minister, Abdul Razak Hussein — recalling that as boys, his brothers asked their father to build a swimming pool at the prime minister’s official residence. Mr Nazir wrote: “Anything spent on it would have to come from public funds, and there was no way he was going to allow the state coffers to be depleted on something as frivolous as a swimming pool.”