DRB-Hicom says yet to finalise buyer for stake in Bank Muamalat

KOTA KINABALU, Jan 14 — DRB–Hicom Bhd has yet to finalise the new party for its divestment of a 30 per cent stake in its banking unit, Bank Muamalat Malaysia Bhd, said Group Managing Director Tan Sri Mohd Khamil Jamil.

He said the dilution of the stake in the country’s third largest Islamic lender had been a prolonged process as the conglomerate was looking into a strategic partnership or an exercise that could add value and increase the bank’s penetration into the Islamic financial business in Malaysia.

“We are looking at a few opportunities, which ever is the best for the company, as we have added a lot of value to the bank, even in terms of the management.

“Currently, we are talking with not only one, but a few companies, which we will soon zoom in only one party that could give the best price,” he told a media conference at the three-day DRB-Hicom “Ke Bawah Bayu” programme here.

It was reported earlier that Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) had mandated DRB-Hicom to dilute some of its 70 per cent stake in Bank Muamalat.

It was also reported that DRB-Hicom had negotiated with Affin Holdings Bhd on a potential acquisition but talks between the two parties were called off due to pricing issues.

“We have to abide with the requirements of the central bank to bring down our shareholding in Bank Muamalat from 70 per cent to 40 per cent, and we are looking at certain parties that we are talking to, which I cannot reveal right now.

“We have been given one year to do that and we are actively looking into the business partners or parties that would like to acquire the portion from us,” he said.

He added that the Islamic financial market in Malaysia is huge, and led by its Chief Executive Officer, Datuk Mohd Redza Shah Abdul Wahid, Bank Muamalat had been operating well and recorded a profit of RM200 million last year.

This is the first time in its history that the bank’s profit has reached the RM200 million level.

Meanwhile, Mohd Redza Shah said the bank remained sidelined as it currently has no new products to introduce or new branches to launch.

“Our concentration over the past financial years had been on housekeeping, such as updating our information technology system, which we hope to finish by this June.

“Now, what is also important is we are making a key decision on whether to follow other banks in terms of the technology roadmap or to live across and go beyond the technology roadmap and go into areas like mobile banking before we embark on the business strategy.

“So, that is a lot of work in progress that we are doing at the bank level,” he said.

Mohd Redza Shah also said with the new Islamic Financial Services Act (IFSA), the bank could manage its balance sheet as per the requirement of the central bank.

Introduced in June last year, the IFSA was aimed at modernising the laws that govern the conduct and supervision of financial institutions in Malaysia to ensure that these laws continue to be relevant and effective to maintain financial stability, support inclusive growth in the financial system and the economy, as well as to provide adequate protection for consumers. — Bernama

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