Sunday September 30, 2007

Musa Hitam is chairman of Synergy Drive

PETALING JAYA: Synergy Drive Bhd, the entity arising from the merger of Sime Darby Bhd, Kumpulan Guthrie Bhd and Golden Hope Plantation Bhd, has named former Deputy Prime Minister Tun Musa Hitam as chairman.

A statement confirming an earlier report by The Star, also named Tan Sri Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid, chairman of Permodalan Nasional Bhd, as deputy chairman of Synergy Drive.

The other additional board members are prominent Indonesian banker Dr Arifin Siregar, Datuk Henry Sackville Barlow of Golden Hope and HSBC Bank (Malaysia), Datuk Dr Halim Haji Ismail of Mentakab Rubber Company (Malaya) Bhd and Golden Hope, and Datin Paduka Zaitoon Datuk Othman of the Muslim Lawyers Association of Malaysia and Islamic Mint Sdn Bhd (a company that is promoting the gold dinar and silver dirham).

Barlow has 35 years of experience in the plantations industry. He was formerly the finance director of Barlow Boustead Estates Agency Sdn Bhd and joint managing director of Highlands and Lowlands Para Rubber Company Ltd.

Halim is a member of the syariah advisory council at the Securities Commission and Bank Negara.

“The board’s composition reflects Synergy Drive’s positioning as a multinational company with a focused set of business interests,” the statement said.

When contacted, Musa said: “I did not expect to be given such honour and confidence. I will dedicate my age and experience to carry out this task.”

Musa, who was Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister from 1981 to 1986, viewed the appointment as his biggest challenge since leaving the Government.

He is currently chairman of listed companies UM Land Bhd and Lion Industries Corp Bhd. “We must move forward together as a team and continue to deliver profits and dividends,” said Musa, who was in Mecca when informed of his appointment last week.

He immediately flew home for his first briefing at Synergy Drive.

Musa was pleased that CIMB Investment Bank, the sponsoring investment bank for the mega merger, had “ably put together” the entire exercise.

Musa was especially happy with the appointment of Arifin and Datuk Seri Andrew Sheng, a former Bank Negara assistant governor and chairman of the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (1998-2005), to the board.

Sheng is also board member of Sime Darby and the chief adviser to the China Banking Regulatory Commission.

Arifin was governor of Bank Indonesia (1983-1988) and prior to that, was deputy governor for 12 years. He was also Indonesia’s Trade Minister (1988-1993) and Indonesian ambassador to the US (1993-1997).

Currently, Arifin is chairman of the board of commissioners of Medco Energy Internasional Tbk, the largest private national oil company in Indonesia.

He is also board member of Saudi Economic Development Company, a leader in Islamic equity funds in Saudi Arabia. He was an international advisor to Goldman Sachs (Asia) LLC for eight years until July last year.

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