Chiefs chosen for Malaysia-backed private equity firm

Ekuinas, the state-backed private equity firm that will eventually manage RM10bn, is steaming ahead with high profile appointments.

The Malaysian government has appointed key management personnel for Ekuiti Nasional Berhad (Ekuinas), a private equity firm established last month that will manage RM10 billion ($2.9 billion; €2 billion).

Raja Arshad, former executive chairman and senior partner at PriceWaterhouseCoopers Malaysia, will be the firm's chairman. Arshad also currently sits on the board Khazanah Nasional, the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund.

Abdul Rahman Ahmad, the outgoing managing director and chief executive officer of Media Prima,

Raja Arshad

Malaysia’s largest integrated media investment group, will be the chief executive officer and director of Ekuians. Prior to his role at Media Prima, Rahman was the chief executive officer of Malaysian Resources Corporation, a property development and investment company.

Other founding members of the board of directors include Azman Yahya, the group chief executive of Symphony House, a business process outsourcing company, and also a member on Khazanah’s board. He is joined by Jawhar Hassan, the chairman and chief executive officer of the Institute of Strategic and International Studies Malaysia, one of Southeast Asia’s leading policy research institutes; and Noriyah Ahmad, the director-general of the Economic Planning Unit, a government body that helps shape economic policy and manages the country’s privatisation programme.

Abdul Rahman

The appointments are effective 1 September 2009.

Ekuinas will initially manage RM500 million and subsequently, the size of the fund will be increased to RM10 billion. The firm will be commercially driven and will focus on investments in strong Malaysian companies with high growth potential. It will make co-investments with private sector funds.

“Ekuinas will also collaborate with private capital and adopt best practices of global private equity firms,” the statement noted.

The firm’s board will now work towards finalising its investment and operational structure and will announce its initial framework by the end of August.

The formation of Ekuinas was one of several measures announced by the government on 30 June to spur investment activity and support the government’s “new economic model”.

The model is intended to shift the country’s reliance from a manufacturing base that is dependent on low cost and semi-skilled labour to one that relies on a high technology and modern service sector with skilled and highly paid workers.