DRB-Hicom property chief Datuk Syed Mohamed Syed Ibrahim will take over as the new CEO of Khazanah’s flagship developer in Johor from Arlida Ariff, and is expected begin on November 1.
The Malaysian Insider understands Khazanah chief Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar made the announcement of the leadership change at a town hall meeting with IIB employees in Johor Baru this morning.
Results of an internal audit had pushed Khazanah to take today’s drastic step.
It is still unclear, however, if the sovereign wealth fund would press charges against anyone following the audit in the company, which acts as a catalyst for Malaysia’s massive development in Johor.
Khazanah initiated an audit into the financial management and operations of IIB earlier this year following reports of alleged kickbacks, inflated costs and alleged questionable procurement procedures.
The Sun newspaper had reported recently that some of these allegations include the awarding of infrastructure projects to relatives of senior executives of IIB.
However, it is understood that Khazanah is not keen to pursue a full-blown investigation involving the authorities.
It is also unclear if Arlida was implicated in the report.
Arlida was headhunted by Khazanah and named as CEO and president in 2008 to replace the company’s first chief executive, Dr Iskandar Ismail.
She first joined IIB in 2007 from her job as executive director of KLCC Projeks Sdn Bhd.
IIB was founded in November 2006 as the South Johor Investment Corporation and has since brought in a total of RM39 billion worth of investment — both signed and pledged — including the RM750 million Lego Land theme park.
Iskandar is Khazanah’s largest property investment and the state asset manager owns 60 per cent of IIB, while the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor each have a 20 per cent stake in IIB.
It is understood that Syed Mohamed was chosen due to his working experience in the Middle East. He is also no stranger to the property, construction and infrastructure sectors.
Syed Mohamed joined DRB-HICOM about nine months ago after working on a RM24 billion city project in Medina, Saudi Arabia. He became chief operating officer of Seera City Real Estate Development Co, a firm leading the 15-year project.
He earlier spent four years heading Lembaga Tabung Haji’s property arm, TH Properties Sdn Bhd, which is jointly developing Bandar Enstek township with Negri Sembilan State Development Corp.