KUALA LUMPUR: CIMB Group Holdings, Malaysia's second biggest bank, said on Monday (Sep 24) its chairman Nazir Razak would step down by the end of the year.
Nazir has been CIMB's chairman since 2014. He has worked at the bank for 29 years, including 15 as chief executive.
Nazir, the brother of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, said he had decided to leave on completion of the bank's four-year recalibration plan, launched in 2014.
CIMB said the board would decide on the next chairman and the exact date of handover in due course.
"It was always going to be hard to find the perfect moment for me to leave CIMB – not too soon, not too late – but always with the firm's best interest in mind," Nazir, 52, said in a statement.
In a message to CIMB staff on Monday, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, Nazir said he would continue work in the region following his departure from the bank.
"As you know, I am very passionate about ASEAN integration, and now I would like to fully commit to pursuing other opportunities in this arena," Nazir said.
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Nazir's move to step down comes amid a management shake-up at Malaysian companies following an unexpected loss by Najib in the general election to Mahathir Mohamad in May.
Officials seen as close to the previous administration have been purged in recent months.
The central bank, sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional - CIMB's biggest shareholder - and the country's largest fund management firm Permodalan Nasional Bhd have all seen management changes since May.
Amid rumours over his possible departure from CIMB in June, Nazir had said he would step down if the board, shareholders or the central bank wanted him to. He had not indicated that he was considering leaving before his term ended in August 2019.
In 2015, Nazir went on a leave of absence after the Wall Street Journal reported that he received around US$7 million from his brother Najib before the 2013 general elections and disbursed the funds to other politicians.
An independent review into money transfer concluded that Nazir "did not misuse his position" and there was no inappropriate use of the bank's resources, following which Nazir resumed his duties as chairman.
Najib is facing several charges of money laundering, abuse of power and criminal breach of trust as part of Malaysia's investigation into state fund 1MDB. He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges and has consistently denied wrongdoing.