Malaysia tycoon Vincent Tan hires outsider to revamp his virus-hit empire

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KUALA LUMPUR – Berjaya, controlled by Malaysian tycoon Vincent Tan, hired an outside professional for the first time to revamp one of the nation’s biggest diversified groups hit by the global pandemic. The stock surged.

The company named Abdul Jalil bin Abdul Rasheed as group chief executive officer (CEO), replacing Mr Tan’s son Robin Tan, who becomes executive deputy chairman. Mr Jalil was CEO of Permodalan Nasional, the country’s top state-run money manager, and has worked with Aberdeen Standard Investments and Invesco.

The move comes in the wake of the pandemic that has ravaged businesses around the world. Mr Tan’s businesses, which span from property and hotels to general insurance, weren’t spared. Berjaya last month said its second-quarter loss widened to RM49.7 million (S$16.2 million) from a year earlier.

“Having endured and survived several global financial crises over the years and with the latest Covid-19, Robin and I decided it is time to streamline the way the organisation is managed,” Mr Tan said in a statement. Mr Jalil’s mandate is to “future-proof” the group from future shocks, he added.

Shares of Berjaya, which also runs Starbucks and Kenny Rogers Roasters outlets across the nation, jumped as much as 28 per cent on Wednesday (March 17) in the steepest intraday gain since May 2018.

Mr Jalil said he has a “huge responsibility” as the first non-family to run the group, according to the statement.

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