Azlan Zainol said he’s stepping down as chief executive officer of Malaysia’s Employees Provident Fund to make way for younger blood, after helming the world’s sixth-largest state pension fund for the past 12 years.
Shahril Ridza Ridzuan, deputy CEO for investment since 2009, will take the top job from April 16 for a two-year term, the fund, also known as EPF, said in an e-mailed statement today. Azlan, 63, said in a phone interview he will retain his roles as chairman of Malaysian Resources Corp. and director of financial services group RHB Capital Bhd., both EPF-linked companies.
“It’s right to leave when things are good,” said Azlan. “I’m not exactly retiring. I just want to change my lifestyle a bit, take things easy. I want younger people to take over.”
The Kuala Lumpur-based pension fund, known as EPF, declared a record 27.5 billion ringgit ($8.8 billion) payout to members for 2012, according to its website. That was equivalent to a 6.15 percent dividend, its highest rate in at least a decade. Its portfolio of assets grew to 526.8 billion ringgit as of the end of December, mostly held through stable and low-risk fixed income securities, EPF said.
Under Azlan’s leadership, the Malaysian fund has started investing overseas as part of an asset diversification strategy, EPF Chairman Samsudin Osman said in today’s statement. He also boosted the fund’s holdings in equities, the chairman said.
The moves underscore the “innovative approaches adopted to enhance the fund’s investment portfolio while still keeping to its prudent investment approach,” said Samsudin.
EPF was ranked sixth in asset size in a global survey by Towers Watson & Co. released in August. Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund was the largest.
Shahril was formerly the managing director of Malaysian Resources. He holds a master’s from Cambridge University and a bachelor’s degree in civil law from Oxford University, according to the statement.