(Sept 25): Nazir Razak, the brother of Malaysia’s former prime minister, has decided to step down as chairman of the country’s second-largest bank by the end of this year.

Nazir, 52, has announced his intention to step down from the board of CIMB Group Holdings Bhd. after 29 years at the company, the lender said in a statement to the stock exchange. The bank will now activate its succession plan to pick its next chairman and exact date of handover.

“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,” he said in the statement.

The decision follows several other changes at blue-chip Malaysian companies in the wake of the surprise ouster of former Prime Minister Najib Razak in May’s elections, and the return to power of Mahathir Mohamad. The entire board of Khazanah Nasional Bhd., Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund, resigned in July, and the heads of the investment firm Permodalan Nasional Bhd. and the oil company Petroliam Nasional Bhd. (Petronas) have stepped down.

Handover Plan

“I have spent a lot of time thinking about it and decided that it would be most appropriate for me to leave upon the completion of T18,” Nazir said in the statement, referring to the bank’s four-year strategic plan that’s set to end in 2018. The plan sought to strengthen structures, processes as well as checks and balances at the company. He expects to finalise CIMB’s strategic blueprint and handover to his successor before leaving the company.

“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,” he said in a message sent to CIMB staff.

After leaving CIMB, Nazir may focus on a private equity fund known as Ikhlas Capital he set up recently with several well-connected figures. Nazir had been working with former CIMB banker Kenny Kim, former Indonesia trade minister Gita Irawan Wirjawan, and David Heng, an ex-senior managing director at Temasek Holdings Pte on a regional fund that would seek to raise as much as US$1 billion ($1.36 billion), people familiar with the matter said in November.

Nazir confirmed his interest in the private equity project in an interview with Bloomberg in December, before the election upset.

Underperforming Shares

In June, Nazir denied reports he was leaving the bank, saying his future at CIMB would be decided by the board, its shareholders and the central bank. “If at any time one of them would like me to step aside I must and I would,” he said at the time. Speculation about his departure had triggered a 7.1% plunge in the CIMB share price on June 25, the steepest decline in more than nine years.

Nazir became CIMB chairman in 2014 after running the bank for 15 years as chief executive officer. His current tenure was due to end in August 2019.

CIMB shares have underperformed the benchmark index, declining 7.8% since the start of the year compared with FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI Index’s 0.2% gain.

The CEOs of Telekom Malaysia Bhd. and BIMB Holdings Bhd. have also stepped down since the May elections. Muhammad Ibrahim resigned as governor of Bank Negara Malaysia following questions over the central bank’s alleged role in a land deal linked to the embattled state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd.