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MBSB pledges no layoffs as shareholders green-light AFB buy

KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 23): Malaysia Building Society Bhd (MBSB), which has secured its shareholders nod for its proposed acquisition of Asian Finance Bank Bhd (AFB) at an extraordinary general meeting and court convened meeting today, says there would be no staff layoffs, "except for one or two management staff".

"We are not laying off anybody, except for one or two management staff under contract. There will be no VSS or MSS at this stage. In terms of fitting the manpower, we have engaged our HR consultant to look at the best fit for the new bank. This will primarily be for the management. We hope to complete the staff integration by March this year," said MBSB president and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Ahmad Zaini Othman.

With the shareholders' approval, MBSB will be acquiring AFB for RM644.95 million, a deal that would give the non-bank lender a licence to become a full-fledged Islamic bank.

The merger will create the country's second largest Islamic bank, with total assets of some RM48 billion.

He said MBSB has already started its integration process with AFB, and will look out for new business opportunities.

"One of the key opportunities we are looking at is making inroads in the trade finance business platform and also funding opportunities for the CASA accounts. We are also looking into other businesses with fee-based income," he told reporters today.

Ahmad Zaini also said MBSB is not looking to expand operations at this juncture as the focus is on maximising its existing 44 MBSB and two AFB branches. Some of the branches may also be relocated to make operations more efficient.

There will be a rebranding exercise, Ahmad Zaini said, with a new identity that reflects both MBSB and AFB that will be launched sometime in April this year.

On the group's plans going forward, he declined to divulge much but said there will be more announcements coming over the next 12 months.

"Unfortunately, we can't reveal a lot of our plans or how we intend to grow the business, but it will come in phases. Over the next 12 months you will see some announcements on things and initiatives we are putting forward," he added. — theedgemarkets.com

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