PUTRAJAYA (July 4): Khazanah Nasional Bhd should go back to its “original focus” of helping the Bumiputera grow their ownership in companies, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today.  Speaking at a press conference here, Dr Mahathir said that Khazanah has strayed away from its purpose of holding shares allocated to the Bumiputera public until they are able to acquire the shares for themselves. 

Instead, he claimed that the sovereign wealth fund is now hoarding shares in the local stock market — even those that are open to non-Bumiputera.

“Khazanah was initially formed to buy up the shares allocated to the Bumiputera, because when [the Bumiputera] buys shares, they immediately sell them to others [as some do not have the monetary capacity to hold them for long-term]. 

“So to stop them from doing that, we created Khazanah. But now Khazanah seems to be taking up all [sorts of] shares all on their own, whether they are meant for the Bumiputera or not,” Dr Mahathir said.

“So maybe they should go back to their original focus,” he added. 

Dr Mahathir also described Khazanah as currently doing “funny things such as buying houses and taking over companies”. 

Khazanah Nasional Bhd, majority-owned by the Ministry of Finance (MoF), was incorporated during Dr Mahathir’s tenure as the fourth Prime Minister in 1993 with an initial endowment of RM7 billion.

According to its website, Khazanah is “entrusted to hold and manage the commercial assets of the government, and to undertake strategic investments on behalf of the nation”, which explains its stakes in government-linked companies (GLC) like Sime Darby Bhd and Tenaga Nasional Bhd.

A local news portal reported that Dr Mahathir is relooking into Khazanah’s role because it is “no longer helping to increase Bumiputera equity in the stock market”.

In its early days, assets under Khazanah’s management which have been divested included shares in EON Bhd and Hicom Holdings Bhd. 

In 2004, Khazanah was also given the mandate to help nurture government-linked companies under a 10-year GLC Transformation Programme through “a more active investment approach”.

Khazanah is now listed on the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute as among the top 15 largest sovereign wealth funds in the world which deals with non-commodity investments, with an unaudited net worth of RM115.6 billion as at Dec 31, 2017.   END