Malaysia's civil service pension plan, KWAP, has named a new head of equities and is to appoint a new head of fixed income and its first deputy chief executive as part of an overhaul of its leadership team, sources familiar with the fund have told AsianInvestor.

And further additions to the investment team are seen as likely, according to one well-placed source. “The new CEO wants to expand the portfolio management team [with a view to building its alternative and overseas investment allocations and capabilities],” said the individual, who asked not to be named.

A KWAP spokeswoman declined to confirm or comment on developments in this story.

Azlan Hussin

Azlan Hussin started on October 1 as the new director of the equity department at the fund, which had RM141 billion ($34.2 billion) under management as of end-2017.

Zalman Ismail had served as acting head of equity after Iskandar’s departure, in addition to his role as head of alternatives; he now solely holds the latter post.

Hussin, who has 21 years of portfolio management experience, replaced Taufiq Iskandar Jamingan, after the latter was seconded in April last year to become CEO of VCap Asset Managers. VCap is part of ValueCap, a private equity firm owned by KWAP, sovereign wealth fund Khazanah and state-linked investment manager PNB.

Before joining Kwap, Hussin had been CEO and chief investment officer of local firm MIDF Amanah Asset Management since January 2013, according to Bloomberg records. MIDF did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

He has also worked as head of investment at another domestic firm, RHB Investment Management, and did stints at AmanahRaya-JMF Asset Management and SBB Asset Management. ​

SENIOR SHAKE-UP

Kwap’s recent senior team shake-up – a widespread occurrence among Malaysian government investment funds in the wake of the 1MDB scandal – included the appointment of a new CEO and CIO in November last year. 

Syed Hamadah Othman

Syed Hamadah Othman joined from Actuarial Partners Consulting, where he led the pensions business, to replace Wan Kamaruzaman as CEO following the latter's departure in October.

Azmeen Adnan, the new CIO, was previously head of fixed income, leaving a vacancy that Kwap is understood to be yet to fill. The former CIO, Nik Amlizan, had moved to become CEO of Malaysia’s Armed Forces Fund Board.

Like other state-linked investors in Malaysia, Kwap was constrained by government pressure to repatriate assets after the 1MDB scandal broke in 2015, in order to support the ringgit and local stock markets.

That said, this pressure seems to have eased, said one executive at a US fund house, with Malaysian institutions more recently showing appetite for foreign real assets.

Certainly, Kwap has had a busy few years. It strengthened its commitment to environment, social and governance (ESG)-related investment under former chief Wan Kamaruzaman, for which it received an AsianInvestor award late last year. The fund is expected to hand out more ESG mandates. 

It has also been increasing the proportion of its assets that it manages on a sharia-compliant basis.