KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 23  — Permodalan Nasional Bhd’s (PNB) will continue to focus on the long-term investment strategy and will not be distracted by short-term volatility, said group chairman Tan Sri Dr Zeti Aziz.

She said the strategy would be based on PNB’s assessment of the fundamental while tactfully, also navigating the short-to-medium term challenges to generate sustainable returns for its unit holders.

“This is important, because we need to focus on the long term (strategies) and generate sustainable returns over time, not to do well in one particular year, and then do badly in another year,” she said.

Zeti said this during a virtual press conference after announcing the Amanah Saham Bumiputera (ASB)  income distribution of 4.25 sen for the financial year ending December 2020 today.

The 4.25 sen of income distribution marked the lowest payout since the ASB’s inception in 1990 when the largest fund manager in the country announced a return of 14.0 sen for that year. 

Last year, ASB dividend stood at 5.5 sen per unit.

Asked if PNB would be able to maintain high dividend payout for ASB in the future, Zeti said like any other institution asset manager and investment firm, the performance of ASB and other unit trust funds under PNB would be affected by global and domestic economic developments, as well as the impact on the financial and other asset markets.

“With improvements in the outlook for global and domestic economy following the vaccine deployment, most economies are expected to allow for a gradual reopening of economies and global trade.

“These positive developments have also been reflected in the improved performance and domestic equity indices and other asset markets,” she said.

However, she said lingering issues and risks surrounding the positive developments would result in a structural shift in the global economy post COVID-19 pandemic.

“There are continued unresolved geopolitical issues that would result in continued volatility in the financial markets in particular.

“Additionally, as central banks worldwide are expected to keep interest rates at historical lows, that would result in an ultra low-yield environment, and this is the environment that we we are confronting with,” she added.

In her opening remarks earlier, the former Bank Negara Malaysia governor said 2020 has undoubtedly been a challenging year, with the COVID-19 pandemic taking lives, severely impacting economic activity, and bringing significantly heightened volatility to financial markets across the globe. 

“Despite this challenging environment, PNB has managed to continue to deliver a competitive income distribution for its unit holders,” she said.

Noting that PNB remained cautiously optimistic about the future, Zeti said the fund manager would undertake further diversification to avoid an over-concentration of risks, and continue exploring investments in new emerging industries while further strengthening its risk management capability moving forward.

“We will do our utmost to navigate these challenging times, to ensure that we continue to deliver sustainable returns to our unit holders.

“We will continue the progress made in diversifying our investment portfolio, so that we may build a truly ‘all weather’ portfolio, with an optimal mix of asset classes and geographies,” she said.


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