PNB continues getting right asset allocation, sustainable returns with ESG credentials, says chief exec

TheEdge Fri, Nov 26, 2021 12:46am - 4 days View Original

KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 25): Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) which has a diversified investment portfolio is focused on getting the right asset allocation that gives sustainable returns. 

Its president and group chief executive Ahmad Zulqarnain Onn said despite having also to invest outside of the country, PNB is at the same time looking into domestic assets that are growing, and companies with strong environmental, social and governance (ESG) credentials to deploy capital. 

"Private debt securities (PDS) issuances, sukuk issuances… we are generally there for primary issuance and it is a new asset class for us that is built up just over the past few years and it is growing nicely for us.

"The investment engine in PNB is strong and very well oiled across all the asset classes," he said in the virtual MIDF Conversations with MIDF's group managing director Datuk Charon Mokhzani.

On ESG, he said PNB is in the midst finalising its own ESG framework, one looking as a business asset manager and second as an ESG investor, which it hopes to share with the public in early 2022. 

Meanwhile, on overseas investment, Ahmad Zulqarnain said the bulk of its international equities goes into Europe, while the remaining are in Japan and in a lesser extent in China.  

"We have certain indices benchmarks that we follow. Typically, China is not the largest component despite being an economy that is slightly larger than the United States (US) today.

"From a weighting standpoint, it (China) is still relatively small. China has been quite a difficult market for everyone given what has happened in China tech (companies) and share movements there. 

"But I think if you project 10 years from now, it will be fine. It is an economy that you cannot avoid," he said when asked about investing in China and the US market. 

On digital development, Ahmad Zulqarnain noted that as the world at present has changed and impacted the interaction with financial services providers, there will be more coming on the digital bet, where PNB is investing in upgrading its app, including tools to determine one’s goal for savings and risk tolerances.

“There will be a systematic way of determining these through a series of questions, and once it is done, you can construct a portfolio that is right for you

"We want to have more effective conversations with each of our unit holders in terms of their financial goals and how they should be saving and what kind of portfolio allocation to look at," he said. 

Meanwhile, on PNB's latest iconic Merdeka 118, the world's second tallest tower, Ahmad Zulqarnain said PNB will be holding a small ceremony next week to commemorate a certain milestone.

"The tower will be completed next year. PNB will be relocating during the later part of next year. If all goes well, we are fairly confident that we will open the offices at over 70% occupancy. 

"The mall will open a year later… that's been challenging for the team principally because of Covid-19, not because of the attractiveness of the project. There is a lot of interest from retailers to come in but Covid-19 has deterred them from signing the leases," he said.

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