updated with full video of the "live" interview
No problem wooing investors. In his very first "live" tv3 interview, Arul Kanda is frank, honest and all smiles. The president and group executive director of 1MDB comes across as confident and not arrogant, a good listener, very articulate in his analyses, totally engaging. And, yes, that smile. How some people would love to wipe that smile from his face. Call it the RM42billion-that-never-vanished smile!
There will always be cynics, but one viewer, cynical before watching the question-and-answer on 1MDB, was moved to write in and admit:
Apabila mendengar penerangan Arul Kanda dan mengikuti penjelasannya dengan riak muka yang yakin dan tenang, ini rumusannya:
1. Cara dia (Arul) memandang dua wartawan tv3 itu nampak dia tidak bimbang atau nampak menyanggah, tetapi telah menerangkan dengan baik.2. Ketika rata-rata melihat 1MDB seakan sudah 'kalah' , Arul dengan penjelasannya yang tenang, meyakinkan dengan sesekali diselangi dengan ungkapan Alhamdulillah dan InsyaAllah, telah mengubah persepsi negatif tentang 1MDB (sekurang kurangnya waktu terdekat ini).3. Arul menerusi penjelasannya agak berjaya mewujudkan empati kepada sesiapa yang menonton tv3 malam ini.
1MDB has been the subject of incessant and sometimes insane attacks in the last 8-9 months by interested parties (who basically want PM Najib Razak to step down). But after the RM42 billion claim turned out to be not true (accusers later adjusted the figure to RM26 billion before revising it further to just over RM2 billion) and Swiss national Andre Justo was arrested (the former PetroSaudi employee will be facing blackmailing charges in Thailand very soon), much of the political ploy against Najib has shifted away from 1MDB and landed on the US$700 million "political donation" that found its way to the PM's accounts. There was a brief attempt to link even that money indirectly to 1MDB but that, too, gained no traction because it was a lie.
Arul Kanda said that "we are the most investigated company in Malaysia". Understatement. As I see it, 1MDB is also the most maligned Malaysian company ever. And none of the earth-shattering allegations and claims made against it has ever been substantiated or proven. So far nobody has apologised for the maligning but I doubt Arul's interested in getting one, either. He's always maintained that without the politics, the 1MDB would have been there already. With the politics, it's just going to take a little bit more time to get there.
I hope to upload the interview's video for you when it's available on YouTube, Inshallah. In the meantime, I will let Arul Kanda speak for himself and the future of 1MDB through this morning's headlines:
No outside interference in 1MDB, Astro Awani
"In 1MBD, every major decision whether strategic assessment or rationalization plan, will go through our board of directors, shareholders and the Ministry of Finance."We have debates and discussions, and that is not an intervention... it is how we implement governance within the company through its three stages."
1MDB bosses looking forward to PAC hearings, Malaysian Insider
“The PAC is very professional ... is the best among the investigators because it is made up of members of parliament from both the government and the opposition.
“(The suspension) made it hard for us as we want to explain ourselves and counter all these allegations.”
“We have acquired Edra Global Energy Berhad which we can raise RM16 billion.“In June, we signed a deal with Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) that can raise another RM16 billion.
“We are trying to bring development partners into Bandar Malaysia in which the project will be valued at RM11-12 billion.”
Right decisions made for 1MDB, The Star
“When we see the challenges, we have to take action. That is important. When things do not go according to plan, we have to make corrections and that is what the rationalisation plan is for,” he said.
“When you look back in hindsight it is easy to point out what should have been done. Hindsight is 20-20."
USD boost for 1MDB, Bernama
The 1MDB debt rationalisation plan would not be affected by the depreciation of the ringgit as it owns US dollar assets, said Arul Kanda.He said this would enable the company to pay its external debts denominated in the US dollar.“We have power companies in foreign countries such as Bangladesh and Egypt.“1MDB is the largest independent power producer in both countries.“We also have assets in Abu Dhabi and Pakistan. All these assets are funds in the form of US dollars,” he said.This means 1MDB has a natural hedge for which cash flow is accepted in US dollars to pay off debts, he said, adding 1MDB also has many other assets that could be pledged against the US dollar.A calm and eloquent Arul Kanda also said 1MDB was on the right track to meet its strategic development objectives.“Alhamdulillah (thank God), for 1MDB, there is no problem in wooing investors, the problems are (dealing with) political accusations and allegations,” he said.