KUALA LUMPUR: Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) has announced an income distribution of 5.00 sen a unit and a bonus of 0.50 sen for Amanah Saham Bumiputera (ASB) for 2019, despite a 7.2 per cent contraction in Bursa Malaysia’s FBM KLCI year-to-date.

Chairman Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz said this will involve a total pay-out of RM9 billion to more than 10 million unit holders.

Zeti said the number of ASB unit holders surpassed the 10 million mark for the first time this year.

“(We) are satisfied as the situation is very challenging,” she said when asked whether PNB is satisfied with the performance.

During the ASB dividend announcement today, she said the market has become much more challenging in 2019, amid financial market volatility, the US-China trade war and geopolitical tensions and a slowdown in global trade.

“Notwithstanding this, ASB was able to deliver a total income distribution of RM9 billion in 2019 out of its realised gains buffered by its increasing international investments as planned under PNB’s Strategic Asset Allocation framework,” she said.

Locally, she said the FBM KLCI remains volatile while the ringgit is undervalued.

Zeti said Bursa Malaysia is expected to be better in the second half of 2020 as some risks subside and the ringgit becomes range-bound until the second quarter of next year.

Meanwhile, president and group chief executive officer Jalil Rasheed said ASB has been able to declare continuous income distribution to all unit holders, proving its commitment to delivering sustainable income to Bumiputeras.

“Sixty-five per cent of ASB’s investment is in the stock market in Malaysia. If the stock market value declines, we will be affected as we need to pay dividend from the realised gains,” he said.

“So, if the share prices don’t go up, it would be difficult for us to generate returns on investment. 

“However, unit holders need not worry as all investment decisions have to undergo a very stringent evaluation process,” he said.

ASNB announced an income distribution of 6.50 sen per unit for ASB with a bonus of 0.50 sen last year and 7.00 sen per unit with a bonus of 0.25 sen in 2017.

“In 1998 the stock market was rather stable with no geopolitical challenges or volatility as we are seeing now.

“In Asia the Malaysian market is also large, but over the last 20 years, China has become the biggest market and there are other countries with markets larger than Malaysia’s such as India, Korea and Taiwan.

“Much has changed so we cannot give examples to compare 1998 with the present amid changing investment situations,” he said when asked to compare the dividend announced during the Asian financial crisis, which was higher compared to today.

Overall, PNB has paid cumulative income distribution of RM152 billion to all ASB unit holders since its inception in 1990.

PNB’s total assets under management have grown 5.7 per cent to RM311.9 billion, with proforma net income and its unit trust funds at RM10.7 billion.

Units in circulation have expanded 7.5 per cent to 253.8 billion units across all 14 funds.

PNB has continued to provide sustainable returns, recording a total pay-out pf RM13.2 billion across all funds in 2019. – Bernama