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Global News Asia Diversity progress in Malaysian boardrooms Malaysia’s Securities Commission (SC) has released its inaugural Corporate Governance Monitor, which shows progress in the area of gender diversity in boardrooms. Malaysia recorded a seven per cent increase in women participation on boards of the top 100 listed companies from 16.6 per cent in 2016 to 23.68 per cent in 2018. Women now account for 28 per cent of senior management positions for all listed companies, higher than the Asia Pacific average of 23 per cent.

Minister of Finance, YB Tuan Lim Guan Eng, commenting on the Monitor’s launch, said: “I’m encouraged by the fact that since February 2019, there are no more all-male boards for our top 100 listed companies and this indeed sets the tone for other PLCs to follow.” The CG Monitor 2019 presents observations on three thematic reviews on long-serving independent directors (policies and practices), gender diversity on boards and CEO remuneration of the top 100 listed companies.

1MDB: US to return $200million in funds The US is to hand over close to $200million to Malaysia in funds recovered from asset seizures tied to scandal-hit state fund 1MDB. 1MDB was set up by Malaysia’s former prime minister Najib Razak in 2009 to turn Kuala Lumpur into a financial hub and boost the Malaysian economy. Since 2016, the US Department of Justice has filed lawsuits to seize around $1.7billion of goods allegedly bought with funds stolen from 1MDB, including a private jet, luxury property, artwork and jewellery. US ambassador to Malaysia, Kamala Shirin Lahkdhir, told Reuters: “We are extremely pleased that this first tranche of assets from this Justice Department investigation is being transferred back to Malaysia, demonstrating the US commitment to return these assets for the benefit of the people of Malaysia.” Razak — currently on trial on charges of money laundering and corruption — denies any wrongdoing.

Scandal-hit Korean Air chairman dies

Shareholders flush out Lixil CEO Two top executives of Japanese luxury toilet maker Lixil Group — the CEO and chief operating officer — have stepped down following pressure from shareholders. The Tokyo-based company’s chairman and CEO Yoichiro Ushioda, a member of one of the group’s founding families, announced he would step down in May. President and chief operating officer Hirokazu Yamanashi also announced his resignation. The boardroom departures are the latest development in a clash between Ushioda and the previous president and CEO

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Kinya Seto, who was dismissed at the end of 2018 in a move questioned by shareholders, including BlackRock and Marathon Asset Management. The latest resignations followed a call by shareholders – Marathon Asset Management, Indus Capital Partners, Polar Capital Holdings Plc and Taiyo Pacific Partners LP – for an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting to vote out Ushioda and Yamanashi from the board.

Cho Yang-ho (pictured) – the chairman of South Korea’s flag carrier Korean Air – has passed away just weeks after he was voted off his own board. The chairman, whose leadership included scandals such as his daughter’s infamous incident of ‘nut rage’, died due to illness, the company said. Mr Cho, who was on trial for corruption, was ousted from the company board in March. He lost his seat after winning 64.1 per cent of shareholders’ votes, just shy of the two-thirds majority he required to retain his seat. His son Cho Won-tae, Korean Air’s president, is expected to succeed him as chairman, according to the Financial Times. Cho Yang-ho was the first founding family member of any major South Korean company to be forced off a board, according to media reports.

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Ethical Boardroom Spring 2019