Mahmud stays focused as he juggles trio of Sarawak’s corporate giants

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Dato Sri Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib is one of the busiest business leaders in Sarawak with top positions in Sarawak Cable, Cahya Mata Sarawak, and Titanium Management. He is now venturing into politics.

As a key figure in three major companies in Sarawak, Dato Sri Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib has to wear many hats. He is chairman of Sarawak Cable Berhad, group deputy chairman of Cahya Mata Sarawak Bhd (CMS) and also a shareholder in Titanium Management Sdn Bhd.

These three positions are enough to place him among the high-profile business leaders in the state.  But Dato Sri Mahmud has another claim to fame – he is the eldest son of the state’s Chief Minister, Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib bin Mahmud.

However, the political blue-blood pedigree is circumstantial as far as he is concerned. He often has to defend himself against accusations of favouritism. But he does so with aplomb, having plenty of ammunition from his experience and achievements in the corporate world.

Dato Sri Mahmud has extensive experience in stock-broking and was a founding member of Sarawak Securities Sdn Bhd, the state’s first stock-broking company now merged with K&N Kenanga Holdings Bhd.

He studied in the United States and Canada and is a leading advocate for maintaining Sarawak as a cost-effective place to do business and an attractive destination for foreign investment.

One of his first projects after joining Titanium Management was to rebuild dozens of bridges originally put up by his father more than 30 years ago. They managed to complete the job at a cost much less than expected.

“We were concerned about replacing those bridges, especially with the new palm oil estates where the trucks were getting bigger and the old bridges struggled to take the increased load,” said Dato Sri Mahmud. “We built them at a cheaper price.”

He said Titanium was now looking to diversify its businesses, moving away from bridge construction and focusing more on property development. Much will depend on how fast the company can lure investors.

“In Sarawak, the government has slowed down approvals for developments in order to avoid a bubble,” said Dato Sri Mahmud. “We had a crisis in the late 1990’s when the banks tightened borrowing. We were unscathed because we didn’t borrow too much.”

In his role with CMS, Dato Sri Mahmud is particularly excited about the development of a 275-acre piece of land in Kuching known as The Isthmus. Via the subsidiary, CMS Land Sdn Bhd, the aim is to build a new city complete with world-class convention centre, hotels, retail outlets, commercial office space, residences, malls and a marina.

He said the township would provide ideal living conditions for the many expatriates who are expected to move to Kuching to work on the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) project, which is the state’s flagship programme for developing the economy.

“For a long time, we were just sitting on the land,” he said. “Hopefully, we can make it the central business district. When SCORE is in full swing, we will have many high-paying jobs and more expats will be coming here. They require certain living standards that we want to provide.”

He said Sarawak has learned from past mistakes with the government making sure the price of land is not controlled by speculators.

“In Sarawak, we managed to control our costs and the land cost isn’t speculative at all. The state is controlling it until serious buyers come in.”

Dato Sri Mahmud is also kept busy with Sarawak Cable Bhd, in which he has a 36 per cent share. In November 2010, Sarawak Cable won a contract from Sarawak Energy Bhd for transmission lines worth RM98.68 million.

Sarawak Cable Bhd is also on an acquisition spree to strengthen its core businesses of steel fabrication and transmission lines.

The company is acquiring the remaining 25 per cent stake it does not own in Sarwaja Timur Sdn Bhd and is proposing to acquire a 65 per cent stake in Trenergy Infrastructure Sdn Bhd.

“Sarawak Cable is very focused and very strong,” said Dato Sri Mahmud.

Dato Sri Mahmud has reportedly said that he may enter politics. He is among the favourites to replace his younger brother Sulaiman Abdul Rahman Taib, for the Kota Samarahan parliament seat in the general election.

“I have always thought politics to be very interesting. I merely helped ‘in the background’ in the past. Now I feel that I can contribute more directly to the people. I can be more effective through politics. Dato Sri Mahmud is a member of the Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Party, which is part of Malaysia’s ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.

 

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Dato Sri Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib is one of the busiest business leaders in Sarawak with top positions in Sarawak Cable, Cahya Mata Sarawak, and Titanium Management. He is now venturing into politics.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Dato Sri Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib is one of the busiest business leaders in Sarawak with top positions in Sarawak Cable, Cahya Mata Sarawak, and Titanium Management. He is now venturing into politics.

As a key figure in three major companies in Sarawak, Dato Sri Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib has to wear many hats. He is chairman of Sarawak Cable Berhad, group deputy chairman of Cahya Mata Sarawak Bhd (CMS) and also a shareholder in Titanium Management Sdn Bhd.

These three positions are enough to place him among the high-profile business leaders in the state.  But Dato Sri Mahmud has another claim to fame – he is the eldest son of the state’s Chief Minister, Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib bin Mahmud.

However, the political blue-blood pedigree is circumstantial as far as he is concerned. He often has to defend himself against accusations of favouritism. But he does so with aplomb, having plenty of ammunition from his experience and achievements in the corporate world.

Dato Sri Mahmud has extensive experience in stock-broking and was a founding member of Sarawak Securities Sdn Bhd, the state’s first stock-broking company now merged with K&N Kenanga Holdings Bhd.

He studied in the United States and Canada and is a leading advocate for maintaining Sarawak as a cost-effective place to do business and an attractive destination for foreign investment.

One of his first projects after joining Titanium Management was to rebuild dozens of bridges originally put up by his father more than 30 years ago. They managed to complete the job at a cost much less than expected.

“We were concerned about replacing those bridges, especially with the new palm oil estates where the trucks were getting bigger and the old bridges struggled to take the increased load,” said Dato Sri Mahmud. “We built them at a cheaper price.”

He said Titanium was now looking to diversify its businesses, moving away from bridge construction and focusing more on property development. Much will depend on how fast the company can lure investors.

“In Sarawak, the government has slowed down approvals for developments in order to avoid a bubble,” said Dato Sri Mahmud. “We had a crisis in the late 1990’s when the banks tightened borrowing. We were unscathed because we didn’t borrow too much.”

In his role with CMS, Dato Sri Mahmud is particularly excited about the development of a 275-acre piece of land in Kuching known as The Isthmus. Via the subsidiary, CMS Land Sdn Bhd, the aim is to build a new city complete with world-class convention centre, hotels, retail outlets, commercial office space, residences, malls and a marina.

He said the township would provide ideal living conditions for the many expatriates who are expected to move to Kuching to work on the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) project, which is the state’s flagship programme for developing the economy.

“For a long time, we were just sitting on the land,” he said. “Hopefully, we can make it the central business district. When SCORE is in full swing, we will have many high-paying jobs and more expats will be coming here. They require certain living standards that we want to provide.”

He said Sarawak has learned from past mistakes with the government making sure the price of land is not controlled by speculators.

“In Sarawak, we managed to control our costs and the land cost isn’t speculative at all. The state is controlling it until serious buyers come in.”

Dato Sri Mahmud is also kept busy with Sarawak Cable Bhd, in which he has a 36 per cent share. In November 2010, Sarawak Cable won a contract from Sarawak Energy Bhd for transmission lines worth RM98.68 million.

Sarawak Cable Bhd is also on an acquisition spree to strengthen its core businesses of steel fabrication and transmission lines.

The company is acquiring the remaining 25 per cent stake it does not own in Sarwaja Timur Sdn Bhd and is proposing to acquire a 65 per cent stake in Trenergy Infrastructure Sdn Bhd.

“Sarawak Cable is very focused and very strong,” said Dato Sri Mahmud.

Dato Sri Mahmud has reportedly said that he may enter politics. He is among the favourites to replace his younger brother Sulaiman Abdul Rahman Taib, for the Kota Samarahan parliament seat in the general election.

“I have always thought politics to be very interesting. I merely helped ‘in the background’ in the past. Now I feel that I can contribute more directly to the people. I can be more effective through politics. Dato Sri Mahmud is a member of the Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Party, which is part of Malaysia’s ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.

 

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