Malaysia picks new chairman for state-run Petronas

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A Petronas logo at their office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia August 15, 2017. REUTERS/Lai Seng Sin/File Photo

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KUALA LUMPUR, July 12 (Reuters) - Malaysia has appointed Mohd Bakke Salleh as the chairman of state energy firm Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas), the prime minister's office said on Monday.

The change comes as Petronas is recovering from a demand slump caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mohd Bakke will replace Ahmad Nizam Salleh, who had served as chairman since 2018, effective Aug. 1.

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"The government is continuing its programme to transform government-linked companies so that they will continue to be strengthened and prepared to face the post-COVID recovery phase in the new norm," Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said in a statement.

Mohd Bakke has in the past served as managing director of palm oil producer Sime Darby Plantation Bhd (SIPL.KL) and chairman of state-owned palm company Felda.

He was also briefly chairman of now-defunct state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), from which U.S. and Malaysian authorities say billions of dollars have been stolen, when it was founded in 2009.

Mohd Bakke resigned that same year after raising concerns about some of the transactions involving the fund, according to his testimony at a parliamentary inquiry into 1MDB in 2016.

His appointment is the second big management change at Petronas in about a year. Last June, the prime minister named the firm's finance chief Tengku Muhammad Taufik Tengku Aziz as the chief executive.

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Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi and Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Martin Petty

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