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Datuk Muhammad Ibrahim

Deputy governor of Bank Negara Malaysia, Datuk Muhammad Ibrahim has been appointed as the new governor for five years, effective from May 1, the Prime Minister’s Office announced on Wednesday.

Muhammad will take over from Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akthar Aziz who retires on April 30.

According to the statement, the King, had on the advice of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, endorsed the appointment of Muhammad.

Najib said he was confident Muhammad will continue to assist the government and also provide his advice and views to help drive the country’s economic growth and also administer the monetary policy and oversee the country’s financial industry, including BNM’s continuous efforts to develop the industry.

Muhammad was appointed deputy governor in 2010. He is a a graduate of Harvard University. Muhammad, who is the most senior deputy governor and the central bank’s second-in-command was said to be favoured by the markets and BNM itself.

A career central banker like Zeti, Muhammad rose through the ranks, gathering experience and expertise in various facets of the administration and running of Bank Negara.

Besides him, the other names that have been cited as possible successors are the Minister-in-charge of economic planning in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar, Malaysian ambassador to the United States Datuk Awang Adek Hussin, and the secretary-general of the Treasury at the Finance Ministry Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah.

Muhammad joined the central bank in 1984 and has been deputy governor since June 2010. He oversees international reserve management, and money market and foreign-exchange operations. He has served in areas from banking supervision and regulation to insurance and offshore banking.

Muhammad was previously managing director at Danamodal Nasional Bhd, a bank recapitalisation agency created during the Asian financial crisis in the 1990s.

The appointment of Muhammad finally ends the months of waiting of the successor.