Salim quits in revamp at FP

Joseph Lo

Conglomerate First Pacific yesterday unveiled sweeping management changes, including managing director Manuel Pangilinan's promotion to executive chairman.

First Pacific said chairman and controlling shareholder Soedono Salim, who also uses the name Liem Sioe Liong, was retiring from its board and would take the title of honorary chairman 'in recognition of his substantial contributions to the group'.

Mr Pangilinan said: 'First Pacific's largest single management task right now is in the Philippines and I wish to devote myself more fully to overseeing our progress there.' Replacing Mr Pangilinan as managing director is Thomas Yasuda, an executive director.

Three other First Pacific executives have been appointed to the board: Ronald Brown, chief counsel and company secretary, Michael Healy, the finance director, and James Ng, who is chief executive of First Pacific's banking arm FPB Bank Holdings.

Mr Salim and fellow non-executive director Sudwikatmano - who is also retiring from the firm's board - will become advisers to the board.

Mr Pangilinan praised the man who succeeded him as managing director.

'Tom Yasuda has been a key figure in the development of our group over the past decade and a half and there is no one more deserving or qualified than he to take up day-to-day management responsibilities here,' he said.

'I will be working very actively with Tom and the rest of the team as First Pacific furthers its development.' Bear Stearns investment analyst Scott Banesch said the changes were not surprising, given First Pacific's Philippine investment focus.

'The best way for First Pacific to manage those Philippine assets is for Manuel Pangilinan to be on the ground and in charge personally,' he said.

'But he's still going to be in charge [of the group], I'm sure. If he says something, it goes. It's always been that way and there's not going to be any change.'