Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB) and Malaysia’s Economic Development since 1978: Conception, Implementation and Impact

About the Seminar

Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB; Malaysia’s National Equity Corporation) will celebrate its fortieth anniversary in March 2018. A government-linked corporation, PNB is a unique ‘hybrid’ between an investment company and a unit trust manager. It was formed with a specific mandate to raise income and savings levels through spreading corporate ownership more evenly throughout the Malaysian economy, particularly amongst the lower income Bumiputera communities. PNB still runs what is reckoned to be the world’s largest unit trust scheme, and manages investments which make up about 10-15 per cent of the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange (Bursa Malaysia). This presentation will discuss some of the research findings for PNB’s first corporate biography, which was published in 2018 and which was authored by the presenter in collaboration with PNB Research Institute. The presentation will consider the history of PNB in three parts: firstly, by analysing why PNB was formed; secondly, by looking at how its investment strategies and unit trust schemes were implemented in practice; and, finally, the paper will draw some tentative conclusions about the impact of PNB’s operations on the development of Malaysia’s economy and society since 1978.

About the Speaker

Nicholas J White is Professor of Imperial & Commonwealth History at Liverpool John Moores University, UK and Co-Director of Liverpool’s Centre for Port & Maritime History. He has a particular research interest in the economic and business history of Malaysia since the late-colonial period.  Nick’s previous books include Business, Government, and the End of Empire: Malaya, 1942-1957 (Oxford University Press, 1996), British Business in Post-Colonial Malaysia, 1957-70: ‘Neo-colonialism’ or ‘Disengagement’? (Routledge, 2004) and In Trust: A History of PNB (MPH, 2018).

For registration, please fill in this form and email to by 3 July 2019


Jul 04 2019


3:00 pm - 4:40 pm


ISEAS Seminar Room 2