KUALA LUMPUR: Amanah Saham Nasional Bhd (ASNB), the wholly owned unit trust company of Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB), has announced a distribution payout of 5.5 sen per unit for its flagship fund Amanah Saham Bumiputera for FY2019, the lowest in its history.

This comprises an income distribution of 5 sen per unit and a bonus of 0.5 sen per unit.

Despite being its lowest dividend to date, PNB group chairman Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz said it is satisfied with the payout given the challenging economic environment.

“We’re competitive compared to others. If we’ve invested entirely in domestic equity, we would be experiencing losses and negative returns. The fact that we generate a positive return above the deposit rate – which we benchmark against – is satisfying. But we will strive to be better,” she said, adding that it is through international diversification that will help PNB.

The total payout for the income distribution will amount to RM9 billion, benefiting 10 million unit holders. This brings the fund’s total cumulative income distribution and bonus to RM152 billion to date since it was introduced in 1990.

Zeti explained that as a result of financial market volatility and the ongoing US-China trade tensions and the subsequent slowdown in global trade weighing on external demand and export performance in regional markets, the market environment became more challenging in 2019.

PNB’s financial performance for the past 11 months of this year has been muted, reflecting challenging domestic market conditions. Its net income fell 29.4% to RM10.67 billion year on year, but total assets increased 5.7% to RM311.88 billion.

For the first 11 months of FY2019, PNB’s assets under management grew 5.7% to RM311.9 billion, while the proforma net income of PNB and its unit trust funds stood at RM10.7 billion.

Units in circulation grew 7.5% to 253.8 billion units across its 14 funds, with a payout of RM13.2 billion across all funds in 2019.

ASNB declared an income distribution of 2.75 sen per unit for Amanah Saham Nasional (ASN) for FY2019. This reflects a dividend yield of 4.4% based on the net asset value of the fund.

The total payout of RM49 million will benefit over 1.22 million unit holders. As at Nov 30, 2019, ASN recorded a net income of RM53.5 million for the 11 months of its financial year.

Zeti said PNB will continue to navigate the challenging times to ensure it continues to deliver sustainable returns to its unit holders.