Sunday, September 24th, 2017


Boardroom shake-up at Astro Overseas Ltd

PETALING JAYA: Months after the losses of Astro Overseas Ltd’s (AOL) investments in India came on the markets radar, it is now seeing changes in the boardroom, with further deterioration in its financials.

A recent check with the Companies Commission of Malaysia showed that a whopping rise in net loss to RM909.81 million for the financial year ended Jan 31, 2016 in AOL’s latest financial filing, compared with RM100.55 million a year ago. Revenue stood at RM2.24 million.

Its current liabilities shot up from RM34.27 million to RM336.79 million, with head office account of RM620.64 million.

The latest filing revealed that Chin Kwai Yoong, Bernard Anthony Cragg and Datuk Mohamed Khadar Merican are no longer on the AOL board, while Vernon Das has been appointed a director.

Other directors who are still on board are Fong Phoi Shan, Lim Ghee Keong, Quah Bee Fong and Datuk Badri Masri.

Worth noting is that Chin is the chairman of Bank Negara Malaysia’s Board Audit Committee and member of the Board Governance Committee.

AOL was incorporated on Aug 18, 2000. Its presence in the media and entertainment scene spreads across five segments – platform and distribution, content, IP & production, e-commerce and digital media. Its investments are spread across Asia, the Middle East, the UK and the US.

AOL is a regional investment arm of local tycoon Ananda Krishnan’s private vehicle Usaha Tegas Sdn Bhd. It owns a 98.5% stake in Getit Infoservices Pte Ltd, which in turn owns now-defunct, online classifieds platform AskMe and e-commerce store AskMebazaar, through subsidiary Astro Entertainment Network Ltd, Mauritius (AENL).

Woes surrounding Getit have not ended, however, as a petition filed by AOL to the High Court of Delhi to close down Getit in December 2016 is still going through court proceedings, according to media reports out of India.

AENL pumped in some US$300 million over six years, with no returns, into Getit. Its mainstay AskMe halted operations in August 2016 from lack of funding. According to reports, AOL’s main contention is the US$80 million debt Getit is sitting on.

AOL is claiming that the board of Getit, which included two appointees from AENL,Sidharth Gupta and Grant Scott Ferguson, resorted to hostility and repeatedly obstructed decision-making processes regarding AskMe.

CIMB-Principal launches CIMB Islamic Global Equity Fund

PETALING JAYA: CIMB-Principal Asset Management Bhd has launched CIMB Islamic Global Equity Fund, the latest addition to its suite of 20 Islamic funds, that taps into the growth prospects of syariah-compliant global equities.

CIMB-Principal is confident of achieving a target fund size of RM300 million in assets under management within a year of the fund’s inception.

CIMB-Principal Islamic Global Equity Fund is suitable for investors seeking a syariah-compliant global portfolio with an investment horizon of at least five years.
The fund is available to investors with a minimum initial investment of RM500.

The fund will invest in a minimum of 70% and up to a maximum of 98% of its net asset value (NAV) in syariah-compliant global equities and equities-related securities to gain long-term capital growth. The fund may also invest up to 28% of its NAV in sukuk, syariah-compliant money market instruments and Islamic deposits.

CWA, the wealth management and product distribution arm of CIMB-Principal, is the exclusive distributor of the fund.

MP: Best to keep profitable PLUS in govt hands

KUALA LUMPUR: A member of parliament has joined the tide of concern over the possibility of PLUS Malaysia Bhd being acquired by a private party, saying the profitable highway operator should remain in government hands.
Anuar Manap, the MP for Sekijang, raised this concern, citing previous cases where private entities that owned strategic businesses or assets had to be bailed out by the government.
“PLUS is now owned by the government via UEM and EPF. This investment has given good returns to the 14.5 million EPF contributors and also the government, in terms of the yearly dividends and taxes,” he said in a statement here yesterday.
Anuar was responding to a proposal made by entrepreneur Tan Sri Abu Sahid Mohamad to purchase PLUS Malaysia through his flagship company, Maju Holdings Sdn Bhd.

Khazanah Holdings Bhd owns 51% equity stake in PLUS Malaysia through UEM Group Bhd and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) 49%.

“It would not make investment or economic sense for EPF and the government to give up this investment.

“We cannot take away the benefits already enjoyed by 14.5 million EPF members only to benefit individuals or a private entity.”

Anuar questioned how EPF will find a replacement for its stellar investment.
“There is only one PLUS as a giant infrastructure investment. Why give up our own infrastructure investment development in PLUS then? Wouldn’t the 14.5 million EPF members question EPF’s move to exit such a good investment.

“PLUS has not had a toll hike for more than 10 years. If PLUS gets compensated for this, it is merely a left to right pocket move, with the funds still remaining in government hands. Ultimately, it will still benefit the 14.5 million EPF members,” said Anuar.

He said the offer of a toll increase freeze for the next 20 years as proposed by Maju Holdings might look good from the people’s perspective and cost savings to the government.

“However, we have seen cases previously where private entities that owned strategic businesses or assets had to be bailed out by the government.

“Will there be another bailout say 10 to 15 years down the road, with no toll hike and to keep the same standard as what PLUS has done now amidst rising cost of raw materials?” he said.

PLUS operates, among others, the 770km North-South Expressway, the “backbone” of Peninsular Malaysia. The expressway, built as part of a public-private partnership project, was nationalised when UEM and EPF acquired it in 2012. – Bernama

Southeast Asian online services firm Sea Ltd lines up US$1b New York IPO

SINGAPORE: Southeast Asia’s Sea Ltd, which provides e-commerce and digital payments services, is eyeing a US$1 billion (RM4.2 billion) offering of new shares in aggregate in a proposed initial public offering (IPO) on the New York Stock Exchange, according to a document it has filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Goldman Sachs (Asia), Morgan Stanley & Co International and Credit Suisse Securities (USA) are joint bookrunners for the proposed IPO of its American depositary shares, the Singapore-based company said in a statement on Saturday.

The number of shares on offer and the price range have not yet been determined, said Sea, formerly known as Garena, which was valued at US$3.75 billion after a March 2016 funding round.

The company, which also provides online gaming services, raised US$550 million in May for an undisclosed valuation. The company counts Indonesia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore as its key markets.

SeaTown Holdings, a subsidiary of Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings, and Malaysian state investor Khazanah Nasional Bhd are among its investors. – Reuters

Learnings from Toys R Us??

toys r us

How not to play the game: Step 1 – Own all the toys Step 2 – If you can’t, sue Step 3 – Take your toys and go home Step 4 – Go bankrupt This week Toys R Us went bankrupt. It would be easy to see it as just another casualty of the decline of retail. But that would miss the true story… Remember the story of Kodak inventing the digital camera and then doing nothing with it? The story of Toys R Us is 10x worse. Because theyRead More

Talks continuing with Shell about Iraq’s Majnoon oil field, oil minister says

BAGHDAD, Sept 24 — Iraqi oil minister Jabar al-Luaibi said today talks are continuing with Royal Dutch Shell on the Majnoon oil field that the company is said to be seeking to quit. “There are still negotiations, things are not clear,”…

[Update] Uber ‘ready to make concessions’ to reverse London licence decision

LONDON, Sept 24 — US taxi firm Uber is prepared to make concessions in order to reverse a decision by London authorities not to renew the company’s licence in the city, a newspaper reported. The Sunday Times said the concessions were likely…

Crude Palm Oil Weekly Updates – 24 September 2017

Malaysian palm oil futures dipped to a one-week low due to technical correction, tracking weaker performance from related edible oils on Chicago Board of Trade and Dalian Commodity Exchange. The benchmark crude palm oil futures (FCPO) contract slid 4.3 per cent to RM2,737 on Thursday, which is RM123 lower than RM2,860 recorded during the previous […]

Australian banks to scrap cash-machine charges for all customers

SYDNEY, Sept 24 — Australia’s four largest banks have scrapped cash withdrawal charges for all users, as the banking industry tries to salvage its reputation after a series of scandals. Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the nation’s biggest…

Amazon deepens its push into India with stake in local retailer

MUMBAI, Sept 24 — Inc is set to buy a 5 per cent stake in Indian retailer Shoppers Stop Ltd, as the U.S. company steps up efforts to gain ground in the fast-growing consumer market. Shoppers Stop’s board approved the issuance of…