Wednesday, December 6th, 2017


Study on whether Malaysian market ready to Grab new services

PETALING JAYA: Ride-hailing company Grab is in the midst of studying the prospects of the Malaysian market to see if there is demand for its shuttle bus service GrabShuttle and digitised street-hailing service GrabNow, which have already been rolled out in selected countries in Southeast Asia.

“As for GrabNow and GrabShuttle, we are currently evaluating the market and if we find there is a need to introduce these services in Malaysia, we will. At the moment, there are no immediate plans to roll out GrabPay Credits in Malaysia,” said Grab Malaysia country head Sean Goh.

GrabShuttle and GrabNow are just two of a string of services rolled out by the ride-hailing service provider over the years.

GrabShuttle, which is available in Singapore, allows passengers to prebook seats on shuttle buses whereas GrabNow is a digitised street-hailing available in the city-state and Indonesia.

“We are constantly adding new services that will benefit like JustGrab, GrabNow and GrabShuttle which are all about maximising our drivers to help increase their income. Furthermore, we are looking at moving large groups of people at one time, which is why we’ve introduced GrabNow and GrabShuttle,” Goh said.

The homegrown brand, formerly known as MyTeksi, holds a 95% market share in third-party taxi hailing and 72% in private vehicle hailing in the region, and now has a presence in more than 142 cities across seven countries.

Grab is on the roads in Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar, its latest destination, where it expanded to in March this year.

According to Goh, Grab’s app, which was launched as MyTeksi in Kuala Lumpur in June, 2012 and received 11,000 downloads on its first day, has since grown from strength to strength, with more than 68 million downloads and two million drivers across its network today and it recently completed its one billionth ride.

The app was the brainchild of Malaysians Anthony Tan and Tan Hooi Ling. The inspiration for such a service was drawn from their concern over the safety and security of passengers, especially women, using public transport.

“When MyTeksi started in Malaysia, we realised that besides Malaysia, neighbouring countries too were facing similar traffic issues. Due to these issues, we believed this countries would benefit as well from the MyTeksi (now Grab) platform, which is why we expanded to other countries,” Goh told SunBiz via email.

The start-up company’s earliest challenge came in the form of convincing Malaysian drivers to adopt the new technology and convincing Malaysian riders to try the app.

“Another challenge Grab faced was localising the app and services for each different country that we expanded to. Whilst Southeast Asia is similar, each country has its own unique differences – be it traffic or prefered mode of transport. Before expanding in a particular city, we will study the market and evaluate the business economics to see the viability and the practicality of the service as our aim is to provide real solutions to real traffic problems,” Goh said.

In July, Grab announced a US$2 billion (RM10.25 billion) investment by China’s Didi Chuxing, a leading one-stop mobile transport platform, and Japan’s SoftBank Group, a global technology leader.

“The investment enables us to deepen our strategic and collaborative partnership – both companies already benefited from sharing expertise and experience and we expect to raise an additional US$500 million, bringing the total to US$2.5 billion. This is the largest single financing in the history of Southeast Asia,” Goh said.

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Scientex’s Q1 earnings up 39% on higher sales

PETALING JAYA: Scientex Bhd’s net profit for the first quarter ended Oct 31, 2017 rose 39.1% to RM72.40 million from RM52.06 million a year ago, thanks to better sales from manufacturing and property development.

Revenue increased 23.2% to RM658.68 million compared with RM534.68 million in the preceding year’s corresponding quarter.

Looking ahead, Scientex said its new stretch film manufacturing facility in Phoenix, Arizona, in the US remains on schedule to be commissioned by the first quarter of 2018. This plant is expected to play a pivotal and strategic role in the future as the group explores markets in the Americas with its close proximity to its customers and sources of raw materials.

With the various action plans and strategies that have been put in place in the past year to address the respective challenges faced, and with its overall capacity expansion being substantially completed, the group said it is optimistic for the current financial year.

Scientex noted that for the manufacturing segment, the group will continue to remain vigilant to external forces and risks such as resin price fluctuations, raw material supply constraints, developments of geopolitical nature as well as foreign currency rates fluctuations.

For property, the group’s focus on affordable housing will continue to dominate and lead the way to contribute to its sales revenue for the coming financial year. The Melaka Durian Tunggal land consisting of 197.4 acres is slated to feature affordable homes and is expected to be launched in the current financial year.

The newly acquired Rawang land measuring 65.3 acres was completed at the end of November. The group is optimistic that the strategically located land will be able to meet the pent-up demand for good and affordable housing in Rawang and the Klang Valley.

Scientex shares closed 2 sen or 0.23% higher at RM8.58 on 403,800 done today.

Malaysia Airlines partners Interglobe to boost customer service

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia Airlines has partnered Interglobe Technologies Pvt Ltd (IGT) to enhance its customer service via social customer service support.

The national airline said in a statement today that the partnership will enable it to provide 24/7 responses to passengers’ queries via Facebook as well as Twitter and in three languages – English, Bahasa Malaysia and Mandarin.

Malaysia Airlines chief commercial officer Arved von zur Muehlen said the collaboration will enable it to respond to its customers faster and more efficiently.

“We have been expanding and improving our customer service offering and this collaboration is an important component of that with constant support now provided for most issues they face.

“Digital development has been the forefront of our customer experience and I am very pleased to announce this partnership with IGT, a leader in travel technology. This innovative solution will provide a five-star digital experience for our customers worldwide,” he added.

MyEG granted money lending licence

PETALING JAYA: MyEG Services Bhd has been granted a moneylender's licence by the Ministry of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government for a period of two years.

MyEG told Bursa Malaysia that its sub-subsidiary MyEG Credit Sdn Bhd had received the letter dated November 30 from the ministry on December 6 pursuant to the Moneylenders Act 1951.

The license is subject to renewal with the ministry. It will enable MyEG to carry out activities in relation to money lending service which complements its existing business activities.

Astro posts RM146m net profit in Q3

PETALING JAYA: Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd, which today entered into a binding term sheet with Grup Majalah Karangkraf Sdn Bhd (GMK) to form a joint venture (JV), saw its net profit for the third quarter ended Oct 31, 2017 fall 2.9% to RM146.68 million from RM151 million a year ago.

This is because of the decrease in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda), in which its ebitda margin decreased 3% due to higher license, copyright and royalty fees, higher selling and distribution expenses and higher telecommunication cost.

Revenue was lower by 1.9% to RM1.4 billion against last year’s corresponding quarter of RM1.42 billion, mainly due to lower subscription, advertising and licensing revenue.

The group has proposed to declare an interim dividend of 3 sen per share.

For the nine months period, its net profit increased 23% to RM588.85 million from RM478.61 million a year ago. Revenue for the current period of RM4.14 billion was lower by 1.7% against the corresponding period of RM4.22 billion.

Astro is cautiously optimistic for the rest of the financial year, despite relatively subdued consumer sentiment.

Group CEO Datuk Rohana Rozhan said regionally the group will forge complementary win-win partnerships, as well as identify strategic and opportunistic investments for its growth portfolio.

On the partnership with GMK, Astro said it will invest RM100 million for a 51% stake in Karangkraf Digital 360 Sdn Bhd.

The JV would extend Astro’s online presence amongst the Malay-language audience, propel its combined monthly unique visitors to 10 million and is in line with its goal to build Nusantara and Islamic content verticals.

The JV aims to pursue 360° monetisation strategies for Karangkraf Digital’s content intellectual properties across multiple platforms, leveraging on Astro’s capabilities, growing reach and engagement.

Astro’s share price today closed 1.06% lower at RM2.80 with 5.35 million shares traded.

BNM: Onshore market volume, liquidity have picked up

PETALING JAYA: The volume and liquidity in the onshore market has sustained and picked up, with more foreign investors and corporations now transacting in the onshore market, said Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) assistant governor Adnan Zaylani Mohamad Zahid.

He said these foreign investors and corporations are now transacting in the onshore market either directly or via the arrangements that effectively are an extension of the onshore market.

“Onshore financial market liberalisation is an important journey to enhance the liquidity and depth of the markets. Yet we have to be cognizant of the risks. Further liberalisation can come but must be in a balanced form and with conditions that will ensure the central bank will always have the surveillance capacity and the instruments to intervene if necessary,” he said in a statement today.

Adnan noted that since the Financial Markets Committee (FMC) and BNM began its first series of financial market development initiatives in December 2016, the onshore foreign exchange market has become more stable and the ringgit has strengthened to better reflect the underlying strength of Malaysia’s fundamentals.

“More importantly, the vulnerabilities to the type of volatility we saw a year ago has reduced substantially. Ownership by foreign investors of ringgit debt securities has reduced, the ringgit non-deliverable forward (NDF) market has shrunk and so has the number of participants in this market,” said Adnan.

He noted that the onshore foreign exchange market has also become more liquid with greater volume and range of products, but stressed that it cannot be complacent as financial markets are always on the lookout for gaps and opportunities, and signs of whether the central bank will ease off on the NDF stance.

“If things have settled down, why not? I think it would be more productive for them to focus on enhancing their business operation and efficiency within the current parameters. There really can be no turning back on the offshore NDF stance. If anything, more should be done to keep chipping away at this offshore market,” he said.

Adnan said for many years, the onshore financial market structure and rules have been to its own disadvantage and while there were liberalisation measures afterwards, the overall pace fell behind to meet the demands of the financial markets, which led to a greatly lopsided foreign exchange market.

“On hindsight, we should have undertaken corrective measures earlier and in better times. That was always the intent, definitely at the onset of when we formed the FMC in May 2016. One thesis that drove the FMC was that as a result of tighter onshore market rules meant to curb speculative activity, we were instead pushing investors to trade in the offshore market,” he added.

Johor Sultan ups stake in 7-Eleven

PETALING JAYA: His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim of Johor has further increased his stake in 7-Eleven Malaysia Holdings Bhd to 15.52% from 8.44% in August.

Sultan Ibrahim of Johor remains as the second largest individual shareholder in 7-Eleven Malaysia.

7-Eleven Malaysia’s largest shareholder Tan Sri Vincent Tan expressed that he is very pleased that Sultan Ibrahim of Johor had continued to increase his stake in the convenience store chain.

“This reflects his continued confidence in the capabilities, performance and business potential of 7-Eleven Malaysia,” he said.

7-Eleven Malaysia reported an unaudited revenue of RM1.64 billion with a pre-tax profit of RM43.94 million for the nine-month period ended Sept 30, 2017.

Its shares gained 1 sen or 0.6% to close at RM1.56 today on some 248,300 shares done.

Nexgram ends JDA with Chinese firm

PETALING JAYA: China Asian Capital Holding Ltd (CACH) is no longer the joint developer and turnkey contractor for Nexgram Holdings Bhd’s mixed commercial development project “Angkasa Icon City” in Sepang.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia today, Nexgram said both parties have agreed to discontinue a joint development agreement (JDA) for the project, which was executed on May 19, 2017.

The JDA lapsed on Aug 18, 2017 and both parties agreed to discontinue after a few discussions.

To recap, Nexgram’s wholly owned subsidiary Nexgram Land Sdn Bhd had entered into the JDA with CACH to appoint CACH as joint developer and turnkey contractor to undertake the development of the Angkasa Icon City project comprising one block of hotel, one block of Sovo (serviced office, virtual office) and one block of serviced apartments.

Nexgram’s share price rose 0.5 sen or 14.29% to close at 4 sen today with a total of 374,200 shares traded.