Friday, January 12th, 2018


Pound jumps to highest since Brexit vote on hopes of better deal

LONDON, Jan 12 — The pound jumped to the strongest level since the Brexit referendum as Spanish and Dutch finance ministers were said to be working together for a deal that keeps Britain as close to the European Union as possible. Gilts…

Facebook shares sink as US stocks add to records

NEW YORK, Jan 12 — Shares of Facebook tumbled today after it announced an overhaul of its newsfeed, while US stocks added to records following data showing higher retail sales in December. About 30 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones…

Next Week Stocks in Focus

KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 12): Based on corporate announcements and news flow today, companies in focus on Monday (Jan 15) may include: AirAsia X Bhd, AirAsia…

German parties offer Macron first response on Europe

BERLIN, Jan 12 — German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the Social Democrats pledged today to work closely with France to strengthen the euro zone, in Berlin’s first substantive response to President Emmanuel Macron’s…

JPMorgan US$143m loan loss is said to be tied to Steinhoff

NEW YORK, Jan 12 — JPMorgan Chase & Co’s equities business took a big hit from Steinhoff International Holdings NV last quarter. The bank recognised a US$143 million mark-to-market loss on a margin loan to a single customer in its…

Titijaya Land to ink MoU with Tokyu Land for collaboration in real estate development

PETALING JAYA: Titijaya Land Bhd said it will enter into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Japan-based Tokyu Land Corp (TLC) tomorrow, to create a platform for collaboration in the aspects of real estate development, by way of either equity participation, joint operations or other means of collaboration.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia, the group said the objective of the MoU is to establish a provisional collaboration to share and exchange their respective knowledge and expertise in the real estate industry and to collaborate for any property development projects.

“Also, the MOU is consistent with the company's intention to further revolutionise its business, by incorporating the technology, expertise, creativity and innovative knowledge that TLC can offer, particularly in transit oriented development, senior housing and hospitality properties development,” it added.

Titijaya's unit Epoch Property Sdn Bhd had in November last year entered into a conditional share subscription agreement with TLC for a subscription consideration of RM47 million. The agreement entails the subscription by TLC of 47 million units (representing 100%) of Class A shares in Epoch Property.

The proposed subscription is to enhance the development of an ongoing project known as Mizu Residence.

Titijaya shares were unchanged at 67.5 sen today with 516,700 shares traded.

G Neptune cancels private placement, diversification plans

PETALING JAYA: G Neptune Bhd has aborted plans to diversify into trading and distribution of apparels as well as private placement exercise to fund the diversification plan.

G Neptune said this came after it triggered the criteria pursuant to Guidance Note No 3 (GN3) of the Ace Market Listing Requirements of Bursa Securities. It has been a GN3 company since November 30, 2017.

“The company will not proceed with the proposals and is looking into formulating a plan to regularise its financial condition,” it told the stock exchange.

The IT provider had previously proposed to undertake a private placement of up to 86.6 million new shares to raise up to RM3.03 million.

Meanwhile, the proposed diversification was part of the company’s plan to generate new source of revenue and reduce dependency on the existing IT business.

Bid to take Hovid private unsuccessful

PETALING JAYA: Hovid Bhd management's plan to take the company private fell through as it could not get full support from its shareholders.

As at 5pm on January 12, being the final extended closing date, the joint offerors only held a 79.55% stake in Hovid, short of the 90% valid acceptance level.

Last October, Fajar Astoria Sdn Bhd and Hovid managing director David Ho Sue San announced an offer to take Hovid private for 38 sen a share and 20 sen a warrant, cash deal.

Fajar Astoria is a special purpose vehicle set up by TAEL Two Partners Ltd, a private equity firm, to undertake the offer for Hovid with Sue San, who is the son of Hovid's founder Ho Kai Cheong.

For the first quarter ended September 30, 2017, Hovid's net profit slumped to RM2.13 million from RM4.05 million in the previous corresponding period, due to higher proportion of tender sales, operating expenses and an increase in foreign exchange loss of RM1 million as a result of weak US dollar.

Hovid's share price fell 1.5 sen or 4% to close at 36 sen on Friday, with some 779,800 shares changing hands.

Uproar over crackdown on cryptocurrencies divides S.Korea

SEOUL: With a tech-savvy population quick to adopt the latest gadgets and a young generation facing dim prospects in the conventional workplace, South Korea has been a fertile ground for virtual currencies.

But the country's swift embrace of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has been met with an equally swift backlash by regulators, who have gone so far as to propose outright bans on trading.

With markets around the world watching, South Korea has become a fault line between a generation that sees cryptocurrencies as a way to a better life, and government officials who have likened the market to gambling and warned that it encourages illicit behaviour.

On Thursday the justice minister, Park Sang-ki, sent global bitcoin prices temporarily plummeting and virtual coin markets into turmoil when he said regulators were preparing legislation to halt cryptocurrency trading.

As of Friday, a petition on the website of the presidential Blue House had drawn more than 120,000 signatures opposing the move. Heavy internet traffic briefly crashed the site.

The online uprising against the government's plans puts President Moon Jae-in a tough spot, and his office was quick to say a ban is just one proposal under consideration.

“The latest idea to ban it all seems to have come out of a fear that when the bubble bursts and things go wrong, it will be all on the government,” said Yun Chang-hyun, an economics professor at University of Seoul.

With the youth unemployment rate three times the national average and a growing income gap between rich and poor, many young Koreans worry about their economic prospects.

“Tax it as much as you want but don’t shut it down. My life depends on it,” one petitioner wrote on the Blue House website.

Lee Min-kyung, a 25-year old student in a Seoul-based graduate school said she earned about 18 million won (US$16,973.93), double her initial investment in bitcoin. She said the government is showing haphazard responses simply because officials have “no idea.”

“They say the purpose of the regulation is to curb speculative moves, but it makes me just think the government simply doesn't understand what the market is,” Lee said.

More than 30% of 941 office workers surveyed in December by Saramin, a South Korea-based job portal, said they traded cryptocurrencies. The respondents had an average of 5.7 million won (US$5,357.14) invested in virtual currencies, and a majority of them said they began trading because they saw it as the fastest way to earn money.

That trend has earned critics on the street as well as in government offices.

Koh Young-sam, a 56-year old mechanic in Seoul, warned that the craze would collapse.

“Young people shouldn't be lured into this kind of scam. There is always something fishy about things that grow this fast,” Koh said.

South Korea is not alone in struggling to figure out how to tax and regulate online currencies, many of which are designed to provide anonymity for transactions.

In September last year, China cracked down on cryptocurrency trading, citing what officials saw as broader risks to the country's economy.

As South Korea accounts for about 15% of global bitcoin trading, according to the website, how regulators approach the issue will likely have international effects.

The local price of bitcoin in South Korea bounced back on Friday to 19.3 million won (US$17,481.20) from as low as 17.5 million won (US$16,445.82) according to Bithumb, the nation's second-largest cryptocurrency exchange. On the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp, bitcoin stood at US$13,709 after touching US$12,800 the prior day.

Park Chong-hoon, an economist at Standard Chartered Bank in Seoul, said, “South Koreans find it hard to deal with the jealousy from watching their neighbours getting rich fast.”

It is a sentiment echoed by many. Scepticism of “get-rich-quick” schemes among South Korean officials has coloured past forays by international finance into the country.

In the mid-2000s the U.S. private equity fund Lone Star faced raids of its offices and a years-long legal battle with the South Korean government after the foreign fund made millions of dollars buying and selling a controlling stake in a major South Korean bank.

That controversy, which raised concerns over South Korean money flowing to foreign entities, is probably among several factors making South Korea officials wary of managing the new breed of markets originated abroad, analysts said.

“In a practical sense, the South Korean government needs to factor in some political aspects “ if a growing number of people lose huge sums of money on bitcoin because of the government's failed attempts to rein in the frenzy, people will blame the government,” Lee Dong-gwi, a psychology professor at Yonsei University. “Simply put, the South Korean government could be afraid of the political hassles of being held accountable.” – Reuters