Wednesday, March 7th, 2018


Exxon woos Wall Street with bold plan to double earnings by 2025

NEW YORK, March 7 — Exxon Mobil Corp, the world’s largest publicly traded oil producer, said today it expects earnings to more than double by 2025 to US$31 billion (RM120.7 billion), with crude prices at or above current levels. It was the…

India’s Tata Steel emerges as top bidder for Bhushan Steel

MUMBAI, March 7 — Tata Steel Ltd said today it had been selected as the highest bidder to buy a controlling stake in debt-laden Bhushan Steel Ltd, ending weeks of speculation on which Indian group would clinch a deal. Salt-to-software…

HRDF mulls extending levy to include agriculture sector

KUALA LUMPUR: The Human Resource Development Fund (HRDF) is mulling expanding the employers’ levy to include the agriculture sector as well as segments of the services sector that are not contributing to it currently.

“Right now we are looking into how we can expand our coverage. This is still in discussion, so we will release the information as we firm up,” said the fund’s chief strategy officer Lim Kah Cheng (pix).

“We want to see how we can make the fund accessible to more industries in the services and manufacturing sector.(As for the) manufacturing sector, they are supposed to register with us, as for services not all are registered with us.
Agriculture is not under our First Schedule and right now we are exploring the idea of expanding the coverage ,” he added.

Lim said HRDF has engaged with the Performance Management and Delivery Unit and is looking at the possibility of widening the levy’s coverage.

Currently, the levy covers subsectors from the manufacturing, services and the mining and quarry sectors.

Firms registered with HRDF with more than 10 employers are subject to a levy amounting to 1% of their employees’ monthly wages whereas those with between five and nine employees are subject to a 0.5% levy.

According to Lim, HRDF collects about RM500 million in levies annually. The fund’s CEO Vignaesvaran Jeyandran reportedly said the fund collected RM700 million last year and the same amount was disbursed.

HRDF uses 70% of the levies collected for training grants while 30% is channelled into a consolidated pool fund.

Lim was speaking at the launch of the Oxford Leadership 4.0 Immersive Learning Lab for Corporations developed in partnership with Malaysian training provider
K-Pintar Sdn Bhd.

The programme consists of a five-day residential module at Oxford Saïd’s executive education facilities in Oxford, the UK, and caters to senior business leaders from large corporations.

The lab, which focuses on Industry Revolution 4.0, will feature a combination of interactive classes, discussions, group work and facilitation, and is expected to be conducted twice a year. The organisers are looking to attract some 30 participants from Malaysia and Asean.

Wall Street to open lower as Cohn’s exit adds to trade war fears

NEW YORK, March 7 — The Dow Jones Industrial Average was set to drop more than 200 points at open today after the exit of free trade backer Gary Cohn triggered concerns that President Donald Trump may move ahead with his threat to impose hefty…

Euro zone yields dip on US tariffs threat to ECB policy

LONDON, March 7 — Euro zone government bond yields dropped today on speculation that planned US import tariffs including on goods from Europe could impede the European Central Bank’s plan to withdraw post-crisis monetary stimulus. US…

07/03/2018 22:39:08

Peanut butter, orange juice among EU’s targets in event of trade war with US

BRUSSELS: The European Union (EU) said today it would hit flagship US products including peanut butter, orange juice and bourbon whiskey with counter measures if US President Donald Trump goes ahead with threatened steel and aluminium tariffs.

The blow by Brussels came hours after Trump’s trade offensive brought the resignation of his top economic adviser Gary Cohn, an influential former Goldman Sachs banker who fiercely opposed the measures.

EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said a full-on transatlantic trade war was “not in anybody’s interests” – a stark contrast from Trump, who last week declared trade wars were “good and easy to win”.

“A trade war has no winners,” Sweden’s Malmstroem told reporters after the European Commission, which handles trade matters for the bloc, discussed the tariffs.

“We should be very careful with that word … there are only losers in that, and that’s why we will respond in a proportionate and balanced way.”

In Luxembourg, European Council president Donald Tusk hit back at Trump, saying “trade wars are bad and easy to lose”.

He also proposed that EU leaders hold an emergency debate on the trade dispute at a summit in Brussels on March 22 and 23.

“President Trump has recently said and I quote, ‘trade wars are good and easy to win’,” Tusk told a press conference in Luxembourg, flanked by Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel.

“But the truth is quite the opposite: trade wars are bad and easy to lose,” the former Polish premier said.

Tusk warned Trump’s plans could lead to “a serious trade dispute” between Washington and the rest of the world involving the EU.

The EU is holding fire on its reprisals as Trump has yet to sign into effect his plan to set tariffs for what he calls unfair competition for US industry, but Malmstroem said a list of products had been drawn up including steel, industrial and agricultural items.

“Certain types of bourbon are on the list as are other items such as peanut butter, cranberries, orange juice,” she said.

Malmstroem said the EU was still trying to persuade Washington not to go ahead with the tariffs, which she said would threaten “thousands of European jobs”.

The EU is also looking at “safeguard” measures to protect its industry – restricting the bloc’s imports of steel and aluminium to stop foreign supplies flooding the European market, which is allowed under World Trade Organisation rules.

Meanwhile, in Washington, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the United States is not seeking a trade war and the decision to impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminium imports was “thought through.”

“We’re not looking for a trade war,” Ross told the CNBC cable network.

“We’re going to have sensible relations with our allies,” he added, arguing that a jump in steel prices could be avoided with increased domestic production of the commodity. – AFP

Malaysia gets high marks for women in senior management

Malaysia: More women in senior posts than globally

PETALING JAYA: Businesses in Malaysia have bucked the global trend with the percentage of women in senior management at 28% in 2018, against the global average of 24%, according to Grant Thornton International Ltd’s annual Women in Business report.

According to the report, 80% of businesses in Malaysia now have at least one woman on the senior management team, as opposed to 75% of businesses globally.

Meanwhile, businesses globally have taken one step back on women in leadership, with a decrease in the percentage of women in senior management although more businesses now have at least one woman on its senior management team.

The report revealed that 75% of businesses globally in 2018 have at least one woman on the senior management team compared with 66% in 2017. However, the percentage of women in senior management slipped from 25% to 24%.

According to Grant Thornton, introducing policies alone is not enough to drive real progress and a wider culture of inclusion championed from the top is needed to create change.

“While it’s hugely positive that women are in senior roles at more businesses, it’s disappointing that they are being spread so thinly. This suggests businesses are concentrating on box-ticking at the expense of meaningful progress and means they will not gain from the benefits of true gender diversity,” said Grant Thornton Malaysia director of technical and corporate affairs Silvia Tan.

“We need to move beyond policy and focus on the vital role leadership and culture can play in creating real progress in gender balance. There is compelling evidence of the link between gender diversity in leadership and commercial success. The current volatility in the global economy and ongoing technological innovation and disruption makes the issue more important than ever,” she said in a statement today.

The report revealed that gender equality policies are abundant and widespread in Malaysia, with 82% of businesses adopting equal pay for men and women performing the same roles and 66% implementing non-discrimination policies for recruitment.

Measures that support working parents are also popular among businesses, including paid parental leave (42%) and flexible hours (24%).

However, there is no clear correlation between which, and how many policies businesses have in place and the gender diversity of their senior management teams.

In Malaysia, companies say they are motivated to introduce gender equality policies primarily to attract and keep employees (73%), enhance company performance (73%) to live up to organisational values (73%), to meet the expectations of wider society (58%) and because of the vision of senior leadership (51%).

However, businesses say the barriers to introducing policies include the lack of evidence that it has a positive impact on company performance (30%), the cost of implementation (22%) and the complexity of translating good intentions into practice (20%).

These companies also want the government to do more to address the issue of gender inequality in business leadership (68%) and they feel that businesses and government need to work collaboratively (62%).

Note that the government has already recommended in the Malaysian Code of Corporate Governance 2016 that there be women directors on the boards of large public listed companies.