Sunday, March 18th, 2018

 

Serba Dinamik in talks to expand training programme to Senegal

KUALA LUMPUR: Engineering services provider Serba Dinamik Bhd, whose share price has more doubled since its listing on Bursa Malaysia a year ago, has identified West African country Senegal as the expansion target for its training programme.

“It is not a firm order, we are negotiating to set up a technical and vocational education and training programme. They (Senegal) are very keen if an entity like Serba Dinamik can come in to upskill their manpower and their citizens,” the group CEO Datuk Abdul Karim Abdullah (pix) told SunBiz recently about its plans to expand to Senegal.

The group provides technical and vocational education and training services for the oil and gas sector as well as petrochemical industry-related skills.
Abdul Karim believes that a skilled local workforce is important and cost efficient compared to bringing in foreign labour.

Recalling the group’s initial footing, he said the group ventured into training and skills development three years after its inception in 1996.

Serba Dinamik is predominantly involved in operations and management (OM) and engineering, procurement construction and commissioning (EPCC). It also has interest in IT solutions.

Geographically, Serba Dinamik has footprints in several countries including Indonesia, Turkmenistan, India, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UK. Currently it is weighing possibilities of expanding its coverage to avoid overdependence on a particular country.

For the IT segment, plans are afoot to roll out the Malaysia Third Party Administrator (myTPA) platform by the end of the month, an online management system which serves as a payment regulating platform between panel clinics and companies developed in collaboration with Malaysian Islamic Doctors Organisation.

Abdul Karim expects the group to rake in RM200 million in revenue in the next three years with the rollout of the product.

As for its QR code-based parking payment application, QuickParking, Abdul Karim said Serba Dinamik is engaging with relevant parties to expand the use of the system to public transport.

The group has been enjoying a good run with the support from its two major income contributors. The OM segment accounted for 84.26% or RM671.89 million of total revenue of RM797.37 million, while the EPCC segment contributed 15.5% or RM123.47 million.

As at mid-February, the group’s order book stood at RM6 billion.

Recently Serba Dinamik proposed to acquire a 40% stake in Maju RE Sdn Bhd, Maju RE (Talang) Sdn Bhd and Maju RE (Temenggor) Sdn Bhd from Maju Holdings Sdn Bhd, which currently owns a 70% stake in these three target companies. The rest is held by Perak Hydro RE Corp Sdn Bhd.

Abdul Karim said the power generation venture is in line with the group’s asset ownership model, which is key in generating steady recurring income in the long term, as OM contracts, though recurring at this point, do not ensure longevity.

Meanwhile, with a 30% stake in One River Power Sdn Bhd, which is mandated to develop a 30MW hydropower plant in Kota Marudu, Sabah, Serba Dinamik is hoping to increase its total capacity of power generation assets to 200MW this year.

On Bursa Malaysia last Friday, Serba Dinamik gained 1 sen or 0.29% to RM3.47 on volume of 1.84 million shares. 


PNB: Our investments in local equities worth RM200 billion now

PETALING JAYA: Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) said its investments in the local stock market are now worth RM200 billion, accounting for more than 10% of the total market capitalisation.

In conjunction with PNB’s 40th anniversary, group chairman Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar said in a statement that PNB is today the largest fund manager in Malaysia with funds worth RM279 billion.

“Out of this, 98% of our funds are invested locally to create business and economic opportunities for Malaysians. This includes providing equal opportunities to Bumiputera professionals in the corporate sector.”

He noted that 70% of the funds are invested in the stock market and public equities. Its 10 strategic companies are Maybank, Sime Darby Plantation, Sime Darby, Sime Darby Property, SP Setia, UMW Holdings, UMW Oil & Gas, CCM, CCM Duopharma and MNRB.

“PNB also has stakes in more than 40 core companies such as TM, Axiata, MMC, TNB and BIMB Holdings where PNB owns more than 10% equity or investment worth more than RM1 billion in those companies.”

In November 2016, PNB unveiled its STRIVE-15 Strategic Plan 2017-2022, which aims to deliver enhanced sustainable returns.

“The PNB workforce has worked tirelessly to implement all 15 strategic initiatives under the three pillars to enhance sustainable returns, effective investment management, and drive operational excellence.

“It has progressed smoothly and has generated much success including the increase in income which enabled PNB to distribute dividend and bonus of 7.25 sen, including a special bonus of 1 sen for the first 10,000 units to Amanah Saham Bumiputera (ASB) unit holders in conjunction with our 40th anniversary,” said Wahid.

He added that the dividend and bonus distribution for ASB as well as other ASNB unit trusts amounted to a payout of RM14.4 billion for the year 2017 and more than RM172 billion cumulative dividends paid out to unit holders since PNB was established.


Fed widely tipped to raise interest rates this week

WASHINGTON: The Federal Reserve (Fed) this week will fire the opening salvo in a series of interest rate increases this year, hoping to get out in front of an expected pickup in inflation.

The first rate increase of the year is overwhelmingly predicted by futures markets, analysts and investors alike to come on Wednesday at the conclusion of the Fed’s two-day policy meeting. It also will be the first under newly installed Fed chairman Jerome Powell (pix).

The US central bank is preparing to raise the key lending rate as economic conditions converge to put upward pressure on prices, including massive new tax cuts, a weaker dollar and even the threat of a trade war.

Fears the Fed could raise its benchmark interest rate at a faster pace, perhaps as many as four times this year, spooked markets last month, briefly sparking a global stocks selloff in early February.

But Fed officials have called for calm, signalling that even the planned steady but gradual monetary policy tightening should not interrupt the momentum of the world’s largest economy, which they say has enough slack to allow for continued low unemployment and some wage increases without sparking inflation.

“They’re trying to prepare the markets and say, ‘Let’s not go crazy’,” Joseph Gagnon, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, told AFP.

But like other economists, he now expects four increases this year rather than three.

“I predict they will have to. It’s not a bad thing. It’s a good thing,” Gagnon said.

Fed officials also will update their quarterly forecasts for the economy and the path of interest rates this week. With stocks on edge last month, Powell told lawmakers his outlook for the US economy had “strengthened since December”.

Since the Fed’s last policy meeting in January, economic data have been somewhat mixed, weighing on expectations for GDP growth in the first quarter: the trade deficit continues to widen, retail and auto sales as well as the housing market have been weaker, durable goods orders have undershot expectations and construction spending has been soft.

But surveys of sentiment in the manufacturing and services sectors show a strong head of steam in the economy while measures of consumer confidence and business sentiment are at record highs. – AFP


PNB funds reach RM279b, 98pc invested locally

KUALA LUMPUR, March 18 — Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB), established some 40 years ago, is today the country’s largest fund manager, managing funds worth RM279 billion, said its Group Chairman, Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar. He said 98 per cent of…


Qu Exchange brings back the barter system

PETALING JAYA: Homegrown Qu Exchange, an app that brings back the barter system of yesteryears, is aimed at bridging the financing gap and easing financial cash flow faced by small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

The app enables SMEs to pledge their products/services in exchange for other desired products/services.

In a recent interview with SunBiz, its founder Wayne Lim said the financing gap for SMEs has been widening in recent years due to lack of funding sources. The business environment is getting even tougher as delayed payment is generally a common issue faced by businesses.

Last year, Bank Negara Malaysia said there was a RM21.8 billion gap in financing for SMEs.

“Since we can’t find more money to help the SMEs, why don’t we just look at their collection problem…Businesses only get paid three months after they provide the services. This is why they need funding,” he said.

This gave birth to Qu Exchange last September, and the platform went live a month later. The word “Qu” is derived from a Mandarin character which means take/obtain.

Currently, a total of 1,700 companies across various industries have registered with the platform with outstanding products/services worth of RM140 million. Since its launch, some RM3 million worth of products/services have been transacted.

SMEs can secure instant trade points, known as “Qu points” by pledging their own products or services on the platform. The points are transferable but no cash-out is allowed to avoid companies taking advantages from point trading.

“We don’t want speculation, we only want these points to be used by the SMEs to buy and supply products and services to each other.

As most businesses would have excess in products and services, he said the platform will provide a good opportunity for them to look for more potential customers. However, products/services that are too “niche” will not be accepted given the difficulty to secure buyers.

The maximum amount of products/services that can be pledged is 10% of annual turnover. A company can only start a second pledge if it delivers the products/services during the first pledge.

Credit checks on participants are conducted together with RAM Credit Information Sdn Bhd (RAMCI), according to Lim, who revealed that the approval rate is almost 100% thus far.

“Our job is not to make the application more stringent, but to ease the difficulty of doing business.”

The exchange does not charge any transaction fee, but a 3% one-off facilitating fee does apply to the first pledge. Of the 3% facilitating fee charged, 1% will be retained as reserves in the event of defaults.

The exchange will be audited by Deloitte to ensure that each point is backed by an equal amount of products and services pledged. The company is also in talks with a few insurers to insure the Qu points.

Looking ahead, the company is looking to expand into the Asean, China and Hong Kong markets in the near future.

Lim said the initial investment cost for Qu Exchange is RM2.5 million and an additional RM10 million is needed for its expansion plan as well as the advancement of technology going forward.

The company is targeting to have 10% of the SMEs in the region registered with Qu Exchange within the next five years.

“There are one million SMEs in Malaysia and the target translates into RM100,000 customers from Malaysia alone.”


Bitcoin’s ‘death cross’ looms as strategist eyes US$2,800 (VIDEO)

NEW YORK, March 18 — The tea leaves don’t bode well for Bitcoin. Traders who look for future price direction in chart patterns are finding more indicators suggesting the world’s largest digital currency may have further to fall….


Top Glove to launch own condom brand by year-end

SHAH ALAM: The world’s largest glove manufacturer Top Glove Corp Bhd plans to launch its own condom brand Top Feel by year-end and will emulate its glove business model for its condom business, where 80% will be catered for original equipment manufacturers.

Chairman Tan Sri Dr Lim Wee Chai said the group intends to start condom production by June or July this year and is also looking to acquire condom and glove factories now.

“Condom is a business that is related to our glove production. If we just depend on the glove business, growth may not be good enough. Especially if we aim (to become) Fortune 500 company, we have to diversify,” he said after signing a US$310 million (RM1.2 billion) unsecured syndicated credit facilities agreement with a consortium of eight banks for the acquisition of surgical glovemaker Aspion Sdn Bhd last Friday.

“In terms of quality improvement, speed, cost and efficiency, glove has been growing and improving faster than condom because there are more players in the glove business and it is more competitive,” he explained.

Lim noted that Top Glove is eyeing the world market for its condom business, starting with Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia. Its glove business has 2,000-3,000 customers and these customers also buy gloves and condoms.

“If 1% (of our customers) buy, we already have 20-30 customers. It’s a good business to go in and a good opportunity for us to diversify. The investment is not big, it’s low risk and the potential is big.”

He opined that the signing of Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership is good for Malaysia as it opens up more markets for exporters.

In business, we encourage free trade and have less trade barriers, which give inefficiency.”

He added that the demand for glove is always there and that the drop in sales in certain markets, such as the US, will be compensated by the increase of sales in other markets.

Top Glove’s acquisition of Aspion for RM1.37 billion is expected to complete in April, which is expected to push the group’s sales to a record RM1 billion in Q3, from RM958.4 million in Q2.

Executive director Lim Cheong Guan said the group would have reached RM1 billion in sales in Q2 if the ringgit had not strengthened 5% then.


Top Glove to launch condom brand

SHAH ALAM: The world’s largest glove manufacturer Top Glove Corp Bhd plans to launch its own condom brand Top Feel by year-end and will emulate its glove business model for its condom business, where 80% will be catered for original equipment manufacturers.

Chairman Tan Sri Dr Lim Wee Chai said the group intends to start condom production by June or July this year and is also looking to acquire condom and glove factories now.

“Condom is a business that is related to our glove production. If we just depend on the glove business, growth may not be good enough. Especially if we aim (to become) Fortune 500 company, we have to diversify,” he said after signing a US$310 million (RM1.2 billion) unsecured syndicated credit facilities agreement with a consortium of eight banks for the acquisition of surgical glovemaker Aspion Sdn Bhd last Friday.

“In terms of quality improvement, speed, cost and efficiency, glove has been growing and improving faster than condom because there are more players in the glove business and it is more competitive,” he explained.

Lim noted that Top Glove is eyeing the world market for its condom business, starting with Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia. Its glove business has 2,000-3,000 customers and these customers also buy gloves and condoms.

“If 1% (of our customers) buy, we already have 20-30 customers. It’s a good business to go in and a good opportunity for us to diversify. The investment is not big, it’s low risk and the potential is big.”

He opined that the signing of Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership is good for Malaysia as it opens up more markets for exporters.

In business, we encourage free trade and have less trade barriers, which give inefficiency.”

He added that the demand for glove is always there and that the drop in sales in certain markets, such as the US, will be compensated by the increase of sales in other markets.

Top Glove’s acquisition of Aspion for RM1.37 billion is expected to complete in April, which is expected to push the group’s sales to a record RM1 billion in Q3, from RM958.4 million in Q2.

Executive director Lim Cheong Guan said the group would have reached RM1 billion in sales in Q2 if the ringgit had not strengthened 5% then.


CO3 and Medini Iskandar set to create ‘world’s most liveable work space’

KUALA LUMPUR, March 18 — Bursting into the local start-up scene last year, CO3 Social Office Sdn Bhd is now collaborating with Medini Iskandar Malaysia (MIM) to develop what it ambitiously calls the “world’s most liveable work space.” The…


Merkel, Xi agree to work on steel overcapacity within G20

BERLIN, March 18 — German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping discussed overcapacity in world steel markets and agreed yesterday to work on solutions within the framework of the G20 group of industrialised nations, Merkel’s…