Sunday, March 25th, 2018


CIMB-Principal launches new fund to tap into Asia’s largest equity market

KUALA LUMPUR, March 25 — CIMB-Principal Asset Management Berhad has launched its maiden China-focused fund, CIMB-Principal China Direct Opportunities Fund under its renminbi qualified foreign institutional investor (RQFII) licence. The…

PBOC’s Yi pledges more open financial sector and reduced risk

BEIJING, March 25 — People’s Bank of China Governor Yi Gang said the nation will further ease access to its financial sector and coordinate the opening with currency reforms. China will open the capital account in an “orderly” way and…

Sinopec offers record dividend as refining powers profit higher

HONG KONG, March 25 — China Petroleum & Chemical Corp, the world’s biggest refiner, will pay a record-high dividend as its massive refining segment helped it post a nearly 10 per cent increase in full-year profit. Net income climbed to 51.2…

Pepper exports touch RM400m, says Mah

TELUK INTAN, March 25 — Malaysia’s pepper exports last year amounted to RM400 million, said Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong. He said among the major export markets were Europe, China, Japan, South…

Analysts positive on IHH Khazanah’s Prince Court purchase

PETALING JAYA: Analysts are positive on IHH Healthcare Bhd’s involvement in the takeover of Prince Court Medical Centre (PCMC) by Khazanah Nasional Bhd, maintaining a positive outlook on the hospital operator’s earnings.

On Friday, Khazanah announced that through a wholly owned subsidiary, Pulau Memutik Ventures Sdn Bhd, it will acquire the hospital from Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) for an undisclosed sum by the end of June.

The deal includes a collaboration agreement with IHH for shared services support and operational improvement initiatives at PCMC.

IHH will be given a right of first offer to acquire PCMC during a pre-agreed period, which was also not disclosed. In January, IHH had denied being in “any process to acquire PCMC”.

MIDF Research said taking into account the location of the 270-bed PCMC and the type of specialisation available, the acquisition is expected to cost Khazanah RM300 million to RM400 million.

Citing the lack of a clear-cut timeline for the first right offer, MIDF said the collaborative arrangement, which centres on providing advisory services for a fee, is attractive for IHH in the long term.

MIDF considers the possible acquisition of PCMC by IHH a move which would be in line with the hospital operator’s strategy to be the leading premium healthcare service provider in Malaysia.

It has no other greenfield or brownfield plans to expand in Malaysia, other than the extensions of several existing hospitals.

“Furthermore, with IHH’s experience of managing and transforming hospitals into premium healthcare service providers, we opine that this potential acquisition could be earnings-accretive for IHH in the future,” MIDF said.

MIDF maintained a “buy” call on IHH with an unchanged target price of RM6.91.

Public Investment Bank Research opined that PCMC would be an attractive asset to be added into IHH’s portfolio, maintaining a neutral call at an unchanged target price of RM5.79 for IHH’s shares.

Tripcarte Asia plans foray into Asean market

KUALA LUMPUR: Tripcarte Asia, a homegrown travel online platform that lets travellers discover and book things to do, is looking to expand its service into the Asean market, including Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand or Vietnam by end of 2019.

Currently, the startup only has a presence in Malaysia, offering about 90 tours and attractions from Johor, Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi, Port Dickson, Ipoh, Malacca and Penang.

Previously known as, Tripcarte Asia provides an online ticketing service that allows travellers to book a single e-ticket that “bundles together” admission to many attractions, allowing individuals to skip the queue at the venue.

Founded and launched in 2015, Tripcarte Asia aims to consolidate the tours and activities market by providing a single online destination to discover and book in-destination activities.

In a recent interview with SunBiz, its founder and CEO Parthiven Shan said the company is targeting to be the largest online ticketing platform in Southeast Asia within the next three years.

“There are a few strategies that we are looking at, it is either through partnerships with local company abroad, or we can work from our office here.

“We are looking into the best ways to penetrate this market depending on the countries, the difficulties and the challenges.”

“Currently, we are in talks with a company to set up some sort of operation in Indonesia. Our next immediate destination is going to be Indonesia,” he added.

In addition, Parthiven said the company is also targeting to increase its offering to around 1,000 activities and attractions within the first two years of its three-year plan.

In terms of its revenue target, he said the company is looking to hit RM7 million to RM8 million this year, compared with RM1.6 million in 2017, driven by the increase in number of destinations.

“We have moved to other destinations in other states and we are expanding to all over the country,” he said.

On the funding front, this year, Parthiven said the company is seeking to raise up to RM1 million to scale up its current operations, which is in line with its market expansion plan.

“There are a few venture capital funds that we have lined up to present to over the next few months.

“Previously, we got a direct grant from Cradle Fund, totalling about RM300,000, which was basically used for our business expansion,” he added.

Will Group eyes rights for Chatime in Singapore

PETALING JAYA: Will Group Sdn Bhd, the master franchisee for Chatime in Malaysia, is eyeing the rights for Chatime in Singapore a year after it opens its first outlet there.

Chatime Malaysia group managing director Aliza Ali said it has obtained the green light from Chatime franchisor La Kaffa International Co Ltd to enter the Singapore market, where it will open two Chatime outlets in shopping malls this year and an outlet in Jewel Changi Airport in 2019 to gauge the market there.

“It (Singapore master franchisee) is something that we’re eyeing but let us prove ourselves to the principal (La Kaffa) first. If they see that we can manage the market in Singapore and if they’re happy with our performance, we will talk about the possibility (of being the Singaporean master franchisee),” she told SunBiz.

Aliza noted that there are existing bubble tea players that are doing well in Singapore, such as Koi, Gong Cha and LiHo. There is no Chatime in Singapore yet. Its rival Tealive is also not in Singapore, but has ventured into Vietnam and announced plans to go into Australia.

“This (Singapore) is a new market, we can’t just go in and want the master franchisee rights without showing that we are going to do it well. We have to open (outlets) first then only we can see how the market is. For us to jump in to be the master franchisee and put our investments there without knowing how we want to move ahead, wouldn’t be a smart move either,” she explained.

Aliza added that franchisors will usually save the exclusivity of a territory for a franchisee, while it markets the brand there. Once the franchisee has opened a certain number of outlets for a period of time, the franchisor will then award the master franchisee rights to the selected franchisee.

While Singapore is a feasible venture for Will Group, the bubble tea company is also entering the Middle East market, with plans to open Chatime outlets in Mecca and Medina this year.

There is already a Chatime master franchisee in the Middle East in Saudi Arabia (Jeddah) hence Will Group is aiming for Mecca and Medina where Chatime is yet to be present, under a sub-franchisee arrangement.

“We would like to have some exclusivity there (in the Middle East) but we’re aware that there is already a master franchisee so any planning would have to be done out of respect for the master franchisee there. It has to be something that the master franchisee is comfortable to grant us. With the help of La Kaffa, we would like to get our interest across to the master franchisee there,” said Aliza.

Its expansion plan into Singapore and Middle East comes after Chatime Malaysia obtained the halal food certification from the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia for its menu, paving the way for new avenues of business. It has outlined a five-year RM100 million expansion plan targeting over 150 outlets in Malaysia and internationally.

Will Group was offered the role of master franchisee for Chatime in Malaysia following a dispute that escalated between La Kaffa and ex-master franchisee Loob Holding Sdn Bhd last year, that saw the franchisor terminating the master franchisee contract with Loob.

Uber is said to reach agreement on SE Asian sale to Grab

SAN FRANCISCO, March 25 — Uber Technologies Inc has reached an agreement to sell its Southeast Asian ride-hailing business to rival Grab and could announce the deal as early as tomorrow morning in Singapore, people familiar with the matter said….

China’s new finance minister says some tax changes coming

BEIJING, March 25 — China’s new finance minister today vowed to push ahead fiscal reforms, including changes in tax on manufacturing and transportation, to support the government’s goal of “high-quality” growth. Liu Kun made the…

World’s richest lose US$436b as 2018’s stock rout deepens

NEW YORK, March 25 — It’s been an expensive two months for the 500 wealthiest people on the planet. Their combined net worth fell US$181 billion (RM709.06 billion) this week as the S&P 500 Index and Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered…