Tuesday, May 1st, 2018


Nissan sales shocker depresses otherwise steady US auto sales

CHICAGO, May 1 — Nissan Motor Co shocked analysts with a massive decline in US sales last month, dragging down a market that may have otherwise held steady in April. Deliveries plummeted 28 per cent for the Japanese automaker last month, as almost…

Iconic American guitar maker Gibson files for bankruptcy

CHICAGO, May 1 — Gibson, maker of iconic guitars for the likes of John Lennon, Elvis Presley and BB King, filed for bankruptcy protection today after facing mounting debt and other financial challenges. The company, based in the American country…

US stocks fall ahead of Apple earnings, Fed meeting

NEW YORK, May 1 — US stocks sagged early today ahead of Apple earnings and a Federal Reserve meeting that will update the central bank’s views on the speed of planned interest rate hikes. About 15 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial…

Tapestry sinks amid struggles at Kate Spade, Stuart Weitzman

NEW YORK, May 1 — Tapestry Inc, the company formerly known as Coach, is running into big hurdles in its quest to win back shoppers. Same-store sales at Tapestry’s Kate Spade brand missed analysts’ estimates in the latest quarter, while…

Initial coin offerings – are they worth a look?

PETALING JAYA: The flourishing initial coin offering (ICO) industry seems to have been cast in an unfavourable light in Malaysia, particularly after the ban on Singapore-based CopyCash’s issuance imposed by the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC).

While the regulator has stated that it is engaging with 12 ICO issuers currently, none of the offerings appear to have been launched.

Luno Malaysia marketing/community lead Aaron Tang, for one, cautioned that most ICOs are not structured in the right way and are mostly focused on the “raising money” part.

“Also, most ICOs are pure scams as we all know quite well. Regulators in Malaysia and the rest of the world have also been paying closer attention to ICOs as a result of this. Hence, although the model holds promise, overall the market is quite frothy and overblown,” he told SunBiz.

ICOs are a digital blockchain-based form of public fundraising for entrepreneurial purposes as well as source of capital for startups.

Tang said Luno does not engage in any ICO-related activities or list ICO tokens. “We are focused on bringing the most-established digital currencies to customers, in an easy and safe manner.”

For Singapore-based Global Crypto Offering Exchange (GCOX), it plans to launch its ICO in the second quarter of the year to fund its own digital currency “Acclaim”, which will be undertaken in three tranches and is expected to raise US$300 million to US$400 million (RM1.17 billion to RM1.57 billion) in each tranche.

GCOX is the world’s first cryptocurrency exchange that only lists celebrity tokens on its decentralised blockchain. It aims to revolutionise the interaction between celebrities and fans by bringing about closer engagement on its social media platforms, namely Celeb-Listing, Celeb-Connect, Celebreneur and Celeb-Charity.

“The ICO is for our new blockchain; hopefully, when the market understands what the platform allows them to do, it will generate a lot of interest,” GCOX chief communication officer Evan Ngow said in a recent interview with SunBiz.

He stressed that the company has gone through a very stringent legal process to ensure that it is in compliance with the rules and regulations in respect of the ICO launch.

“To lump all ICOs as scams is very unfortunate and it is not fair as there are good ICOs in the market. For those who want to invest in ICOs, you have to read their white papers first. It gives you a basic understanding of what the ICOs are, the potential as well as the promise.”

International boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao is the first celebrity to have signed on with GCOX, for the release of his exclusive celebrity token known as the “PAC Coin”.

Former UK football star Michael Owen has also joined GCOX as celebrity, private investor and member of its board of advisers. Similar to Pacquiao’s case, Owen will have his own celebrity token called “OWN Token” on the platform.

Prof Vikram Pandya, director of FinTech at SP Jain School of Global Management, opined that an ICO is an excellent mechanism to augment the capital through crowdsourcing for innovative projects, which directly challenges traditional model of venture capital and private equity funding. “It has allowed many projects to get funding without going to ‘silicon valleys’ of the world.”

However, he said there is a need for a proper regulatory framework for ICOs to prevent abuse of the system. “It is in essence similar to an IPO but with several peculiar nuances of its own. A dedicated framework for ICOs will ensure that fraudsters and scammers will not be able to abuse this system.”

Regulation of initial coin offerings

PETALING JAYA: The most recent jurisdictions that have come up with regulatory guidelines for initial coin offerings (ICOs) are Singapore and Switzerland.

In assessing ICOs, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (Finma) said it will focus on the economic function and purpose of the tokens issued by the ICO organiser. The key factors are the underlying purpose of the tokens and whether they are already tradeable or transferable.

Finma categorises tokens into three – payment tokens, utility tokens and asset tokens. It warned that ICO projects are subject to numerous uncertainties given that most of these projects are at an early stage of development and it is uncertain whether contracts executed via blockchain technology are legally binding.

In the case of Singapore, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in its document tiled “A Guide to Digital Token Offerings” said it is encouraging companies that wish to offer digital tokens or operate a platform involving digital tokens in the country to seek professional advice from qualified legal practitioners. This is to ensure that the proposed activities are in compliance with the rules and regulations.

Meanwhile, the Australian Securities & Investments Commission stated that ICOs will be a “key focus area” as it looks to update guidance on companies considering raising funds by issuing digital coins or tokens.

At home, the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) has said it does not have plans to introduce more measures to regulate ICOs given that the existing securities laws are sufficient. However, it did not rule out the possibility of “doing more” if needed.

The SC’s stance has been that parties looking to engage in ICOs make contact with the regulator to ensure that there are no issues which will disrupt their plans.

IHH Healthcare sweetens bid for India’s Fortis

BENGALURU/MUMBAI: Cash-strapped Indian hospital operator Fortis Healthcare Ltd said today that two of its five suitors had boosted their bids to invest in the company as of a deadline for binding offers.

Malaysia’s IHH Healthcare Bhd lifted its offer to 175 rupees (RM103.25) a share, a 9.4% premium to an earlier proposal.

IHH’s latest proposal includes an immediate equity infusion at 175 rupees per share and a subsequent equity infusion at a per share price not exceeding 175 rupees, the company said in a statement.

Last week, IHH tweaked an earlier bid and offered to immediately infuse 6.50 billion rupees under the binding portion of the proposal and subsequently invest up to 33.50 billion rupees under the non-binding part of the proposal.

Indian businessmen Sunil Munjal and Anand Burman increased their combined offer to invest in the company to 18 billion rupees from 15 billion rupees, via a subscription to shares and warrants. They have offered 167 rupees per share and 176 rupees per warrant.

Five companies and investment groups are vying to either control or partner with Fortis, which has 30-odd hospitals in India, as they bet on a rapid growth for the private healthcare market in Asia's third-largest economy.

Noon local time today was the deadline for binding offers, which will be evaluated by an expert advisory panel. Fortis' board is due to meet on May 10 to consider the panel's

Manipal, another operator of Indian hospitals along with buyout firm TPG, last week raised its binding offer to buy Fortis' hospitals business at a valuation of 63.22 billion
rupees, 4.3% higher than its previous bid. The group, the first suitor for Fortis, has until May 6 to further revise its offer.

Radiant Life Care Pvt Ltd, backed by private equity firm KKR & Co, has also made a binding offer to acquire Fortis' Mulund Hospital located in Indian financial hub Mumbai for an enterprise value of 12 billion rupees. It has also made a separate non-binding offer involving a separation of diagnostic services company SRL from the Fortis stake sale process.

China's Fosun International is the other suitor. It made a non-binding offer last month to invest up to US$350 million (RM1.37 billion) subject to due diligence for a stake that would be less
than 25%.

Yesterday, Fortis shares closed down about 1% at 152.40 rupees. Indian markets were closed for a holiday today.– Reuters

European Commission says businesses hit by Trump tariff uncertainty

BRUSSELS: The European Commission said today that US President Donald Trump’s decision not to impose steel and aluminium tariffs on the European Union (EU) for now prolonged business uncertainty and the EU should get a permanent exemption.

On Monday, the White House announced that Trump had extended a temporary reprieve from the tariffs for the EU, Canada and Mexico until June 1, just hours before they were due to come into force. He also reached agreements for permanent exemptions for Argentina, Australia and Brazil, it said.

The Commission, which coordinates trade policy for the 28 EU members, acknowledged Trump’s decision but said the EU should be permanently exempted from the tariffs since it was not the cause of overcapacity in steel and aluminium.

Germany, whose trade surplus has attracted criticism from Trump, said it too expected a permanent exemption, with neither side having an interest in escalating trade tensions.

Trump has invoked a 1962 trade law to erect protections for US steel and aluminium producers on national security grounds, amid a worldwide glut of both metals that is largely blamed on excess production in China.

“The US decision prolongs market uncertainty, which is already affecting business decisions,” the Commission said. “The EU should be fully and permanently exempted from these measures, as they cannot be justified on the grounds of national security.”

EU business federation BusinessEurope called the extended respite positive, but said that companies needed predictability. Germany’s DIHK Chambers of Commerce and Industry said the delay did offer the opportunity to defuse the trade conflict.

Britain’s trade minister Liam Fox said he was delighted that Trump had decided to extend the temporary exemption, saying hitting British imports made no sense.

European steel association Eurofer said the US decision was welcome, albeit temporary, but said it was concerned a surge in imports already seen in the past few months could increase as countries redirected exports to the open EU market.

The EU had consistently shown it was willing to discuss concerns about the openness of each other's markets, but would not negotiate under threat, the Commmission said. “Any future transatlantic work programme has to be balanced and mutually beneficial.”

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom would continue discussions with US counterparts, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the Commission said in the statement. – Reuters

Oil slides while traders await Trump decision on Iran accord

LONDON, May 1 — Oil retreated as the dollar strengthened, erasing earlier gains from growing speculation that President Trump may reimpose sanctions on Iranian crude exports. Futures in New York dropped as much as 1.2 per cent after rising 0.5 per…

Malaysia-Taiwan trade seen growing 10% this year

PETALING JAYA: Trade between Malaysia and Taiwan is expected to grow 10% this year, from US$17.5 billion (RM78.39 billion) in 2017, to be driven mainly by the ICT industry, which is also Taiwan’s featured industry.

In 2017, trade between the two countries grew 24.3%, compared with 2016.

Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Malaysia representative James Chang Chi-ping said through all kinds of integrating opportunities such as Taiwan Excellence events and the annual Taiwan Expo, it hopes to introduce some of the greatest Taiwan companies to the Malaysian market.

“Comparing to last year’s Taiwan Excellence, we see a growth in Taiwanese exhibitors participation by 50%. Through the platform (Taiwan Excellence) provided, we hope to engage both Malaysian and Taiwanese to explore collaboration opportunities to exchange techniques,” he told SunBiz in an email interview.

In 2017, Malaysia’s exports to Taiwan grew 11.3% year-on-year to RM23.63 billion, of which Taiwan is ranked 14th among Malaysia’s export countries. Malaysia’s imports from Taiwan grew 30.9% to RM54.75 billion, and Taiwan is the country’s fifth largest importer. Malaysia was the seventh largest trading partner to Taiwan in 2017.

“From the trade statistics, trade between the two countries is getting higher and higher and growing steadily every year, which is really a good sign for the current and further investments,” said Chang.

He said regardless of the outcome of the general election, the Malaysian market is well equipped for Taiwanese investors and companies. It is the diversity of population that makes Malaysia (market) so unique, as the people embrace new and different ideas.

On the US-China trade war and its impact on Taiwanese businesses, Chang said in today’s global economy, all businesses will be impacted by trade policies of major countries. However, Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy seeks to focus on Asean markets and Malaysia is one of the key countries under the New Southbound Policy.

Taiwan External Trade Development Council (Taitra) had in April 2017 established a Taiwan Halal Centre to help Taiwanese businesses enter halal markets in New Southbound Policy countries, including Malaysia. To date, over 800 Taiwanese products have been certified halal by the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim). In Taiwan, over 145 hotels and restaurant are certified halal by Jakim.

Taiwan Excellence provides a platform for Taiwanese businesses to be promoted worldwide as a representation of Taiwan’s innovation and creativity. It also offers Malaysians to get first-hand experience on Taiwan’s products; and for Malaysian entrepreneurs to explore business and trading opportunities with Taiwan.

Taiwan Excellence 2018, which will be held May 4-6 at the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, will bring in products that interest Malaysians the most, based on last year’s feedback. This year’s Taiwan Excellence display will cover four main categories of products, which are ICT and gaming, home living, beauty, and sports.

Established in 1993, the Taiwan Excellence Awards is a yearly award given out by Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Taitra to encourage industries in Taiwan to upgrade and incorporate innovation and value into their products. Each year, eligible candidates are required to undergo a rigorous and stringent selection system that covers four major aspects – research & development, design, quality, and marketing, to identify outstanding products that offer innovative value.

All products bearing the symbol of Taiwan Excellence serve as examples of the country’s domestic industries. The mark of Taiwan Excellence have come to symbolise the innovative values of Taiwanese products and is renowned worldwide for their excellence and quality.