Wednesday, June 6th, 2018

 

Boeing says it will not deliver any aircraft to Iran

NEW YORK, June 6 — Boeing will not deliver aircraft to Iran in light of US sanctions, effectively aborting a pair of large contracts with Iranian carriers, a Boeing spokesman said today. “We have not delivered any aircraft to Iran, and given we…


Oil prices drop on surprise US stockpile build

NEW YORK, June 6 — Oil prices fell today on signs Saudi Arabia and other big producers may increase production, and US crude slid more than 1 per cent on a surprise build in domestic crude stockpiles. US crude inventories rose 2.1 million barrels…


Govt said to be looking to replace CEO of Bursa Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR/HONG KONG: Malaysia is looking to replace the chief executive officer of the national stock exchange, two sources said today, the latest in a series of top management changes initiated by the newly elected government.

The sources gave no reason why the government was considering replacing Datuk Seri Tajuddin Atan at Bursa Malaysia. His term is due to end in March next year.

A government adviser briefed by a minister told Reuters that the matter had been “one of the priorities” raised during a weekly Cabinet meeting today, but no conclusion was
reached.

“It was discussed … it's just that they could not come to a decision,” said the source, who requested anonymity.

Addressing a news conference after the Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the issue had not been tabled. “I did not see it on the table,” he said.

Two sources have said among the names being considered as potential replacements for Tajuddin include an external candidate based in Hong Kong, and two internal candidates.

Bursa Malaysia declined to comment. “We do not comment on speculative news,” a spokesman said.


Uber expands electric-bicycle rentals with European debut

BERLIN, June 6 — Uber Technologies Inc announced it would roll out its on-demand electric-bicycle service to Europe, as it seeks to expand its international offerings to include more environmentally-friendly forms of transportation. Uber said…


Banking shares strong as US stocks gain

NEW YORK, June 6 — Wall Street stocks rose early today, looking past lingering trade war fears, as banking shares gained in expectation that higher interest rates would boost profits. About 20 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average…


Cabinet accepts Muhammad’s offer to resign as Bank Negara Malaysia governor

PETALING JAYA: The Cabinet today accepted Tan Sri Muhammad Ibrahim's offer to step down as the governor of Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), in an apparent attempt by him to distance the central bank from aspersions of wrongdoing.

A statement from BNM states that a successor has not been named, but speculation is rife that former deputy governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus, who left the bank shortly after Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz's departure, is a favourite for the job.

Criticism over a RM2 billion deal done between BNM and the Ministry of Finance in January this year resurfaced after Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng confirmed on May 24 that proceeds from the land sale and a RM1.199 billion redemption of redeemable cumulative convertible preference shares of the remaining RM1.2 billion owed to the MoF by Khazanah Nasional Bhd, were used to make interest payments for 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) debts.

Muhammad tried to contain the issue by maintaining that the deal had been done at arm's length and initiated by the central bank, but the matter continued to gain traction, culminating in the governor offering to resign.

In a press conference after the new government's second Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad said Muhammad had not provided a reason for his offer of resignation.

According to Bernama, however, Muhammad told the news agency that over the past few weeks, there had been serious questions raised whether he had fallen short of the highest level of professionalism, integrity and honour standard and put at risk public confidence in the bank.

“I am prepared to relinquish my post if I no longer have the strong trust and support of the public. I cannot in good conscience continue if it affects the bank's image and reputation.

“We are judged by the decisions we make, like for example the recent purchase of Lot 41, acquired at RM850 per square foot, which has attracted wide public interest,” Bernama reported him as saying.

Muhammad went on to reiterate that the land purchase was not done intentionally to assist and abet the misappropriation of public funds pertaining to the corruption and scandal surrounding 1MDB, but instead followed the right manner, with proper governance and accountability, in compliance with all relevant laws.

He said the 22.5ha land was merely one of many the central bank has acquired throughout the country to enable the discharge of its mandates.

“Our own headquarters presently were built on three separate land acquisitions made in the 1950s and 1980s. The Bukit Perdana land, acquired in 2013 at a price of RM1,235 per sq ft, was also based on an independent professional valuer, upon which the ongoing construction of the Asian School of Business and the Financial Industry Training Centre is being done, are also the nearest examples,” said Muhammad, who became governor in May 2016.


Retail Group Malaysia upgrades sales growth outlook for 2018

KUALA LUMPUR: Retail Group Malaysia (RGM) has revised upwards its projected sales growth rate for the local retail industry in 2018 to 5.3% from 4.7% estimated in March 2018, based on the latest quarterly adjustments.

The consulting firm said members of the Malaysia Retailers Association (MRA) are hopeful that their business will recover by the second quarter of 2018, projecting an average growth rate of 6.0%, even after the retail industry recorded a below-than-expected growth rate of 2.6% in the first quarter.

“The change in ruling party after the general election is expected to boost consumers' confidence level and increase their willingness to spend. At the same time, the largest festival in Malaysia, Hari Raya, will be celebrated in June this year,” RGM said.

RGM has adjusted the second quarter retail sales growth forecast to 6.3% from 3.7% estimated in March 2018. The revised number is higher than the latest projection by MRA members. This new estimate takes into consideration the tax holiday during the last month (June) of the second quarter as well as the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration in the middle of this month.

“Many retailers, large and small throughout the country, have taken this once-in-a-life-time opportunity to offer great discounts to attract shoppers to buy. Higher expenditure from tourists, including Singaporeans, is also expected during this period,” RGM said.

The retail sales growth rate for the third quarter has also been revised from 5.2% (estimated in March 2018) to 6.8%. This revision takes into consideration the remaining two months of the tax break before the Sales and Services Tax is reintroduced from Sept 1.

For the last quarter of this year, the retail growth rate forecast has been revised downwards from 5.0% (estimated in March 2018) to 3.5%.

The adjustment is needed to reflect higher consumers' spending during the three-month period with zero-rated Goods & Services Tax. Major purchases are expected to be made from June to August of this year.


Ethiopia loosens throttle on many key sectors, but privatisation still far off

ADDIS ABABA, June 6 — Ethiopia’s decision to sell stakes in its lucrative telecoms monopoly and other assets could open one of the world’s largest untapped markets to huge potential investments by firms willing to work with a government still…


France, Germany, Britain formally request exemptions from US Iran sanctions

PARIS, June 6 — France, Britain, Germany and the EU today sent the United States a joint official request for their companies to be exempt from punitive measures resulting from fresh US sanctions on Iran. “As allies, we expect that the United…


India hikes interest rates for first time in four years

MUMBAI, June 6 — India’s central bank raised interest rates for the first time in over four years today, highlighting concerns over rising inflation. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said the benchmark repo rate — the level at which it lends to…