Sunday, August 5th, 2018


Pound bulls look to UK data in hope to revive fortunes

LONDON, Aug 5 — The ailing pound may need a dose of positive UK data to help it recover from a losing run against the dollar. Traders will watch data due this week in the hope that evidence of a strong economy will help boost the currency….

Trump says US now has the upper hand on China in tariff battle

WASHINGTON, Aug 5 — President Donald Trump defended his use of tariffs that have inflamed tensions with China and Europe, telling an audience of diehard supporters yesterday that playing hardball on trade is “my thing.” “We have really…

Taiwan’s iPhone chipmaker races to recover after crippling computer virus

TAIPEI, Aug 5 — Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, which makes chips for the iPhone and other devices, detailed its progress in recovering from a debilitating computer virus and warned of delayed shipments and reduced revenue because of the…

Selangor govt gives Gamuda until Friday to accept offer for Splash

PETALING JAYA: Gamuda Bhd, which has maintained that Syarikat Pengeluar Air Sungai Selangor Sdn Bhd (Splash) is worth more than RM2.8 billion minus its loans, has until Friday to revert to the Selangor state government on its RM2.55 billion offer for Splash.

The offer was made via Pengurusan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Air Selangor) to acquire the entire 50 million ordinary shares and 350 million redeemable unsecured loan stocks of Splash.

It represents a 39% jump from the last offer for Splash of RM1.83 billion made under former Selangor mentri besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim. The offer however falls short of Gamuda’s reported expectations of an at least RM2.8 billion price tag. Splash loans, as stated in January 2015, stood at RM1.56 billion.

Splash is a wholly owned subsidiary of Syarikat Pengeluar Air Selangor Holdings Bhd (Splash Holdings), in which Gamuda has 40% interest, while Kumpulan Perangsang Selangor Bhd (KPS) and The Sweet Water Alliance Sdn Bhd own 30% each.

The sale and purchase of Splash will be transacted through a share purchase agreement (SPA) between Air Selangor and Splash Holdings, and the SPA shall be entered into by Sept 14 at the latest.

If the deal is accepted, the purchase consideration will be satisfied with an upfront payment of RM1.9 billion on the completion date of the SPA while the balance purchase price of RM650 million will be settled in nine annual instalments.

Gamuda said in a filing with Bursa Malaysia that it will make the appropriate announcement in due course after going through due process internally and discussions with Splash Holdings.

In a separate filing, KPS said that the proposed acquisition by Air Selangor is a step closer to the resolution of Selangor’s water sector restructuring and a closure for KPS.

“This corporate development is certainly not all loss to the group, as we can now be fully focused in executing our business transformation plan to unlock the full potential of our core businesses, thus, creating long-term value and generating sustainable returns for the group,” said its CEO Ahmad Fariz Hassan.

Splash is the last pending water asset under the Selangor water restructuring exercise. Puncak Niaga Sdn Bhd, Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd and Konsortium Abbas Sdn Bhd sold their water assets for RM2.47 billion, RM3.11 billion and RM990 million, respectively.

KPS agreed to sell its 30% stake in Splash in 2015, but both Gamuda and Tan Sri Wan Azmi Wan Hamzah-controlled The Sweet Water Alliance balked at the deal, which led to the impasse of more than two and a half years.

An air of uncertainty among local businesses

PETALING JAYA: Uncertainty over government policies is the top concern among Malaysian businesses, said Ipsos Business Consulting (Ipsos BC).

“Policy uncertainty, especially concerning economic policies such as taxation, trade and investment, significantly impedes business decisions. A lack of clarity and firm policy adds a layer of risk for long-term business planning,” it said in a statement.

While there has been a lot of communication between the new government, media and the public, businesses still feel that there is a lack of clear and comprehensive direction from the government.

According to Ipsos BC, businesses want further clarity concerning the status of some mega projects initiated by the previous government and large local enterprises have expressed concern over the possibility of contract termination or delay in projects that are already in their pipeline.

Ipsos BC, the business advisory division of market research and consulting company Ipsos, carried out a study on the views of businesses operating in Malaysia, involving 100 businesses nationwide.

Besides government policies, the study also revealed the depreciation of the local currency as a key concern among businesses.

“Currency depreciation is especially worrying for companies that derive their sales domestically, but rely on imports for intermediate materials as this would increase the production cost and reduce profit margins,” it said.

Meanwhile, multinational companies (MNCs) are more worried about the ringgit’s fluctuation due to the impact on their international trade operations. These MNCs also expressed concern over the cost involved in the reversal of the goods and services tax.

Areas that the business community want the government to address include stabilising the local currency in order to reduce currency risk and ensuring consistent policies as well as providing adequate transition time for policy changes.

“In addition, small and medium enterprises would like the government to provide better financial support and assistance for businesses, while large local companies would like the government to minimise red tape and cumbersome regulatory requirements,” said Ipsos BC.

Overall, the majority of businesses are generally optimistic towards the economic outlook over the next one year, with MNCs expressing a slightly higher level of optimism.

The positive sentiment is underpinned largely by a hope that the new government will come up with policies and initiatives that are expected to restructure and boost the economy.

The overall positive sentiment on the economy also translated to an equally upbeat sentiment on their own business prospects, partly due to the expected improvement in the local business climate.

In line with the optimistic sentiment, the majority of businesses indicated their intention of increasing their investment in the next one year, with a greater likelihood to invest among large local companies as well as MNCs.

However, businesses are also cautious about the policy direction under the new government and are taking a wait-and-see approach until policies are clearly set.

“The good news is that given the smooth political transition, Malaysia’s long-term attractiveness as an investment destination and a place to do business is now stronger,” said Ipsos BC country head for Malaysia and Philippines Kiranjit Singh.

However, he noted that the government will now need to communicate a clear, consistent and comprehensive economic policy.

“Failing which, businesses may start losing their optimism and hold back in making any investment decisions. The current upbeat mood among businesses can quickly turn downward if the uncertainty continues,” he added.

Major appointments over the weekend

PETALING JAYA: Over the weekend, Employees Provident Fund (EPF) named Deputy CEO (Strategy) Tunku Alizakri Alias as the new CEO, while the Ministry of Defence named Tan Sri Mohd Zahidi Zainuddin as Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera’s (LTAT) new chairman.

Alizakri replaces Datuk Shahril Ridza Ridzuan, who is headed to Khazanah Nasional Bhd as its new managing director from Aug 20.

Alizakri joined the EPF on Jan 1, 2014 as the deputy CEO (Strategy), overseeing national policies on social protection, and developing EPF products and services.

In addition, he is responsible for corporate strategy, corporate affairs, human capital and talent development. He is also a member of the EPF Management Investment Committee, which is responsible for ensuring all investment recommendations adhere to EPF governance and risk controls.

Previously, he served at Bank Negara Malaysia, the Iclif Leadership and Governance Centre, DiGi Telecommunications, Maybank and Sime Darby.

“We are pleased with this internal appointment, as it is a validation of our robust succession planning, which has enabled the Minister of Finance to choose a suitable internal candidate. The appointment of the new CEO will ensure continuity in the performance of the EPF and assure members that the EPF will continue to run smoothly in delivering its mandate. The choice of Alizakri as CEO will help further drive the social well-being agenda for the country,” said EPF Chairman Tan Sri Samsudin Osman in a statement.

Meanwhile, Minister of Defence Mohamad Sabu’s appointment of Mohd Zahidi replaces Tan Sri Mohd Anwar Mohd Nor whose term ended in March 2018.

Mohd Zahidi served the Malaysia Armed Forces for 39 years and held many key appointments at field and ministerial levels. He was the Chief of Defence Forces from Jan 1, 1999 until his retirement on April 30, 2005, after which he joined the corporate sector.

Minister: Better export prospects for palm oil in 2H18

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 5 — The export prospects for Malaysian palm oil in the second half of 2018 looks positive, as the Ministry of Primary Industries has set its eyes on wooing more buyers from China, the world’s second largest economy and…

Wall Street week ahead: Investors move to cash, anticipating Democratic gains in US Nov elections

NEW YORK, Aug 5 — The likelihood of a Democratic party takeover of at least one house of the US Congress in the midterm elections in November is prompting some portfolio managers to move more money to cash and rotate away from sectors like…

UK trade minister Fox says EU is pushing Britain to no-deal Brexit

LONDON, Aug 5 — British trade minister Liam Fox said “intransigence” from the European Union was pushing Britain towards a no-deal Brexit, in an interview published yesterday by the Sunday Times. With less than eight months until Britain quits…

China won’t accept US trade ‘blackmail’, says state media

BEIJING, Aug 4 — China’s state media said today the government’s retaliatory tariffs on US$60 billion (RM244.9 billion) of US goods showed rational restraint and they accused the United States of blackmail. Late yesterday, China’s finance…