Thursday, August 23rd, 2018

 

Bayer’s Monsanto faces 8,000 lawsuits on glyphosate

FRANKFURT, Aug 23 — The number of US lawsuits brought against Bayer’s newly acquired Monsanto has jumped to about 8,000, as the German drugmaker braces for years of legal wrangling over alleged cancer risks of glyphosate-based weedkillers. Bayer…


Mizuho’s new leader tackles makeover of megabank

TOKYO, Aug 23 — When Tatsufumi Sakai was named chief executive and president of Mizuho Financial Group this year, many bankers and investors were surprised. The low-key book lover represented a sharp contrast with Yasuhiro Sato, his bold,…


S&P edges up as tech stocks gain; Jackson Hole in focus

NEW YORK, Aug 23 — The benchmark S&P 500 edged higher today as technology stocks rose, though gains were restricted by declines in commodity-related stocks and trade-sensitive sectors after new tariffs took effect in the US-China trade war. In…


Manufacturers expect little impact from govt review of mega projects

KUALA LUMPUR: The government's review of mega projects – including infrastructure deals related to China's Belt & Road Initiative, Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail and Mass Rapid Transit 3 (MRT3) – has no impact on most manufacturers, according to the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers-Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (FMM-MIER) Business Conditions Survey released today.

On the overall review of mega projects, about 56% of 434 respondents to the survey nationwide, conducted from June 6 to July 23, believe that it has no impact on them, while 28% foresee more business opportunities, particularly those in chemicals & chemical products; food, beverages & tobacco; fabricated metal products; plastic & plastic products; machinery & equipment; and electrical, machinery & apparatus. Of the 16% who are anticipating a loss in business opportunities, most are from the fabricated metal products industry.

Most respondents (63%) also do not think that renegotiation of Belt & Road Initiatives, including the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), will affect them. About 26% believe that there will be more business opportunities, most of them in the food, beverages & tobacco; fabricated metal products; plastic & plastic products; as well as wood, paper, furniture and printing industries. The remaining 11% envisage a loss of business, wih most of the votes from the manufacturing fabricated metal products, plastic & plastic products; and non-metallic mineral products.

Cancellation of the HSR and MRT3 is expected to have no impact on 72% of the respondents. Another 21% are anticipating a loss in business opportunities, with those from the fabricated metal products, food, beverages & tobacco, and plastic & plastic products industries looking most apprehensive. About 7% responded positively, with most of the responses from those in the food, beverages & tobacco, as well as the electrical, machinery & apparatus industries.

FMM president Datuk Soh Thian Lai said ground work for the ECRL project has started and at the initial stage most machinery and parts are imported.

“The local content is still not much. When they cancel it, it won't have a big impact (on local manufacturers), except the local workers recruited. Based on labour law, those recruited under ECRL need to be compensated fully,” said Soh.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said in a press conference in Beijing at the end of his visit to China on Tuesday that the ECRL and two gas pipeline projects in Sabah will be cancelled.

In July, he said Malaysia will look to negotiate with Singapore the deferment of the HSR.

Meanwhile, most respondents agree that a minimum monthly wage of RM1,500 is an acceptable goal to be achieved in five years with 50% of the RM500 increase borne by the government. However, they prefer the hike to be implemented in 2019 instead of this year.

On the implementation of the sales and services tax from Sept 1, Soh said consumers will experience less price pressures, given that prices of goods will be reduced in general.

However, manufacturers that will be subjected to the 10% sales tax will need to pass it on to consumers. They include those manufacturing ceramics, industrial products, chemicals, furniture and electronic goods.


Manufacturing sector positive on second half but caution remains

KUALA LUMPUR: The outlook for Malaysia's manufacturing sector, which slowed down in the first half of 2018 (1H18) as production volume and capacity utilisation moderated in line with lower sales, is positive in 2H18 but amid caution, with the balance of risks in the global economy tilting towards the downside.

According to the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers-Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (FMM-MIER) Business Conditions Survey released today, expectations are looking up for business conditions, sales, production volume and cost, and capacity utilisation.

The business activity index rose to 124 for 2H18, compared with 97 in 1H18. The 1H18 index was slower than 115 in 2H17 and 101 in 1H17.

The manufacturing sector is cautiously bracing for better times ahead on expectations that more certainty on policy directions from the new government will unfold for businesses and the economy going forward.

FMM president Datuk Soh Thian Lai said manufacturers will have business confidence after receiving clear policies from the government.

“After the Budget annoucement, they will have more clarity on the government's direction. Manufacturers like to know the government's direction and what they emphasise,” Soh told a press conference after announcing the results of the survey.

Both domestic and external demand is expected to boost sales in the coming months. Production volume and capacity utilisation are set to increase in anticipation of a pick-up in sales.

However, production costs are projected to reduce further in the second half, although they are still on the high side, while a slowdown in capital investment can be expected in the coming months.

Hirings are expected to remain stable for the rest of the year, likely due to anticipation that the minimum wage is set to be adjusted higher soon.


Misif: Delays in GST refunds hurting steel industry

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Iron and Steel Industry Federation (Misif), which has some RM85 million worth of delayed goods and services tax (GST) refunds, views the delays in the repayment as a bane as it could impact jeopardise business operations and disrupt cash flows.

A total of 32 steel firms were affected by the delays and the aforesaid amount, and has been backlogged by several months, according to a Misif survey.

Despite “emphatising” with the government’s ordeal over the missing billions meant for GST refunds, it urged the government to reconsider and channel back the GST refunds to members as soon as possible without delay after the government announced that the input tax credit will be returned beginning next year.

Misif said the delay will cause tremendous hardship and uncertainties to businesses especially with the steel industry already being overwhelmed with a barrage of cost increases this year on account of the double whammy hike in energy tariffs (natural gas and electricity) which took effect on July 1, the implementation of the Employment Insurance Scheme (Jan 1) and numerous pending uncertainties relating to minimum wage and rehiring of foreign workers, as well as prevailing stringent credit access by financial institutions on the steel industry.

“The delay is untimely and continues to be a bane for exporters. It will exacerbate the existing cash flow situation, and the loss in business opportunities arising from the on-going implementation of the duty drawback mechanism for the importation of steel raw materials to produce finished goods for export purposes. All these have impaired the competitiveness and sustainability of the domestic iron and steel industry. “


CIDB issues stop-work order at a site in Cheras

KUALA LUMPUR: The Construction Industry Development Board Malaysia (CIDB) has issued four notices to a construction site in Bandar Tun Razak, Cheras, including a stop-work order, after discovering during a recent multi-agency site inspection visit that 106 out of 111 workers did not have the CIDB Green Card while three types of building materials did not have the certificate of standard compliance.

CIDB said in a statement that this is a breach of Section 33(1) and those found guilty of this violation may be fined up to RM5,000 per worker.

Concurrently, it found that three out of 10 types of building materials inspected did not have the certificate of standard compliance or Perakuan Pematuhan Standard (PPS), which breaches Section 33D(1). Contractors who breach the section can be penalised with a fine not less than RM10,000 but not more than RM500,000.

The site inspection was a joint operation involving CIDB, Kuala Lumpur City Hall, Department of Occupational Safety and Health, the Ministry of Health, the Department of Environment and Civil Defense Department, as part of a wider enforcement operation by CIDB to ensure the safety and quality of construction sites, as stipulated in Act 520.

CIDB reminded all construction industry players to prioritise safety and quality in construction works, including registering all construction workers with CIDB, as well as ensuring that construction materials and products used conforms to standards and carries the certificate of standard compliance issued by CIDB.

“It is crucial that all construction personnel have the appropriate registration and accreditation, and industry players must ensure that all construction materials conform to standards,” said its CEO Datuk Ir. Ahmad Asri Abdul Hamid.


CIDB issues stop-work orders at four sites in Cheras

KUALA LUMPUR: The Construction Industry Development Board Malaysia (CIDB) has issued stop work orders for four construction sites in Bandar Tun Razak, Cheras, after discovering during a recent multi-agency site inspection visit that 106 out of 111 workers did not have the CIDB Green Card while three types of building materials did not have the certificate of standard compliance.

CIDB said in a statement that this is a breach of Section 33(1) and those found guilty of this violation may be fined up to RM5,000 per worker.

Concurrently, it found that three out of 10 types of building materials inspected did not have the certificate of standard compliance or Perakuan Pematuhan Standard (PPS), which breaches Section 33D(1). Contractors who breach the section can be penalised with a fine not less than RM10,000 but not more than RM500,000.

The site inspection was a joint operation involving CIDB, Kuala Lumpur City Hall, Department of Occupational Safety and Health, the Ministry of Health, the Department of Environment and Civil Defense Department, as part of a wider enforcement operation by CIDB to ensure the safety and quality of construction sites, as stipulated in Act 520.

CIDB reminded all construction industry players to prioritise safety and quality in construction works, including registering all construction workers with CIDB, as well as ensuring that construction materials and products used conforms to standards and carries the certificate of standard compliance issued by CIDB.

“It is crucial that all construction personnel have the appropriate registration and accreditation, and industry players must ensure that all construction materials conform to standards,” said its CEO Datuk Ir. Ahmad Asri Abdul Hamid.


Malakoff posts lower Q2 profit, to dispose of Lekir Terminal stake

PETALING JAYA: Malakoff Corp Bhd’s net profit for the second quarter ended June 30, fell 49.11% to RM52.55 million from RM103.27 million a year ago, due to lower contribution from Segari Energy Ventures Sdn Bhd (SEV) and lower fuel margin registered by its coal plants.

The lower contribution from SEV was due to the reduction in the tariff under the extended power purchase agreement (PPA) while lower fuel margin recorded at the Tanjung Bin Energy Sdn Bhd and Tanjung Bin Power Sdn Bhd coal plants.
Revenue for the period grew 12.1% to RM1.94 billion from RM1.73 billion.

Notwithstanding the recent development in the political, economic and regulatory landscape, the group continues to remain positive on the overall outlook for 2018.

In a separate filing with the stock exchange, Malakoff said it is proposing the disposal of 20% equity interest in Lekir Bulk Terminal Sdn Bhd held via its subsidiary Tuah Utama Sdn Bhd to Tenaga Nasional Bhd’s wholly owned subsidiary Integrax Bhd for RM90 million.

It said the disposal is to rationalise the group’s investments to focus on higher growth areas and at the same time enable the unlocking of the value of its investment in Lekir Bulk Terminal which is a non-core business.

Malakoff is expected to recognise a gain of RM55.3 million from the disposal, which it plans to utilise for future investments and working capital requirements.


Sime Darby Plantation completes purchase of Markham Farming

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 23 — Sime Darby Plantation Bhd (SDP) announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, New Britain Palm Oil Limited (NBPOL), has completed the acquisition of Markham Farming Company Limited (MFCL) for US$52.6 million (about…