Monday, October 29th, 2018


Seacera says three major shareholders forced to sell stock

PETALING JAYA: Seacera Group Bhd said today its share price halved last week because three major shareholders were forced to sell their shares under a share margin financing arrangement.

The company was responding to the unusual market activity (UMA) query by Bursa Malaysia.

Forced-selling of shares occurs when the market value of the shares under the account dips to a level where the margin percentage (market value of shares vs total amount financed) hits a certain threshold. This differs between banks and stockbroking firms.

Chairman Datuk Seri Mansor Masikon, managing director Zulkarnin Ariffin and Datuk Ismail Osman were all forced to sell a total of 53.81 million shares or a 14.3% stake, according to filings with the stock exchange.

Zulkarnin told SunBiz that he does not rule out the possibility of accumulating the company's shares again, stating that he can do so if he meets certain requirements. He did not elaborate.

The tile manufacturer's share price hit 23 sen last Thursday, before closing the week at 15.5 sen on Friday following concerns over the disposal of a significant number of shares by its major shareholders of late.

The stock however rebounded as much as 6.5 sen or 41.9% to 22 sen today before closing 5 sen or 32.3% higher at 20.5 sen on 167.47 million shares done, emerging as the most actively traded stock.

Seacera's share price started to fall from a high of 80 sen in January. Year to date, its shares have skidded 74%.

Zukarnin has been actively selling off his stake since August, paring down his shareholding from 13.7% to 8.4%.

In the same period, Mansor's shareholding has gone down from 9.2% to 7.4%, while Ismail's stayed at around 21% despite some disposals recently.

Seacera fell into the red registering a net loss of RM5.46 million for the second quarter ended June 30, 2018 against a net profit of RM597,000 in the same quarter last year.

Rehda: Properties in new launches to be at least 5% cheaper

PETALING JAYA: Following numerous calls for lower property prices, the Real Estate and Housing Developers' Association Malaysia (Rehda) has come out to say that house buyers can now expect prices to be at least 5% lower for new launches.

This is partly attributable to 2.5% to 5% of savings for developers after the exemption of the sales and services tax (SST) on basic construction materials and all construction services.

“Together with other discounts and rebates that most developers are currently offering in view of the soft market for new launches, house purchasers can look forward to lower prices of minimum 5% depending on the location and type of product,” said Rehda president Datuk Soam Heng Choon in a statement today.

He, however, stressed that the quantum of savings for developers is dependent on the type of developments and will only be applicable to new projects as prices for those projects during the goods and services tax (GST) era would have been agreed upon with the contractor, and are already in various stages of completion.

“Under the GST regime, residential property developers were unable to claim input tax credit and had to absorb the cost increase but with the abolishment of GST and the above waiver from SST, we should expect to see some savings in development cost,” he noted.

Hence, Soam said, Rehda is encouraging all developers to pass on this savings back to purchasers in the form of price reduction.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has repeatedly asked developers to cut property prices and threatened to review the SST waiver on construction materials if developers refuse to lower property prices.

He also stressed that what the government wants to see is house price reduction and not additional perks such as freebies and rebates by developers.

Meanwhile, Rehda hopes that all stakeholders will work together to look at ways to reduce the input cost of the property development business and in particular compliance cost so as to enable property prices be reduced further.

Scomi receives US$19.13m demand from Exim Bank

PETALING JAYA: Scomi Group Bhd and its wholly owned subsidiary Scomi Transit Projects Brazil (Sao Paulo) Sdn Bhd have received notices of demand from Export-Import Bank of Malaysia Bhd (Exim Bank) for US$19.13 million (RM79.94 million).

The default mainly arose due to failure by Scomi Transit Projects Brazil (as borrower) and Scomi Engineering Bhd (as guarantor) to pay for monies due under the bank facilities granted to Scomi Transit Projects Brazil.

Scomi said both Scomi Transit Projects Brazil and Scomi Engineering are still in the process of negotiating with Exim Bank and have sought an extension of time from the bank.

It added that, currently, there are no business, financial and operational impact of the default on the group as Scomi Engineering and Scomi Transit Projects Brazil are not major subsidiaries.

Worth noting is that the default will give rise to an event of default by virtue of the cross-default provision under the financing documents in respect of a leasing facility amounting to RM1.29 million and an overdraft and foreign exchange contract facility granted to certain subsidiaries of Scomi.

Many US firms in China mull relocation: AmCham survey

SHENZHEN: More than 70% of US firms operating in southern China are considering delaying further investment there and moving some or all of their manufacturing to other countries as the trade war bites into profits, a business survey showed today.

US companies operating in China believe they are suffering more from the trade dispute than firms from other countries, according to the poll by the American Chamber of Commerce in South China, which surveyed 219 companies, one-third from the manufacturing sector.

Sixty-four per cent of the companies said they were considering relocating production lines to outside of China, but only 1% said they had any plans to establish manufacturing bases in North America.

“While more than 70% of the US companies are considering delaying or cancelling investment in China, and relocation of some or all manufacturing out of China, only half of their Chinese counterparts share the same consideration,” the AmCham report said.

The trade war is shifting both supply chains and industrial clusters, mostly towards Southeast Asia, the survey found.

US companies reported facing increased competition from rivals in Vietnam, Germany and Japan, while Chinese companies said they were facing growing competition from Vietnam, India, the United States and South Korea.

Customers are slowing down orders or not placing them at all, Harley Seyedin, president of AmCham South China, told Reuters.

“It could very well be that people are holding back on placing orders until times are more certain or it could very well be that they are shifting to other competitors who are willing to offer cheaper products, even sometimes at a loss, in order to get market share,” he said.

“One of the most difficult things about market share is once you lose it, it is very hard to get back.”

Companies in the wholesale and retail sectors have suffered the most from US tariffs, while agriculture-related businesses have been most hit by Chinese measures, the survey found.

The survey was conducted between Sept 21 and Oct 10, shortly after the US imposed tariffs on another US$200 billion worth of Chinese goods. That prompted Beijing to retaliate with additional tariffs on US$60 billion of US products, escalating a tariff war between the world's two largest economies.

The US duties are set to rise sharply on Jan 1. – Reuters

Wall Street rebounds with help from auto, tech stocks

NEW YORK, Oct 29 — US stock indexes rose today, as gains in auto stocks, a recovery in tech company stocks and relief over an unchanged sovereign rating on Italy helped a rebound from last week’s steep global selloff. Carmaker Ford Motor Co rose…

US urges EU to stop WTO steel spat, hopes for deal with Canada, Mexico

GENEVA, Oct 29 — The United States said today it was “deeply disappointed” the European Union was pressing ahead with litigation over US and aluminium tariffs at the World Trade Organisation, and urged EU member states to consider carefully…

TMC Life eyes M&A deals in four markets

PETALING JAYA: TMC Life Sciences Bhd, which posted an 8% jump in its earnings for the full year ended Aug 31 (FY18), is looking at merger and acquisition (M&A) deals in Malaysia, Indonesia, China and Singapore over the next six to 12 months in line with its vision to be the pan-Asian healthcare provider of choice.

Executive director and group CEO Roy Quek said there are ongoing discussions with potential partners and that in each of these countries there may be one or more deals that may be of different nature. He said it could be hospital deals, investments in existing premises, or even developing start-ups.

“We do M&As to have existing hospitals and facilities to be absorbed into our platform. It’s a lot faster, it comes with facilities, trained manpower and customer base. We believe by going into these investments, we will be able to add value,” he told a media briefing after announcing its FY18 financial results today.

He said there are many areas in Asia that remain underserved, from the range of medical services to the quality of services, adding that it will also explore partnership with other healthcare groups.

Quek said the group, which operates the Thomson Hospital Kota Damansara and TMC Fertility Centres, will also start the traditional complementary medicine (TCM) business next month.

“We expect TCM to be a profitable business. We want to see how we’re able to bring it together with the services we have and how we’re able to grow it,” he said.

For the fourth quarter ended Aug 31, TMC’s net profit rose 2% to RM11.34 million from RM11.1 million a year ago mainly due to lower total operating expenditure during the current quarter.

Revenue increased 10% to RM43.19 million compared with RM39.31 million in the previous year’s corresponding quarter contributed by higher patient load and higher intensity cases handle.

For the full year period, the group’s net profit was up 8% to RM28.06 million from RM26.03 million a year ago, mainly due lower total operating expenditure, while revenue was up 11% at RM169.04 million versus the previous year’s RM151.71 million.

The board recommended a single tier final dividend of 1.83% or 0.183 sen for FY18 with a net amount payable of RM3.2 million.

Dollar stands tall as equities fall

LONDON: The dollar rose towards a 10-week high against a basket of other currencies today as concerns about global growth pervaded markets.

World stocks have sold off in October, beset by worries over corporate earnings and geopolitical uncertainty.

That has lifted the dollar – a currency that typically outperforms in risk-off periods – but the currency has strengthened only moderately.

“This likely reflects a number of factors, including long dollar positioning and, by the end of this week, some modest repricing of Federal Reserve expectations,” said Zach Pandl, co-head of foreign exchange at Goldman Sachs.

The dollar index rose 0.2% to 96.517 after gaining 0.7% last week when it hit a ten-month high.

The duelling tariffs imposed by the United States and China have also lifted the dollar. The market has assumed that while the US economy will be hit by reduced trade, it will be hurt less than its trading partners.

“There seems little short-term catalyst for investors to move away from overweight positions in the high-yielding dollar,” said ING’s head of FX strategy Chris Turner.

“Keeping the dollar bid this week should be a continuation of strong US data. At the same time, we will be watching developments in China,” he said.

The US economy slowed less than expected in the third quarter, data showed on Friday, as the strongest consumer spending in nearly four years and a surge in inventory investment offset a tariff-related drop in soybean exports.

Among emerging markets, Brazilian-linked stocks got a lift from the victory in the country’s presidential election of far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who campaigned on promises to clean up politics and crack down on crime.

The safe-haven Japanese yen has benefited from the global sell-off in riskier assets as investors unwound carry trade exposures. It gained 0.6% last week and today traded flat at 111.96 per dollar.

Investors will be watching the Bank of Japan’s monetary policy announcement, due tomorrow.

The euro hovered around US$1.14 (RM4.76), its lowest in more than two months. Investors saw some relief after German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s junior coalition partners gave her conservatives until next year to deliver more policy results.

However, concerns loomed over her future after both parties suffered in a regional election on Sunday.

Sterling held near a two-month trough of US$1.28 before Britain’s annual budget due today.

Finance Minister Philip Hammond is likely to urge his Conservative Party to back the government’s plan for Brexit, or put at risk a long-awaited easing of austerity. – Reuters

Equanimity goes under the hammer

KUALA LUMPUR: A US$250 million (RM1.04 billion) luxury yacht linked to a multi-billion dollar scandal at Malaysia’s state fund 1MDB has gone up for auction, a government lawyer said today, the first sale of a major asset seized by investigating authorities.

The Equanimity is among US$1.7 billion in assets allegedly bought by fugitive Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, and his associates with funds taken from 1MDB, the US Department of Justice has said.

Malaysia and the United States are investigating how billions of dollars went missing from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), with some of the money used to buy a private jet, Picasso paintings, jewellery, real estate and a superyacht.

A Malaysian court in August approved the sale of the 300-ft (91m) Cayman Islands-flagged Equanimity, which was impounded months earlier near the Indonesian island of Bali and handed over to Malaysia.

The Equanimity, which according to US court documents was bought by Low for US$250 million, has been appraised for the auction. But its estimated value will only be disclosed after the bidding process ends on Nov 28, said Jeremy Joseph, a lawyer for 1MDB and the government.

“If the highest bid matches or exceeds the appraised value, then it can be accepted by the court,” Joseph told Reuters.

The proceeds will be held by the court for 90 days to allow time for any potential claimants to come forward, he said.

A representative for Equanimity (Cayman) Ltd, a company which claims ownership of the yacht, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The firm said in August that Malaysia’s move to sell the yacht was a violation of due process and international law.

Malaysian police have issued an arrest warrant and filed criminal charges against Low, but his whereabouts are unknown.

A representative for Low, who has maintained his innocence, did not immediately reply to a request for comment today.

Low said through a spokesman in August that the seizure and planned sale of the yacht was “illegal and costly.”

The Equanimity’s interior was designed “using a variety of exotic materials,” according to a website listing by Burgess, a yacht brokerage appointed to oversee the bidding process.

The vessel can accommodate up to 22 guests and 31 crew, with amenities that include a swimming pool, a beauty salon, a massage room and sauna, medical facilities and a helicopter pad, the listing said.

MISC JV awarded seven-year contract

PETALING JAYA: MISC Bhd’s 51%-owned joint-venture with PetroVietnam Technical Services Corp (PTSC) has been awarded a time charter contract with an estimated value of US$176 million (RM735 million) by Japan’s Idemitsu Kosan Co Ltd (IKC) for the provision of a floating storage and offloading vessel (FSO).

Upon conversion of the donor vessel, the FSO will be deployed for the Sao Vang and Dai Nguyet Development Project in Blocks 05-1b and 05-1c offshore Vietnam.

MISC said pursuant to the contract, the FSO will be leased by IKC for a firm period of seven years.

PTSC, a company incorporated in Vietnam, is a member of Vietnam Oil and Gas Group and is primarily involved in the supply of technical services to the oil & gas industry in Vietnam.

IKC, meanwhile, is engaged in petroleum refining and manufacture and sale of oil products, manufacture and sale of petrochemical products, and the exploration, development and extraction of petroleum, coal and geothermal resources.