Wednesday, December 26th, 2018


Rusal board chairman quits as part of US sanctions waiver deal

MOSCOW, Dec 26 — Russian aluminium company Rusal said today that board chairman Matthias Warnig resigned as part of a restructuring it agreed to implement in exchange for a waiver from US sanctions. The US Treasury said last week it would remove…

Genting shares skid on news of legal tussle over Las Vegas casino project

PETALING JAYA: Shares of Genting Bhd and Genting Malaysia Bhd slid today as the project it is embarking on in Las Vegas has been embroiled in a legal tussle.

Genting fell 21 sen or 3.37% to close at RM6.02 with 3.3 million shares done, while Genting Malaysia declined 8 sen or 2.64% to RM2.95 with 18.41 million shares done.

Wynn Resorts Holdings, which owns the Wynn and Encore resorts in Las Vegas, Nevada in the US, has filled a US$4 billion (RM16.7 billion) lawsuit against Resorts World Las Vegas (RWLV). RWLV is accused of copying Wynn’s building design for the casino that it is building just across the road.

The federal trademark infringement lawsuit filed on Dec 21 claimed that RWLV wants to mislead the public into believing its new 3,000-room project is affiliated with Wynn.

The filing included photos of bronze glass and horizontal design elements on the curved facade of the Resorts World property. Wynn said it looks like the copyrighted design of Wynn properties in “Sin City” and the gambling enclave in Macau.

Genting told Bursa Malaysia that RWLV is in the process of reviewing the complaint with its legal counsel and will strenuously defend the claim and take all necessary legal action, as appropriate.

“RWLV intends to file a timely response to the complaint on or before January 14, 2019, the due date for such response. The company will make the necessary announcements as and when required on any material development in the matter.

To recap, Genting Group said last year that the proposed Resorts World Las Vegas is aiming to open in 2020.

The latest development comes a little over a month after Genting Malaysia filed legal proceedings in the US against FOX, Twenty-First Century Fox Inc and The Walt Disney Company in response to a notice issued by FOX to terminate its partnership with Genting.

Last week, Genting Malaysia said the outdoor theme park remains a part of its growth plans, but it clarified that the opening date is dependent on the options pursued by the company. This is in contrary to media reports that the outdoor theme park is scheduled to open early next month.

Big discounts fail to draw UK shoppers to post-Christmas sales

LONDON, Dec 26 — The number of British shoppers hitting the post-Christmas sales dipped by 4.2 per cent year-on-year today, offering no relief for struggling stores that had already discounted heavily to encourage spending in the run-up to the…

Dollar gains as stocks rebound off lows

NEW YORK, Dec 26 — The dollar gained against the euro today as US stocks came off 20-month lows, though uncertainty relating to the US government shutdown and Federal Reserve monetary policy remained a headwind for the greenback. Wall Street…

Oil output goes AWOL in Venezuela as soldiers run PDVSA

CARACAS, Dec 26 — Last July 6, Major General Manuel Quevedo joined his wife, a Catholic priest and a gathering of oil workers in prayer in a conference room at the headquarters of Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA. The career military officer,…

P2P financing will continue to thrive next year

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s peer-to-peer (P2P) financing industry is expected to continue thriving in 2019, with an anticipated growth of 300% to RM300 million from RM100 million, said Funding Societies Malaysia CEO Wong Kah Meng.

Prospects for the acceleration growth of P2P financing are bright given the announcements made in Budget 2019 which suggested a more proactive role for P2P financing in alleviating the financing gap encountered by both the micro, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as well as first-time home buyers.

Wong added that awareness of P2P financing has increased since the issuances of operating licenses to six platforms in November 2016.

Altogether, these platforms have been able to fulfill the needs of under-served SMEs by addressing their working capital and cash flow issues due to lack of collateral or three-year track record requirement that is typically requested by financial institutions.

“Moving forward, we foresee a greater participation in the P2P financing realm by institutional investors such as investment banks and asset management companies,” he said.

As for Funding Societies Malaysia, Wong said 2018 has been a strong year as it is on course to post a 600% growth rate.

“We expect the P2P financing industry to grow strongly in 2019 driven by increasing awareness on the scheme and the supportive budget initiatives from the government,” he said.

“Henceforth, we are projecting a RM300 million growth in 2019 in view of strong demand from both the SME and investor communities,” he added.

Funding Societies Malaysia which commenced operations in February 2017 disbursed RM17 million that year. In 2018, the disbursement quantum jumped by almost 600% to RM121 million as of Dec 24.

The company has disbursed more than RM1 billion in SME financing across Southeast Asia.

Currently, Funding Societies Malaysia commands more than 50% market share of the total amount raised in Malaysia’s P2P financing industry.

Wong said rigorous credit assessing has enabled the company to keep default rate at less than 1%, which had in turn raised the confidence level of potential investors faith in its investment notes which offer returns up to 12% per annum.

Elaborating further on risk factors often associated with P2P financing, Wong said the Securities Commission (SC) has set in place strict regulations to ensure that the industry is well-regulated.

“In fact, the SC is the first regulator in Southeast Asia that took the bold move to regulate the P2P financing industry back in 2016,” he stressed.

“A minimum paid-up capital of RM5 million as well as an experienced and competent management team are some of the major criteria examined by the SC before an approval is granted. Moreover, the SC has capped the maximum chargeable interest rate at 18%,” he added.

There has been escalating concerns in recent times on the viability of the P2P financing industry following the collapse of numerous P2P financing platforms in China due to fraudulent transactions on the part of the operators.

As a result, the number of operating Chinese P2P platforms have fallen to 1,836 as of June 2018 from 3,800 in 2015. The number is expected to shrink further to 200 over the next three years as most existing platforms do not meet regulatory requirements.

OSK decides to call off Hong Kong listing plan for good

PETALING JAYA: OSK Holdings Bhd has decided to permanently abort its plans to list indirect subsidiary OCC Cables Ltd on the back of continuous adverse global market conditions.

OCC Cable was supposed to be listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange last October. However, the listing plan was put on hold a day after its public offer closed.

“Save for approximately RM12.1 million costs in relation to the listing, which will be expensed off to the consolidated statements of comprehensive income for the financial year ending Dec 31, 2018, the abortion of the listing is not expected to have any material impact on the consolidated earnings per share and net assets per share of the company for the financial year ending Dec 31, 2018,” OSK told Bursa Malaysia today.

OCC Cables’ initial public offering (IPO) was targeted to raise HK$149 million (RM79 million).

Johor Port bags Global Performance Excellence Award 2018

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 26 — Johor Port Bhd, a member of MMC Group, has bagged the Global Performance Excellence Award 2018 — World Class from the Asia Pacific Quality Organisation. The Global Performance Excellence Award, a formal international…

Malaysia reviewing palm oil export duties

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia, the world’s second-largest palm oil producer, is reviewing the duty structure for its exports of the edible oil, according to its minister in charge of agriculture produced for export, to boost demand and reduce burgeoning stockpiles.

“We are currently reviewing our present export duty structure to ensure a level playing field in the market,” said Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok in an emailed response today to questions submitted earlier by Reuters.

Palm oil producers in Southeast Asia have been grappling with slow exports as demand has waned on weaker currencies and higher import taxes. The demand slump has caused inventories in Malaysia to build to their highest in nearly 18 years while stockpiles in Indonesia, the world’s biggest palm producer, have also climbed.

Palm oil prices fell to their lowest in three years earlier this month amid the demand slump, and were down 0.9% at RM2,108 a tonne today morning.

Despite Malaysia cutting its export tax on crude palm oil to zero since September, industry participants say Indonesian palm is still more competitive as the country’s producers have sharply discounted their prices, causing Malaysia to actually increase imports from Indonesia. Production costs in Indonesia are also typically less than in Malaysia.

Earlier this month, Indonesia also eased its rules on palm oil levies and derivative products to boost its exports.

To counter the Indonesian import, Kok said the government is “currently encouraging our companies to use domestically produced palm oil to reduce the stockpile.”

“By reducing imports, we could see a significant reduction in palm oil stocks in Malaysia and this would boost prices.”

Prices next year are expected to be supported by demand from traditional markets as they replenish stocks, said Kok, adding that the implementation of a higher biodiesel mandate in 2019 will also help palm prices.

Malaysia will raise the minimum bio-content in biodiesel to 10% for the transport sector and 7% for the industrial sector.

Kok also said she expected production “in the region of 20 million tonnes” in 2019. The government last month forecast output of 20.5 million tonnes for 2019 and 19.8 million tonnes for this year.

MHB, TechnipFMC sign long-term deal with Saudi Aramco

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia Marine and Heavy Engineering Holdings Bhd’s (MHB) unit Malaysia Marine and Heavy Engineering Sdn Bhd (MMHE), in consortium with TechnipFMC has signed a long-term agreement with Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco).

The agreement is valid for six years with an option to extend for another six years, the group said in Bursa Malaysia filing. It covers engineering, procurement, fabrication, transportation, and installation of offshore facilities in support of Saudi Aramco’s offshore maintain potential programme, and other works that will be executed within the Saudi Arabia waters.

MHB said MMHE and its partner will be looking at certain scope to be performed in Saudi Arabia, supporting the ongoing Saudization initiative.

MHB managing director and CEO Wan Mashitah Wan Abdullah Sani said the group’s entry into Saudi Arabia marks a significant milestone for its heavy engineering segment and in line with its strategy to expand its portfolio internationally.

“Fully leveraging on the core strengths of MMHE and TechnipFMC, we believe that the collaboration is another solid step in our constant drive to deliver the best to our customers,” Wan Mashitah added.

Meanwhile, MHB said it has bagged a contract from TechnipFMC for fabrication of the pluto water handling module. The module will be installed on Woodside Energy Ltd’s existing pluto alpha gas production platform, located offshore Western Australia.