January, 2019


German watchdog probes Wirecard stock market slump

FRANKFURT AM MAIN, Jan 31 — German financial markets watchdog Bafin told AFP today it was investigating whether a slump in shares of payment provider Wirecard was the result of market manipulation. The group’s stock tumbled almost 25 per cent in…

Chinese trade deal ‘unacceptable’ unless Beijing opens markets, says Trump

WASHINGTON, Jan 31 — US President Donald Trump warned today that a trade deal with China would be unacceptable unless Beijing opened its markets to US financial services, manufacturing, agriculture and other industries. “Looking for China to…

US stocks mixed as investors eye China trade talks

NEW YORK, Jan 31 — Wall Street stocks were mixed early today following an uneven batch of earnings as investors eyed ongoing trade talks between the US and China. About 25 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.5 per…

Govt announces additional incentives for Home Ownership Campaign

PETALING JAYA: The government has announced several new incentives for the housing market in a bid to address the issue of unsold homes, including at least 10% discount for properties bought during the Home Ownership Campaign (HOC).

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said for homes priced up to RM2.5 million, the stamp duty on transfer of ownership title or memorandum of transfer (MOT) will be waived for the first RM1 million and reduced to 3% for the subsequent RM1.5 million. The 3% stamp duty will revert to 4% after the campaign ends.

Speaking to reporters at a briefing today, he said that the stamp duty on loan agreement will also be waived for the purchase of homes priced above RM300,000 to RM2.5 million.

These new incentives are only applicable for purchases from the primary market during the nationwide campaign which runs from January till June 2019.

The stamp duty waivers are on top of other incentives announced under Budget 2019 such as stamp duty waiver for the first-time purchase of houses priced up til RM1 million and also the RM1 billion Fund for Affordable Homes launched by Bank Negara Malaysia.

In addition, developers have agreed to reduce house prices by at least 10% during the campaign, for all completed but unsold homes.

The Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association Malaysia (Rehda) and the Housing and Local Government Ministry have been tasked to ensure that the developers who participate in HOC provide 10% discount against the advertised selling price.

“Developers must advertise the prices before and after discount,” said Lim, who urged developers participating in HOC to give more than 10% discount.

He said the government will take action against participating developers who do not reduce prices by at least 10% with additional tax or penalty.

He hopes that the incentives and discounts would be able to reduce the supply overhang situation and improve the nation’s economy. As of third quarter last year, there were 30,115 units of unsold homes.

Meanwhile, National Housing Department director-general N. Jayaseelan who was also at the briefing, announced several additional perks such as allowing developers to offer free legal fees and additional items such as furniture.

He said the government is also allowing flexibility in terms of payment such as staggered payments, to make it easier for purchasers. These additional perks are available for one year.

He said there are 3,384 units of houses priced RM150,000 and below that are unsold, out of a total 16,528 units built within this price range.

The HOC exhibitions will be held nationwide during the six months period, organised by Rehda members in the various states, as well as Sabah Housing and Real Estate Developers Association and Sarawak Housing and Real Estate Developer Association in Sabah and Sarawak.

The biggest expo will be held in KLCC from March 1 till 3, featuring over 180 booths and up to RM5 billion worth of properties, with an estimated 50,000 visitors expected.

HBA: Extend fund for affordable homes to wider group

PETALING JAYA: The National House Buyers Association (HBA) has urged the government to extend the reach of the RM1 billion Fund for Affordable Homes scheme to include a wider group of buyers.

HBA secretary-general Datuk Chang Kim Loong (pix), who applauded the scheme, suggested that the fund be made available for properties priced up to RM300,000 and to increase the monthly household income eligibility up to RM5,000 per month.

“Due to the rising cost of living, even the M40 find it very challenging to buy their dream homes and is in need of some form of assistance. The same conditions can be imposed or even tightened, for example limiting the scheme for only first-time house buyers and no sale for first 10 years after last loan disbursement,” he said in a statement.

Chang said the fund, launched by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), would help the lower income group in purchasing homes as this group often finds it challenging to do so, especially in coming up with the 10% down payment and qualifying for housing loans.

The fund is available for Malaysians with monthly household income of RM2,300 who want to buy houses priced RM150,000 and below. A key feature of the fund is the low interest rate, which has been capped at 3.5%, which would lower the monthly housing instalment by 23% compared with available financing options in the market.

“The lower interest rate will help to reduce the burden of the lower income segment and give them more disposable income for other urgent needs and also to have some savings for any unforeseen emergencies. BNM has claimed that this scheme can result in savings of up to 23% and this will certainly help these participants,” said Chang.

Chang also recommend that a Homeownership Education Programme be set up to raise overall financial literacy as a way to prepare low-medium income households to take on the responsibilities of owning a home.

“Foreclosures can devastate a family’s economic and social standing, leaving them poorer instead. Making sure lower income households have sufficient personal financial management skills is more than a supplementary issue. Financiers, local authorities and communities benefit from homeowners being better informed of their rights and responsibilities as homeowners and borrowers. Support for potential home buyers and owners is crucial,” he added.

He said homeownership education can be in the form of manuals to be handed out, advice and information given out by telephone, workshops or “face-to-face” counselling and these services should ideally be provided before potential buyers sign the purchase contract.

He said counselling should be provided to help households maintain their homes or to manage their finances and it is not enough to just provide homes as there are many aspects of homeownership.

“The success of any public housing programmes can be achieved by assisting the lower income group to acquire and remain homeowners. We recommend that potential buyers to be trained to take responsibility of ownership,” he added.

Pakistan central bank raises key policy rate to 10.25pc

ISLAMABAD, Jan 31 — Pakistan’s central bank raised its key policy rate by 25 basis points to 10.25 per cent today in the face of high fiscal and current account deficits and continuing inflation pressure, governor Tariq Bajwa said. The move…

EU accuses eight banks of forming eurozone bond cartel

BRUSSELS, Jan 31 — The EU’s powerful anti-trust sheriff today accused eight banks of having conspired for several years to distort competition in the eurozone bond market. According to the European Commission, the banks colluded to distort…

F&N’s Q1 earnings rise 15%

PETALING JAYA: Fraser & Neave Holdings Bhd’s (F&N) net profit for the first quarter ended Dec 31, 2018 rose 15% to RM122.86 million from RM106.83 million a year ago due to higher contribution from its operations in Malaysia and Thailand.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia, F&N said its food and beverages business in Malaysia (F&B Malaysia) registered a 27.5% growth in operating profit to RM52.5 million from RM41.2 million a year ago.

This was due to favourable input costs mainly for sugar, palm oil and dairy-based commodity but was partially offset by higher packaging material costs and higher manufacturing related costs.

Its food and beverage business in Thailand (F&B Thailand) registered a 36.5% growth in operating profit to RM99.3 million from RM72.7 million a year ago due to higher export revenue and favourable input costs for key raw materials.

However, this was partially offset by higher packaging material costs and higher advertising and promotional costs.

Revenue for the quarter rose marginally to RM1.01 billion from RM1 billion a year ago driven by F&B Thailand revenue, which rose 2.5% to RM456.5 million from RM445.5 million a year ago.

The higher revenue was driven by higher export revenue from market expansion and execution of promotional campaigns in the Indochina region. However, domestic revenue was flat due to intense competition in the sweetened beverage creamer market mitigated by higher evaporated milk revenue.

For F&B Malaysia, revenue declined marginally to RM553.4 million from RM556.1 million a year ago due to lower export revenue caused by the absence of a one-off contract packing business.

This was mitigated by higher domestic revenue with the earlier Chinese New Year festive sell-in for beverage products and lower discounts.

Moving forward, F&N expects the overall domestic market for both Malaysia and Thailand to remain challenging, with continuing competitive price pressures and intensifying competition.

In Malaysia, the group will assess and closely monitor the impact of the sugar tax on ready-to-drink beverages starting April 1, 2019 while also prioritising efforts to accelerate innovations and the development of healthier options.

Meanwhile, F&B Thailand has commenced paying corporate taxes starting this financial year following the full utilisation of the promotional privileges granted by the Board of Investment.

“The group will prioritise on initiatives to capture revenue synergies by focusing on its three growth drivers, namely innovation, excellence in execution and cost competitiveness to generate profitable and sustainable growth,” it said.

Bursa Malaysia publicly reprimands Scanwolf, fines directors RM175,000

KUALA LUMPUR: Bursa Malaysia Securities Bhd has publicly reprimanded Scanwolf Corp Bhd and its seven directors for breaches of the Bursa Malaysia Securities Main Market Listing Requirements (Main LR) and fined its four executive directors RM175,000.

Scanwolf was publicly reprimanded for failing to issue a circular to the company’s shareholders and seek the shareholders’ approval in a general meeting before the joint venture agreement dated July 30, 2012 (JVA) entered into between Scanwolf Properties Sdn Bhd (SPSB) and Scanwolf Development Sdn Bhd (SDSB).

The regulator said the JVA was inaccurate, particularly the representations that the JVA was not subject to the approval of Scanwolf’s shareholders; and that the highest percentage ratio applicable to the transaction was 1%.

Scanwolf also failed to ensure that the announcement contained the required information of the basis of arriving at the consideration and the justification for the consideration; and if no joint venture corporation will be set up, the terms of cost and profit sharing and the estimated total cost of project.

Bursa said seven directors of Scanwolf at the material time had breached the Main LR for permitting the company to commit the breach of the Main LR.

“The finding of breach and imposition of the penalties on Scanwolf and its directors were made pursuant to the Main LR upon completion of due process and after taking into consideration all facts and circumstances of the matter including the materiality/impact of the breaches to Scanwolf and shareholders/investors and the directors’ roles, responsibilities, knowledge/involvement in the JVA and conduct of the directors.”

Bursa Malaysia Securities views the contraventions seriously particularly as Chapter 10 of the Main LR serves to protect the interest of shareholders on material transactions of a listed issuer.

It reminded Scanwolf and its board of directors of their responsibility to maintain the appropriate standards of corporate responsibility and accountability to its shareholders and the investing public.

RHB Investment to reorganise equity and research operations

PETALING JAYA: RHB Bank Bhd’s wholly owned subsidiary RHB Investment Bank Bhd (RHB IB) is proposing to undertake a reorganisation of its equity and economic research operations.

The research operations, which are currently housed under RHB Research Institute Sdn Bhd (RHB RI), will be reorganised into a division within RHB IB while the fixed income and currencies research function is to be absorbed by RHB Bank, subject to all applicable approvals.

RHB RI is currently a wholly owned subsidiary of RHB IB.

“The proposed reorganisation is intended to streamline the research operations under RHB IB and RHB Bank, and rationalise the costs of maintaining a separate licensed entity for research,” RHB Bank said in a stock exchange filing today.

The exercise is subject to the approval of Securities Commission Malaysia and conditional upon the successful application for a variation in RHB IB’s Capital Market Services Licence (CMSL) to include the regulated activity of investment advice.

The proposed reorganisation will be effected via an asset purchase agreement (APA) to be entered into between RHB IB and RHB RI and will include a novation of contracts entered into by RHB RI and a transfer of employees. Similarly, RHB Bank and RHB RI propose to enter into an APA in relation to the transfer of assets.

The exercise is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2019.