Tuesday, January 29th, 2019


Greece raises €2.5b in first bond sale since bailout

ATHENS, Jan 29 — Greece today raised €2.5 billion (US$2.9 billion) from a five-year-bond, its first since exiting the last bailout, the finance minister said. “This is 36 per cent of our requirements for 2019,” finance minister Euclid…

‘Significant progress’ expected in China trade talks, says US official

WASHINGTON, Jan 29 — The United States hopes to make “significant progress” during high-stakes trade talks with Chinese officials this week, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said today. Beijing and Washington have a month remaining in a…

US stocks open mostly higher amid earnings deluge

NEW YORK, Jan 29 — Wall Street stocks were mostly higher early today following a trove of mixed earnings reports ahead of a Federal Reserve policy meeting. About 20 minutes into the trading session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.5 per…

China eyes easing foreign investment rules ahead of US trade talks

BEIJING, Jan 29 — Foreign investors in China would be treated largely the same as local rivals under a revised draft law, state media said today, as Beijing looks to address a key concern in its trade war with the US. Washington and other Western…

Govt’s efforts will spur home ownership, help clear overhang: Rehda

KUALA LUMPUR: Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) Fund for Affordable Homes, which was launched today, will help boost first-time home ownership, said the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (Rehda).

Rehda president Datuk Soam Heng Choon said the RM1 billion fund, aimed at first-time home buyers among the lower income group, will definitely help due to the low interest rate which has been capped at 3.5% per annum.

“This new fund definitely will be useful in helping first-time home buyers and especially for properties below RM150,000. Of course the question being raised is, are there properties below RM150,000? Definitely there are, even in Selangor there is Rumah Selangorku, where there is a category below RM150,000. Rumah Mampu Milik Johor also has (homes priced RM150,000 and below),” he told reporters at the sidelines of the launch.

“Kedah, Perlis, Pahang, Kelantan and Terengganu; these are the states that have different categories of affordable housing. Even in Penang as well. Whether they qualify or not, for the loan, will depend on their ability to repay. That’s why AKPK has also been roped in to ensure financial literacy,” he added, referring to the Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency.

Soam said the new fund, combined with the upcoming Home Ownership Campaign (HOC) in March, will spur buying for first-time buyers and clear some of the overhang. He said additional incentives in conjunction with the HOC will be announced this Thursday but declined to elaborate further.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng who officiated at the launch, said that the fund has attracted 16 applications even before the launch, of which five have been approved and 11 are being processed.

“If the take-up is good, it can be extended to three years,” he told reporters at a press conference.

The fund is available for two years starting Jan 2, 2019 or until the RM1 billion is fully utilised. The participating financial institutions are AmBank, Bank Simpanan Nasional, CIMB Bank, Maybank and RHB Bank.

It is available for Malaysian citizens with a maximum monthly household income of RM2,300. Borrowers must be salaried workers or self-employed and must not have any record of impaired financing for the past 12 months.

Eligible borrowers can only buy residential properties (landed, flats or apartments) from the primary market that are priced RM150,000 and below, and these homes cannot be sold within the first five years from the date of the last disbursement or else a penalty of 20% on the outstanding financing will be imposed.

The maximum financing rate is at 3.5% per annum with a financing tenure of up to 40 years or 70 years of the applicant’s age, whichever is shorter. Financing under the fund can be given to single or joint borrowers.

Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin, who was present at the launch, said the fund is a short-term measure and hopes to work with BNM on longer-term measures such as a five-year plan for the Rent-to-Own scheme.

Russia expects Venezuela will struggle to repay its debts to Moscow

MOSCOW, Jan 29 — Russia expects Venezuela will probably have problems servicing its sovereign debt to Moscow, Russia’s Deputy Finance Minister said today, after Washington imposed sweeping sanctions on Venezuela’s state oil firm in a move the…

Ministry focusing on helping B40 first, conducting studies on M40: Zuraida

PETALING JAYA: The Housing and Local Government Ministry will continue implementing housing development principles and policies that will benefit all Malaysians from various economic backgrounds.

Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said in a statement today that the ministry’s focus currently is to address the issues faced by the bottom 40% (B40) group first, as they are the most affected in the government’s efforts to restore the country’s economy.

“The B40 group are those with household income of RM3,000 and below, and it is very difficult for this group to have the opportunity to own a home if they are not given serious attention and aid by the government immediately,” she said.

However, Zuraida gave an assurance that the ministry is also paying special attention to the middle 40% (M40) group and detailed studies are being conducted to collect information and details before an effective action plan is implemented.

“A holistic solution through new principle and policy is being planned by the ministry to enable the M40 group to have the opportunity to own homes,” she said.

On Monday, the ministry unveiled the revamped National Housing Policy 2018-2025, which outlines five focuses, 16 strategies and 57 action plans. It also contains a sub-policy, namely the National Affordable Housing Policy that outlines the standards, specifications and guides for the development of affordable homes.

Today, Bank Negara Malaysia launched its RM1 billion Fund for Affordable Homes, which aims to help first-time house buyers from the lower income group finance their purchase.

Last week, CBRE-WTW managing director Foo Gee Jen commented that the government should not depend entirely on the private sector to drive the development of affordable homes, as this would result in even heavier cross subsidy to the M40 group.

“The government should not just be looking at winning the vote by making the B40 happy. If there is too much cross subsidy, the M40 group will suffer,” he cautioned.

CIMB completes Asean footprint

MANILA: CIMB Group Holdings Bhd is finally completing its operating footprint in Asean with the launch of its banking presence in the Philippines.

It has received regulatory approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission of the Philippines for its investment banking joint-venture in the country, CIMB Bancom Capital Corporation.

CIMB Group CEO (group ventures and partnerships) Effendy Shahul Hamid said CIMB Bancom will look to deliver value added advisory and cross-border capital market services to Philippine corporates looking to expand and grow across Asean, as well as capitalise on CIMB’s strong presence in the region to originate inbound deals to the Philippines.

CIMB Bank Philippines Inc (CIMB Philippines) aspires to be the nation’s first all-digital and mobile-first bank, promising to make banking simpler, more convenient, and hassle-free, according to the group’s statement today.

“We look forward to bringing a differentiated and digital proposition to the market. Internet and mobile penetration in the Philippines remains one of the highest in the world, a clear sign of the progressive and modern society we hope to serve,” said Effendy.

CIMB Philippines CEO Vijay Manoharan noted that consumers need innovative financial solutions that are relevant to their needs as well as help them get ahead and advance their financial well-being, but they do not necessarily need a physical bank.

“By offering most of our products via the Octo app securely, we are offering the next-level any day, any time convenience for our customers by enabling them to effectively ‘carry’ our bank branch in the palm of their hands.”

CIMB Philippines’ partners include 7-Eleven and DragonPay, with a total of 8,000 convenient customer touchpoints nationwide.

The CIMB Bank Visa-powered Debit Card is accepted at any of the 20,000 Bancnet, Visa, and Visa Plus automatic teller machine (ATMs) nationwide and two million Visa and Visa Plus ATMs worldwide.

To cater to those who want to really start preparing for what’s ahead and save for the future, CIMB Bank offers the UpSave Account, which allows greater savings with its high interest rate of 2% per annum (eight times higher than other banks).

Genting to change Vegas resort design

PETALING JAYA: Genting Bhd’s indirect wholly owned subsidiary Resorts World Las Vegas (RWLV) and Wynn Resorts Holdings have reached a settlement agreement on a dispute involving trade dress and copyright infringement claims surrounding the design of the US$4 billion (RM16.7 billion) RWLV project, with RWLV agreeing to make changes in its design.

Genting senior vice-president (public affairs & development) Michael Levoff said Genting’s RWLV project will be the launching point for the next generation of integrated resorts, and the aesthetics of the project will play an important role in its future success.

“While the company believes the design to have had differences with Wynn and Encore’s once fully realised, after further consideration and conversations with the Wynn team, we have directed our design team to make several changes that will clearly differentiate the two properties,” Levoff said in a statement.

“This mutually beneficial settlement will allow Genting to continue to develop RWLV with minimal impact to cost and the overall project timeline.”

Wynn Resorts chief communications officer Michael Weaver said Wynn Resorts’ world-renowned signature architecture and design are among the elements that have built its brand’s reputation for excellence.

“RWLV’s initial design had elements which had similarity to our resorts in Las Vegas, Macau and Boston. The new design changes offered by Genting will resolve the concerns we expressed about the similarity of the design.

“We welcome and look forward to RWLV’s opening. Their future success will benefit all of Las Vegas,” said Weaver.

Wynn Resorts Holdings, which owns the Wynn and Encore resorts in Las Vegas had filled a US$4 billion lawsuit against 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, 2018 claimed that RWLV wants to mislead the public into believing its new 3,000-room project is affiliated with Wynn.