Tuesday, February 26th, 2019


Appeals court upholds decision allowing AT&T-Time Warner merger

WASHINGTON, Feb 26 — A US appeals court today upheld a lower court ruling allowing the mega-merger of wireless and broadband giant AT&T with media-entertainment powerhouse Time Warner, rejecting a high-profile effort by the Trump…

Cairo: Egypt to host Huawei’s first Mena cloud platform

CAIRO, Feb 26 — Egypt will host Chinese telecom company Huawei’s first cloud data platform in the Middle East and North Africa, Egypt’s telecom ministry said in a statement. “Huawei will create its own cloud computing through the data centre…

EU clears RWE takeover of Eon electricity generation assets

BRUSSELS, Feb 26 — The EU today approved RWE’s acquisition of fellow German energy company Eon’s renewable and nuclear generation assets as part of a major asset swap. The European Commission’s competition authorities said the proposed…

Nasdaq cut all losses after Feb consumer confidence data

NEW YORK, Feb 26 — The benchmark S&P 500 index and the Nasdaq cut all losses today to eke out slight gains, after a report from the Conference Board showed a higher-than-expected rise in the consumer confidence index in February. The Dow Jones…

ECB determined to push forward its payment system

BRUSSELS, Feb 26 — The European Central Bank is “determined” to push forward an instant payment system it launched last year through regulatory moves if the service failed to spread through collaboration with the industry, ECB board member…

Fed’s Powell: ‘Patient’ policy still warranted despite ‘solid’ US growth

WASHINGTON, Feb 26 — Rising risks and recent soft data shouldn’t prevent solid growth for the US economy this year, but the Federal Reserve will remain “patient” in deciding on further interest rate hikes, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said…

Austria uncovers €100m online trading scam

VIENNA, Feb 26 — Austrian police said today they had uncovered an online financial trading scam which according to initial estimates defrauded victims across Europe out of some €100 million (RM462 million). The operation allegedly used…

Maybank FY18 earnings climb to record RM8.11 billion

KUALA LUMPUR: Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) registered its highest ever net profit of RM8.11 billion for the financial year ended Dec 31, 2018 (FY18) from RM7.52 billion a year ago, mainly underpinned by higher loan growth, lower overheads as well as lower provisioning.

Its FY18 revenue increased 3.8% to RM47.32 billion from RM45.58 billion previously.

Net profit for the fourth quarter, meanwhile, grew 9.1% to RM2.33 billion from RM2.13 billion in the same quarter a year ago, with revenue expanding 3.8% to RM12.23 billion from RM11.79 billion.

The bank has proposed to declare a final dividend of 32 sen per share for the quarter under review.

Together with the 25 sen interim dividend declared earlier, the full-year dividend payout of 57 sen per share amounts to RM6.3 billion or 77.3% of net profit.

The total dividend payout translates into a higher dividend yield of 6% versus 5.6% in 2017.

In 2018, Maybank achieved record net operating income of RM23.63 billion, up 1.7%, on the back of a 3.1% increase in fund-based income as a result of higher contributions from all business sectors and key home markets.

Group gross loans expanded at a faster pace of 4.8% in FY18, compared with 1.7% previously. The Malaysian operations saw loans expanding 4.8%, Singapore 4.5%, Indonesia 7.0% and 10.9% for other international markets.

Maybank highlighted that its net impairment losses for the year coming in 20.5% lower than the previous year, lifting operating profit by 9.3% to RM10.8 billion in 2018.

For the fourth quarter alone, it saw net impairment losses coming in 58.1% lower than in the preceding quarter.

The bank continued to maintain a healthy liquidity position with its liquidity coverage ratio of 132.4% and loan-to-deposit ratio of 92.7%.

Total capital ratio was 18.51% while its fully loaded common equity tier 1 ratio stood at 14.51%, both well above the regulatory requirements of 8.0% and 4.5% respectively.

Maybank group president and CEO Datuk Abdul Farid Alias anticipates external headwinds to continue to create uncertainties in the market, and expects the bank’s loan growth to grow in line with the market expansion of 5.1% this year.

Nevertheless, he said the competition for deposits could place pressure on the bank’s net interest margins (NIMs) this year.

“We compressed about three basis points (bps) in 2018, so we expect (NIM compression) around three to five bps (in 2019),” he said at a press conference today.

The bank’s NIM was marginally lower at 2.33% in FY18, from 2.36% in FY17.

Moving forward, Farid said, the bank remains cautious over the global operating environment given continued geopolitical concerns as well as volatility in commodity prices, although it expects greater stability in the domestic market arising from measures being put in place to ensure sustainable growth.

Asked whether the bank will be able to maintain last year’s revenue growth, Farid said it will depend on the business sentiment, noting that within the domestic market, the consumer market is still robust despite the external headwinds.

He said: “2018 was a very difficult year for the market. Last year, the challenge for us is more on the non-retail site, apart from SMEs. We hope that the business sentiment will turnaround this year.

“But I believe for that to happen, we need to understand what is the long-term economic policy is going to be going forward. So I’m quite hopeful with the setting up of the new Economic Action Council,” he added.

7-Eleven Malaysia’s FY18 net profit rises 2.4% to RM51.31 million

PETALING JAYA: 7-Eleven Malaysia Holdings Bhd’s net profit for the financial year ended Dec 31, 2018 (FY18) rose 2.4% to RM51.31 million from RM50.11 million a year ago, driven by higher profit contribution from most product categories and higher marketing income.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia, the group said its gross profit improved by 5.4% from a year ago mainly due to the revenue growth and gross profit margin expansion of 1.4% points. However, other operating income fell 68.9% year-on-year.

Revenue for the year rose 1.3% to RM2.22 billion from RM2.19 billion a year ago, underpinned by growth in new stores, improvement in same-store sales and consumer promotion activity.

For the fourth quarter ended Dec 31, 2018, 7-Eleven’s net profit fell 21.3% to RM12.49 million from RM15.86 million a year ago due to lower other operating income, despite higher revenue, gross margin improvement and higher marketing income.

During the quarter, gross profit rose 5.6% year-on-year due to higher revenue and improvement in gross margin by 1.5% points. The improvement in gross profit was due to higher gross profit margins across most categories boosted by marketing income.

Other operating income fell 81.9% due to compensation income from vendors of RM7.5 million in the previous year. Selling and distribution expenses for the quarter rose 6.2% due to new store expansion resulting in higher staff related costs and rental costs.

Revenue for the quarter rose 1.5% to RM554.26 million from RM546.24 million a year ago driven by growth in new stores, higher average spend per customer and better consumer promotion activity.

Moving forward, 7-Eleven expects trading conditions to improve, driven by domestic demand and anticipated heightened consumer sentiment.

The group plans to continue refreshing the 7-Eleven brand in the mind of customers through innovations in promotions, products and pricing.

TM suffers 75% slump in fourth quarter earnings

PETALING JAYA: Telekom Malaysia Bhd’s (TM) net profit for the fourth quarter ended Dec 31, 2018 plunged 74.9% to RM69.66 million from RM277.01 million a year ago, dragged by higher finance cost and lower foreign exchange gain on the group’s borrowings, and tax charges.

Revenue for the quarter fell 3.5% to RM3.09 billion from RM3.2 billion a year ago due to decrease in data, Internet and multimedia as well as non-telecommunication related services.

The group declared an interim dividend of 2 sen per share for FY18, to be paid on April 12.

For the financial year ended Dec 31, 2018 (FY18), TM’s net profit plunged 83.5% to RM153.15 million from RM929.75 million a year ago due to the recognition of an impairment loss on network assets in the third quarter, which led to a 65.9% drop in operating profit before finance cost.

During the year, the group recognised a provision of RM982.5 million for the impairment of fixed and wireless network assets following the continued pressure from challenging business, industry and economic conditions. Its normalised net profit was RM632.4 million.

Revenue for the year fell 2.2% to RM11.82 billion from RM12.09 billion a year ago due to lower revenue from voice, data and non-telecommunication related services. Data service was affected by the provision made on estimated impact of regulatory mandated access pricing.

TM’s total capital expenditure (capex) for the year was RM2.14 billion or 18.1% of revenue, which was lower than its guidance of 19-20% of revenue. A bulk (57.4%) of the capex was spent on access while 17.8% was spent on core network and the remaining 24.8% on support systems.

In FY18, TM households saw an increased convergence penetration of 53%. The group had a total of 2.23 million broadband customers comprising 1.30 million unifi and 936,000 Streamyx customers.

Last year, over 911,000 unifi customers upgraded to 10 times existing speed, over 239,000 Streamyx customers upgraded to unifi while over 181,000 Streamyx customers upgraded to two times existing speed where technology permitted.

For those yet to be upgraded, TM said it will continue ongoing discussions with the government and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission to explore specific funding options, fit-for-purpose technologies and optimising existing industry mechanisms to deliver better broadband experience.