Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019


Putin opens Mercedes plant in Russia

tESIPOVO, April 3 — Russian President Vladimir Putin Russia and German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier unveiled a Mercedes-Benz car plant in Russia today, praising cooperation between the two countries. “We will support such projects in the…

Wall Street rises on trade hopes, chip stocks at record highs

NEW YORK, April 3 — New York’s main stock indexes rose today, extending a strong start to the quarter as a rally in chipmakers added to optimism over trade talks between the United States and China. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said…

IMF: Escalating US-China trade war would hit manufacturing, agricultural jobs

WASHINGTON, April 3 — An escalation of the US-China trade war would drive manufacturing away from both countries and likely cause job losses, but would not change their total trade balances, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) report showed…

Rehda expects better HOC-Mapex 2019 in Penang

GEORGE TOWN: The Real Estate and Housing Developers Association (Rehda) – Penang branch anticipates the upcoming Home Ownership Campaign – Malaysia Property Expo (HOC-Mapex), to be held from April 12-14, will be more successful than the previous edition.

Its chairman, Datuk Toh Chin Leong (pix) said during the last Mapex Penang, which was held from Feb 7-10 this year, many were still unclear about the stamp duty exemption for residential properties sold between Jan 1 and June 30, 2019.

He said residential properties priced between RM300,001 and RM1 million (before discount) were eligible for stamp duty exemption, while those priced above RM1 million would be charged a stamp duty of 3%.

“However, with the stamp duty exemptions being clearly announced, we now have more developers coming in to take part in the upcoming HOC-Mapex Penang to showcase their properties and offer attractive incentives,” he told a press conference yesterday.

Aside from the stamp duty exemption for residential units, Toh said the incentives include a minimum of 10% discounts for all properties, extra rebates, renovation packages and special packages by individual property developers.

Meanwhile, Mapex organising chairman Ng Chin U said 20 property developers would be participating in the upcoming event, showcasing more than 3,000 units of properties worth over RM3 billion in total.

He said that properties such as double-storey bungalows, double-storey semi-detached houses, larger double-storey terraces and condominiums on the island and mainland would be featured during the event.

“On the island’s side, the properties to be showcased are located in Balik Pulau, Teluk Kumbar, Georgetown and Jelutong.

“On the mainland, we have interesting projects such as the SP Setia’s integrated township in Seberang Perai, and some projects in Bukit Tambun, Batu Kawan, Sungai Bakap and Nibong Tebal,” added Ng.

Bioalpha ventures into Thai market

PETALING JAYA: Bioalpha Holdings Bhd is venturing into Thailand market through its partnership with Bangkok-based Silver Plus Manufacturing (Thailand) Co Ltd.

The group in a statement said that its wholly owned subsidiary Bioalpha International Sdn Bhd has entered into a distribution agreement with Silver Plus for the distribution of its house brand health supplement products in Thailand.

Under the distribution agreement, Silver Plus will be granted exclusive rights to distribute Bioalpha’s products under the house brand “Apotec” to its client network in Thailand.

The range of offerings to be distributed include both functional foods and health supplements products that may be infused with herbs such as Tongkat Ali, Kacip Fatimah and Misai Kucing. The duration of the agreement is five years.

Silver Plus, which has been in operations for the past six years, is involved in the import and export business, as well as distribution of food-related products in Thailand.

“Through this tie-up, we shall work on strengthening our presence in Thailand with marketing activities of our house brand products. Silver Plus will undertake promotional efforts to boost sales across the country, in addition to conducting market and consumer analysis. This will aid Bioalpha in understanding the local consumers’ trend in order to develop an effective business plan. Moreover, Bioalpha has also established a performance incentive plan for Silver Plus to meet the target sales,” said Bioalpha managing director William Hon.

Ekuinas sells 60% stake in MediExpress and PMCare

PETALING JAYA: Ekuiti Nasional Bhd (Ekuinas) has sold its 60% stake in its third party claims administrator (TPA) service providers, MediExpress Group and PMCare Sdn Bhd to Sumitomo Corp.

With that, Sumitomo will emerge as the majority shareholder in both MediExpress and PMCare.

Ekuinas said in a statement yesterday that the minority/Malaysian shareholders have partially exited but will continue to hold a meaningful stake and remain as management in the respective entities.

Ekuinas CEO Syed Yasir Arafat Syed Abd Kadir (pix) noted that Ekuinas had successfully delivered on its value creation plans for both MediExpress and PMCare over the investment period.

“These efforts comprise operational enhancements of processes and systems, strengthening management and operation teams as well as increasing their market share. Through this divestment, Ekuinas will generate a minimum internal rate of return (IRR) of 38.8%,” he said.

“We were very focused on ensuring that their next partner would be well-equipped with the right capabilities and vision to continue charting the companies’ positive future. Sumitomo is at the forefront of the healthcare services industry as well as their reputation and experience will bode well for the growth of MediExpress and PMCare,” he added.

This divestment also brings Ekuinas’ total realisation proceeds to more than RM2 billion. Ekuinas initially invested in MediExpress and PMCare in 2015, which marked the company’s first foray into the healthcare sector.

MediExpress comprises MediExpress (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd and Health Connect Sdn Bhd. Both MediExpress and PMCare are primarily focused on managing both inpatient and outpatient benefits on behalf of their clients.

While MediExpress focuses on insurance companies, PMCare services mainly corporate clients. Together, they cater to over two million members across more than 3,000 medical providers in Malaysia.

Sumitomo is a Fortune 500 global trading and business investment company with 110 locations in 65 countries, regions and 22 locations in Japan.

The entire group comprises over 900 companies.

OPR cut good news for REITs, says property firm

KUALA LUMPUR: The real estate investment trusts (REITs) industry will be among the winners if Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) cuts interest rates this year, according to property company KLCCP Stapled Group.

KLCCP Stapled Group, comprising KLCC REIT and KLCC Property Holdings Bhd (KLCCP), is Malaysia’s largest self-managed stapled security.

Some analysts recently viewed the central bank as likely cutting the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) by 25 basis points sometime in May this year amid slowing economic growth.

“(OPR cut) is not only good news to us, but (also) to the industry as any lowering of OPR would give a better spread to the yield,” KLCCP CEO Datuk Hashim Wahir told reporters at a media briefing yesterday.

“In terms of our (yield) distribution from the market it is about 4.7%, and that is a very small spread to Malaysia government securities (MGS),” he added.

MGS is a typical benchmark that investors use to compare REITs, which are seen as a comparatively riskier investment.

Meanwhile, Hashim said KLCCP’s office segment will continue to be the main revenue driver for the group moving forward, supported by its long-term tenancies in particular with Petronas for the Petronas Twin Towers.

“Currently, all of our office spaces are fully tenanted and leased, mainly by Petronas. Last year, the Twin Towers just had a rental revision of 10% (from 9%) for every three years,” he added.

The office segment contributed 43% to the group’s overall revenue last year. The retail segment, represented by Suria KLCC and the retail podium of Menara 3 Petronas, made up 35%, while the remaining 12% and 10% were made up of the hotel and management services segments, respectively.

For the financial year ended Dec 31, 2018 (FY18), KLCCP’s net profit declined 17.4% to RM724.91 million from RM877.9 million in FY17. Revenue was up 2.9% to RM1.4 billion from RM1.37 billion previously, driven by the contribution from office and retail segments.

Commenting on the impact of replacing the Parkson departmental store space at Suria KLCC with over 50 new tenancies, Hashim said the mall’s occupancy rate would be decreased by 124,000 sq ft, representing about 10% of the mall’s total retail area.

As at end of last year, he said the mall maintained an average occupancy rate of 98%.

“But the Phase 1 (of the redevelopment project) which is on the ground floor (area), is expected to be completed by end of this year, and the tenants will come in once (the project) is completed.

“Suria KLCC (management) is actively engaging with the potential retailers to make sure that the mix (of the retailers) is meeting what the consumers want,” he added.

Suria KLCC Sdn Bhd previously said the new tenants will include mainly food and beverage, cosmetics and fashion businesses.

EU Commission ready to release post-bailout grants to Greece after bank reform

BRUSSELS, April 3 — Greece has respected its commitments under a post-bailout programme, the European Commission said today, paving the way for Athens to receive nearly €1 billion (RM4.5 billion) in new grants. The release of funds, which needs…

Commerzbank stake sale would cost German taxpayers billions of euros

BERLIN, April 3 — German taxpayers would lose billions of euros if the state sold its stake in Commerzbank ahead of a possible merger with Deutsche Bank, a government document showed, highlighting the risks of government involvement in the sector….

Austria proposes taxing internet giants 5pc of ad revenue

VIENNA, April 3 — Austria today proposed taxing internet giants such as Google and Facebook five per cent of their digital advertising revenue, a higher rate than France and other EU countries are seeking. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said…