Thursday, April 4th, 2019


Sime Darby Property group MD Amrin to resign on May 3

PETALING JAYA: Datuk Seri Amrin Awaluddin (pix) will resign from his position as group managing director at Sime Darby Property Bhd effective May 3, 2019.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia, the group said Amrin’s departure is due to early cessation of contract.

“The board would like to record our appreciation to Amrin for his service and contribution to the group. We wish him all the best in his new undertaking as he continues his career going forward,” Sime Darby Property chairman Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz said in a statement.

Under his leadership, the group has carried out a strategic review and put in place a new five-year Strategic Blueprint known as SHIFT20, which is designed to enhance organisational capacity, drive innovation and strengthen fundamentals.

The COO of township development Datuk Wan Hashimi Albakri Wan Ahmad Amin Jaffri will assume the role of acting group CEO upon Amrin’s departure until further notice, while the process of selecting a replacement is being carried out.

Wan Hashimi was the former CEO of Negara Properties (M) Bhd, which is now part of the group and he has been with Sime Darby Property for almost 15 years.

The group said that his appointment as acting group CEO will ensure continuity, allowing the group to execute its strategies and plans which are already in place, and with minimal disruption to operations.

‘Make GLCs accountable to Parliament’

KUALA LUMPUR: Khazanah Nasional Bhd’s former managing director Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim has advised the federal government to make the large government-linked companies (GLCs) directly accountable to Parliament to define their decision making under the law.

Sheriff, who is also the chairman of PLUS Malaysia Bhd, said this is important to ensure that these government-owned companies, which represent 42% of the total market capitalisation of listed companies, are managed with integrity, transparency and accountability.

“As you know Parliament is now establishing the Select Committees. I hope that one of the Select Committees will take the responsibility of getting the big GLCs to answer on their operations,” he said during a panel discussion on “The Role of GLCs in the Modern Malaysian Economy” at the Perdana Leadership Foundation CEO Forum 2019 yesterday.

“This is not something new as the chairman of the Federal Reserve has to answer to the congress three to four times every year on the conduct of the banking operations.

“As chairman of PLUS, I don’t mind being called up to give answers relating to PLUS to provide transparency,” he added.

Additionally, he said in order for GLCs to be well run, the firms should have good leadership at the board level, with professional management at the executive level.

Commenting on how the presence of GLCs will affect the private sector investment, the Employees Provident Fund head of economics and capital markets department Nurhisham Hussein said the impact of the crowding out of private investment is similar across all countries.

“Whether it is government-owned or not is not really relevant, it is about the size (of the company). Changing the ownership of the companies will not change the (crowding out) impact,” Nurhisham told reporters on the sideline of the forum.

According to an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Trade Policy Paper, Malaysia ranks fifth highest in the world in terms of GLCs’ presence among large firms.

Scomi, Prasarana to settle dispute over KL Monorail Fleet Expansion Project

PETALING JAYA: Scomi Group Bhd has entered into a settlement agreement (SA) with Prasarana Malaysia Bhd to resolve the disputes in relation to the Kuala Lumpur Monorail Fleet Expansion Project.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia, Scomi said its indirect wholly owned subsidiary Scomi Transit Projects Sdn Bhd (STP) and Prasarana entered into the SA with the intention of amicably determining legal proceedings between the two parties while concurrently moving forward with the completion of the project.

The project involves the upgrading of the Kuala Lumpur monorail stations and the electrical and mechanical system; the construction of a new depot; and delivery of 12 sets of new four-car trains.

Under the SA, Prasarana will pay RM181 million to enable STP to undertake remedial works necessary to put five four-car monorail trains into revenue service and to make payments to STP’s lenders, employees and creditors.

The two parties will also withdraw their respective claims and counterclaims against each other, fully releasing each other in respect of all claims, obligations and liabilities arising from the contract in connection with the project.

A further agreement will be entered into between the two parties for the completion and delivery of seven four-car monorail trains (completion agreement).

Scomi said the execution of the SA may be earnings accretive and contribute positively to the future earnings and earnings per share of the company, but is conditional upon the parties entering into the completion agreement, and Scomi fulfilling the terms and conditions of the SA and completion agreement.

To recap, Scomi had in March 2016 obtained an ex parte injunction to restrain Prasarana from terminating the project, in response to Prasarana’s threats to terminate the RM494 million contract.

At that time, STP had only delivered six sets of the four-car monorail trains, of which five were in revenue service. The two parties were embroiled in a string of claims and counterclaims, which subsequently led to Prasarana terminating the contract.

In October last year, Scomi met Transport Minister Anthony Loke to discuss the legal disputes with Prasarana.

Trading of Scomi’s shares were suspended from 10.57am yesterday pending the announcement of the SA.

Scomi’s share price has been on the rise this week, having surged 30% from 5 sen on March 29. It was last traded at 6.5 sen with 23.12 million shares changing hands.

Tesla shares skid after first-quarter deliveries disappoint

NEW YORK, April 4 — Tesla Inc shares fell more than 8 per cent today after a bigger-than-expected drop in first-quarter deliveries, led by waning demand for its luxury Model S and X vehicles, added to worries about the electric carmaker’s…

Matrade’s business programme beats target

KUALA LUMPUR: The International Sourcing Programme (INSP) of the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) generated RM616 million in potential sales, beating the target of RM600 million.

Matrade chairman Tan Sri Dr Halim Mohammad said sales increased by 2.2% from RM602.45 million in 2018.

“Since the inception of the Malaysia International Halal Showcase (MIHAS), we have successfully turned this annual gathering of local companies and foreign buyers into an important meeting point for them to expand their business,” he told reporters on the 16th edition of the MIHAS showcase today.

Organised in conjunction with 16th MIHAS 2019, Matrade has coordinated more than 1,928 business meetings between 500 Malaysian companies with 200 foreign buyers from 43 countries.

Halim said to date, total sales transactions at MIHAS 2019 have hit RM284 million.

He said Matrade expects the sales transactions to surpass last year’s total, driven by higher participation from foreign buyers and higher sales of INSP.

Meanwhile, Halim said Malaysia boasts a comprehensive ecosystem for the halal industry’s development.

“This includes halal certification systems, standards and regulations, infrastructure, incentives, human capital and Islamic banking that are supported by effective frameworks from the government,” he said.

Trump says US economy strong despite ‘destructive actions’ by Fed

WASHINGTON, April 4 — President Donald Trump today said the US economy was very strong despite what he said were “unnecessary and destructive actions” taken by the US Federal Reserve, his latest attack on the nation’s independent central…

Prasarana, Scomi sign agreement ending dispute over monorail service

RAWANG, April 4 — Prasarana Malaysia Berhad and Scomi Transit Project Sdn Bhd (STP) today signed an agreement for the acquisition and refurbishment of monorail trains, thus ending their dispute over the KL Monorail service. The signing which took…

FXTM: Oil price rally unjustified

PETALING JAYA: The 30% rally in oil prices year-to-date is unjustified in the wake of global economic downturn, said FXTM.

“The rally has been supported by improved market confidence that efforts from Opec+ have tightened the supply in the market, but whether this encouraging sentiment can continue would likely depend on whether Russia continues to support production cuts,” said its global head of currency strategy and market research Jameel Ahmad in a report.

He said due to the unprecedented 30% rally over the last quarter, the WTI oil will be a prime contender to suffer from a market correction in the second quarter.

“The probability is high that fears over a deceleration in world economic momentum will only get louder as the year progresses, meaning oil investors will need to reassess into expectations what impact a global slowdown will have on future demand,” he explained.

He added that a plethora of evidence through data releases from different economies across the globe has already pointed out that a downturn in growth is impending – if the slowdown hasn’t already arrived.

Jameel said one of the major risks for the price of oil in the second quarter is the increased probability that world economic forecasts for 2019 will be revised lower.

“Reduced demand is a negative for oil price and the prospect of further lower demand on global economic health fears will risk re-igniting oversupply concerns that have dominated headlines since the spectacular price crash first occurred in 2014, despite repeated measures and attempts by Opec and co to rebalance the market.”

He said there are a few reasons to remain optimistic that oil can resume its price rebound in the second quarter. This would however, include some unpredictable risk elements around politics for a commodity that has historically behaved with an extreme level of sensitivity to politics. Waivers on Iranian sanctions are a wildcard, while Saudi Arabia has remain committed to output cuts.

Another factor that needs to be taken into account when factoring in potential risks that can swing the hammer of the oil price in either direction is US President Donald Trump.

“Trump has made it clear on numerous occasions that his desire is for oil prices to return to lower levels for a prolonged period. He has already commented that the oil price is too high and while he might not be president of a nation that is either a traditional member of Opec nor Opec+, he carries the ability to influence world financial markets.

“When it comes to Trump’s influence on financial markets, it is never an occasion that investors can prepare for when it will happen, but Trump has proven in office that he has a tendency of getting his way in the end, and I would personally not want to be on the wrong side of the trade when Trump is demanding for lower oil valuations,” said Jameel.

Brent edges further away from US$70 level

TOKYO: Oil prices slipped a second day today, with Brent edging down further from the US$70 mark after weekly US oil data showed a surprise build in crude inventories and record production.

Brent futures were down 3 cents at US$69.28 a barrel by 0603 GMT. Brent fell 6 cents on Wednesday, after touching US$69.96, highest since Nov 12, when it last traded above US$70.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell 8 cents, or 0.1%, to US$62.38 a barrel. The contract dropped 12 cents in the previous session after briefly hitting US$62.99, also the highest since November.

Global benchmark Brent has gained nearly 30% this year, while WTI has gained nearly 40%. Prices have been underpinned by tightening global supplies and signs of demand picking up.

“There is a clear bias to the upside with the supply restrictions,“ said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney, pointing to supply cuts by Opec and others, along with sanctions on Iran.

“And there’s a much-better-than-expected demand picture after the recent China and US PMI numbers, along with a potential kicker from any US-China trade agreement,“ he said.

The Caixin/Markit services purchasing managers’ index (PMI) rose to 54.4, the highest since January 2018 and up from February’s 51.1, a fourth-month low, a private business survey of China’s service sector showed on Wednesday.

Trade talks between the United States and China made “good headway” last week in Beijing and the two sides aim to bridge differences during further talks, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Wednesday.

Crude oil is also supported by an agreement between the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) and allies such as Russia, a group known as Opec+, to reduce oil output by about 1.2 million bpd this year.

US pressure on Iran is increasing, with a senior Trump administration official saying earlier this week that Washington is considering more sanctions on the Middle Eastern country.

The refinery maintenance season is also drawing to a close and that will provide further demand for crude, said Virendra Chauhan, oil analyst at Energy Aspects in Singapore.

“The physical market is very strong and we are now starting to trade post-turnaround barrels, which should mean physical markets strengthen and flat prices should follow,“ he said.

Still, crude oil inventories in the United States rose by 7.2 million barrels last week, as net imports climbed, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday. Analysts had forecast a decrease of 425,000 barrels.

US crude production climbed 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) to a record 12.2 million bpd, after hovering around 12 million to 12.1 million bpd since mid-February, according to the EIA data.

Sterling snaps three-day rising streak on long Brexit delay concerns

LONDON, April 4 — Sterling snapped a three-day rising streak and slipped today as concerns rose that Britain may be headed for a protracted Brexit delay. The upper house of Britain’s parliament started debating legislation to force Prime…