April, 2019


Malaysia’s PPI down 1.5% in March 2019

PETALING JAYA: The Producer Price Index (PPI) for local production fell 1.5% year-on-year in March 2019, according to the Department of Statistics.

“The sectors which decreased during the month were agriculture, forestry and fishing (-14.2%), water supply (-1.7%) and manufacturing (-0.8%). Meanwhile, the index of mining, and electricity and gas supply increased 3% and 2.1% respectively,” said chief statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin.

The PPI local production declined marginally by 0.3% in March 2019 as compared with February 2019, due to the decline in agriculture, forestry and fishing by 5.8%. However, the index of four sectors increased namely electricity and gas supply (+2.1%), mining (+0.5%), water supply (+0.2%) and manufacturing (+0.1%).

PPI local production for the period of January-March 2019 declined 2.2% as compared to the same period last year.

Mohd Uzir said in March 2019, the PPI local production at all stages of processing (SOP) showed a reduction compared with a year ago, due to the declines in the index of crude materials for further processing (-3.0%), intermediate materials, supplies and components (-1.3%) and finished goods (-0.6%).

On a monthly basis, the PPI local production by SOP for March 2019 fell 0.3% which was contributed by crude materials for further processing (-1.1%) and finished goods (-0.2%) while intermediate materials, supplies and components rose 0.1%.

Taiwan-Malaysia bilateral trade grows to US$23.75b in 2018

KUALA LUMPUR, April 30 — Bilateral trade between Taiwan and Malaysia recorded a growth of 22.1 per cent valued at US$23.75 billion (RM98.05 billion) last year, said director of the Taiwan Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Tasha Hsiao. She said…

Axiata Digital sells portfolio to Singaporean fund for US$140m

PETALING JAYA: Axiata Digital Sdn Bhd, the digital services arm of Axiata Group Bhd, is selling its digital ventures portfolio at a valuation of US$140 million (about RM579 million) to Pegasus 7 Ventures Pte Ltd.

The group said in a statement today that the sale involves ownership stakes in digital businesses such as India’s largest rural commerce platform, StoreKing and global micro-insurance company BIMA.

According to Axiata Digital, the portfolio is largely focused on companies that address the needs of under-served consumers and encompass services such as micro-insurance, online to offline (O2O)/rural commerce, e-commerce, last mile solutions for banks and e-mobile virtual network operator (e-MVNO) segments.

Pegasus, a Singaporean investment fund managed by Gordian Capital, is expected to drive the growth of the portfolio, accelerating value creation by scaling these companies and enhancing their access to global financial, strategic and operational partners.

The portfolio companies currently under management are StoreKing, BIMA, FreedomPop, 11street and etobee with operations across Asia, US and Africa and co-investors that include Allianz X, Kinnevik, Millicom, LetterOne, Intel Capital, Atomico, Mangrove Capital Partners, LeapFrog Investments and Kejora Ventures.

“It is a pleasure to partner with Axiata Digital on a portfolio which addresses emerging market needs, with distinct solutions and innovations for those at lower income groups. These companies are poised to scale significantly and create value for their stakeholders while continuing to make positive impacts in under-served communities.

“The addition of these assets to the Pegasus 7 portfolio is synergistic with our thematic focus and will serve as an enabler for our future growth path,” said Pegasus 7 Ventures founder and CEO Gautam Saxena.

“The partners in Pegasus 7 understand our vision, our markets and our portfolio companies which we’ve built to focus on our ecosystem of telco and digital assets. We strongly believe this handover will ensure the assets continue to thrive through access to our customer base, joint marketing and other synergistic activities,” said Axiata Digital CEO Mohd Khairil Abdullah.

Meanwhile, Axiata Digital will continue to focus on its three core verticals which include digital financial services (Boost), digital advertising (ada) and digital platform (Apigate).

Big banks break away from lobby groups in Brexit trade deal talks

LONDON, April 30 — A group of banks are directly feeding the British government ideas for a Brexit financial services trade deal, bypassing the industry’s major lobby groups after their blueprint for a future relationship with the EU was spurned…

High fuel costs drive Lufthansa deeper into red in Q1

FRANKFURT, April 30 — German airline group Lufthansa plunged deeper into the red in the first quarter, it said today, blaming the rising price of fuel and intense competition in Europe but sticking to annual targets. Between January and March, the…

Survey: Malaysian employers favour hard skills over soft skills

PETALING JAYA: The talent-short market in Malaysia is driving businesses to favour technical know-how over emotional aptitude in candidates, according to Hays Asia Salary Guide 2019.

Based on its survey, over three in five (60%) employers said they are more inclined to hire candidates with hard skills over soft skills, when asked about the skills most sought-after by their organisations.

The survey revealed that statistical analysis and data mining (voted by 55%), project management (voted by 52%), and computer skills (voted by 44%) were the top teachable or technical skills in demand, in that order.

Hays said that employers in Malaysia are generally least interested in skills such as foreign language fluency (voted by 8%), web architecture and development framework (voted by 10%) and UX or UI design (voted by 10%).

In terms of soft skills, problem solving (voted by 87%), team working (voted by 80%) and verbal communication (voted by 78%) were the most coveted skills sought by businesses while the psychological and emotional competencies that are at the bottom of employers’ priority lists were negotiation abilities (voted by 35%), resilience (voted by 45%) and flexibility (voted by 49%).

Across Asia, three in five (59%) employers deem hard skills more desirable in candidates than soft skills and this is most apparent in Malaysia with 65% who say the same.

However, respondents in China placed the least emphasis on hard skills while placing equal importance on soft skills.

“As industries and roles evolve and expand, the skills in demand are ever-changing. Businesses in Malaysia have been redefining the technical competencies required to grow and prosper,” Hays Malaysia managing director Tom Osborne said.

“With that in mind, candidates can benefit from staying abreast of industry developments and constantly upskill, or even reskill if needed, to maintain their competitiveness and therefore leverage in the employment market,” he added.

He said soft skills should continue to be a relevant and important aspect for employers when considering a new hire, as these skills are needed to complement even the deepest of knowledge and widest breadths of experience in order for both individuals and businesses to succeed.

Govt finalising details of National Entrepreneurship Policy

PETALING JAYA: The government is finalising details of the National Entrepreneurship Policy which will be submitted to the National Entrepreneur Strategic Development Council (NESDC), said Deputy Entrepreneur Development Minister Datuk Dr Mohd Hatta Md Ramli (pix).

“We’re now at the end of our findings and yesterday we had a townhall gathering of stakeholders and interested parties. We’re finalising the policy for entrepreneur development for the country. That will be submitted to NESDC to be confirmed as a national policy and we’ll find a proper direction of entrepreneur development,” he told a press conference after witnessing the signing of a memorandum of agreement between Caring Pharmacy Group Bhd and TriSuccess Global Sdn Bhd here today.

The National Entrepreneurship Policy is expected to be launched by the Prime Minister in July. Mohd Hatta declined to reveal what areas the policy will hinge on, saying only that “all important areas” will be covered.

He said NESDC comprises 20 members including the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry; Economic Affairs Ministry; Finance Ministry; Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry; and Communications and Multimedia Ministry.

The Entrepreneur Development Ministry is the secretariat to NESDC, which is chaired by the Prime Minister.

“The idea (of NESDC) is to coordinate entrepreneur development efforts to discuss policy matters. Entrepreneur development is not just under our ministry at the moment. Almost all the ministries have their own programme for entrepreneur development. All of these have to be coordinated so that there will not be any overlaps, such as in the area of financing for entrepreneurs,” he explained.

Pfizer posts nine per cent rise in first-quarter profit

NEW YORK, April 30 — US drugmaker Pfizer Inc reported a nine per cent rise in quarterly profit today, helped by sales of breast cancer drug Ibrance and pneumonia vaccine Prevnar. The company said net income rose to US$3.88 billion (RM16.03…

Eurozone growth rate beats expectations

BRUSSELS, April 30 — The eurozone economy expanded by a better than forecast 0.4 per cent in the first quarter of 2019, official data showed today, dampening talk that a recession in Europe is around the corner. The reassuring announcement broke a…

Streamline govt, private sector valuation methods, says Lim

KAJANG: Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has called for a transparent standard operating procedure (SOP) to narrow the gap between property valuations derived by the government and the private sector.

“I always hear that there is a difference between the valuation figures provided by the government sector and the private sector valuers. We need to see how the gap can be narrowed,” he said in his opening speech at the launch of the Property Market Report 2018 today.

He said the differing values are due to different valuation methods used, for instance, the comparison method employed by the Valuation & Property Services Department (JPPH).

However, he said the cost and depreciation method may be more suitable in some cases and recommends more engagements between JPPH and the private sector in order to streamline the methods used.

“I believe if there are clear SOPs, then the gap in property prices will not be so wide,” he added.

JPPH director general Ahmad Zailan Azizuddin said the cost and depreciation method is the last resort used by the department, because the cost of a development is not the same as the value of a development.

“We normally use the comparison method. He (Lim) has suggested to use the cost and depreciation method, which is our last resort because cost does not equal value. Cost and value are very different from each other. Value is based on transactions in the market, whereas cost is based on facts,” he said.

Although the cost and depreciation method could be used for affordable housing, Ahmad Zailan said government intervention is needed to ensure transparency in development costs.

He said the government should draw up a policy to compel property developers to reveal the actual cost of development for their projects. At present, there is no transparency in the components of development cost and the department relies on estimates when carrying out valuations.

He said the government and private sector valuers carry out valuations based on the same principal and standards but there could be differences in opinion and interpretation of the standards, which leads to differing valuations.