Tuesday, July 30th, 2019


US Fed opens two-day meeting, rate cut expected

WASHINGTON, July 30 — The Federal Reserve opened a two-day policy meeting today, poised to cut the key US lending rate for the first time in more than a decade amid rising economic uncertainties. The Federal Open Market Committee raised the…

US stocks fall after Trump rips China on trade

NEW YORK, July 30 — Wall Street stocks fell early today, buffeted by renewed trade war anxiety as US-China talks resumed, and as markets awaited a key Federal Reserve decision. President Donald Trump ripped into China on Twitter after US…

Petronas among firms eyeing stake in India’s Bina oil refinery

MUMBAI: Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) and a consortium led by Japan’s JXTG Holdings Inc are among the companies interested in buying a stake in India’s Bina oil refinery, a source close to the matter said.

The Bina plant in central India, capable of processing 156,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil, is operated by Bharat Oman Refineries Ltd (BORL), a 50-50 joint venture between Oman Oil Co and state-run Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL).

“There are a new set of companies who have approached BPCL for a stake in its Bina refinery,” said the source, who asked not to be identified as the discussions are private.

BPCL plans to double the capacity of the refinery in next five years and build a petrochemical complex that would require an investment of about 500 billion rupees (RM30 billion), the source said.

Bharat Petroleum did not respond to a request for comment. Petronas and JXTG were not immediately reachable for comment.

After initially investing in the 120,000 bpd plant Oman Oil did not take part in the first round of expansion. India allowed BPCL in 2016 to issue debt instruments of up to 30 billion rupees to be converted into equity of BORL to fund the initial expansion to 156,000 bpd.

Oman Oil is now considering whether to invest in a second round, the source added.

Even if Oman takes part in this expansion its overall stake would not translate to a 50% share as it had not funded the previous expansion, the source said.

BPCL wants to retain a 50% share in the plant, leaving room for a new partner, the source added.

The Middle Eastern company will finalise what stake it wants to hold in the expanded capacity in about three months and the rest will be sold off, the source added.

Global oil producers are vying to gain entry into India to profit from strong gasoline and petrochemical demand due to the rising disposable income of its 1.3 billion population.

A consortium led by Russia’s Rosneft acquired a controlling stake in Nayara Energy , formerly known as Essar Oil, for nearly US$13 billion in 2017, while Saudi Aramco is also in talks to acquire a minority stake in Reliance Industries’ refining, marketing and petrochemical business.

India, the world’s third-biggest oil importer, plans to raise its refining capacity by 77% to about 8.8 million bpd by 2030 to meet rising fuel demand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government had said earlier.

BPCL had earlier held discussions with Kuwait Petroleum International and US oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp.

Mounting wave of lawsuits threatens Bayer’s Monsanto bet

FRANKFURT AM MAIN, July 30 — One year after taking over US seeds and pesticides maker Monsanto in a US$63 billion gamble, the payoff for German chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant Bayer remains in question as it battles a massive wave of cancer…

Khazanah’s M+S sells office, retail assets to Allianz Real Estate, Gaw Capital for S$1.575 billion

KUALA LUMPUR: M+S Pte Ltd, in which Khazanah Nasional Bhd has a 60% stake, is disposing of its entire stake in Ophir-Rochor Commercial Pte Ltd (ORC) to Allianz Real Estate and real estate private equity firm Gaw Capital Partners for S$1.575 billion (RM4.725 billion).

The selling price equates to S$2,570 (RM7,725) per square foot of net lettable area.

“With the office and retail assets performing well beyond expectations, we are delighted that the proposed transaction of S$1.575 billion at a record price for this area has presented the opportunity to maximise returns for our shareholders,” M+S’ CEO Kemmy Tan said in a statement.

ORC, a wholly owned subsidiary of M+S, is the developer and owner of Duo Tower and Duo Galleria, the office and retail portion of Duo, a mixed-use development, which also includes Duo Residences and the Andaz Singapore hotel, in central Singapore.

She said M+S, which would continue to own the hotel Andaz Singapore, looked forward to working alongside the powerful combination of Allianz Real Estate and Gaw Capital Partners, who have impressive global track records in real estate management and development, to further reinforce Duo as an attractive place for global business and travellers.

“Duo provides an unparalleled live-work-play environment and is poised to establish itself as one of Singapore’s major business hubs. It will be an excellent addition to our global 24×7 cities office portfolio,” said Allianz Real Estate’s Asia-Pacific CEO Rushabh Desai.

“This exciting transaction with Allianz Real Estate marks a great step forward in our flourishing partnership with the group. Duo has enormous potential, given its fantastic location and connectivity, and this marks an important milestone for Gaw Capital in the Singapore real estate market,” he said.

The Duo development is situated in the Ophir-Rochor corridor in Singapore, right next to the heritage district Kampong Glam, and was designed by acclaimed architect Ole Scheeren.

Duo Tower consists of 20 floors of prime Grade-A office space occupied by prestigious MNCs and leading local companies, while Duo Galleria is a retail mall that connects directly to the Bugis MRT station, an interchange for the Downtown and East West lines.

Over the course of the last three years of operations, M+S has steadily grown and sustained a vibrant community of tenants, retailers, homeowners, shoppers and hotel guests at Duo.

The development has become an icon in Bugis and has been instrumental in injecting greater vibrancy and cultural diversity to the area by ushering in multinational office tenants, fresh retail concepts and the internationally renowned Andaz Singapore hotel which has a global client-base.

“M+S has done a fantastic job developing the Duo office and hotel complex and has successfully leased the building to a full roster of world class tenants.

“As M+S will continue to hold the hotel portion of the complex, we look forward to working together to enhance the asset and ride on the continued growth of the Bugis area as a new leisure and business district.” said Kenneth Gaw, president and managing principal at Gaw Capital Partners.

According to the statement, Allianz Real Estate acts on behalf of several Allianz Group companies, while real estate private equity firm Gaw Capital Partners acts on behalf of a sovereign wealth fund separate account.

P&G writes down Gillette business, earnings top estimates

NEW YORK, July 30 — Procter & Gamble shares surged early today after reporting a jump in sales despite a hefty charge on the Gillette shaving business that pushed results into the red. The consumer products giant, with brands like Tide…

Brexit ‘no matter what’, PM Johnson promises as sterling falls

LONDON, July 30 — Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised today to lead Britain out of the European Union on Oct. 31 “no matter what” as sterling tumbled and Ireland warned that the bloc would not be renegotiating the thrice defeated divorce…

China will boost economy but won’t use property market for stimulus, says Politburo

BEIJING, July 30 — China will step up efforts to boost demand and support the economy, but will not use the property market as a form of short-term stimulus, a top decision-making body of the ruling Communist Party said today. With China’s…

SimplySiti aiming for Bursa listing

KUALA LUMPUR: SimplySiti Sdn Bhd is eyeing opportunities to be listed on Bursa Malaysia to support its aspiration to be a global brand.

Group chief executive officer Azuddin Abdul Rahman said the company is about to achieve close to RM60 million in sales next year.

“We are open to that (listing) option.

“It’s our target and we are working towards it,” he said after the announcement of a collaboration between Shopee, SimplySiti and CIMB Islamic Bank Bhd on Monday.

He said the company will enter the Indonesian market next month and aims to be a global player beyond 2020.

Founder Datuk Seri Siti Nurhaliza Tarudin (pix), Malaysia’s number one singer, said the company plans to introduce 70 of its products in the 271 million-strong market.

“Since I launched SimplySiti I had set a target to enter the Indonesian market. With its population, there is a huge potential for me to tap the fan market,” she said.

Besides online platforms, SimplySiti will be also sold at Watsons and Transmart.

Since 2017, it has generated 42% of its sales through e-commerce platforms such as Shopee.

Shopee regional managing director Ian Ho said 70% of its user base are female and they purchase mostly from the Health & Beauty segment, making it one of the most popular categories on its platform by default.

Shopee Malaysia currently has around 20 million users.

With the collaboration, SimplySiti fans will have direct access to meet-and-greet sessions with Siti Nurhaliza, her mini-concerts, and attractive product deals.

A SimplySiti Shopee Super Brand promotion will be held on Aug 2 to 7, with the Shopee x SimplySiti Mini Concert taking place on Sept 14 and the Afternoon Tea with Siti Nurhaliza event, in collaboration with CIMB Islamic Bank, on Sept 18.

Consumer sentiment improves

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER) reported an improvement in its Consumer Sentiment Index (CSI) with 93 points for the second quarter of the year (2Q19) from 85.6 points recorded in the previous quarter.

According to MIER, the CSI score was bolstered by consumers’ assessment of their current financial situation, particularly their income and employment expectation in the near future.

“With job growth and household finances looking up but conservatively for the second half of the year, consumers need to exercise prudence amid the rising cost of living as buying can only depend on future income gains,” it said.

The institute highlighted that in the months ahead, household demand will proceed cautiously, particularly for interest sensitive and big ticket items such as houses and cars, while those that are planning such purchases are buoyed by interest rate cuts to consider making this long-term commitment.

Meanwhile, MIER’s Business Sentiment Index (BSI) for 2Q19 fell marginally to 94.2 points from 94.3 points in 1Q19. MIER noted that the CSI and BSI were well below the 100 points threshold, indicating optimism in the sector.

MIER said its BSI survey results indicate that businesses are not optimistic about their local sales performance in the next three months.

“Of the eight components, current and expected production, domestic and external orders increased slightly while current sales, capital investment, capacity utilisation and expected export sales came in weaker,” the institute said.

It said that Malaysian manufacturers are not putting high expectations in their business activities due to the global economic tensions and uncertainties.

“Overall, business confidence appears somewhat lower and almost flat in the second quarter,” it said, adding that the BSI suffered a loss of 22.1 points on an annual basis.

“This trend of an almost stagnating index is expected to continue into the third quarter of 2019. Components such as expected export sales are expected to decline while expected production will likely increase slightly,” it added.

MIER has also revised its gross domestic product (GDP) forecast for Malaysia this year to 4.6% from 4.5% previously, due to changes in its forecast model.

“Despite the revision, we are not optimistic due to global headwinds and weak sentiments,” said its chairman Tan Sri Kamal Salih (pix).

However, MIER associate fellow Dr Jamal Othman said that the US-China trade war may not necessarily result in GDP and welfare loss to Malaysia.

“Malaysia is poised to gain in both welfare and GDP albeit very marginally. There will be improvements in terms of trade, resource allocative efficiency and accumulation of capital stock,” said Jamal.

He surmised that export of some Malaysian goods may rise such as manufacturing, meat products, palm oil and others however, overall Malaysian imports may see larger increases leading to declining trade balance.