Wednesday, August 28th, 2019


EU will be blamed for lack of ‘flexibility’ if no-deal Brexit, says British minister

PARIS, Aug 28 — Britain’s Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay warned today that the European Union would be blamed for its “lack of flexibility” on the Irish border question in the event of no-deal Brexit. Addressing a business conference in…

Pound falls as UK parliament suspension to curb ability to avert no-deal Brexit

LONDON, Aug 28 — The pound fell to a six-day low today, holding barely above US$1.22 as Britain’s Queen Elizabeth gave the nod to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to suspend parliament, leaving lawmakers little time to prevent a no-deal…

Russia aims high with new passenger plane

ZHUKOVSKY (Russia), Aug 28 — Russia today unveiled to clients its new passenger plane MC-21, billed as a competitor to Boeing and Airbus even as the project is overshadowed by sanctions and setbacks with its predecessor, the Superjet. President…

US trade agency affirms Trump’s tariff hike on Chinese goods

WASHINGTON, Aug 28 — The US Trade Representative’s office today officially reaffirmed President Donald Trump’s plans to add an additional 5 per cent tariff on a US$300 billion list of Chinese imports starting on Sept. 1 and Dec. 15. USTR said…

India operations drag down AirAsia’s Q2 earnings

PETALING JAYA: AirAsia Group Bhd’s net profit for the second quarter ended June 30, 2019 fell 95% to RM17.94 million from RM361.81 million a year ago, primarily due to share of prior years’ losses at AirAsia India previously not recognised amounting to RM147 million.

In addition, there was an additional cost related to building up RedBeat Ventures entities, 105% higher maintenance and overhaul expenses due to higher maintenance provisions of RM160 million on the back of higher number of leased aircraft following the recent aircraft monetisation exercise as well as a RM10 million fine from the competition watchdog.

Its revenue was at RM3.14 billion, up 19.7% from RM2.62 billion, driven by an 18% increase in passengers carried to 12.8 million.

For the six-month period, AirAsia’s net profit plunged 92.7% to RM110.2 million from RM1.50 billion, while revenue rose 16.3% to RM6.02 billion from RM5.18 billion.

The low-cost carrier said positive operating cash flow (excluding operating lease) was generated in the first half of the year amounting to RM267 million.

AirAsia president (airlines) Bo Lingam said despite expanding capacity by 19%, load factor remained strong at 85%.

“In terms of profitability, we are excited to see the turnaround of AirAsia Indonesia and the improved performance of AirAsia Philippines. In Q219, AirAsia Indonesia returned to profitability, demonstrating strong operational results, including a 58% increase in passengers carried, a 6% increase in revenue per available seat kilometre (rask) and 16% decline in cost per available seat kilometre (cask).

“For AirAsia Philippines, profit after taxation in the second quarter increased more than eight fold following a 4ppts increase in load factor to 91%, a 22% increase in passengers carried and a 5% increase in rask. With our performance so far this year, we are positive on our target for all our Asean air operator’s certificate (AOCs) to be profitable this year,” he said in a statement.

AirAsia’s cask including fuel increased to 15.77 sen in Q2 19, 15% higher than 13.77 sen in Q2 18, mainly due to higher maintenance and overhaul provisions. Its costs were further put under pressure due to the depreciation of the ringgit and rupiah, which fell 4.5% and 1.3% against the greenback, respectively.

Speaking of the airline’s outlook, Lingam said the group has planned for a net fleet growth of 20 aircraft across six AOCs this year, with nine aircraft expected to be delivered to AirAsia India.

“We expect to receive in November our first A321neo, which is more fuel efficient, has a longer flight range range and holds an additional 50 seats worth of capacity. We are also working on driving down costs through our investments in digitalisation, which we believe will help reduce overall costs in the long run.”

He expects all Asean AOCs to be profitable for 2019, with a target group load factor of 85%.

To reduce risk to fuel price volatility, he said AirAsia has hedged a considerable amount of its fuel requirements.

“We have hedged 70-85% of 2H2019 requirements at US$60-62/bbl Brent prices and 69-82% of FY2020 requirements at US$60/bbl. We are also focused to recuperate AirAsia Thailand, which reported a loss in Q2 19 as it was negatively impacted by the sluggish growth of tourism and the baht appreciating, by recreating demand with more marketing.”

UEM Sunrise’s Q2 profit slumps 81% on absence of one-off gain

PETALING JAYA: UEM Sunrise Bhd’s net profit for the second quarter ended June 30, 2019 plunged 81.1% to RM40.36 million compared with RM213.79 million in the previous corresponding period, largely due to higher margins from land sales in the previous period, cushioned by partial settlement income of Aurora Melbourne Central and Conservatory projects.

Revenue for the quarter, however, jumped 74.5% to RM1 billion against RM573.35 million previously.

In the first half of the year, the property developer reported a net profit of RM70.46 million, a 70.5% drop from RM230.08 million in the same period a year ago. Revenue came in at RM1.42 billion, a 64.9% increase from RM861.09 million achieved previously.

UEM Sunrise managing director cum CEO Anwar Syahrin Abdul Ajib highlighted that the group’s revenue for the period was largely from its projects in Melbourne, Australia.

“The successful completion of Aurora Melbourne Central with a total GDV (gross development value) of A$750 million (RM2.12 billion), as well as the positive settlement of its separable portion 3 and 4, which today stands at 99%, is evidence that the decision to venture into Australia, our maiden international foray, was one of the company’s best decisions.”

In addition, he noted that the group’s participation in the Home Ownership Campaign 2019 has been positive.

“We hope to secure more sales as the campaign has been extended towards year end. Our inventory monetisation efforts are also on track considering that 35% of our sales for the period was from completed properties.”

To-date, the group has launched properties with a total GDV of RM249.3 million.

UEM Sunrise said it will be acquiring the retail assets and a theme park building owned by Themed Attractions Resorts & Hotels Sdn Bhd in Puteri Harbour, Johor.

The deal, which is expected to be completed in the last quarter of the year, will see the group reducing its exposure in Desaru by developing 228 acres of residential lands as opposed to the original 680 acres.

The group added that it is on track to meet both its sales and gross development value targets of RM1.2 billion each for 2019, barring unforeseen adverse market conditions.

Higher demand, sales to drive Hua Yang back to black in FY20

KUALA LUMPUR: Property developer Hua Yang Bhd is optimistic of returning to the black in the current financial year ended March 31, 2020 (FY20), backed by improved market demand and higher sales.

CEO Ho Wen Yan said the group aimed to secure RM400 million in sales this year, significantly higher than the RM286 million achieved in FY19, supported by existing and new launches.

He said demand in the first half of this year had improved and the momentum was expected to continue into the second half.

“We believe the demand is there to drive our sales as we see some improvement in bank financing, so more buyers will return to the market.

“We will continue to focus on the affordable housing segment, targeting to launch new products totalling RM494 million in gross development value (GDV) this year,” he told reporters after the group’s 40th Annual General Meeting today.

Hua Yang recorded a net loss of RM22.5 million in FY19, primarily due to share of loss from its associated company Magna Prima Bhd, amounting to RM16.65 million, which also resulted in the group having to make a provision of impairment loss totalling RM7.9 million.

As for new launches, Ho said the group was set to launch its new serviced apartment project in Penang with a GDV of RM400 million by October this year. – Bernama

Maybank aims 8% growth in SME loans this year

SHAH ALAM: Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) is targeting an 8% growth in its SME loans this year, from 6.5% in the first half of the year, driven by its attractive financing packages for SMEs, including non-collateral financing.

Maybank head of community financial services for Malaysia Datuk Hamirullah Boorhan (pix) said SME loans accounted for about 23% of Maybank’s total loan portfolio in 2018. The bank has a 22% market share in SME loan financing.

“A big portion of the SMEs are micro and mid-sized SMEs (retail SMEs). For this segment (retail SMEs), we’re targeting to grow by 15% this year. Year-to-date (1H19), we’ve grown 12%,” he told a press conference after launching the Maybank SME Month today.

Hamirullah said the SME segment is a key focus for Maybank and its SME loans have grown healthily with a 23% compound annual growth rate for five years between 2013 and 2018.

“We are confident of meeting our target of providing RM35 billion financing to SME within three years. From 2018 to June 2019, we provided some RM13.4 billion in financing to more than 20,000 SMEs,“ he said, adding that Maybank is targeting to disburse RM10 billion to SMEs in 2019.

He said given that many SMEs have no collaterals for loans, it collaborated with Credit Guarantee Corp and Syarikat Jaminan Pembiayaan Perniagaan Bhd to introduce non-collateral financing. This product is available to all types of business, from micro, small to medium enterprises. Maybank also has partnerships with various institutions such as the East Coast Economic Region Development Council to provide exclusive financing facility to SMEs in this region.

“We offer attractive working capital financing package with no collateral required. For micro entrepreneurs, the financing is from RM20,000 to RM50,000, for SMEs the financing is up to RM1.5 million, with longer repayment tenure up to seven years. Our loan application turnaround time is also the fastest in the industry – five days from application to approval. If you’re an existing client, you can apply for the loan online via Maybank2u Biz and the approval is within 24 hours,” Hamirullah said.

Earlier, the Maybank SME Month kicked off with a Micro Entrepreneur Engagement Workshop to provide budding entrepreneurs the necessary financial and business knowledge to build their businesses.

During the campaign period from Sept 1 to 30, there will be exclusive offers for SME clients, including special financing rates. In addition, a series of capacity and capability building programmes for SMEs covering topics such as financial literacy, business strategy, marketing and branding, as well as digitisation will be held throughout the country.

Sime Darby Property’s Q2 net profit jumps more than fourfold

PETALING JAYA: Sime Darby Property Bhd’s (SDP) net profit for the second quarter ended June 30, 2019 surged over fourfold to RM205.26 million from RM46.57 million in the previous corresponding period, attributed to lower losses from its leisure and hospitality segment and RM81.1 million land disposal in Selarong, Kedah.

Revenue for the period came in at RM865.9 million, a 40.3% increase from RM617.37 million recorded previously.

It has proposed to declare an interim dividend of 1 sen per share.

For the first half of the year, the group’s net profit also jumped almost six times to RM470.33 million from RM80.24 million in the same period last year.

Meanwhile, its revenue increased 22.4% to RM1.44 billion from RM1.18 billion.

SDP acting group CEO Datuk Wan Hashimi AlBakri Wan Amin Jaffri commented that the group is seeing healthy demand for its products, especially landed homes at the right price points.

“There continues to be underlying demand for properties in strategic locations and this is well supported by the government’s Home Ownership Campaign,” he said in a press release today.

Commenting on the outlook ahead, the group said it is targeting to launch new properties from the affordable collection of below RM500,000 per unit and mid-range priced products from RM500,000 to RM800,000 per unit.

Wan Hashimi added that the group is committed to reducing its inventories, particularly the completed unsold products through active sales promotions.

Berjaya Corp posts RM1.42 billion revenue for May-June period

PETALING JAYA: Berjaya Corp Bhd (BCorp) reported RM1.42 billion in revenue for two months ended June 30, 2019, attributed to substantial contributions from its gaming segment operated by Sports Toto Malaysia and motor distribution segment operated by HR Owen.

For the period, the group reported a pre-tax loss of RM47.95 million, mainly due to the impairment in associated companies, unfavourable fair value changes of investment properties and impairment of goodwill in a subsidiary company.

However, the losses were mitigated by the gain recognised on the disposal of a subsidiary company amounting to RM17.97 million.

For the 14-month period, BCorp saw RM9.78 billion in revenue with a pre-tax profit of RM429.08 million which includes the substantial gain realised on disposal of a joint venture and subsidiary companies of RM195.74 million and RM94.61 million, respectively.

The pre-tax profit also includes impairment in associated companies, unfavourable fair value changes of investment properties, impairment of goodwill in a subsidiary company, as well as additional provision for the impairment on the balance of the Great Mall Co Ltd project sales proceeds.

Looking ahead, BCorp expects the operating environment to be challenging for the forthcoming financial year given the prevailing economic conditions and global financial outlook.

The group has changed its financial year end from April 30 to June 30.