France to push ahead with digital tax starting January 1

PARIS: France will push ahead with its own tax on large internet and technology companies from January 1, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said, as the European Union struggles to finalise a new EU-wide levy. France has been driving hard for a new so-called ‘GAFA tax’ – named after Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon – […]

No Uber or Airbnb in S.Korea: Red tape, risk-aversion hobble start-ups

SEOUL, Dec 18 ― When Choi Ba-da pitched his car-sharing firm Luxi to Hyundai Motor officials in 2017, he told them there would be no future for South Korea's top automaker if it failed to embrace emerging technologies. His pitch worked: Hyundai…

India holds off raising import tariffs on some US goods until Jan 31

NEW DELHI, Dec 17 — India has held off until end-January 2019 raising tariffs on select goods from the United States, deferring for the fourth time retaliatory action against higher import tariffs imposed by the US on steel and aluminium, the…

France to introduce own tax on large internet, tech firms

PARIS, Dec 17 — France will introduce its own tax on large internet and technology companies from January 1, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said today amid difficulties in finalising a new EU-wide levy. France has been pushing hard for a new…

Google to spend US$1b to establish new campus in New York

NEW YORK, Dec 17 — Alphabet Inc’s Google is investing over US$1 billion (RM4.1 billion) to establish a new campus in New York, becoming the second major technology company after Amazon to pick America’s financial capital to expand and…

Unifi Mobile announces new postpaid plans from RM19 a month

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 17 — TM has announced a new range of Unifi Mobile postpaid plans as part of the Unifi Value Plan offerings. The latest plans start from as low as RM19 per month, offering bundled data, calls, and SMS every month. The new…

First mobile self-checkout system to be launched by Aeon in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 17 — Malaysia will be the first in the market to test out a new self-checkout system at Aeon department stores, using the Aeon Wallet app. The Aeon Wallet is the company's own mobile wallet that was launched a few months…

PNB, EPF to acquire Battersea Phase 2

KUALA LUMPUR: Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) will jointly acquire the commercial properties in the second phase of the Battersea Power Station (BPS) development (phase two commercial property) for a base price of 1.58 billion pound (RM8.35 billion) from Battersea Phase 2 Holding Company Limited (BP2HCL).

This concludes the negotiations for the planned purchase of the phase two commercial property, which began in January this year.

Under the terms of the agreement, PNB-Kwasa International 2 Limited, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) formed to undertake the acquisition, has conditionally agreed to acquire the phase two commercial property from BP2HCL, a wholly owned subsidiary of Battersea Project Holding Company Limited (BPHCL). BPHCL is owned by a consortium of shareholders namely S P Setia Bhd (40%), Sime Darby Property Bhd (40%) and EPF (20%). PNB has a 65% stake in the SPV, while the remaining 35% is held by the EPF.

The phase two commercial property is part of the restoration of the iconic power station building itself and is expected to reach completion at the end of 2020, opening to the public in 2021. The commercial area purchased comprises, among others, 540,000 square feet of premier grade A offices, 420,000 square feet of retail, food & beverage and leisure as well as various event spaces.

500,000 square feet of the office space has been leased to Apple for its new London campus, providing a strong base for the creation of new and thriving communities around the development. With its world-famous chimneys that will feature a lift experience, dubbed to be an attraction similar to the London Eye, the BPS project is anticipated to attract 40 million annual visits on completion.

London-based Battersea Power Station Development Company (BPSDC) will continue to manage the project, whilst subsidiaries of BPSDC Battersea Power Station Asset Management Limited and Battersea Power Station Estate Management Limited will be appointed as the asset manager and property manager after practical completion of the power station building for an initial term of 10 years.

The 42-acre BPS site is being developed over seven phases since 2012, managed by BPSDC on behalf of the shareholders. It had successfully completed and delivered 867 residential units in the first phase over the past two years (2017-2018).

PNB president & group chief executive Datuk Abdul Rahman Ahmad said the due diligence undertaken to evaluate this acquisition, which had involved multiple advisers and technical experts, has finally been completed and it is satisfied that the proposed acquisition fits the investment strategy of both institutions.

“The acquisition enables PNB to consolidate our strategic ownership in this iconic and prime, central London development, which is expected to deliver a sustainable income stream and potential capital appreciation in the future. The proposed investment has also been carefully structured to ensure the proposed transaction meets the stringent investment criteria of PNB.”

Under the terms of the acquisition, PNB-Kwasa International 2 Limited is given a minimum guaranteed yield by BPS throughout the construction period and up to five years post-completion with a price adjustment mechanism to account for any difference in actual rental income compared to forecast. This will ensure downside protection for PNB and EPF whilst enabling the seller to earn-out upside in the development should the actual rental income perform better than expected.

EPF deputy CEO (investment) Datuk Mohamad Nasir Ab Latif said the EPF is committed to seeing through the completion of the Battersea project.

“As an integrated development backed by strong tenants, we are confident in the potential of the phase two commercial property to yield sustainable and long term rental income for the EPF. We also anticipate the development to benefit from the extension of the London Underground Northern Line, which will provide greater accessibility to rejuvenate the area into a vibrant business and lifestyle epicentre.”

The proposed transaction is subject to a number of condition precedents such as financing and other relevant approvals and is targeted to be completed in the first quarter of 2019.

UK restaurant closures surge as consumers lose appetite to spend

LONDON, Dec 17 — More than 1,000 restaurants went bust in Britain in the year through September, a 24 per cent rise on the previous 12 months as the industry grapples with overcapacity as consumer spending slows, accountants Moore Stephens said…

Smartphone shipments to rebound in 2019

KUCHING: According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, worldwide smartphone shipments are expected to decline by three per cent in 2018 before returning to low single-digit growth in 2019 and through 2022. It stated: “While the on-going US-China trade war has the industry on edge, IDC still believes that continued […]