UOB Malaysia partners SJPP to extend government-guaranteed unsecured financing facilities to SMEs

KUCHING: United Overseas Bank (Malaysia) Bhd (UOB Malaysia) has entered into an agreement with Syarikat Jaminan Pembiayaan Perniagaan Berhad (SJPP) to offer government-guaranteed financing to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)1. SJPP is an administrator and manager of credit guarantee schemes under Malaysia’s Ministry of Finance. Under the agreement, SMEs can obtain collateral-free loans of up […]

Malaysia’s international reserves slip to US$104.2b as of Aug 15

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 21 — Malaysia’s gross international reserves fell slightly to US$104.2 billion as of Aug. 15, from US$104.5 billion as of July 31, the central bank said today. The reserves were sufficient to finance 7.6 months of retained…

AMMB’s Q1 net profit up 5.9% to RM347.6m

PETALING JAYA: AMMB Holdings Bhd's net profit rose 5.9% to RM347.6 million in the first quarter ended June 30, 2018 (Q1FY19) from RM328.27 million in the previous corresponding quarter, driven by higher interest income.

Revenue for the quarter grew 4.4% to RM2.17 billion againts the RM2.08 billion made previously.

The group's net interest margin (NIM) remained flat at 2.02% compared with the corresponding period last year.

Its total operating expenses recorded reduction of 7.3% compared to same period last year, while general and administrative expenses were controlled with less expenses incurred relating to compliance and governance.

Overall, the group's cost to income (CTI) ratio improved to 50.6% from 56.3% a year ago. Its net income from insurance business also improved substantially mainly due to lower insurance claims.

“We saw a strong pre-provision profit growth of 16.7% compared to 3.2% in Q1FY18. At RM501 million, this is the highest profit before provision (PBP) recorded since Q4FY15, a testament to the strength of our Top 4 strategy,” AmBank Group CEO Datuk Sulaiman Mohd Tahir said in a statement.

“Credit costs were still negligible considering our asset base. Overall, we recorded higher profitability and improved returns in Q1FY19,” Sulaiman said.

He added the bank's net interest income (NII) continued to grow steadily at 4.7% year-on-year (y-o-y) to RM642 million, paced by the consistent loans growth of 2.2% on a year-to date (YTD) basis.

However, he said non-interest income (NoII) was flat y-o-y at RM372 million.

On loans growth, Sulaiman said AMMB continues to see good loans growth in its targeted segments.

He said mortgage loans maintained its growth momentum and expanded by 4.8% YTD to RM27.7 billion, while loans to small and medium enterprises (SME) grew 2.8% YTD to RM17.2 billion.

“All in all, we are encouraged by the 8th consecutive quarter of loans growth. Our customer deposits grew 2.9% YTD to RM98.6 billion whilst our current accounts and savings accounts (CASA) increased by 2.1% YTD,” he added.

On liquidity, Sulaiman said the group's banking subsidiaries have maintained liquidity coverage and net stable funding ratios (NSFR4 ) above 100%.

“Our capital levels were adequate with CET1 capital ratio at 11.6%, up 30 basis points (bps) from March 31, 2018 whilst total capital ratio stood at 16.4%, down 20 bps,” he noted.

On its prospects, Sulaiman said the group is on track to achieve its full year CTI target of 55%.

“We will continue to maintain our focus on driving income and CASA growth as well as manage cost diligently through our BET300 programme to attain operational efficiencies while emphasising capital accretive growth,” he added.

At the midday break, AMMB's share price gained 7 sen or 1.8% to RM3.93 with 243,000 shares changing hands.

T7 Global positive on aerospace venture

KUALA LUMPUR: T7 Global Bhd, which believes its diversification effort into aerospace manufacturing will break even in three to four years, is positive about the prospects moving forward with the oil price stabilising and more contract awards from Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas).

T7, formerly Tanjung Offshore Bhd, is principally involved in providing comprehensive services to the oil and gas (O&G) industry. It has an order book of RM800 million to keep it busy for the next few years and a tender book of RM2 billion to sustain the group’s operations and diversification plans.

Executive deputy chairman Tan Sri Tan Kean Soon said O&G is still its core business, constituting 80% of its revenue.

“Over the past few years, oil price plunged low but as of today, we’re hitting over US$70 per barrel, hence more and more projects will be coming from Petronas. We’re also bidding for a number of tenders, hopefully by year end or next year, things will look up for the O&G industry,” he told a press conference after its EGM today.

Tan said T7 is banking on its three businesses – O&G, aerospace and infrastructure & construction.

On its diversification into aerospace, the group expects its factory in Serendah to be operational by year-end and for it to obtain the necessary accreditation by the first quarter next year, before getting customer approvals and subsequently the aerospace contracts. It is partnering Kilgour Aerospace Group, a UK high value manufacturing company to set up the surface metal treatment facility.

Chairman Datuk Seri Dr Nik Norzrul Thani said an aerospace contract has a tenure of 30-40 years and provides a good margin, generally better than O&G contracts. He said there is a backlog on supply, adding that the government is also interested to push the agenda for aerospace.

“Our aim is to become a high value manufacturing company. We aim to depend less on O&G ultimately, but growing it at the same time.”

On dividends, Nik said the group is tightening its belt now to invest for the future.

“If you’re willing to wait and have staying power for the long term, we’re all involved. It’s our aim to make sure the value (of the company) goes up, by being in an industry and having projects that make money. We feel aerospace is one of them.”

Meanwhile, he explained that the review of the East Coast Rail Link by the government will not affect T7 as they are just bidding for the work packages at this stage.

China regulator asks financial institutions to support infrastructure


BEIJING: China’s banking and insurance regulator has asked financial institutions to give more support to infrastructure investment, importers and exporters, and creditworthy companies experiencing temporary problems. In a statement posted on its website, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) also called on the institutions to raise the proportion of medium- and long-term loans […]

S&P, Moody’s downgrade Turkey’s credit rating

ISTANBUL: Two major rating agencies downgraded Turkey deeper into junk on Friday, warning on inflation and bemoaning lack of clarity from the government on how it plans to deal with ongoing financial turmoil, including sharp declines in the value of the lira.

“We forecast a recession next year. Inflation will peak at 22% over the next four months, before subsiding to below 20% by mid-2019,” Standard & Poor's (S&P) warned, lowering Turkey one grade.

Since the beginning of the year, the lira has dropped more than 35% against the dollar, much of that coming this month. This follows a poor year for the Turkish currency in 2017.

Moody's pointed at concerns over the independence of Turkey's central bank – which has not raised interest rates – and a lack of transparency from Ankara. Conditions are “likely to fuel inflation further” and there is an increasing risk for a balance of payments crisis, Moody's said, as it too cut Turkey's sovereign rating one notch lower.

Fitch, another agency, did not change its credit ranking but warned that without a return to “an orthodox monetary policy response” and a change in the government's rhetoric, Turkey will struggle to restore economic stability.

Turkey has a series of compounding issues facing its economy, including corporate debt and inflation.

Additionally, markets have been spooked by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's rhetoric against raising interest rates and beliefs in heterodoxical economic theories.

A worsening relationship with the United States has only added to the woes. The two countries have slapped tariffs on each other. The US also imposed sanctions on two leading Turkish ministers, accusing them of serious human rights abuses.

While a range of issues sit at the heart of the dispute – including disagreements over Syria and Ankara's warming ties to Moscow – Turkey is holding in detention US citizens, including Pastor Andrew Brunson. The US wants them released.

“Turkey has been a problem for a long time. They have not acted as a friend,” Trump said outside the White House just hours after a Turkish court refused to release Brunson, who has been in detention in Turkey since October 2016.

“They should have given him back a long time ago. Turkey in my opinion has acted very very badly,” the president said, indicating more measures could yet come down. “We have not seen the last of that. We will not take it sitting down. They cannot take our people.”

The measures from the agencies came hours after the Finance Ministry in Ankara announced a raft of new measures to ease the way for loans to the banking and real estate sectors against “economic attacks”.

The Industry Ministry meanwhile announced a new package to support small and medium enterprises and entrepreneurs, state-run news agency Anadolu said, without providing details.

Turkish markets will be closed for a week after noon tomorrow (5pm Malaysian time) for the Eid al-Adha holidays. After four days of recovery, the lira slid 8% against the dollar in Friday trading. It had recovered somewhat from a rout on Monday, when it fell to 7.24 to the dollar.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that Washington was considering further sanctions in response to the continued detention of Brunson. – dpa

Russian oil industry would weather US ‘bill from hell’

MOSCOW: Stiff new US sanctions against Russia would only have a limited impact on its oil industry because it has drastically reduced its reliance on Western funding and foreign partnerships and is lessening its dependence on imported technology. Western sanctions imposed in 2014 over Russia’s annexation of Crimea have already made it extremely hard for […]

Turkey will emerge stronger from lira crisis, finance minister tells investors

ISTANBUL, Aug 16 — Finance Minister Berat Albayrak assured international investors today that Turkey would emerge stronger from its currency crisis, insisting that the country’s banks were healthy. In a conference call with thousands of…

Turkey will emerge stronger from currency crisis: Finance Minister

ISTANBUL: Finance Minister Berat Albayrak assured international investors today that Turkey would emerge stronger from its currency crisis, insisting that the country's banks were healthy and strong.

In a conference call with thousands of investors and economists, Albayrak – who is President Tayyip Erdogan's son-in-law – said Turkey fully understood and recognised all its domestic challenges but was dealing with what he described as a market anomaly.

The Turkish lira hit a record low of 7.24 to the dollar this week, down 40% this year, as investors fretted over Erdogan's influence over monetary policy and a bitter dispute with the United States.

Facing Turkey's gravest currency crisis since 2001 in his first month in the job, Albayrak has the daunting task of reassuring the investors that the economy is not hostage to political interference.

Albayrak, a 40-year-old former company executive with a doctorate in finance, said Turkey would not hesitate to provide support to the banking sector. The banks were capable of managing the volatility, and there had been no major flow of cash out of deposits lately, he added.

Before he spoke, the Turkish lira strengthened more than 3%, despite signs that a rift with the US is as wide as ever.

However, the currency market's reaction to his conference call – in which he also said Turkey had no plans to seek help from the International Monetary Fund or impose capital controls to stop money from flowing abroad – was measured.

After he finished speaking, the lira was little changed from beforehand, meaning it remains down around 34% against the dollar this year.

Earlier in the day, the currency had shrugged off US comments ruling out the removal of steel tariffs on Turkey even if it frees an American pastor who lies at the centre of the complex feud between Washington and Ankara.

The currency gained some support from the announcement late on Wednesday of a Qatari pledge to invest US$15 billion (RM60 billion) in Turkey.

The White House said on Wednesday that it would not remove steel tariffs on Turkey, appearing to give Ankara little incentive to work for the release of Andrew Brunson, a pastor on trial in Turkey on terrorism charges.

Washington wants the evangelical Christian freed but Turkish officials say the case is a matter for the courts. – Reuters

Fresh grads entering financial services not industry-ready: Institute

PETALING JAYA: Fresh graduates entering the financial services industry (FSI) in Malaysia are frequently not industry-ready, said the Asian Institute of Finance (AIF).

According to a study titled “Bridging the Talent Gap: Financial Services Industry and Entry Level Hires in Malaysia” launched by AIF, hiring managers indicated that they are unable to find the right people with the proper skills to fill up vacancies.

“Young graduates may not necessarily have the right knowledge, expertise and experience that they can apply in the workplace immediately after they graduate,” Alliance Bank Malaysia Bhd head of group human resource Chew Siew Suan said in her review of AIF's report.

“This is why we apply a combination of back-to-basics old-fashioned development with powerful, pragmatic and experiential learning that continuously taps into the bank's business ecosystem in our management trainee programme to build future banking leaders,” she added.

The AIF study suggests that there is a need for more initiatives to improve soft skills such as leadership and problem-solving, more exposure and programmes on business and entrepreneurial skills as well as improvement in lifelong learning for entry-level hires.

The study involved 24 employers from four FSI sectors and professional bodies, 51 entry-level employees, 10 programme coordinators and 95 final-year students in Malaysia who took part in a questionnaire, based on Malaysian Qualifications Agency requirements.

Knowledge and skills were measured against six-level scale descriptors that determine respondents' adaptability. The study is based on qualitative and quantitative insights from 180 participants.

The AIF study aims to gather insights into the talent gap that exists in FSI and how FSI employers and higher learning institutions (HLIs) can collaborate to plug this gap.

“What makes the report particularly important and compelling is that it offers some significant insights on the challenges faced by FSIs and HLIs in addressing the talent gap in the sector, and proposes a more holistic and cohesive approach from all relevant stakeholders,” said AIF's director of strategy, policy development and research, Jaya Kohli.