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New Grab Singapore head promises smooth transition as company aims for 'super app' status

SINGAPORE, April 12 — There is a new head at Grab Singapore, but don’t expect any major disruptions. Yee Wee Tang says that when it comes to running the business, he is “not very different” from his predecessor Lim Kell Jay. Speaking to…


Cambodia appeals EU rice tariff at European court

BRUSSELS, Cambodia today said it would take the EU to the European court after Brussels slapped the Asian country’s rice imports with expensive tariffs. The move comes after the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, in January imposed…


QSR Brands to re-time IPO after discussions with bankers

SINGAPORE/KUALA LUMPUR: QSR Brands (M) Holdings Bhd today confirmed that its initial public offering (IPO) has been postponed.

“QSR and its shareholders have decided to re-time the IPO following discussions with its bankers. In the meantime, the company will continue to focus on delivering results through the execution of the various initiatives for KFC, Pizza Hut and Ayamas,” QSR in a statement.

This comes after Reuters reported that QSR Brands has shelved plans for an IPO that could have raised as much as US$500 million (RM2.05 billion) as potential investors balked at its valuations.

QSR, backed by the investment arm of Malaysia’s Johor state and private equity firm CVC, had marketed the IPO to funds as anchor shareholders in the last few weeks. But they said the roughly 25 times forward earnings multiple being pitched was steep, Reuters quoted sources as saying.

If it had gone ahead, QSR would have been the biggest IPO in Malaysia in about two years, coming on the back of a year-long drought in the primary market, where total fundraising plunged to US$170 million in 2018, the lowest in 20 years, said Reuters.

QSR had planned to launch its IPO this quarter and as early as next month, it added.

QSR has 1,268 restaurants under its wing and employs more than 35,000 workers across Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Cambodia.


Manulife expands into Myanmar’s life insurance market

PETALING JAYA: Manulife Asia is expanding its operations in Myanmar, its 13th market in the region, following its selection as a “preferred applicant” by the country’s Ministry of Planning and Finance to set up a wholly foreign-owned life insurance operation.

“Manulife appreciates being selected as a preferred applicant. Myanmar is an important market to Manulife, and we are firmly committed to serving the insurance and financial needs of the people of Myanmar,” Manulife Asia president and CEO Anil Wadhwani (pix) said in a statement.

Manulife said the life insurance sector has played an integral role in driving social and economic progress across many Asean countries and opening up Myanmar’s life insurance market will be key to spurring the country’s ongoing development, boosting competition and penetration.

“As one of the fastest growing economies in Asean, coupled with a nascent life insurance industry, Myanmar is a key part of our overall Asia growth strategy. Developing Myanmar’s life insurance industry will not only provide much-needed financial protection to its people, but will contribute to the development of the country’s capital markets – vital for the continuing development of the overall economy,” said Wadhwani.

Manulife first started operations in Myanmar in 1903, selling its first insurance policy in November the same year. The group re-entered the market with a representative office in 2014.

Since then, Manulife has actively engaged local regulators and insurers, sharing best practice on innovative insurance products and distribution and helping to develop a sustainable insurance industry in Myanmar.

Manulife said it will contribute towards the local communities’ financial and insurance literacy through its extensive experience from operating in a large number of emerging markets in Asia.

“In particular, Manulife will explore the opportunity to sponsor local Myanmar students for higher studies in Canada, especially in the areas of actuarial science, mathematics and statistics,” it said.

Besides Myanmar, Manulife is also the first foreign life insurance company to enter Vietnam and Cambodia, with deployed capital of close to US$500 million across the two markets.


China-backed trade pact to be finalised this year, SE Asian official says

CHIANG RAI, April 6 — Southeast Asian countries engaged in talks on a major China-backed trade pact expect to finalise it this year, the finance minister of Thailand, which is the current chair of the 10-nation Asean grouping, said yesterday….


US says will not send high-level officials to China’s Silk road summit

WASHINGTON, April 3 — The United States will not send high-level officials to attend China’s second Belt and Road summit in Beijing this month, a spokesperson for the US State Department said yesterday, citing concerns about financing practices…


Matrade’s International Sourcing Programme records RM110m potential export value at ICW 2019

KUALA LUMPUR, March 24 — Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation’s (Matrade) signature business matching programme, International Sourcing Programme, recorded over RM110 million in potential export value at International Construction…


Radiant Group inks reseller agreement with Strongpoint Technology

PETALING JAYA: Retail technology solutions provider Radiant Globaltech Bhd (Radiant Group) has entered into a reseller agreement with Strongpoint Technology AB to sell and distribute the latter’s products and solutions within Malaysia and Singapore.

Strongpoint is involved in selling, distributing and providing retail technology products and services to the retail industry. Its products and services range from cash management solutions, storage stations, vending machines, self-checkout machines and an e-commerce logistics suite.

Radiant Group said in a statement that the exclusive rights is valid for 24 months from March 15, 2019.

Its managing director Paul Yap Ban Foo said the agreement is a vote of confidence in the group’s ability to market and sell retail technology solutions in the Southeast Asia region, having established a strong market presence and effective distribution channels across the region.

Furthermore, Yap said the group would be able to capitalise on Strongpoint’s core expertise of hardware products for the retail industry and cross-sell its in-house retail technology solution portals.

“This would enable us to gain a bigger market share in the region going forward,” he added.

Radiant Group is primarily involved in the provision of retail technology solutions, which consists of providing hardware and software for retail industry, as well as maintenance and technical support services for retail hardware and software.

It has operational presence in Malaysia, Vietnam and Cambodia.


S’pore businesses say ‘I do’ to taking plunge overseas with government help

SINGAPORE, March 15 — After spending close to two decades here dressing up brides-to-be, Fatimah Mohsin, creative director of Fatimah Mohsin The Wedding Gallery, is getting ready to take the plunge as she looks to the Middle East to expand her…


PPB allocates RM831m to fund expansion over next four years

KUALA LUMPUR: PPB Group Bhd, a Malaysian diversified conglomerate, is allocating a sum of RM831 million for capital expenditure for the next four years for its expansion plans locally and internationally across all segments.

Managing director Lim Soon Huat said expansion plans include the addition of nine new cinemas locally and one in Cambodia for the period, as well as upgrading existing cinemas under the film exhibition and distribution segment for RM373 million.

“The group will also allocate RM401 million for the grains and agribusiness segment, which will be used for investment in China flour mills and the construction of a 500 tonnes per day flour mill in Vietnam as well as RM3 million for the property segment to continue upgrading our existing malls.

“For the consumer products segment, we are allocating RM16 million for the construction of a new production facility and purchase of plant, machinery and intangible assets, RM5 million for environmental engineering and utilities to purchase equipment and office renovation, as well as RM33 million for other segments to purchase plant and machinery,“ he told a media briefing today on the company’s outlook for this year.

Under the environmental engineering and utilities segment, he said the group has secured two water projects in Sarawak worth a total of RM88 million, and is tendering for projects in Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak with a total value of RM350 million.

Lim said that all the tenders will be announced in stages with the latest expected to be announced in May this year.

“Going forward, the grains and agribusiness segment is expected to remain competitive on the back of a volatile commodity market and it will continue to focus on volume growth and maintaining the good quality standard of our products.

“The performance of the consumer product segment is expected to remain stable, supported by a widening product range and the introduction of new products into new markets,” he added.

The property division, he said, will focus on completing the Megah Rise project in Petaling Jaya while striving to maintain and improve the operational excellence of its existing mall and property management business.

For the financial year ended Dec 31, 2018, its grains and agribusiness segment’s revenue increased by 5% to RM3.15 billion on the back of higher sales from all flour mills.

Revenue from the film exhibition and distribution segment rose by 12% to RM538 million, due to the strong performance of Malay titles and contribution from cinemas opened in 2017.

The environmental engineering and utilities segment also recorded higher revenue of RM205 million for the year, up by 57% as compared to a year before, while the property segment’s revenue went up 11% to RM53 million.