China’s ride-hailing firm Didi wants to develop ‘purpose-built’ cars with automakers


BEIJING/DETROIT (April 24): Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing is exploring ways of collaborating with established automakers and parts suppliers to jointly develop cars purpose-built for its services, the company said on Tuesday. Pay-per-use services such as car-sharing and ride-hailing are starting to challenge traditional car ownership in some in some of China’s most congested cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, while global automakers are starting to bill themselves as “mobility” companies that do more than just build and sell vehicles. Didi officials said the disruptive change sweeping the industry meantRead More

KWAP says talks with a foreign insurer now at ‘very critical stage’

KUALA LUMPUR: Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (Diperbadankan) (KWAP) has entered a “critical stage” of negotiations to acquire a stake in one of the top three foreign insurers given that they have to submit the stake divestment plans to Bank Negara Malaysia by the end of this month, according to CEO Datuk Wan Kamaruzaman Wan Ahmad.

“It’s a very critical stage at this point of time. Ultimately, we have to have the upper hand. It’s not just about pricing, there are other terms that we are looking at,” he said.

However, Wan Kamaruzaman declined to name the insurer.

“It’s not the stage for us to reveal anything because it will seriously affect the valuations,” he stressed.

Previous reports have cited people familiar with the deal stating that the government pension fund is the preferred bidder for a 30% stake in Prudential Plc’s Malaysian unit.

Besides Prudential, the central bank has also instructed Tokio Marine Holdings Inc, AIA Group Ltd, Great Eastern Holdings Ltd to comply with the foreign ownership rule, which requires foreign insurers pare down their shareholdings in local assets by 30% before the June 30 deadline.

Meanwhile, asked if KWAP is keen to buy over a 49% stake in AmGeneral Holdings Bhd from Insurance Australia Group (IAG), Wan Kamaruzaman said the pension fund will only pursue a new opportunity if the current deal is concluded or scrapped.

IAG is reportedly set to sell its four Southeast Asian businesses in deals that could be valued at about US$500 million (RM1.95 billion).

AmGeneral is the general insurance arm of AmBank Group.

China opposes all forms of protectionism, commerce minister says

BEIJING, April 23 — China opposes all forms of protectionism and will firmly safeguard the world's multilateral trading system, its commerce minister wrote today in the ruling Communist Party's official newspaper. China will quicken the pace of…

Australia’s IAG set to sell SE Asia businesses in regional retreat — sources


HONG KONG/SINGAPORE (April 20): Insurance Australia Group is set to sell its four Southeast Asian businesses in deals that could be valued at about US$500 million, under a review of its Asian operations, three people with knowledge of the matter said. IAG, Australia’s biggest general insurer by market share, has ventures in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia in Southeast Asia, and could complete the sale process by the third quarter, the people said. Despite years of investments, Asia has proved a challenge for IAG. The insurer posted an underwriting lossRead More

CIMB Thai’s Q1 earnings jump 39.3% on higher operating income

PETALING JAYA: CIMB Thai Bank PCL’s net profit jumped 39.3% to THB 168.9 million in the first quarter ended March 31, 2018 from THB 121.2 million in the previous corresponding quarter.

The group said in a statement that it was mainly attributed to an 8.1% growth in operating income and a 4.5% drop in provisions, offset by a 10.6% increase in operating expenses.

On a year-on-year basis, its operating income rose to THB 3,382.2 million from an increase of 5.4% in net interest income and 11.1% in net fee and service income arising from higher fees from insurance, hire-purchase and mutual funds.

Additionally, it said other operating income also rose by 30.1% from the gain on sales of available for sale securities.

However, it said operating expenses increased by 10.6%, mainly from higher expenses from properties for sale and personnel cost, partially offset by lower expenses from premises and equipment.

This resulted in a higher cost to income ratio of 57.2% during the three months period compared to 55.8% previously.

Meanwhile, its net interest margin over earning assets stood at 3.98% within the same period from 3.77% a year ago, from more efficient funding cost management.

As at March 31, 2018, the group's total gross loans, which includes loans guaranteed by other banks and loans to financial institutions, stood at THB 213.7 billion, an increase of 0.3% from Dec 31, 2017.

Its gross non-performing loans (NPL) stood at THB 11.4 billion, with an equivalent gross NPL ratio of 5.2% from 4.8% as at Dec 31, 2017. The increase was attributed to the sale of NPLs in 2017.

CIMB Thai's loan loss coverage ratio decreased to 92.3% as at March 31 from 93.2% as at Dec 31, 2017.

Total consolidated capital funds, meanwhile, stood at THB 40.7 billion as at March 31. Bank of International Settlement ratio stood at 16.4%, of which 12.4% comprised Tier-1-capital.

CIMB Thai said it continues to exercise high credit risk underwriting standards and risk management policies. It also focuses on improving productivity, monitoring collection and managing all accounts closely and effectively.

Online hiring hits high note in February with 11% rise: Monster

PETALING JAYA: Online recruitment hit a high note in February 2018, growing 11% from the previous year, with job roles related to information technology, telecom/internet service provider; business process outsourcing and information technology enabled services taking the lead with 52% year-on-year (y-o-y) growth, according to Monster Employment Index.

The job recruitment agency noted that the industry grew from 20% to 52% on a month-on-month (m-o-m) basis.

Other top hires including logistics, courier, freight, transport, shipping and marine sectors exhibited 45% y-o-y growth, while the oil and gas industry trailed with a 41% y-o-y growth.

Another segment which saw an uptrend is hospitality and travel job roles, for the second consecutive month, with 26% y-o-y growth.

However, the banking, financial services and insurance industry exhibited the steepest decline with a y-o-y contraction of 4% while marketing & communications was the only job-role to match the corresponding period year-ago growth.

“The Malaysian economy remained resilient in the fourth quarter of 2017, posting a 5.9% year-on-year growth driven predominantly by private sector demand.

“The strong outlook in the last quarter correlates with the steady growth in Malaysia’s job market and marks continued business confidence especially in the tech, logistics and oil & gas sector,” said Asia Pacific and Middle East CEO Abhijeet Mukherjee.

Lost home, fees for the dead in testimony at Australia banking inquiry

SYDNEY, April 19 — An Australian inquiry into the financial services sector heard tearful testimony today from a nurse who lost her home after taking advice from a major lender, and that the country’s biggest bank knowingly charged dead clients…

Maybank shares higher on potential Etiqa listing

KUALA LUMPUR, April 19 — Malayan Banking Bhd’s (Maybank) share price advanced two sen in early trade as the country’s biggest bank is preparing to spin off and list its Etiqa insurance arm on the local stock exchange. Maybank’s insurance…

Tr-Mode System hopes to raise RM26m from IPO

PETALING JAYA: Logistics service provider Tri-Mode System (M) Bhd is looking to raise RM26.36 million through its initial public offering (IPO) at an issue price of 61 sen per share.

The company is scheduled to be listed on May 11 on the ACE Market of Bursa Malaysia.

Tri-Mode’s IPO involves a public issue of 43.21 million new shares comprising an institutional offering of 30.71 million shares and a retail offering of 12.5 million shares.

Of the retail offering, 8.3 million shares are available to the public, and 4.2 million to eligible persons. Applications for the retail portion will close at 5pm on April 26.
Upon listing, it will have a market capitalisation of RM101.26 million based on an enlarged issued share capital of 166 million shares.

Founded in 1992, Tri-Mode is engaged in the provision of sea freight, container haulage, air freight, freight forwarding, warehousing and marine insurance services.

About 58.8% of the IPO proceeds will be used for business expansion via the construction of a proposed headquarters and distribution hub and purchase of prime movers and trailers; 8.9% for working capital; 19% for the repayment of bank borrowings; and 13.3% to defray listing expenses.

Tri-Mode managing director Datuk Hew Han Seng said the listing exercise will provide the needed financial impetus for the group to pursue business expansion strategies and to establish market awareness of its brand within the logistics industry.

For the financial year ended Dec 31, 2017, it reported a net profit of RM6 million, a 28.5% rise from RM4.67 million a year ago.

Maybank preparing to spin off insurance unit, sources say

KUALA LUMPUR, April 18 — Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank), Malaysia’s biggest bank, is preparing to spin off and list its Etiqa insurance arm on the local stock exchange, sources with knowledge of the matter said today. Etiqa, which operates in…