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Hasbro to buy ‘Peppa Pig’ owner for US$4 billion

WASHINGTON, Aug 23 — US toymaker Hasbro announced yesterday that it is acquiring studio Entertainment One, which owns popular cartoon series Peppa Pig among other children’s content, for approximately US$4 billion (RM16.8 billion). Under the…


Tan Chong files claims against Nissan Vietnam

PETALING JAYA: Tan Chong Motors Holdings Bhd’s wholly-owned subsidiary, TCIE Vietnam Pte Ltd has filed a claim against Nissan Vietnam Co Ltd with the People’s Court in Hanoi, Vietnam for the repayment of a US$9.4 million (RM39.38 million) loan and interest.

Nissan Vietnam is a joint venture company between Tan Chong’s wholly-owned subsidiary ETCM (V) Pte Ltd and Nissan Motor Co Ltd, with each holding a 74% and 26% stake respectively in the company.

Tan Chong said the loan was extended as working capital to Nissan Vietnam and was subsequently disbursed to the joint venture company.

“On Aug 15, 2019 Tan Chong had issued a letter of demand to Nissan Vietnam for the immediate repayment of the loan together with incurred interests,” it said.

Nissan Vietnam failed to make the payment of the loan along with the incurred interest.


India Inc grows impatient as economy dips and Modi is distracted

MUMBAI: When Prime Minister Narendra Modi was re-elected in May with a sweeping majority, Indian stock markets jumped to all-time highs as investors anticipated big bang pro-business reforms to revive a flagging economy.

But sentiment is souring in the country’s boardrooms after a much-anticipated budget in July failed to provide any stimulus, and instead hiked taxes on the ultra-rich and on foreign portfolio investors.

Several businessmen say Modi’s government needs to take swift action on the economy, but instead it seems preoccupied with the situation in Kashmir, which is under a lockdown after authorities curtailed the autonomy of the restive region.

“The speed of decision-making is very good for example in Kashmir, but the speed of decision-making on business matters is not good,” said Adi Godrej, chairman of the Godrej Group, which sells everything from electronics to chemicals.

“India Inc is worried that the slowdown may deepen further. We need action,” Godrej said in an interview, citing tax breaks for the auto sector and big companies among his top wishes ahead of his taking any major decisions to weather the slowdown.

India’s GDP growth in January-March slid to a near five-year low of 5.8%, and most analysts expect data due later this month to show that growth in April-June faltered even further.

Domestic passenger vehicle sales, a key economic indicator, plunged an annual 31% in July – the steepest recorded pace of decline in nearly two decades.

Godrej’s fears were echoed in interviews with over a dozen businessmen, fund managers, foreign investors and executives with multinationals, revealing widespread unhappiness among the very business elite that cheered Modi to power.

Modi’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

Companies have already started to cut their workforces. The autos sector alone has laid off about 350,000 workers since April and even companies like cookie maker Parle – which sells biscuits for as little as 5 rupees, or 7 cents, a pack – have warned they may have to lay off up to 10,000 workers, due to weakening demand.

The broad Nifty index has shed more than 10 percent since hitting a high in June, in part pressured by the trade war between the United States and China. Foreign portfolio investors yanked $1.8 billion out of Indian equities in July alone.

HEAVY LOBBYING

Investors say they want clarity from Modi on what his government plans to do about the economy, and the beleaguered lending sector. Banks are grappling with almost $150 billion in bad loans and a massive shadow lending industry has been stung by a liquidity crunch after the collapse of major player Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS).

Foreign portfolio investors seeking a tax cut and automakers demanding easier access to finance for dealers and buyers have flocked to New Delhi to lobby Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Similarly, bankers have urged the government to announce a stimulus package that drives investment and new lending.

The Finance Ministry did not respond to questions about any planned measures. Officials in New Delhi, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the government is unlikely to provide a stimulus or tax breaks because this could compromise India’s fiscal deficit target of 3.3% for fiscal 2019-20.

Krishnamurthy Subramanian, India’s chief economic adviser, said on Thursday that using public money to help the private sector was a “moral hazard.”

Some banking and finance executives who met Sitharaman recently have criticised her, saying her attitude during meetings was not constructive.

“There is no discussion. It is mostly: ‘Thank you we’ll look into it’,” said one investor of a meeting with her.

The Finance Ministry did not respond to requests for comment about the meetings.

The Reserve Bank of India has been slashing interest rates, including an unconventional 35 basis point cut this month, but the stressed banking sector has yet to fully pass on the benefits of lower rates.

Modi’s supporters point to his successes though, including a unified goods and services tax in 2017 that they say is poised to bring more of the informal economy into the tax net, and contend businesses should be patient.

“The economy has slowed down liked the rest of the world, but I remain optimistic about the future,” said Sunil Alagh, the head of marketing firm SKA Advisors, and a Modi supporter. “Modi will take corrective action.”

FEAR FACTOR

Many businessmen also say the government is going overboard in a drive against tax evasion, corruption and money laundering.

Indian coffee baron V.G. Siddhartha apparently killed himself last month, and purportedly left behind a letter blaming tax authorities for “harassment.”

Naresh Goyal, the founder of bankrupt carrier Jet Airways , and his wife were stopped from flying out of India in May, while former finance minister P. Chidambaram was arrested on Wednesday after police officers scaled the wall of his New Delhi home in an operation shown on national television.

State-run bankers have privately said they are too afraid to take haircuts on soured loans or lend to troubled companies for fear of later being accused of wrongdoing.

Modi has said he is merely ensuring white collar criminals are not let off the hook.

In his Independence Day address on Aug. 15 though, Modi did try to assuage corporate India’s fears, saying “We should stop viewing our wealth creators with suspicion: they deserve greater respect.”

Still, with no specifics on how the government plans to address the jitters, many businessmen remain disillusioned.

“Five years ago it was a new beginning. It was like when you fall in love,” said a Mumbai-based manufacturer, asking to remain anonymous for fear of retribution. “Now the dream is punctured.” – Reuters


Russia’s Rosneft becomes top Venezuelan oil trader, helping offset US pressure

MOSCOW, Aug 23 ― Russian state oil major Rosneft has become the main trader of Venezuelan crude, shipping oil to buyers in China and India and helping Caracas offset the loss of traditional dealers who are avoiding it for fear of breaching US…


European shares tumble in choppy session, FTSE lags

FRANKFURT, Aug 23 ― European shares fell yesterday as mixed readings of business growth across major economies and uncertainty over the US interest rate outlook made investors nervous, while a jump in the pound dented London stocks. The latest…


AMMB’s Q1 net profit up 12.6% on higher income

PETALING JAYA: AMMB Holdings Bhd’s net profit for the first quarter ended June 30, 2019 (Q1FY20) jumped 12.6% to RM391.46 million from RM347.59 million a year ago, underpinned by consistent net interest income (NII) growth, coupled with higher trading and insurance income.

Its revenue rose 10.1% to RM2.39 billion compared with RM2.17 billion in the previous year.

AmBank Group CEO Datuk Sulaiman Mohd Tahir (pix) said it recorded a higher return on equity at 8.8%.

“Total income rose 5.0% year-on-year from improved trading performance and better insurance income despite a subdued lending environment. At the same time, we continued to exert cost discipline with our cost-to-income (CTI) ratio further improving to 49.7%. This is a testament to our transformation strategy which has placed the group on a stronger footing to weather the more challenging operating landscape,” he said in a statement.

The bank’s NII increased 4.2% year on year (yoy), on the back of the expanded loans and deposits base. Non-interest income grew 6.4% to RM395.4 million, largely contributed by higher trading income and invest-ment income from group treasury and markets and general insurance.

The group is now in the third year of its BET300 efficiency programme and continues to record cost savings. which has allowed the group to reinvest some of these savings back into its strategic business streams as well as its digital capabilities and infrastructure.

It recorded a net recovery of RM32.5 million in Q1FY20 compared with an impairment charge of RM7.0 million in the previous year, mainly driven by a net write-back of provision for corporate loans. The group’s gross impaired loan ratio stood at 1.66% (FY19: 1.59%), with loan loss cover at 111.5%.

Gross loans increased 2.5% yoy, though contracted 1.0% year to date to RM100.8 billion, mainly due to corporate loan repayments and decline in auto loans.

Total customer deposits stood at RM102.8 billion, an increase of 4.2% yoy but down 3.9% year to date. The group’s current accounts and savings accounts (CASA) stood at RM23.1 billion, with CASA mix at 22.5%.

AMMB said the group’s capital position is adequate with common equity tier-1 ratio at 11.9% and total capital ratio at 15.4%.

Sulaiman said while Bank Negara Malaysia’s benchmark rate is expected to remain unchanged at 3% for the rest of the year, there is still room for the central bank to reduce the Overnight Policy Rate by 25 basis points in 2H2019 in a move to support domestic demand and in tandem with global monetary policy. In tandem with a moderate economic outlook, the banking system’s loan growth is envisaged to be around 4.6%.

Sulaiman said as part of its digital roadmap, AMMB will be rolling out more such initiatives.


AmBank Q1 net profit rises 12.6pc to RM391.46m

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 22 — AMMB Holdings Bhd (AmBank Group) posted a 12.6 per cent rise in net profit to RM391.46 million in the first quarter ended June 30, 2019 (Q1) from RM347.59 million in the same period a year ago. Revenue was 10.1 per cent…


AMMB kicks off FY20 with 12.6% increase in net profit

PETALING JAYA: AMMB Holdings Bhd’s net profit for the first quarter ended June 30, 2019 (Q1FY20) jumped 12.6% to RM391.46 million from RM347.59 million a year ago, underpinned by consistent net interest income (NII) growth, coupled with higher trading and insurance income.

Its revenue rose 10.1% to RM2.39 billion compared with RM2.17 billion in the previous year.

AmBank Group CEO Datuk Sulaiman Mohd Tahir (pix) said it recorded a higher return on equity at 8.8%.

“Total income rose 5.0% year-on-year from improved trading performance and better insurance income despite a subdued lending environment. At the same time, we continued to exert cost discipline with our cost-to-income (CTI) ratio further improving to 49.7%. This is a testament to our transformation strategy which has placed the group on a stronger footing to weather the more challenging operating landscape,” he said in a statement.

The bank’s NII increased 4.2% year-on-year (yoy), on the back of the expanded loans and deposits base. Non-interest income grew 6.4% to RM395.4 million, largely contributed by higher trading income and investment income from group treasury and markets and general insurance.

The group is now in the third year of its BET300 efficiency programme and continues to record cost savings which has allowed the group to re-invest some of these savings back into its strategic business streams as well as its digital capabilities and infrastructure.

It recorded a net recovery of RM32.5 million in Q1FY20 compared to an impairment charge of RM7.0 million in the previous year, mainly driven by a net write-back of provision for corporate loans. The group’s gross impaired loan ratio stood at 1.66% (FY19: 1.59%), with loan loss cover at 111.5%.

Gross loans increased 2.5% yoy, though contracted 1.0% year-to-date (YTD) to RM100.8 billion, mainly due to corporate loan repayments and decline in auto loans.

Total customer deposits stood at RM102.8 billion, an increase of 4.2% YoY but down 3.9% YTD. The group’s current accounts and savings accounts (CASA) stood at RM23.1 billion, with CASA mix at 22.5%.

AMMB said the group’s capital position is adequate with common equity tier-1 ratio at 11.9% and total capital ratio at 15.4%.

Sulaiman said while the policy rate is expected to remain unchanged at 3% for the rest of the year, there is still room for BNM to reduce the overnight policy rate by 25 basis points in 2H2019 in a move to support domestic demand and in tandem with global monetary policy. In tandem with a moderate economic outlook, the banking system loans growth is envisaged to grow around 4.6%.

He said as part of its digital roadmap, AMMB will be rolling out more digital initiatives that provide a competitive edge and at the same time benefit customers.


AMMB Q1 net profit up 12.6%

PETALING JAYA: AMMB Holdings Bhd’s net profit for the first quarter ended June 30, 2019 (Q1FY20) jumped 12.6% to RM391.46 million from RM347.59 million a year ago, underpinned by consistent net interest income (NII) growth, coupled with higher trading and insurance income.

Its revenue rose 10.1% to RM2.39 billion compared with RM2.17 billion in the previous year.

AmBank Group CEO Datuk Sulaiman Mohd Tahir (pix) said it recorded a higher return on equity at 8.8%.

“Total income rose 5.0% year-on-year from improved trading performance and better insurance income despite a subdued lending environment. At the same time, we continued to exert cost discipline with our cost-to-income (CTI) ratio further improving to 49.7%. This is a testament to our transformation strategy which has placed the group on a stronger footing to weather the more challenging operating landscape,” he said in a statement.

The bank’s NII increased 4.2% year-on-year (yoy), on the back of the expanded loans and deposits base. Non-interest income grew 6.4% to RM395.4 million, largely contributed by higher trading income and investment income from group treasury and markets and general insurance.

The group is now in the third year of its BET300 efficiency programme and continues to record cost savings which has allowed the group to re-invest some of these savings back into its strategic business streams as well as its digital capabilities and infrastructure.

It recorded a net recovery of RM32.5 million in Q1FY20 compared to an impairment charge of RM7.0 million in the previous year, mainly driven by a net write-back of provision for corporate loans. The group’s gross impaired loan ratio stood at 1.66% (FY19: 1.59%), with loan loss cover at 111.5%.

Gross loans increased 2.5% yoy, though contracted 1.0% year-to-date (YTD) to RM100.8 billion, mainly due to corporate loan repayments and decline in auto loans.

Total customer deposits stood at RM102.8 billion, an increase of 4.2% YoY but down 3.9% YTD. The group’s current accounts and savings accounts (CASA) stood at RM23.1 billion, with CASA mix at 22.5%.

AMMB said the group’s capital position is adequate with common equity tier-1 ratio at 11.9% and total capital ratio at 15.4%.

Sulaiman said while the policy rate is expected to remain unchanged at 3% for the rest of the year, there is still room for BNM to reduce the overnight policy rate by 25 basis points in 2H2019 in a move to support domestic demand and in tandem with global monetary policy. In tandem with a moderate economic outlook, the banking system loans growth is envisaged to grow around 4.6%.

He said as part of its digital roadmap, AMMB will be rolling out more digital initiatives that provide a competitive edge and at the same time benefit customers.


MSM registers third straight quarterly loss

PETALING JAYA: MSM Malaysia Holdings Bhd saw a net loss of RM67.33 million for the second quarter ended June 30, 2019 compared with a net profit of RM14.33 million a year ago, attributable to lower average selling price, higher refining cost and higher finance cost incurred following the modification of certain terms in respect of the Islamic term loan.

This marks its third consecutive quarter in the red.

The group’s revenue fell 17.3% to RM474.02 million from RM573.03 million last year due to a 7% reduction of overall average selling price.

For the six-month period, MSM also posted a net loss of RM74.34 million compared with a net profit of RM30.14 million a year ago, partly attributable to higher finance cost and commercialisation cost of MSM Johor that includes depreciation.

Its revenue dropped 14.47% to RM959.46 million from RM1.12 billion.

MSM group CEO Datuk Khairil Anuar Aziz said it expects 2019 to be challenging for the group, due to the glut of refined sugar in the domestic market and the weakening of the ringgit.

The refining cost increased 15% on the back of higher fuel costs as a result of the increase in gas tariffs from January 2019. Its financial performance was further strained by lower capacity utilisation rate in MSM Johor, which came on line in April this year.

Moving forward, the market has forecast a stronger ringgit, which would be positive for MSM over the next few months. However, it remains cautious for 2H 2019.

“We are constantly monitoring world sugar trends and prices. MSM expects to capitalise on the anticipated lower average cost per MT of raw sugar, as the slide in the benchmark NY#11 and relatively favourable ringgit are in our favour,” Khairil Anuar said in a statement.

However, other factors such as the imposition of the sugar tax for sugared beverages, the possible issuance of even more approved permits (APs) and potential liberalisation of the local sugar market may also affect MSM’s bottom line negatively.

Thus, MSM is engaging with relevant authorities and customers to discuss further, industry related matters, especially the issuance of APs.