Analysts: Wage rise to equalise gap between Peninsula, East Malaysia

KUCHING: Analysts view the gradual rise in the national minimum wage will have positive impact on Malaysia’s economy by equalising the wage gap between Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia. MIDF Amanah Investment Bank Bhd (MIDF Research) believed the decision to equalise the wage between Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah and Sarawak will reduce income gap between […]

TDM undertakes debt rationalisation exercise

PETALING JAYA: TDM Bhd is undertaking a debt rationalisation exercise involving the full settlement of the outstanding Indonesian rupiah (IDR) notes held by its Indonesian subsidiary PT Rafi Kamajaya Abadi.

The group told Bursa Malaysia that under the debt rationalisation exercise, it will utilise a US$105 million (RM434.3 million) credit facility in the form of a foreign currency revolving credit-i (FCRC-i) commodity Murabahah to fully settle the outstanding IDR notes used for its plantation operations in Kalimantan, Indonesia.

Subsequently, TDM will redeem its investment in fixed income securities, of which the proceeds will be used to fully settle the principal portion of the US$105 million FCRC-i.

Upon completion of the exercise, the group’s total interest-bearing borrowings and gearing will reduce to RM476.6 million and 0.41 times from RM766.6 million and 0.68 times respectively as at 30 June 2018.

“This debt rationalisation exercise is a step in the right direction for us. In addition to improving our financial performance by way of savings in future finance costs, the redemption of our fixed income investment will also eliminate the fluctuations in gains and losses arising from currency movements,” said TDM chairman Raja Datuk Idris Raja Kamarudin.

TDM noted that the exercise will enable it to meet the Securities Commission’s criteria of being a Shariah-compliant counter on Bursa Malaysia.

Meanwhile, the group’s wholly owned subsidiary Kumpulan Ladang-Ladang Trengganu Sdn Bhd also accepted a RM48.9 million credit facility to part finance its replanting and plantation development expenditure at the group’s plantations in Terengganu.

“This will support the group’s long term production growth by focusing on replanting of old plantations with new, high yield planting materials.”

TDM's share price was unchanged at 24 sen on 1.18 million shares traded.

Sarawak capable of hitting 2020 GDP target on time

KUCHING: While Malaysia could only reach its 2020 gross domestic product (GDP) target by 2022, analysts believe that Sarawak is capable of reaching its 2020 GDP target on time, given its sound economic growth and possible increase in investment flows in the state. In its economic report, the research arm of MIDF Amanah Investment Bank […]

Report: Unsold Soho, residential units now up to RM22b

KUALA LUMPUR, June 28 — Unsold residential units including small office/home office (Soho) have risen to 34,532 units at RM22.26 billion, according to a report. The figures were unveiled in the National Property Information Centre's Property…

Pahang branches of PKMM, DPMM laud ECRL

KUALA LUMPUR: The new government’s decision to proceed with the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) brings glad tidings to the East Coast residents as well as the Pahang branches of the Malay Contractors Association of Malaysia (PKMM) and the Malay Chamber of Commerce Malaysia (DPMM). Pahang PKMM President Abd Ghafar Lambak said it was appropriate […]

T7 Global unfazed by departure of Vincent Tan

PETALING JAYA: T7 Global Bhd said local tycoon Tan Sri Vincent Tan's plan to dispose of his substantial stake in the company will not have any impact on its business or financial performance. 

“The group would like to clarify that Tan's entry into T7 Global is on the basis of a passive investor due to the group's well-positioned business in the O&G services industry. The group's current and future core businesses and operations in the O&G, aerospace and construction as well as infrastructure are fully intact and is unaffected by the recent news,” it said in a filing with the stock exchange today. 

According to T7 Global's separate filing with Bursa Malaysia, Tan disposed of 3.68 million shares or 0.88% stake via direct business transaction on Monday. Tan has said he will divest his entire 5.04% stake in T7 Global. 

Meanwhile, T7 Global said it welcomes the price renegotiation for the East Coast Rail Line and aspires to participate in the project. 

“As of today, there has not been any contracts awarded to T7 Global and we are still awaiting for the government's review on the entire project.”

T7 is partnering with Terengganu state government-linked Eastern Pacific Industrial Corp Bhd and CMC Engineering Sdn Bhd to bid for the Terengganu portion of the ECRL. 

Currently, T7 Global's core business remains the oil and gas segment, accounting for 90% of the group's total revenue.

On Bursa Malaysia today, T7 Global ended down 7 sen or 14.1% at 42.5 sen with 12.2 million shares traded. 

T7 Global welcomes ECRL price renegotiation

KUALA LUMPUR: T7 Global Bhd has welcomed the price renegotiation in the East Coast Rail Line (ECRL) project mooted by the new government. Chairman Datuk Seri Dr Nik Norzrul Thani Nik Hassan said the move would result in more competitive pricing and enable the company to at least know the actual cost of the project. […]

East Coast Rail Line – a necessary evil?

PETALING JAYA: Industry observers believe the government feels it is necessary to keep the East Coast Rail Line (ECRL) not only to manage the costs associated with it but also to maintain relations with the Asian powerhouse, China, despite the controversies surrounding the project.

Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad said today that if the ECRL has to be built and the contract cannot be broken, the government will have to reduce the cost, noting that it should not cost RM55 billion and that the terms of the contract are not favourable to Malaysia.

Last week Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the ECRL would proceed as RM20 billion of the project cost had already been paid.

“Given the strain on the current fiscal position, the government has to choose either one of the two projects. Perhaps they could shorten the ECRL and delay the HSR for five years. The important thing now is to focus on paring down the debt first,” Sunway University Business School Professor of Economics Dr Yeah Kim Leng told SunBiz, referring to the postponed Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail project.

He also said that being a government-to-government project which was already signed off, keeping the ECRL is really about maintaining commitment to the contract, noting that the government is in negotiations to reduce the overall cost of the project.

KAF-Seagroatt & Campbell Securities Sdn Bhd analyst Mak Hoy Ken said he is not surprised with the latest development on the ECRL and views it as slightly positive for the construction sector.

“We previously wrote that the Council of Eminent Persons would likely recommend to the government that Phase 1 be continued, albeit at a reduced scale. Furthermore, the government may need to pay RM22 billion in compensation and penalty charges if it calls off the project,” he said in his report today.

The compensation package includes payment to suppliers, dismantling costs, loan principal, interest and committed orders for supplies and services.

“In addition, if the ECRL contract is terminated, it will trigger a default that requires the government to repay the project's loans within a month. For the record, EXIM Bank of China is funding 85% of the ECRL's needs,” Mak said.

In comparison, the compensation for cancelling the HSR is RM500 million.
Mak noted that the turnkey contractor, China Communications Construction Co, has completed work for an estimated RM9 billion and is claiming RM10 billion more that is yet to be certified.

Work on Phase 1 has reached 20% or an overall progress about 14%, based on the entire project's last indicative value of RM66 billion.

Yeah, however, opined that more can be done to ensure that the ECRL is effectively utilised to justify its cost.

He said while the ECRL will benefit the East Coast in terms of connectivity, especially to areas currently inaccessible, the government could look at economic opportunities to attract more Chinese investments to the industrial parks along the ECRL route, and to develop Terengganu and Pahang ports.

“This will increase the volume on the ECRL and make the project more viable. The government should take a closer look at the economic spinoffs,” Yeah said of the rail link, which is part of China's Belt and Road Initiative.

‘Govt decision to continue ECRL a good move’

KUALA LUMPUR: The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government’s decision to continue with the construction of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) albeit at a lower cost is a good move and in the right direction, MCA publicity spokesman and Religious Harmony Bureau chairman Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker said. “Putting politics aside, this is a good […]

Malaysia Rail Link: ECRL deal has no clause for Jho Low-linked companies

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd, the project and asset owner of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), has denied that contracts it signed with Chinese contractor China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC) and the Export-Import Bank of China came with a clause to nominate an unrelated company to buy 70% of Putrajaya Perdana Bhd for US$244 million (RM971 million) as well as 90% of Loh & Loh Corp Bhd for US$71 million (RM282.6 million).

In a statement released today, MRL called the information in an article in a business weekly headlined “Jho Low's Handiwork” baseless and an irresponsible allegation.

The article sought to establish links between Low Taek Jho (Jho Low) and the negotiations for Suria Strategic Energy Resources Sdn Bhd's RM9.4 billion pipeline projects and the ECRL among others. Putrajaya Perdana and Loh & Loh are companies linked to Jho Low.

“There is no contract between and MRL that stipulates this clause. Neither does this clause appear in the loan agreement between MRL and the Export-Import Bank of China.”

“As the project owner of the 688km ECRL, the inaccurate information presented in the said article potentially ruins the reputation of MRL and its cordial relationship with CCCC, the main contractor of the project. As such, MRL urges the media to engage with its Corporate Communications Department to verify information with regard to the ECRL project,” it said.

MRL went on to explain that the long overdue ECRL infrastructure project was done based on a government-to-government agreement. It mooted the setting up of a special purpose vehicle company to oversees its implementation.

MRL was incorporated on Sept 26, 2016, and only then was the engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning contract with CCCC and the loan agreement with Export-Import Bank of China, for the ECRL project was under its purview.

To date, the ECRL has made 14.33% overall progress of its construction, which includes setting up of base and satellite camps in all eight sections of the project, land acquisition, site clearing and construction of road access.

Multiple road access totalling some 95km in length and temporary bridges spanning 1,067m have been constructed at many of the ECRL project sites in the East Coast states.

MRL, calling the ECRL a key catalytic project, said the ECRL is progressing slightly ahead schedule and is on track for completion and operation by mid-2024. The construction works for seven tunnels in various parts of the rail alignment in Pahang and Terengganu have started.

Preparatory work for Southeast Asia's longest rail tunnel – the 16.3km Genting Tunnel is also in progress. Tunnel boring machines for the twin-bore Genting Tunnel are expected to arrive in November to facilitate tunnelling works between Bentong and Gombak.

“We trust the Federal Government will soon make an informed decision on the best course of action regarding the ECRL project. Meanwhile, we continue to provide information to the Federal Government in their review of the project,” MRL said.