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Ex-MRT Corp director is now FGV CEO

KUALA LUMPUR: FGV Holdings Bhd has appointed former Mass Rapid Transit Corp Sdn Bhd (MRT Corp) director Datuk Haris Fadzillah as its new Group CEO, effective today.

This comes in the heel of the appointment of another ex-MRT Corp employee Datuk Mohd Hairul Abdul Hamid as FGV CFO on Jan 2.

FGV chairman Datuk Wira Azhar Abdul Hamid also announced the appointments of Mazri Abdul Rahim and Christina Ooi Su Siang as chief human resource officer and chief procurement officer, respectively.

“On behalf of the Board, I am pleased to welcome the new members of FGV’s management team. They bring to the table, a range of expertise and experience, and the essential capabilities well-managed organisations look for in their leadership,” he said in a statement.

He added that diversity in its leadership is important to ensure the success of FGV.

“We were looking for the best and most qualified candidates who can serve FGV and its shareholders well.”

Haris was also a key member of the team that successfully completed MRT Corp’s phase 1, under budget and ahead of schedule.

Prior to MRT Corp, he worked in the plantation industry in various leadership roles, first with Golden Hope Plantations Bhd as head of strategy and business development, and subsequently with Sime Darby Plantation Bhd as head of its downstream operations.

“His years of experience in the plantation industry and his expertise in change management are crucial skillsets to drive FGV’s transformation plan and to deliver on aggressive targets that have been set by the board,” said Azhar.

Haris holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Miami, US with a double major in International Business Management and Management Information Systems.

He also has senior leadership certifications from Harvard Business School and Columbia Business School.

To recap, Azhar served as an FGV interim CEO after former CEO Datuk Zakaria Arshad resigned in September. Less than a month later, former CFO Ahmad Tifli Datuk Mohd Talha also resigned to pursue other career opportunities.


White House denies reports of cancelled trade meeting

WASHINGTON, Jan 23 — The White House yesterday said high-level trade talks with Beijing were proceeding uninterrupted, quickly rebutting media reports that progress toward resolving their trade war had faltered. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is to…


Singapore commuters surprised by Grab’s U-turn on fare promotions

SINGAPORE, Jan 23 — For at least two weeks in a row, some Grab users have been receiving promotional offers for rides despite the ride-hailing company saying just a month earlier that the perks would not make a comeback. Grab maintains, though,…


India likely to target about US$11b from state asset sales in 2019/20 FY, say sources

NEW DELHI, Jan 22 —The Indian government is likely to seek to raise about 800 billion rupees (RM46.4 billion) through the sale of state-owned assets in the next fiscal year, beginning April 1, two government sources with direct knowledge of budget…


Sapura Energy raises RM4b from rights issue

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 22 — Sapura Energy Bhd (Sapura Energy) has raised about RM4.0 billion from its rights issue exercise which closed on Jan 16, 2019.The group received 8.138 billion of valid acceptances and excess applications for its rights shares…


Sapura Energy rights issue 18.5% undersubscribed

PETALING JAYA: Sapura Energy Bhd’s rights issue exercise saw an undersubscription rate of 18.51% after its share price fell below its rights issue price of 30 sen.

However, it still managed to raise about RM4 billion as the remaining 1.85 billion unsubscribed rights shares will be fully taken up by the joint underwriters, namely, Maybank Investment, CIMB Investment Bank and RHB Investment Bank.

Sapura Energy said in a statement today that it received 8.14 billion of valid acceptances and excess applications for its rights shares with warrants, representing a subscription rate of 81.5%.

Successful applicants of the rights shares will be given warrants on the basis of one warrant for every 10 rights shares subscribed.

For its Islamic redeemable convertible preference shares (RCPS-i), the group saw just above 100% of valid acceptances and excess applications.

Permodalan Nasional Bhd and its associated funds have emerged as the single largest shareholder with 40% shareholding in Sapura Energy.

Sapura Technology Sdn Bhd will become the second largest shareholder with a direct and indirect shareholding of 16.3%. Meanwhile, the minority shareholders will hold 42.2% in Sapura Energy.

In tandem with the rights issue, Sapura Energy will be forming a 50:50 strategic partnership with Austria’s OMV Aktiengesellschaft, which will result in the group receiving cash proceeds of up to US$975 million (RM4 billion).

Proceeds from both the rights issue and the proposed strategic partnership with OMV will be used to repay the group’s borrowings and for working capital.

Upon the completion of both exercises, Sapura Energy’s gearing ratio is expected to drop significantly from 1.74 times to 0.62 times.

On Bursa Malaysia today, Sapura Energy closed down 1.75% at 28 sen on volume of 254.29 million shares.


K-One to rake in RM30m sales from dental water flosser contract

PETALING JAYA: K-One Technology Bhd is estimated to rake in RM30 million sales from its three-year contract with an US-based multinational firm to manufacture dental water flosser for the consumer market.

K-One told Bursa Malaysia that its wholly owned subsidiary K-One Resources Sdn Bhd has ratified a manufacturing agreement with the customer manufacture a certain model of the undisclosed dental water flosser for consumer use.

The customer generated sales revenue of US$ 3.8 billion in 2017. Its dental water flosser is said to be the number one dental water flosser brand in the US and is sold to about 80 countries worldwide.

K-One said tooling is expected to commence in the first quarter of 2019 which will be followed by manufacturing of the products at the end of the subsequent quarter.

“ The manufacturing of the said product is forecasted to generate sales averaging approximately RM10 million per year, commencing this year, for an initial period of 3 years,” it added.


Tech sector forecast to see slower growth ahead

PETALING JAYA: Hong Leong Investment Bank (HLIB) Research anticipates slower growth in the technology sector due to downside risks in the macro environment coupled with waning data trends.

However, it expects automotive and Internet of Things (IoT) to take the forefront while smartphone takes a backseat.

The research house said in a note today that for the first 11 months of 2018 (11M18) global semiconductor sales were outstanding after growing 16%, thanks to the explosive growth of memory followed by discrete and optoelectronics.

As for 2019, consensus is projecting 3% growth for that segment.

“However, we see further downside to this projection considering the US-China trade conflict, stagnant smartphone demand, industry-wide inventory adjustment and weaker memory prices,” HLIB said.

The automotive sector is expected to be the major growth driver for global technology industry supported by its development towards full autonomy.

The equipment industry remained solid with billings increasing 11% in 11M18, supported by heavy investments in all regions except Taiwan.

“However, year-on-year growth has been on a snail’s pace for the past five months, translating into a significant deceleration from past 20 consecutive months’ double-digit growth rates,” the research house explained.

According to SEMI, this reflected the near-term weakening demand for personal computers, mobile phones and servers as well as pulled back investments in response to recent softening of memory prices.

“This is in line with its expectation of expansion in capital spending not outpacing sales growth on the long run and potentially lead to industry-wide overcapacity,” said HLIB.

The research house also highlighted that local semiconductor players may experience strong demand to support the disrupted global supply chain should the procurement levy and technology transfer restriction from US take effect.

Note that China sources substantial fabrication equipment from US players for its expansionary semiconductor industry towards the “Make in China 2025” vision. Vice versa, US fabless semiconductor players outsource their product fabrication and some are produced in China.

With strong greenback, HLIB expects tech firms to be marginally boosted thanks to their US dollar-denominated sales while partly offset by the US dollar cost items.

It estimates the ringgit to be weaker in FY19 with at full-year average of RM4.20 against US dollar.

Nonetheless, pricier commodities, compounded by stronger US dollar projection, will exert pressures on margins for traditional packaging.

Maintaining a “neutral” call on the sector, HLIB displayed a cautious stance in the absence of near-term catalyst as it expects global sales and capital spending to grow moderately.

As for stock picks, it gave Frontken a “buy” call at a target price of RM1.05 on the back of bullish global semiconductor market outlook, robust fab investment, leading edge technology, oil and gas recovery and strong balance sheet.


China to remain Malaysia’s largest trading partner: Miti

KUALA LUMPUR: China will likely remain as Malaysia’s largest trading partner, looking at the current trend, said Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Dr Ong Kian Ming.

He said even with the spectre of the US-China trade war looming, Malaysia-China trade continued to grow at a higher rate compared with other trading partners.

In a statement today, Ong said from January to November 2018, Malaysia’s total trade rose 6.2% as compared with the same period in 2017, contributed by 6.9% growth in exports and 5.3% rise in imports.

During the period, Malaysia-China total trade expanded by 8.5%, with an 11.3% increase in exports and 6.3% growth in imports.

He said Malaysia was also poised to attract more investments and benefit from import substitution as a result of the US-China trade war.

Ong said there were about 300 out of the top 500 Chinese companies listed by Fortune Magazine which had yet to invest in Malaysia.

“These are the companies that we want to entice to Malaysia by showing off our natural and strategic advantages as an investment location,“ he said.

From January to September 2018, approved manufacturing foreign direct investment (FDI) from China had already reached RM15.62 billion.

“More than 50% of the approved manufacturing FDI from Chinese companies came after the 14th General Election (in May 2018), showing that companies from China continue to demonstrate confidence in the Malaysian economy under the new government,“ he added.

He said a recent study by Nomura Global Economics ranked Malaysia as the top country, based on its aggregated Nomura Import Substitution Index scores, that could benefit in particular from the exports of electronic integrated circuits, liquefied natural gas and communication apparatus.

Meanwhile, the Economist Intelligence Unit projected Malaysia to be a beneficiary in diverted production and investment in the automotive, as well as information and communications technology products.

“While a prolonged US-China trade war would not be welcomed by a small and open economy like Malaysia, there are mitigating factors that will somewhat cushion the impact for us,“ Ong added.


UBS annual profits jump to US$4.9b

ZURICH, Jan 22 — Swiss banking giant UBS saw its net profits leap by almost five times last year to US$4.9 billion (RM20.26 billion) despite “challenging conditions,” it said today. UBS’ 2017 results were hammered by US tax reforms that…