Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ Quick summary on 1MDB trial star witness, Tim Leissner's testimony on former Astro Malaysia CEO, Najib Razak and BNM
Media Prima reported first full-year profit since FY2015. Mr Money's quick guide to insurance. Donald Trump praised Putin' justification to invade Ukraine as 'genius' and 'savvy'.
1. MARKET SUMMARY
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE
€200 mil — the price tag paid by French billionaire Xavier Niel for The Hotel Lambert, a property owned by Prince Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Thani. Niel is not planning to live in the 43,000 square-foot townhouse and is considering using the property for a cultural foundation.
150,000 people in India die from traffic accidents each year; about one-third of victims are motorbike riders. Independent estimates park the figure higher, at 220,000 lives per year.
185,856 square-foot — the size of Carsome Certified Lab, the largest car refurbishment facility in Southeast Asia, for transforming pre-owned, or used cars, to “as good as new”. The facility is said to be able to refurbish up to 2,000 Carsome Certified cars per month!
3. COVID-19 SUMMARY
Malaysia, alongside Bhutan, Brunei and Iran, has been added to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) growing list of highest-risk destinations for travel — Level 4.
Senior Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussien, who caught Covid-19, is currently undergoing treatment at Hospital Angkatan Tentera Tuanku Mizan. He tweeted (sempat lagi bro) his health condition was good. Wonder how he caught it.
4. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
The bribery trial of ex-Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng continues with star witness Tim Leissner testifying.
Three interesting revelations were made by Leissner:
Leissner had an affair with former Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd CEO Rohana Rozhan from 2003 to 2013. When asked had he given her any money he received from his 1MDB work, he said he had bought her a USD10 mil home in London in 2013 after she threatened to expose his involvement in the 1MDB scandal. Rohana stepped down from her CEO role in Jan 2019 to “pursue other goals”.
Blackmailing is a crime, according to USLegal.com.
“Ms. Rozhan was very upset that I was ending our relationship to be with my future wife, with Kimora,” Leissner testified, referring to his wife Kimora Lee Simmons. “If I didn’t buy her a house, she would tell the authorities about my involvement in the 1MDB scandal. She was threatening to expose me. At the time, 2013, I was very fearful of that.”
- Tim Leissner
Leissner alleged that BNM approved an “overnight” foreign exchange transfer of USD1 bil from 1MDB to PetroSaudi International after the then BNM governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz’s husband had allegedly been bribed to “make it happen”. Last November, MACC revealed that at least RM65 mil in 1MDB-linked funds recovered from Singapore was held by a company belonging to Zeti’s husband. Tawfiq Ayman.
When asked by prosecutors if a bribe was paid, Leissner said he could not independently confirm it.
“You have to understand in 2009 Malaysia still had capital controls in place, which would require an investment of that size to be approved by Bank Negara in terms of the money leaving the country.
“A billion dollars was wired overnight from Malaysia to the joint venture and that it had been done because the husband of the then governor Zeti at Bank Negara had received a bribe to make that happen.
“So, overnight that money was transferred, which was unprecedented at that time. No approval was obtained that quickly from Bank Negara.”
- Tim Leissner
The then CEO of Goldman, Lloyd Blankfein, met with then Malaysian PM Najib Razak ahead of the big bond deals for 1MDB and the meeting came with an agenda of getting Najib’s three children jobs at the bank in return for the lucrative business.
Transgender entrepreneur Nur Sajat has announced changing her gender status to female in Australia and that she felt reborn. She is a wanted fugitive in Malaysia after failing to attend a Syariah court proceeding where she was charged for an offence of insulting or causing Islam to be insulted. Sajat was granted a PR in Australia and looked to rebuild her (or his) life and business there. Back in Malaysia, deputy minister in the PM’s Department (Religious Affair) Ahmak Marzuk Shaary said Sajat is still recognised as a male as stated on his IC.
The Health Ministry has issued an alert over 2 powdered infant formula products from the US, namely Similac Alimentum and Similac Human Milk Frontier over fears that they may be contaminated with “cronobacter sakazakii” and “salmonella newport” bacteria as discovered by the US Food & Drug Administration. The company Abbott Laboratories (M) Sdn Bhd has confirmed that it has made a voluntary recall and taking proactive actions by contacting purchases (e.g. retailers, distributors, institutions).
The bacterium cronobacter is widely found in the environment and can survive in dry conditions like infant formula. The infection can cause meningitis or sepsis, but it rarely occurs and usually, the symptoms displayed by infants would be fever, lack of appetite and lethargy.
From 2007 to 2019, environmental media site, Macaranga, found that Pahang came in second to Kelantan, clearing 75,748 hectares of forest for plantation. However, the Department of Environment’s records showed there were no large-scale (more than 500 hectares) forest plantation projects in Pahang throughout last year.
Environmentalists claimed that developers exploited a loophole by dividing a major project into several pieces to avoid publicising their Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports to the public.
Malaysiakini dug further into this claim to verify and along the way, they have discovered activities linked to a top political party leader with various stints as a minister and deputy minister. Read their findings here.
On another note, Malaysiakini CEO and co-founder Premesh Chandran will step down from his active roles after serving Malaysiakini for 22 years. Premesh and his co-founder, Steven Gan, are setting up a non-profit entity to become the eventual key shareholder of Malaysiakini to ensure the media outlet remains independent even after the co-founders are no longer involved.
Media Prima Bhd, the integrated media group, has reported its first full-year profit since FY2015, with the exception of FY2018 due to a one-off gain from the sale of its property assets.
Net profit of RM51.6 mil for the year ended Dec 31, 2021 (FY2021), reversing a loss of RM18.1 mil in FY2020.
Revenue increased 8% to RM1.1 bil from RM1.0 bil YoY.
Q4 FY2021 net profit jumped 279% to RM28.94 mil from RM7.63 mil in the immediate preceding quarter on higher revenue and lower operating costs.
Q4 FY2021 revenue grew 22.77% to RM315.9 mil from RM257.31 mil in the immediate preceding quarter driven by major advertising campaigns, which include Lazada, Shopee and early CNY advertising campaign.
myMetro (hmetro.com.my) and BH online (bharian.com.my) ranked as the most read online news portals in Malaysia with 8 mil and 7.4 mil total unique visitors, respectively.
The company’s market cap stands at RM571.2 mil.
5. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) is set to launch a digital asset exchange by the end of the year — its plan is to offer investors exposure to investment and utility tokens. The exchange noted that cryptocurrencies do not meet its product qualifications, hence the exchange would not have direct involvement with cryptocurrencies.
The Hong Kong government announced it had earmarked more than HKD170 bil (USD21.8 bil) in its coffer to fight the pandemic and support the economy. The announcement came after authorities extended the virus control measures until Apr 20, 2022. Some economic measures announced include:
100% reduction in profits tax for businesses and salaries tax for individuals, capped at HKD10,000.
Consumption vouchers worth HKD10,000.
Subsidy of HKD10,000 for the temporarily unemployed.
Rental waiver for businesses that have to be closed because of Covid rules.
Strike the iron while it’s hot — Volkswagen AG and Porsche SE are in advanced discussions about a potential initial public offering (IPO) of the luxury carmaker — Porsche AG — which sold 301,915 vehicles in 2021, a record for the company. Porsche SE, 50.73% owned by the Porsche-Piech family, is the holding company of Volkswagen Group. Analysts estimate Porsche AG could be valued at USD102 billion in an initial public offering.
Former President Donald Trump praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, describing the latter’s justification for invading Ukraine as “savvy” and “genius” in a podcast interview. Trump baselessly said Putin’s timing to invade Ukraine was that he had a better relationship with Putin than President Joe Biden.
Ukraine is prepared for war against Russia as Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky vows, “We will defend ourselves.” A state of emergency has been declared in the country and its leaders told millions of its citizens living in Russia to return home amid growing fears of war.
Hybe, previously named Big Hit Entertainment, says its operating profits jumped by 30.8% in the past year to 190.3 bil won (USD160 mil). It almost tripled its revenue from content, such as games and digital comics featuring BTS. Hybe had gained ground with K-pop fans through the Weverse platform, which allows them to connect with artists and buy exclusive content. Guess what is Hybe venturing into next? NFTs.
The British lender Barclays reported a pretax profit of 8.4 billion pounds (USD11.42 billion) for 2021 and returned 2.5 billion pounds to shareholders via dividends and buybacks. Bonus pool rose 23% as performance improved — bad loan charges plunged and its investment bank continued activities in mergers and fundraising. Barclays has also suspended bonus payments of Jes Staley, who left Barclays last year after a dispute with British financial regulators over how he described his ties with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
6. FOR YOUR VIEWING PLEASURE 👁👁
Not sure which insurance policy to get and don’t want to get scammed? Watch Mr Money TV’s quick guide to insurance!
The cost of an EV battery cell.
Musical notes in 3D