☕️ 5 highways to have open payment system by Sept '23
PN rejected Pejuang's application to join the coalition. CDC US issues an alert on a potentially deadly fungus outbreak in the US. Amazon cuts another 9,000 jobs.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
26 — the number of years the average Saudi Arabian man spend in retirement (the difference between retirement age and life expectancy). The average retirement age and life expectancy in Saudi Arabia are 47 and 73.11 years, respectively. An average Turkish woman would spend up to 32 years in retirement! However, retirement age and life expectancy are not the only factors to consider when determining the length of one's retirement. Other factors, such as the cost of living, healthcare, and social support systems, can also have a significant impact.
Living in New York City with a USD100,000 salary feels like earning USD36,000, according to an analysis of 76 of the largest US cities to see where USD100,000 goes furthest by SmartAsset, a consumer-focused financial information provider. High prices, high taxes and astronomical rent prompted many to leave the Big Apple in search of greener pastures. From July 2020 to July 2021, the city lost over 300,000 residents.
62,649 vehicles were sold in Malaysia in February of 2023 — that’s an average of 2,237 cars rolling out of showrooms on a daily basis. The Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) said the rise in sales was due to the delivery of backlog orders. Year-to-date February sales volume was higher at 112,128 units versus 86,595 units during the corresponding period in 2022. And we wonder why the traffic is getting worse.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Win for Malaysians (mainly Klang Valley folks) as highways will get an open payment system
Works Minister Alexander Nanta Linggi stated that five highways nationwide would start to implement the open payment system by this September, where road users can use either their credit or debit cards to pay for tolls, consequently eliminating the Touch n’ Go monopoly. The five highways mentioned are:
Sungai Besi Expressway (BESRAYA);
Ampang - Kuala Lumpur Elevated Highway (AKLEH);
New Pantai Expressway;
Guthrie Corridor Expressway;
Apart from that, he also mentioned a few critical dates for the implementation of the Multi-Lane Free Flow (MLFF) -
Q32023 - MLFF proof of concept (POC);
Q32024 - Phase 1 of the MLFF actual implementation.
Our poem dedicated to Malaysia
The circus of politics
MCA and MIC are welcome to join PN as Bersatu associate wing information chief S. Subramaniam said that both Barisan Nasional’s component parties are welcome to jump ship and join Perikatan Nasional (PN) as he viewed that both parties were not being appreciated by PM Anwar Ibrahim and BN chairman Zahid Hamidi. It was also rumoured that MCA and MIC were excluded from the discussion regarding seat allocations for the upcoming state elections.
Unfortunately, with a not-so-heavy heart, you are rejected, Pejuang. PN secretary-general Hamzah Zainudin stated that the coalition had rejected Pejuang’s application to join PN, with no reasons given for the decision.
Muda is not cool enough for the Unity Government. The Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA) secretary-general Amir Hadi told the media that his party had been left out of the Unity Government secretariat’s meeting for the second time, as Muda did not receive any invitation to the meeting. Plus, Amir also mentioned that all the letters sent to Pakatan Harapan (PH) went unanswered as Muda is still requesting a meeting with PH to discuss Muda’s role in the current government.
Khazanah Nasional Bhd recorded an annual profit of RM1.6bil in 2022
Khazanah Nasional Bhd managing director Amirul Feisal announced that the sovereign wealth fund more than doubled its annual profit from operations, from RM670mil in 2021 to RM1.6bil in 2022. The positive performance was mainly attributed to monetisation activities and lower impairment in its portfolio. Backed by the increased profit, Khazanah also declared an RM500 mil dividend to the Government, cumulatively contributing RM17.1bil to Putrajaya since 2004. Its net asset value, however, declined by 5% from RM86bil to RM81bil due to the global market downtrend.
Commenting on the matter of Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB), Amirul said that Khazanah will still continue to support the national carrier at least until 2025, although MAB is already cash positive. Khazanah wholly owns MAB and the former was the main backer behind MAB’s RM16bil debt restructuring plan in 2021.
Authority issues a stop-work order on a plantation linked to Sultan Johor
Environment Minister Nik Nazmi told the Parliament that the Environment Department (DOE) had issued a stop-work order to AA Sawit Sdn Bhd for developing a plantation in Endau, Johor, without an approved environmental impact assessment (EIA). According to South China Morning Post, AA Sawit Sdn Bhd was reportedly majority owned indirectly by the Johor Royalty.
Philippine billionaire Frank Lao had acquired a 35% stake in Malaysian-owned ZUS Coffee. Deal terms were not disclosed. The deal will lead to an imminent expansion of the brand to the Philippines. Currently, ZUS Coffee wholly owns 197 locations in Malaysia, with 150 more in the pipeline, as the company does not practise the franchise business model.
Danajamin Nasional Bhd has completed the merger with Bank Pembangunan Malaysia Bhd (BPMB), effective March 1. The merger was part of the Government’s plan to align the mandates of the development financial institutions (DFIs).
Ministry of Finance clarified that the bank loans backed by Employees Provident Fund (EPF) Account 2 savings will have an annual interest rate of 4% to 5%, lower than the personal financing market rate of between 8% to 15%.
Investing is about committing.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Your CFA is still safe for now
Fears around artificial intelligence (AI) disruption are acute in finance, where it’s all about spreadsheets and numbers — shameless admission: I use ChatGPT for Excel formulas. The team at Financial Times tried to give the highly accreditated Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Level III sample paper a run for its money by pitting it against ChatGPT 3.5. Overall, the bot scored 8 out of a possible 24 — which meant it failed.
Well, financial data and software company PitchBook (which primarily focuses on VC, PE and M&As) just launched its VC Exit Predictor. The AI-powered tool attempts to predict startups’ exit strategy by generating a score on the probability that it’ll be acquired, go public, or not exit due to becoming self-sustaining or experiencing any event (e.g., bankruptcy) that prevents an exit. McKinley McGinn, product manager of market intelligence at PitchBook, back-tested the tool and reported a 74% accuracy in predicting a successful exit.
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman wants to control the narrative because he’s worried about how bad actors will use the technology. While the company practices sharing its codes (hence OpenAI), only a little is known about ChatGPT-4’s inner workings because it wasn’t easy to develop, explained OpenAI cofounder and chief scientist Ilya Sutskever. How have bad actors been using AI? Voice-cloning by sounding like people’s relatives in desperate need of financial help — to scam victims.
A potential fungus outbreak in the making?
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported an alarming rise in the number of cases of the deadly Candida auris fungus. The fungus is resistant to most antifungal medications, making it difficult to treat and potentially deadly for people with weakened immune systems. The CDC is urging healthcare facilities to take aggressive measures to prevent the spread of the fungus. The Last of Us is getting closer to reality.
9,000 jobs go poof at Amazon
CEO Andy Jassy said the company will be laying off 9,000 more employees in the coming weeks. The decision was made to streamline costs. The latest round will primarily impact Amazon’s cloud computing, human resources, advertising and Twitch live-streaming businesses. After its hiring spree during the pandemic — 798,000 employees at the end of 2019 to 1.6 mil by the end of 2021 — Amazon is undergoing the largest layoffs in its history.
Is the recession really upon us?
Russia strikes back against ICC
Russia retaliated against the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor and judges who issued an arrest warrant for President Vladimir Putin on war crimes charges by opening a case against them. Russia’s Investigative Committee claims the ICC has knowingly accused an innocent person of a crime. How valid is ICC’s arrest warrant on Putin? The ICC’s move obliges the court’s 123 member states to arrest Putin and transfer him to The Hague for trial if he sets foot on their territory.
Meanwhile, China’s President Xi Jinping is on an official 3-day visit to Moscow. The topics discussed included bilateral cooperation and the Russia-Ukraine peace plan proposed earlier by China. After the 4.5 hours meeting, Putin “went out into the street” to see Xi off (watch here), reportedly a rare move for Putin. What a dramatic entrance just for 2 men to shake hands.
Banks in the US aren’t the only ones in need of a bailout. A country closer to home, Sri Lanka, secured a USD3 bil bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as a lifeline for the billions of dollars of debts. China’s lending to Sri Lanka stands at around USD7bil while India is owed around USD1bil. The country’s also scrambling to increase its income by raising taxes after former Sri Lanka president Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s populist tax cut was introduced in 2019.
Didn’t have valentines last month? Don’t fret. Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch is showing that finding love is possible, even at the age of 92, as he announced his engagement to his partner Ann Lesley Smith, 66. It’s his 5th marriage. What is he drinking?
Starbucks gets a new chief two weeks earlier than planned. Laxman Narasimhan has taken over the reins from interim CEO Howard Schultz. Narasimhan has a tough road ahead of him as the coffee chain tries to fend off a growing wave of unionisation across the US (and ZUS Coffee eating into its pie in Malaysia - just kidding, they serve different market segments)
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Gradually, then suddenly — the rise of Artificial Intelligence.
Looking to sell your car without wanting to feel short-changed by used car dealers? Peter from MrMoney TV has a simple 5-minute explaining the process!
For our Muslim readers who will be starting their fast tomorrow, Selamat Berpuasa!