Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ Berjaya Corp announced the first-ever all-female board members of Bursa-listed companies
SG to declassify, reveal documents linked to separation from MY. Najib Razak & Arul Kunda to know fate on 1MDB audit tampering trial this Friday. Twitter co-founder launches Twitter alternative.
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1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
The government has agreed to purchase 18 FA-50 fighter jets worth RM4.08 bil (ISD920 mil) from Korea Airspace Industries Co (KAI), beating out suppliers from Pakistan, India, Russia and Turkey. KAI is South Korea’s sole aircraft manufacturer. Delivery is set to begin in 2026. **LCS chills down the spin**
5,878 flood victims from 1,575 families have been evacuated in 6 districts in Johor at noon on Wednesday, 1 Mar. Kluang was hit the hardest, with 1,952 people displaced, followed by Segamat (1,431) and Kota Tinggi (1,156).
Women’s share of board sets at Britain’s 350 largest listed companies hit a new high of 40.2% in 2022, up by 3%, according to a UK government-backed report. Whilst in the top 100 companies, the FTSE 100, women held 40.5% of board positions, up from 39.1% in 2021. Just over a decade ago, 152 of the FTSE 350 had no women representation. Now there are women on every board, and most companies have three or more. Berjaya Corp one-ups them all — read more at the “In Malaysia” below.
“Some people get rich studying artificial intelligence. Me, I make my money studying natural stupidity.”
- Carl Icahn, activist investor billionaire. This quote is prominently displayed on his Twitter profile.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Things PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang said at a forum on Tuesday:
Nothing new - he warned Malaysia could be controlled by non-Muslims if Malays have low political awareness, claiming that PH is now in government due to the support of non-Malays. The year is 2023. Peddling the same old, non-existing fear. The typical Chinese stereotype that a peaceful environment to run businesses and for the kids to grow up well and healthily applies. He shared that Tun Mahathir invited him to Tun M’s house and expressed similar concern over the GE15 results. By the way, Tun M joined a new political party called Parti Bumiputera Perkasa Malaysia (Putra) after quitting Pejuang to champion Malay rights - the same old narrative.
Nothing new - he predicted that Anwar Ibrahim’s government will collapse soon, a warning he shared in Dewan Rakyat a few hours before the forum, that the opposition should not be blamed if the federal government collapsed. He did not share if the collapse comes from within or without. In October, Hadi painted himself as the mastermind of Langkah Sheraton — he claimed that he initiated efforts to topple Tun M’s government and approached Bersatu and UMNO. Doubt he’s the master strategist he thinks he is.
Something new (and we agree on) - addressing the issue of stateless children born in Malaysia out of wedlock, Hadi said these children should not be denied their rights to citizenship if either parent is a Malaysian. He added that although the parents have sinned, the children out of wedlock are innocent.
Najib Razak, Arul Kanda to know on 3 Mar to enter defence or acquitted
The High Court is expected to deliver its verdict on the duo in the 1MDB audit tampering trial this Friday, 3 Mar. Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlanw will also deliver his verdict on whether Arul Kanda, who served as a witness for the prosecution and his testimony against Najib, was sufficient for him to be given a certificate of indemnity, as he faces the charges of abetting the former PM in abuse of power with regard to 1MDB’s audit report.
Najib is facing charges for altering the 1MDB audit report tabled to the Public Accounts Committee in 2016 so that no action could be taken against him by Parliament. Amongst items removed were Jho Low’s presence at 1MDB board meetings and portions of 1MDB’s 2014 financial statements. Apart from this trial, Najib is on trial for another three cases.
Singapore to disclose “Albatross file” - documents linked to separation from Malaysia
Singapore has agreed to declassify and release documents kept in the “Albatross file” containing top-level discussions amongst its leaders and those from Malaysia before it seceded from the federation. The file belonging to Dr Goh Keng Swee, considered one of Singapore’s founding fathers, will be released in a book later this year.
In 1980, Dr Goh revealed that the albatross, a white oceanic bird, referred to Malaysia. He said that there was great expectation that Malaysia would bring prosperity and progress before disillusionment set in. “And it became an albatross around our necks,” he was quoted as saying, which means a heavy burden one carries.
TikTok - no political ads allowed, denied infiltration of its moderator group
TikTok released a statement from its public policy head Hafizin Tajudin saying that all “paid ads that promote or oppose a candidate, government, current leader, political party or group, or issue at the federal, state, or local level” have been banned on its platform following a revised policy last year. He also denied claims that a former employee who served as a content moderator had access to conduct covert operations and promote certain quarters. He clarified that moderators have no access to any promotional tools for content.
What socmed would PN use now? It may consider using Xiaohongshu, the Chinese Instagram, to target the local Chinese community. Let’s see how effective these new policies, especially enforcement, will be in the upcoming state elections.
The World of Business:
Major boardroom changes at Berjaya Corp Bhd, the holding company of tycoon Vincent Tan. The tycoon will step down from his non-independent non-executive chairman position and assume the advisor role. Some other changes: his son Robin Tan stepped down, his daughter Chrysies Tan redesignated, and Tunku Tun Aminah, daughter of Johor Sultan Ibrahim, succeeded Vincent Tan’s position. Following these changes, BCorp is the first and only Bursa-listed company with all-female board members based on data here from the Securities Commission.
On what’s next, the tycoon said he’s passionate to find affordable housing solutions B40 leading him to found Yayasan My First Home with a personal donation of RM5 mil. Read the press release here. Learn more about Yayasan My First Home here.
The Ministry of International Trade and Industry Tengku Zafrul announced that the ministry has approved Tesla’s application to import its iconic cars into Malaysia under the BEV Global Leaders initiative, of which Tesla is the first applicant. It will also establish a head office in Malaysia, “experience centres”, service centres and its Supercharger network. What’s “head office”? Is Malaysia becoming Tesla’s regional HQ? Paultan.org did an estimation of Malaysian prices by benchmarking prices in Thailand.
We hope the ministry compels Tesla to open up its charging network to non-Tesla vehicles, which it mostly kept access exclusively to Tesla vehicles only, with the exception in some regions.
Tesla is known to extract concessions from local governments. Did Elon Musk receive any negotiated subsidies, tax breaks etc.? Though unlikely since its mostly downstream expansion, but hey, it’s Elon Musk.
Socmed celebrated this news. The MITI minister made an announcement as though it was a major success. There’s really little to celebrate - market expansion and selling in all possible markets are in the playbook of major international companies. What truly matters more is not this downstream activity of Tesla in Malaysia but rather the upstream activities (i.e. production, assembly, R&D of EVs), which are more value-adding and have a higher amplifying effect on the nation’s economy. Our neighbours are working hard to get bigger, lucrative deals from Tesla. Malaysia? Who knows, maybe Zaf is working hard on it, too, though there is little or no chatters about it.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Greece declares three days of national mourning after train collision
A head-on collision between a passenger train and a cargo train, causing multiple carriages to be derailed, has led to at least 36 deaths, with dozens injured from the crash and ensuing fire. Officials believe the death toll will rise, and a station master has been arrested to understand why the two trains were on the same track. The two trains had been running towards each other on the same track “for many kilometres,” according to a government spokesperson. This marks the deadliest train crash in the country’s living memory.
Watch the aftermath of the accident here.
Twitter alternative picks up steam amid rumours of new Twitter CEO
Bluesky, the alternative to Twitter backed by Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey, is up on the iOS App Store as an invite-only beta. With more testers gaining access to the app, it seems the official launch of the app may come soon. While formerly an initiative under Twitter, Bluesky became an independent entity in February 2022, with Twitter offering USD13 million in funding in April 2022 on the condition that Bluesky researches and develops tech that enables open, decentralised public conversation. Get the app here.
At Twitter HQ, speculation is rife that Steve Davis, CEO of The Boring Company, could be the next Twitter CEO after Elon Musk. Davis is said to have helped arrange a round of 200 layoffs at Twitter this week, with reports that he called Twitter managers asking them to identify “exceptional employees”. This hands-on role in the layoffs, in addition to his involvement in a cost-cutting move to save Twitter USD500 million, leads staff to believe he could be the next CEO. The Boring Company is an infrastructure and tunnel construction company founded by Elon Musk.
More layoffs loom for Facebook as management layers are removed
Facebook founder and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg is in the process of streamlining the company, with 2023 declared to be “the year of efficiency” as he looks to cut costs. For Facebook, this could mean another round of layoffs, affecting up to 10% of staff. This coincides with Zuckerberg’s plan to flatten the hierarchy at Facebook to resemble Instagram’s organisation chart, removing management layers. This follows Meta’s first-ever mass layoff of 11,000 employees in November 2022.
Salesforce reportedly pays actor USD10 million a year
The cloud-based software firm reportedly struck a deal worth USD10 million a year with actor Matthew McConaughey (sci-fi movie Interstellar actor), with the latter serving as “creative advisor and TV pitchman” for the former. There has been no confirmation as to when the deal with the actor was signed. This follows news earlier this month that Salesforce laid off at least 2,000 workers. The company announced it would be trimming 10% of its workforce in January 2023 as part of a restructuring effort as a cost-cutting effort.
BNPL giant Klarna reports USD1 billion losses for 2022
Swedish “buy now, pay later” firm Klarna closed out the 2022 fiscal year with a wider loss of USD1 billion, compared to a loss of about USD635 million in 2021. However, it also reported improving performance in the fourth quarter, with revenue growth of 19%. As such, the firm aims to return to profitability “by this summer”. Klarna was affected when consumer confidence fell due to soaring inflation and the war in Ukraine, with the company cutting 10% of its workforce in May 2022, with USD800 million in new financing raised in July in a massive down-round that saw valuation dropped by 85% to USD6.7 bil.
Adani Group secures USD3 billion loan from sovereign wealth fund
Indian multinational conglomerate Adani Group told creditors it has secured a USD3 billion loan from a sovereign wealth fund in a bid to ease concerns about its credit profile after short-sellers hit the company, causing USD145 billion in stock market losses following a Hindenburg Research report alleging stock manipulations, improper use of tax havens, and concerning debt levels. There is the possibility it may be the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, especially after the USD400 million investment made by Abu Dhabi’s International Holding Co., which is controlled by a key member of the Abu Dhabi royal family.
Ed Sheeran announces new album, written against “backdrop of hope and grief”
The singer-songwriter rewrote his latest album, - (Subtract) at a time when he had “spiralled into depression”. He found out his then-pregnant wife had a tumour with no treatment available until after the birth, while Sheeran himself was embroiled in a three-week-long copyright trial (which he won) over claims he had plagiarised his hit song Shape of You. These events followed the unexpected death of Jamal Edwards, a friend of Sheeran’s who had given Sheeran his first big break. The album is due for release on 5 May.
China's factories boost post-Covid recovery of Asian stocks – Asian stocks saw their best performance (except Malaysia, bucking the trend) in seven weeks as China’s manufacturing activities expanded at its fastest pace in over a decade, giving investors hope that China’s recovery can offset a global slowdown.
Vo Van Thuong nominated as Vietnam’s new president – Vietnam’s Communist Party made the nomination after the sudden forced resignation of Thuong’s predecessor, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, following a sweeping anti-corruption campaign. Thuong, aged 52, is also the youngest member of the party’s Politburo, and the main architect of the party’s crackdown on graft.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
He’s back. Arnold Schwarzenegger will be starring in Netflix’s ‘Fubar’, a spy action-comedy out on 25 May.
200 IQ - a brilliant hack on how to keep a sliced cake in a container
Bursa Malaysia top 10 largest companies by market cap as at end-February. The thing about this list, the names are more or less the same in the past 1-2 decades. Compared to the US, their top 10 companies list changed so much, not by corporate death but due to the rise of tech companies, showing that there’s growth in a whole new sector. As for Malaysia, the big boys remain the same, and possibly more entrenched than ever.