Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ Dengue + Haze health danger combo in the making
Genting MY's RM5.72 bil Miami land deal called off. USD115k for Disney's 24-day private jet tour. Bitcoin price pump - blip or the start of a new bull run?
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
Nestlé Malaysia has successfully planted the first million of its 3 million trees as part of its Project RELeaf initiative. To commemorate this milestone, the company organised a nationwide tree-planting event on World Environment Day. During the event, Nestlé Malaysia also announced a new partnership with TDM Plantation (FDMP), which will provide 514 hectares of land within their estates to plant an additional 350,000 trees.
Tree planting sounds good for the environment, but it can go wrong and do far more harm than good to the environment instead.
According to the UK Health Security Agency's report on June 6th, England witnessed a record number of sexually transmitted disease gonorrhoea cases in 2022, with nearly 83,000 diagnoses. This figure marks the highest number of gonorrhoea cases since records began in 1918. Additionally, cases of syphilis have reached their highest level since 1948. London’s unique status and efforts to control the spread of syphilis date back to the 1500s when King Henry VII and King Henry VIII took measures to close down the brothels, known as “stew houses,” in Southwark. Their aim was to prevent the transmission of syphilis sores within the city.
USD115,000 (RM534.8k)— the price of Disney’s 24-day private jet tour. Disney is reintroducing its exclusive tour, providing affluent individuals with the opportunity to visit 12 of its theme parks located worldwide. The tour offers a luxurious travel experience for those who wish to explore multiple Disney destinations in a single trip. The “Disney Parks Around The World” tour will take guests to six countries — the US, Japan, China, France, Egypt, and India — on a "VIP-configured" Boeing 757 operated by Icelandair. That is, if you are willing to fork out USD4.8k (RM22.28k) per day.
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3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Mini GE15 is around the corner. Here is some news to start the election fever going
Perikatan Nasional (PN) will contest all 245 seats in the upcoming state elections in six states, namely Penang, Kedah, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Terengganu and Kelantan. PAS will get more than half of the seat allocation, being granted 126 seats, followed by Bersatu with 83 seats and Gerakan with the remaining 36 seats (Gerakan won no parliamentary seats at all in GE14 and GE15). PN Chairman Muhyiddin Yassin stated that it is up to the coalition parties to choose the best candidates to be fielded in the state polls.
On top of that, Muhyiddin also told the media that PN will maintain its GE15 strategy to use PAS’ moon logo for the Terengganu and Kelantan state elections. For the rest of the states, PN will utilise its coalition logo. Like a wise man used to say, ‘Do not fix something that is not broken’. If Wan Fahysal can win a seat in Kelantan by using this tactic among others, why not others kan?
As for the Unity Government, four seats are still unresolved between PH and BN, with 2 in Kedah and 2 in Selangor.
Academicians from local universities predicted that the voters' turnout for the state election will be lower than GE15, around 60% to 70%, citing factors such as the unwillingness of out-of-state voters to come back to their hometowns to cast their votes. The turnout in GE13 was 84.6%; in GE14 in 2018, it was 83.32%; and in GE15, it was even lower, at 73.89%.
Malaysia could face a double whammy health crisis
Dengue — Disease Control Deputy Director Dr Husnina Ibrahim warned the public that a record-breaking dengue outbreak will happen next year if the public does not pitch in to combat the disease. Between January to June 2023, the number of dengue cases was 158% higher than last year (48,712 cases in 2023 vs 18,883 cases during the same period in 2022) and the death toll rate was 183% more compared to the same period the year before. Dr Husnina said that the Government’s efforts such as Wolbachia Mosquito Operation (WMO) have been promising.
The Wolbachia Mosquito Operation (WMO) is a project that is using Wolbachia bacteria to control the spread of mosquito-borne diseases. When Wolbachia is introduced into Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, it prevents the mosquitoes from transmitting dengue, Zika, chikungunya, and yellow fever viruses.
Haze — Singapore Institute of International Affairs, via its Haze Outlook 2023 report, predicted that Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia might face the most severe haze this year, no thanks to the El Nino phenomenon. With the price of commodities such as oil palm breaking record levels in the past year, agriculture companies could also expand by clearing lands or open burning — adding to the haze.
News from the House of Justice
In Rosmah Mansor’s RM1.25 bil solar hybrid energy project’s corruption case, the Court of Appeal rejected her appeal for leave to challenge the appointment of the late Gopal Sri Ram as the case’s lead prosecutor. Regarding the same case, the court will regroup again on July 11 to hear Rosmah’s appeal against the guilty verdict, where the Kuala Lumpur High Court convicted and sentenced her to 10 years of imprisonment and an RM970 mil fine.
Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail stated that four Thai nationals linked to the mass graves found in Wang Kelian, Perlis, have been extradited to Malaysia to stand trial. In March 2015, illegal immigrants' transit camps and 147 mass graves were discovered in Wang Kelian, Perlis. All in all, the skeletal remains of about 130 people were found.
Smart Miami City LLC, the ought-to-be buyer of Genting Malaysia Bhd’s land in Miami, United States, has called off its RM5.72 bil bid for the 15.47-acre land. Prior to the fallout of the deal, Smart Miami City requested an extension of the exclusivity period for the sale. However, the request was denied by Genting Malaysia.
Kenanga Investment Bank stated that the business climate is ripe for the possible merger between AMMB Holdings Bhd (AmBank) and suitors such as RHB Bank, as rumoured previously. The Employees Provident Fund holds a stake in AmBank and RHB Bank, controlling 9.58% and 40.94%, respectively. AmBank’s market cap stands at RM12.1 bil whilst RHB is nearly 2x of AmBank’s at RM23.2 bil.
Gamuda Bhd’s wholly-owned SRS TC Sdn Bhd will commence the reclamation works on the scaled-down Penang South Island (PSI) project next month. The RM3.72 bil reclamation works will involve a total area of 1,260 acres and are expected to be completed by June 30, 2030.
Date night idea: Orchestra
In conjunction with the National Symphony Orchestra’s 30th birthday, Istana Budaya will host four international-grade performances from July until November. The exciting part is that you can watch the orchestra performing music from Mozart and Bach to Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn at the dirt-cheap price of only RM30, with free seating as the cherry on top of the icing on the cake — more details of the shows here.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Titanic sub imploded
The US Coast Guard has announced that the deep-sea submersible Titan, which was carrying five people on a voyage to the wreck of the Titanic, has been found in pieces. The search for the vessel since it lost contact with its surface support ship on Sunday morning ended this morning. A robotic diving vehicle deployed from a Canadian ship discovered a debris field from the submersible. The wreckage was located approximately 1,600 feet from the bow of the Titanic, at a depth of 4km beneath the surface in a remote area of the North Atlantic. The Coast Guard has described the incident as a “catastrophic implosion,” resulting in the loss of all lives on board.
Corruption: The International Edition - Same game, different players
European Union lawmaker Andrea Cozzolino from Italy has been charged in connection with a cash-for-influence scandal at the European Parliament. The scandal revolved around suspicions that Qatar and Morocco bribed politicians, parliamentary assistants and NGOs to influence decision-making in the EU assembly. Cozzolino is the third lawmaker to be charged over the alleged scheme.
Algeria’s former PM Noureddine Bedoui and former Health Minister Abdelmalek Boudiaf have been sentenced to 5 years in prison and 1 mil Algerian dollars (USD7,383) over their involvement in irregularities found in the construction of a new international airport in the state of Constantine. The cost of the project skyrocketed to nearly 7x the original estimate, and construction took 10 years more than the projected four, costing the public treasury huge sums of money. The best part is Bedoui only served as the caretaker PM for a period of 10 months, from Mar to Dec 2019, and yet was able to inflict so much damage on the nation’s finance. At least justice was served. Here, plunder billions and yet many still are waking freely.
Lab-grown meat approved for sale in the US
Two companies, Upside Foods and Good Meat, announced that they have received final approval from the US Department of Agriculture to sell their products. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined the lab-grown meat is safe to consume. The approval marks the US becoming the second country after Singapore to allow the sale of cultivated meat.
Cultivated meat provides an alternative for meat eaters looking for a more environmentally friendly and humane option for their cuts. Livestock production generates 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. Watch the process of making lab-grown meat in the video below.
Bitcoin price pump - blip or the start of a new bull run?
Bitcoin has been trading above USD30k (still down about 56% from its peak of USD69k) for the second time this year since April amidst bullish sentiment in the market following a number of traditional finance (TradFi) players making a foray into the crypto market. And these TradFi players are no small players. Here’s what happened in the past week, providing the catalyst for the (sustained, hopefully) pump:
The largest asset manager in the world with about USD9 tril in assets under management, BlackRock, filed for a US spot Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) last week. This application by BlackRock is particularly the biggest catalyst. Apart from its brand, BlackRock’s track record and success rate in its ETF application is 575:1 - 575 approved ETF applications vs a single one rejected.
EDX Markets, a new cryptocurrency exchange, unveiled its launch on 20 June. It is backed by giants in the finance industry, such as Citadel Securities, Fidelity Investments and Charles Schwab.
German banking giant Deutsche Bank AG has applied for a regulatory license to operate as a crypto custodian in Germany, the bank announced. This move came days after BlackRock’s spot BItcoin ETF move.
Meanwhile, a little-known fact — DBS, the largest bank in Southeast Asia, has been operating a crypto exchange, DBS Digital Exchange, since 2020 and has seen impressive traction in 2022, with its Bitcoin trading volume up 80% and customer base doubled.
We are big advocates of Bitcoin (emphasis on Bitcoin, not crypto). Plenty of sceptics are still recycling the same old counterarguments against Bitcoin as a credible asset class without factoring for derisking and maturity of the asset. Perhaps, spare some time to explore Unchained Capital’s Gradually, Then Suddenly series that intellectually debunks these common myths and scepticism.
Zuck vs Musk - physically, literally. Elon Musk has challenged Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg to a cage match in a tweet. Zuck responded via an Instagram Story - “Send Me Location”. Meta representative confirmed that Zuck wasn’t joking and might actually materialise. Musk’s mama told them boys in a tweet to “fight with words”, with the funniest person crowned the winner. Musk probably is a better dancer than a fighter.
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sued e-commerce giant Amazon.com for enrolling millions of customers into its paid subscription Amazon Prime service without their consent and making it hard for them to cancel through manipulative user-interface design known as ‘dark patterns’. FTC said Amazon Prime is the world’s largest subscription programme, generating USD25 bil in revenue annually with more than 200 mil members worldwide. Prime members in the US pay USD139 per year.
Read: Dark patterns, the tricks websites use to make you say yes, explained.
French broadcaster Canal+ has agreed to acquire a 26.1% significant minority stake in streaming service Viu for USD200 mil. Viu, owned by Hong Kong-listed PCCW Ltd, has more than 66 mil monthly active users and 12 mil paid subscribers as of the end of 2022. PCCW is controlled by billionaire Richard Li, the son of tycoon Li Ka-shing.
Weekend Read: The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence by Morgan Housel, author of the best-selling book The Psychology of Money.
There are 16 levels, in total, that have been categorised by Housel. Which one are you?
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
If you’ve got approximately 15 minutes to watch a mindless video this week, you can consider watching this.
Harimau Malaya thrashed Papua New Guinea 10-0 in Tier 1 international friendly match. Watch the thumping below.
Are you feeling the pinch from inflation? Here’s an advice from the government - learn to live with less.