☕️ EPF sold RM580 mil of its retail assets in the past two months
The Edge & its owner now substantial shareholder of The Star. Online scam syndicates are offering RM500 to obtain mule accounts. President Biden announced his plans to be reelected in 2024.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
After 13,981 shows, the longest-running show in Broadway history – “The Phantom of the Opera” finally had its final bow. Since opening in January 1988, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s megahit musical grossed over USD1.4 billion in ticket sales. However, the show struggled to rebound from Broadway’s 18-month closure during the Covid-19 pandemic, leading to the end. The production estimates that it has employed 6,500 people, including 450 actors, over the years.
The registration plate AMY has brought in over RM6 million in bids for the Perak Road Transport Department (JPJ) throughout the five-day bidding period. It had exceeded that of the previous AMG plate series, which is popular among Mercedes-Benz owners. The highest bid was RM400,000 for AMY 1. Did the majority come from Amy Search fans?
Why are financial scams on the rise? Because of the ease of obtaining a mule account. Online scam syndicates have been paying RM500 per account to obtain mule accounts from the original account holders for use to transfer the ill-gotten gains. National Anti-Financial Crime Centre (NFCC) director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali said the existence of mules accounts has been a contributing factor to online criminal activities. Find the definition of a mule account by Bank Negara Malaysia here.
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3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Home Minister: “Open houses will not be a waste of money”
In defence of Putrajaya’s break away from tradition to hold Raya Open House in Putrajaya, Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said the open house programmes in six states would not cost much — but how much precisely is budgeted for? No figures were given for organising this event. The provision of food would not involve excessive costs. Nasution, who is also Pakatan Harapan (PH) secretary-general, said the open houses were not election campaign programmes but rather an approach for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to reach out and meet with the people.
EPF offloading its Giant
Employees Provident Fund (EPF) found a buyer for its retail space in Klang Sentral, which hypermarket chain Giant previously occupied. Retailer NSK Trading Sdn Bhd paid an estimated RM60 million to purchase the property from EPF. This marks the seventh Giant store sold over the past two months. Last month, the EPF sold a portfolio of six retail assets in the Klang Valley and Johor, worth a combined RM520 million, to Sunway Real Estate Investment Trust. The Giant Hypermarket Kelana Jaya’s sale is said to be imminent, but no details have been confirmed.
View: Properties sold by the EPF (2014-2023)
The Edge owner is now a substantial shareholder in Star Media
The Edge Communications Sdn Bhd and its owner Tong Kooi Ong in aggregate, holds a 5.4% stake in Star Media Group Bhd (SMG). When one exceeds the 5% threshold in a public listed company, they are considered a substantial shareholder and have to make a regulator filing. According to The Edge, Tong, in an internal memo, said the acquisition is purely an investment. Tong is believed to have said, “It (SMG) has no debt and is clearly undervalued”. MCA, the political party, remains the main shareholder with a 45.4% stake in SMG. Star Media shares closed 11% higher at 51 sen yesterday, giving it a market cap of RM372.6 mil. As per its unaudited FY22 report, SMG has net assets per share of RM0.90, which means the counter is still trading below its net asset (assets minus liabilities) despite closing at RM0.51 yesterday - in other words, you are buying The Star’s net assets at a discount. Is it too good to be true? Is it a value trap?
Two law bodies condemn MACC over Justice Nazlan’s probe
The Law Association for Asia and the Pacific (Lawasia) and the Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA) separately wrote to Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and Attorney General Idrus Harun. They expressed concerns about MACC’s conduct against Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali. Lawasia president Melissa Pang said the dissenting judgement does not give grounds for a retrial or further review. CLA said it was alarmed that the MACC not only launched the investigation against Nazlan, but the commission publicised the case and its findings. Will someone take the fall over the attempt to intimidate the judiciary?
Malaysia gets a new Health DG following the retirement of Noor Hisham Abdullah. Dr Muhammad Radzi Abu Hassan, previously Health deputy director-general (Research and Technical Support), has been appointed the country’s Health DG. Congratulations!
The chairperson of the Energy Commission, Mohammed Rashdan Mohd Yusof, has retired from his role as the deputy managing director of Gamuda Bhd. In a filing to Bursa Malaysia, Gamuda said Rashdan’s resignation was meant for the latter “to focus his attention, energy, and effort in his newly appointed role”. Definitely no conflict of interest.
Langkawi MP Mohd Suhaimi Abdullah has been fined RM25,000 for breaching the Bursa Malaysia ACE Market Listing Requirements. Suhaimi, who was Silver Ridge's founder and the group managing director at the time of the offence - and three other directors were fined for failing to disclose the letter of award (LOA) Silver Ridge received from Telekom Malaysia promptly. The LOA was received on May 4, 2021, but the announcement was only made on Oct 4.
Taipei’s Department of Health revealed that a batch of “Ah Lai White Curry Noodles” has been found to contain a cancer-inducing substance, along with a batch of “Indomie: Special Chicken Flavour” noodles from Indonesia. The department said testing revealed that ethylene oxide, a chemical compound associated with lymphoma and leukaemia, was detected in the instant noodles.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Academy (Maca) had to be evacuated following a landslide that is believed to have been caused by stagnant water and a broken underground pipe next to the entrance to the academy. Sentul District Police Chief ACP Beh Eng Lai said there were no injuries or casualties from the incident.
Mohd Syahidan Alias set a new Guinness World Record for the fastest full marathon runner in a baju Melayu in the London Marathon after he completed the gruelling 42.2km run in an impressive time of two hours, 49 minutes and 22 seconds.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
South Korea: Netflix Infusion comes as Terra co-founder is indicted
Streaming service Netflix will be investing USD2.5 billion over the next four years to produce Korean content, including TV series and movies. This led to a rally among Korean production and entertainment companies, especially with the endorsement of South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, who called the investment a “major opportunity” for the content and cultural export industry. South Korean entertainment has been well-received globally in recent years, led by K-pop groups. This led to the nation’s music, video game, and film exports raking in a record USD12.4 billion for the Asian nation in 2021.
Meanwhile, Terra co-founder Daniel Shin, along with nine others, have been indicted by South Korean officials on multiple charges linked to the Terra cryptocurrency project, with officials also freezing 246.8 billion won (USD184.7 million) in assets from those indicted. The charges included violations of capital markets law, illegal trading, and breach of trust. The others that were charged were part of the Terra project and came from different departments, such as marketing, systems development, and management. However, Shin’s lawyer stated that Shin had nothing to do with the Terra collapse, having left the company two years before. Terra was the creator behind the UST and Luna token that collapsed spectacularly middle of last year, wiping out USD60 bil in value in a matter of weeks - a summary of this episode here by Forbes.
Standard Chartered: Crypto Winter Over, USD100,000 Bitcoin incoming
Standard Chartered Bank believes that the crypto winter is over, with a forecast that Bitcoin could see an increase of 268% from its current value to USD100,000 by the end of 2024. The bank cited the recent banking sector crisis, led by the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, as having re-established Bitcoin due to its nature as a “decentralised, trustless, and scarce digital asset”. This comes as analysts predict an end to the Fed’s interest rate-hiking cycle soon, which is expected to stabilise risk assets in general, including cryptocurrencies. News that there could be more favourable regulations toward cryptocurrencies in the US and UK, along with the passing of the EU’s Markets in Crypto Assets regulation, also buoyed the bank’s sentiment towards Bitcoin. Year to date, BTC has gone up by 65.1%.
Aeon to acquire Inageya in a bid to become Japan's largest supermarket
Retail giant Aeon has agreed to buy Tokyo-based major supermarket chain Inageya, with Aeon planning to invest “tens of billions of yen” to increase its stake of 17% in Inageya to 50% by the end of February 2024. Not only would this place Aeon as Japan’s largest supermarket, but it would also allow the retail giant to be more cost-effective in its investments in expensive online and delivery service development, as well as in procuring goods. Still, Japanese supermarkets face sluggish sales due to inflation and falling demand, as people are more willing to leave their homes with the easing of the Covid-19 pandemic.
iPhones in Europe to allow sideloading under EU law
Under the European Commission’s Digital Markets Act, Apple will be forced to allow EU iPhone users to “sideload” apps. The company is expected to comply with this law in the coming iOS 17 update. However, this is likely to only be allowed in the EU, with the rest of the world stuck using Apple’s App Store. Apple had protested this heavily, with Apple CEO Tim Cook arguing that sideloading would “destroy the security of the iPhone” alongside other privacy initiatives.
Sideloading is the downloading and installing of apps outside of Apple’s App Store but it also represents a security risk due to the possibility of malicious software. This feature has always been available to all Android users.
Biden to run for a second term in 2024 – US President Joe Biden has confirmed he will be running for re-election in 2024, calling on voters to let him “finish the job”. Should the Republicans field former president Donald Trump as its nominee, this would be a rematch of the duo’s presidential race in 2020. By the time of the elections, Biden will be 81 years old, while Trump will be 78.
Singapore to execute man for trafficking charge amid protests – Singapore’s latest execution is a controversial one, involving the hanging of a man charged with trafficking 1.01 kg of cannabis, which activists claim was a conviction on weak evidence. Despite family members and activists pleading with Singapore President Halimah Yacob for clemency and a review of the case, the city-state will be proceeding with the death penalty. This follows the city-state’s execution of an intellectually-impaired man last year. Singapore slammed billionaire Richard Branson, a member of the Geneva-based Global Commission on Drug Policy, for criticising the death penalty in his blog post.
Blizzard faces USD43 million lawsuit in messy exit – Blizzard Entertainment is being sued by former Chinese publishing partner NetEase, following servers for Blizzard’s games in China shutting down in January. NetEase is seeking USD43 million in damages, which it says will go towards issuing refunds and recouping investments. NetEase also claimed Blizzard was provided with a “large advance” for future game titles, which were never finished or released.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
In Malaysia, food takes up almost one-third of an average minimum wage earner’s monthly pay. In developed countries, stronger purchasing power allow them to stretch their funds with basic food costs accounting for about 10%+- of their minimum wages.
How big is MrBeast — aka Jimmy Donaldson? Collectively, his channel has over 25 billion views. Based on the world’s current population, that’s three views from every single person on Earth. Late last year, it was rumoured that MrBeast is a unicorn - not the animal - but a private company that is worth at least USD1 bil as Donaldson was seeking to raise USD150 mil for his business at a valuation of USD1.5 bil.