☕️ Finas sues 47 "grantpreneurs", production companies for failing to deliver any films after RM20 mil grant given
A small slice of RM11 bil might be yours - find out how to claim. Bankrupt crypto firm FTX recovers USD7.3 bil, may reopen exchange. 1st-ever Malaria vaccine approved - why it took so long to create.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
The S&P 500 index is looking good this year — it’s up about 7% year-to-date. Breaking down the figure, the fun is only enjoyed by just 20 stocks. These 20 stocks account for almost 90% or USD2.05 tril of the index’s USD2.36 tril gains this year, according to the Financial Times. Apple alone shot up by nearly USD600 bil. As for the rest of the 480 stocks in the index, there are up by just USD320 bil and ignoring the gains of the mega caps, the S&P 500 rose just 1.4%.
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
How much would you pay for the number 7? Dubai-based businessman, Balvinder Singh Sahni, paid USD15 million for the number plate “P 7” at a charity auction in Dubai — making it the world’s most expensive number plate. The single-digit plate knocked “1” off the perch off the top spot, which was auctioned off for USD14.2 mil in 2008.
Part of RM11 billion could be yours — if you claim it. Deputy finance minister Ahmad Maslan said there is RM11 bil in unclaimed money (WTD) belonging to the public as of March 2023. Remember to claim it via the eGUMIS portal. What constitutes unclaimed money?
Money that is legally payable to the owner but has remained unpaid for a period of not less than one year;
Money standing to the credit of an account that has not been operated in whatever manner by the owner for a period of not less than seven years and;
Money to the credit of a trade account that has remained dormant for a period of not less than two years.
Whilst the government is waiting for it to be claimed, RM11 bil is parked in FD, generating RM250 mil, given back to the rakyat.
A slightly disheartening number coming up — there have been 146 mass shootings in the US since the start of the year, including the shooting in Louisville, Kentucky, that took the lives of four people. That’s an average of 1.41 shootings per day. According to the Giffords Law Center, Americans are 25x more likely to die from a gun homicide than citizens in other high-income countries - no surprise here.
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3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Finas is not playing nice anymore with grantpreneurs
In a bid to improve its reputation and curb any misappropriation, the National Film Development Corporation (Finas) has sued 47 individuals and production companies for not delivering the promised films from the total of RM20 mil grants that they received between 2013 and 2017. Moving forward, Finas will improve the grant recipients' selection process and they will go to the ground to monitor the progress of the selected beneficiaries. Meanwhile, Netflix invest nearly USD1 bil annually in South Korea, producing global K-drama hits — see our Weekend Read below.
Weekly Bribery Digest
52-year-old Rosli Hasan, a former Malacca’s chief minister’s aide, pleaded not guilty to receiving RM408,736 in bribes in the form of house renovation and credit card payments back in 2017 and 2018. A company gave the bribe in return for securing a design-and-build contract for a mosque, multipurpose hall, shop lots and garbage dump.
Sources within the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) hinted that several more officials would be called up in relation to an alleged scandal relating to the recruitment of foreign workers. So far, MACC has arrested an aide to the Human Resources Minister V. Sivakumar and a businessman, assisting the authorities in investigating the alleged scandal.
Ad-hoc Scam Digest
Rolex scam — Sibu police chief Zulkipli Suhaili had confirmed that a 60-year-old housewife lost RM526,000 after she was scammed into purchasing four ‘Rolex’ watches at a cheap price. The scam was done on the WeChat platform via nine separate transactions totalling more than half a million Ringgit, with no ‘Rolex’ watches to be seen.
Macau scam — Scams know no borders as we travel from Borneo island and go towards Peninsular Malaysia’s town of Gerik, where a 52-year-old woman lost a staggering RM460,000 after an individual posing as an insurance agent called the woman and stated that she made false insurance claims. Then, the insurance agent requested the woman to give her bank account details for investigation purposes, which unfortunately led to the loss of almost half a million Ringgit in savings.
2 scams, combined damage of nearly RM1 mil. Painful.
Never hesitate to call the National Scam Response Centre’s 997 if you ever get duped.
Loke is the most hardworking kid on the block
Transport Minister Anthony Loke stated that Putrajaya will announce a special airfare for tertiary students from Sabah and Sarawak studying in Peninsular Malaysia and vice versa. The government subsidy for flight tickets will be introduced to enable students to go home for Raya. Although the frequency of flights and the aircraft capacity are increasing, these two factors are still unable to meet the high demand for flights between the two parts of Malaysia.
On a separate matter, Loke also announced that the operator of the metro train systems in Klang Valley, Prasarana Malaysia Bhd, will be introducing a new key performance indicator (KPI) system called Mean Kilometres Between Failures (MKBF) to ensure better maintenance of the trains. Starting next month, the MKBF figures will be put up on Prasarana’s website for public display and evaluation.
MKBF is the measure of reliability that expresses the average distance travelled (i.e. in kilometres) by a type of lorry, bus, rolling stock, etc., before preventative or reparative maintenance is required. The MKBF target set for Prasarana by Q32026 is one million kilometres — Kelana Jaya LRT line MKBF stands at 150,000 km.
Ramadan: the month of fasting, patience and both goods and humans on fire
The Kuala Lumpur Fire and Rescue Department confirmed that nine motorcycles and four electric scooters were burned down in front of KLCC. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Talking about the two-wheeler EVs that caught on fire, interestingly, to put out an EV vehicle on fire will take as much as 40 times more water compared to a standard petrol vehicle, or more than 150,000 litres of water due to the strong encasing of the battery packs making it hard for the fire crew to reach and to an extent, the chemicals in the battery producing their own oxygen.
A four-year-old girl in Pendang, Kedah, was left traumatised after she suffered 46% burns to her body while playing with firecrackers with her two brothers. The two older siblings, aged seven and ten respectively, are not able to give statements to the police as they are still shocked by the incident. Play it safely this coming Raya with fireworks folks.
CVC Capital Partners is mulling selling its 21% stake in the operator of KFC and Pizza Hut in Southeast Asia, QSR Brands (M) Holdings Bhd, after the latter’s failed attempt to go public since 2017. CVC’s stake in Johor Corp’s majority-owned QSR Brands is assumed to be worth more than RM1.2 bil. One fun fact, QSR Brands is the exclusive rightsholder from the Yum! Brands Inc to run the fast food chains (KFC, Pizza Hut & Taco Bell) in Brunei, Cambodia, Malaysia and Singapore.
View: CVC’s global portfolio, filtered by country, industry and strategy
Maxim Global Bhd plans to assume full control of Maxim Holdings Sdn Bhd (MHSB), which owns several properties in the Klang Valley, in a deal worth RM271.03mil. Maxim Global will finance this deal via a combination of deferred cash consideration payment and issuance of its shares. Once completed, Maxim Global will control MHSB’s property projects and landbanks, including the 818-unit affordable apartment project in KL dubbed Residensi Max.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
FTX recovers over USD7.3 bil, “may reopen”
Beleaguered crypto exchange FTX has successfully recovered over USD7.3 bil in cash and crypto assets, according to a hearing on April 12. The same hearing also denied FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried’s petition that his legal fees be prioritised for any funds recovered.
Word of this recovery, along with news that the exchange is possibly restarting operations, has more than doubled the value of the exchange’s token, FTT, to USD2.74 from a previous USD1.32. The exchange’s reboot, should it come to pass, is expected to happen by the second quarter of 2024, with a disclosure statement filed in the fourth quarter of 2023.
ASEAN “strongly condemns” Myanmar village airstrike
The recent airstrike on the village of Pa Zi Gyi by the Myanmar Armed Forces has been “strongly condemned” by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which places the bloc’s voice among the outcries against Myanmar’s military junta. ASEAN’s chair, which is Indonesia this year, called for a cessation of “all forms of violence”, particularly the use of force against civilians. This comes a day after the junta confirmed the air strike, claiming the target was an opening ceremony for an office of an “alleged military group opposed to their rule”. Reports have the death toll at over 100 dead and if confirmed true, this would be the deadliest attack in the country since the military toppled Aung San Suu Kyi’s government in Feb 2021.
Indonesia to set up a special fund with China battery giant aimed at developing local EV industry
Indonesia’s sovereign fund, the Indonesia Investment Authority, will work with Chinese battery giant Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) to set up a special fund for developing the emerging electric vehicle industry. The EV Ecosystem Fund, as it will be called, will look into investments in EV-related sectors in Indonesia, with a deal pipeline already under review by both parties. Some of the fund’s investments would also be “partly channelled” through the state-owned Indonesia Battery Corp through co-investments, whether in the company, its owned assets, or with the IBC as a co-investor.
Apple’s China ‘decoupling’ in motion: makes overtures for Thai suppliers to make MacBooks
Tech giant Apple, in its pursuit of expanding its manufacturing footprint beyond China, is in talks with suppliers in Thailand to manufacture MacBooks there. The initial plan was for facilities to be set up in Vietnam, but Thai suppliers offered the alternative of building MacBooks in Thai plants, which still have untapped manufacturing capacity. Thailand has already been mass-producing Apple Watches for over a year. Zaf, are you working on any Apple upstream deals for Malaysia?
Also on Apple’s manufacturing diversification: More than USD7 billion worth of iPhones have been manufactured in India in the 2022 fiscal year. This marks 7% of global iPhone production, compared to India’s 1% stake in 2021. Apple has been looking to reduce its reliance on China-based production facilities due to the escalating tensions between the US and China.
Swiss parliament rejects Credit Suisse rescue package – The Swiss parliament rejected the plan for the government to provide USD121 billion in aid to banking crisis victim Credit Suisse. The aid made under emergency law cannot be overturned. The vote against the aid marks a symbolic gesture by the nation’s politicians, who were angered after the aid was approved and bypassed the nation’s legislature.
Ghana first to approve revolutionary malaria vaccine – Ghana leads the charge in approving a new malaria vaccine called R21 after its drug regulators assessed the final trial data on its safety and effectiveness. This puts the nation ahead of the World Health Organization, which is also considering approving the vaccine, which is expected to cost “a couple of dollars” per dose.
Read: Why did it take 35 years to get a Malaria vaccine?
China's recent export strength "due to suppliers catching up to Covid orders" – China’s recent surge in exports is likely from suppliers rushing to fill a backlog of orders during the nation’s Covid-19 crisis last year. Analysts also warn that the global demand outlook remains subdued, and the strong export growth of 14.8% in March is not sustainable moving forward.
Weekend read: Inside the Korean TV boom that has global streamers piling into Seoul
Squid Game, Extraordinary Attorney Woo, Kingdom - hits after hits. Netflix keeps churning out of South Korea. South Korea is the streaming giant’s single largest producer of hit series globally for Netflix outside of the US, attracting more than 60% of its customers to watch a Korean show last year, the company said. The company now spends nearly USD1 bil a year producing content in South Korea. And in March, The Glory tells the story of a woman seeking revenge against her bully from her childhood, shot up to be the seventh most-popular non-English TV release on Netflix ever (watch it - good (unconventional) plot, good acting!). A good read on how K-drama got on the global stage.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
We need the Terminator in Malaysia to fix our potholes. Arnold Schwarzenegger posted a video of himself taking matters into his own hands to fix a pothole after weeks of inaction by local authorities.
Our values, illustrated #deep
Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew, the founder of Country Heights Holdings Bhd, held a press conference to defend and share his side of the story on his bankruptcy issue. He claims he has plenty of tangible assets and non-tangible assets. The way he tells his story is somewhat entertaining.