Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ Ipsos study: 4 in 10 Malaysians find it not the right time to focus on climate actions given tough economic conditions
Japanese brewer Kirin to acquire vitamins maker Blackmores for USD1.24 bil. John Wick bulletproof suit in real life - is it possible? Football legend Pele now a dictionary adjective, to mean "unique"
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
Fintechs aren’t the only ones gunning for the banks. It turns out Apple is, too. USD1.9 billion — the estimate of Apple’s revenue from Apple Pay in the company’s most recent fiscal year, according to Visible Alpha. E-commerce sales in the U.S. tracked by Salesforce showed that Apple Pay transaction volume grew 62% in the 2022 holiday season versus the prior year. Bernstein analyst Harshita Rawat expects Apple Pay could potentially be able to be used for about 30% of e-commerce payments. Apple Pay had just been introduced in Malaysia last year.
290 million child brides in South Asia, accounting for 45% of the global total, according to new estimates released by UNICEF. Financial pressures and school closures due to COVID-19 were the main contributing factors. Many parents across Bangladesh, India and Nepal saw marriage as the best option for daughters who had limited opportunities to study during COVID lockdowns.
What would you do with RM2.23 million (USD500,000)? Most people would buy a house, purchase nice cars, AND make investments. Not this Chinese gamer, who splurged over USD500,000 to buy a weapon skin and custom knife on the first-person shooter game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO).
“Never forget the six-foot-tall man who drowned crossing the stream that was five feet deep on average. It’s not sufficient ... to survive on average. We have to survive on the bad days.”
— Howard Marks, a billionaire investor in distressed securities. Warren Buffett once said if he sees memos from Marks in his mail, it would be the first thing he opens and reads. Collection of Howard Marks’ memo here.
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3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Opposition MPs to get funding from Unity Government
Deputy PM Zahid Hamidi told the media that Putrajaya agreed in principle to provide allocations for Opposition MPs, but just enough to cover their respective administrative expenses. Deputy PM Fadillah Yusof leads the discussions with the Opposition MPs and a final announcement on the allocation will be made by PM Anwar Ibrahim.
One thing that Malaysia will not run out of — is corruption court cases
In Bung Moktar and his wife’s RM2.8 mil corruption charges, the prosecution had submitted a preliminary objection against the duo’s appeal over the Sessions Court decision that the pair needed to enter their defence. The corruption charges that the husband and wife faced are related to the inducement received by them to obtain Felcra’s approval to invest RM150 mil in Public Mutual unit trusts in 2019.
A jury in the Washington Federal Court had convicted Grammy winner rapper Prakazrel “Pras” Michel for conspiring with Malaysian businessman Jho Low to influence the administrations of then-presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump. It was reported earlier that Jho Low paid Michel USD20 mil to get a photo with former US President Barack Obama.
A kid died from the heat in Kelantan
An 11-year-old boy died due to a heat stroke in Bachok, Kelantan. Based on the autopsy done on the child, it was discovered that the kidneys and heart of the boy were ‘burnt’, absence of any water and blood. The weather hasn’t been the most forgiving lately. Hydrate up.
Many Malaysians are almost indifferent to climate change
According to a survey conducted by research house Ipsos for Earth Day 2023, it was found that 4 in 10 Malaysians think it is not the right time to focus on climate action, given tough economic conditions. A third of Malaysians think that the negative impact of climate change is too far off in the future for any of us to worry about, higher than the global country average of 23%.
Climate change is real and not fake news. In a forecast made using global climate models, it was forecasted that climate change could increase the temperature of Malaysia by up to 2.6°C. Imagine daytime temperatures of 40°C. According to the Malaysian Meteorological Department, a heat wave in Malaysia is defined as when the maximum daily temperature exceeds 37 degrees Celsius for 3 consecutive days.
Raya goodies for the military
Navy Chief Admiral Abdul Rahman Ayob stated that the reconstruction of the littoral combat ships (LCS) will begin three months after the imminent signing of the sixth supplemental agreement. At the moment, the agreement is being finalised by the Ministry of Defence. Previously, the shipbuilder of the LCS, Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd (BNS), was in hot water after it was found out that no ships were delivered for the RM9bil project, even though Putrajaya had paid RM6.08 bil to BNS. Until now, not many heads have rolled in this scandal - what’s up with the investigations?
On top of that, Rahman also stated that a new fleet of Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) helicopters will phase out the current fleet of Super Lynx Mk100 helicopters. However, the new choppers will only start to be inducted into the Navy’s fleet starting in 2026, thus, temporary solutions in the form of leasing suitable helicopters are being explored at this moment. Italy’s Learnado AW159 maritime helicopter is one of the rumoured choppers to replace the Super Lynx helicopters.
Genting Malaysia Bhd rose as high as 3% following the announcement of its divestment of 15.47 acres of land in Miami for RM5.43 bil. No new special dividend will be given by Genting as the capital gains from this sale have already been earmarked for other investment purposes.
Axiata Group Bhd’s fintech unit, Boost Holdings Sdn Bhd, is mulling over the possibility of raising up to RM445.95 mil via a new funding round to finance the expansion of its digital banking operations. A consortium of Boost and RHB Bank Bhd was among five groups that won digital bank licences from Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) last year.
Japanese Mitsui & Co Ltd had acquired 23% of LGMS Bhd’s shares, with the former now controlling 25% of the latter. LGMS is a cybersecurity firm listed on the ACE Market. The purchase by Mitsui is believed to be motivated by an intention to expand LGMS’ presence throughout the Asia-Pacific region. LGMS can brag that Warren Buffett is an investor in the company - indirectly, at least. Buffett, via Berkshire Hathaway, has a 6.6% stake in Mitsui & Co.
While one company is expanding, another one is paring down. Parkson Holdings Bhd’s Vietnam unit, Parkson Vietnam Co Ltd, had filed a bankruptcy application to the Vietnamese court. Parkson Vietnam, a 67.96%-owned subsidiary of Parkson Holdings Bhd has been operating at a loss for a while and the pandemic has amplified the losses suffered by the company. Parkson Holdings Bhd itself isn’t doing too well - sales have been declining, recorded a loss of RM126.2 mil in its financial year 2022, and reported annual losses in 4 out of the past 5 years.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
More Chinese Yuan > USD cross-border transactions in China for the first time
The yuan became the most widely-used currency for cross-border transactions in China in March, overtaking the USD for the first time, reflecting the government’s effort to internationalise the yuan. Cross-border payments and receipts rose to a record USD549.9 bil in March, of which 48.4% of all transactions was in yuan, whilst the dollar’s share fell to 46.7%.
However, on a global level, the yuan’s use in global trade finance paints a different picture. According to SWIFT, the USD is still the preferred currency, accounting for 83.7% of global trade finance transactions, whilst the yuan only accounted for 4.5%.
US debt ceiling raised by USD1.5 tril
Debt is like drugs — hard to cut back, and more is needed. The US raised its debt ceiling for the 79th time by USD1.5 tril from its current USD31.4 tril federal debt ceiling, as the Republican-led House of Representatives narrowly passed the bill by 217 to 215 — it still needs to be passed by the Senate, which is Democrat-controlled. The bill includes slashing government spending, some championed by Democratic President Joe Biden and stands little chance of passing by the Senate.
If the debt ceiling is not increased, the federal government will default on its loan, hitting confidence in the USD. As of the end Dec 2022, the US government debt accounted for 123.4% of the US GDP. According to a study by Hirschman Capital, it found that out of 52 cases of govt debt above 130% of GDP since 1800, 51 governments have defaulted. The only exception is Japan, which is the largest creditor in the world. The US holds the opposite title — the world’s largest debtor nation in absolute terms.
Explained: What is the US debt ceiling and what happens if it isn’t raised?
Vitamin, EV Deals
Japanese brewer Kirin will acquire Australian vitamins maker Blackmores for AUD1.88 bil (USD1.24 bil) in an all-cash transaction as it diversifies away from its alcohol business and expands its health science business. The deal is supported by Marcus Blackmores, the firm’s founder's son, who has an 18% stake.
Kirin, which makes half its sales from alcoholic drinks, is experiencing declining demand for beer in its home country, given lifestyle changes so much so the Japanese government launched a nationwide competition last year calling for ideas to encourage people to drink more as tax revenue from alcohol shrunk considerably to 1.7% of total tax revenue in 2020 from 5% in 1980.
Vietnamese EV maker VinFast announced it will raise USD2.5 bil in fresh funding. The company, a part of Vietnam’s largest conglomerate Vingroup, started operations in 2019 and is gearing up to enter the US market. The funding signals a new delay to its planned listing in the US.
Founder Pham Nhat Vuong (USD4.1 bil net worth according to Forbes), Vietnam’s richest man, will provide a USD1 bil grant (not loan, not equity but grant - how generous), and parent company Vingroup will provide also a USD500 mil grant and a USD1 bil loan. Check out their cars here - looks quite decent.
Peru, the unlikeliest top 3 producers of blueberries in the world
South American nation Peru, in a short span of a decade, has emerged as the world’s third-largest producer of blueberries, behind only China and the US as it sold more than USD1.36 bil worth of blueberries last year and now exports about 270,000 tonnes of blueberries a year. Blueberries require cold weather, but in Peru, blueberry farms have cropped up along the hot, coastal region. The blueberry variety Biloxi was found to be able to thrive in such regions.
During the 2010s, Peruvian blueberries were lucrative as the nation’s production filled the supply gap from September to November, given different harvesting cycles around the world. The relatively stable weather of the Peruvian coast allows for harvest all year round. Peruvian blueberries could fetch as much as USD15 per kg, compared to USD3-4 per kg for US blueberries in August. Prices now have normalised around USD5 per kg.
Football legend Pele officially now an adjective, a word in dictionary
Portugese-language Michaelis dictionary has added “pele” as a new adjective to its online edition to mean “exceptional, incomparable, unique”. This inclusion came after a campaign by the Pele Foundation to honour the Brazilian football star that gathered more than 125,000 signatures. Considered one of the greatest footballers, he has scored a record 1,281 goals and won the World Cup 3 times. Pele died in December last year from colon cancer.
Weekend read: How to break your toxic infinite scroll habit on TikTok
If you find yourself scrolling through social media mindlessly, ought to read this article. Learn how to stop this doom-scrolling habit and find a zen way of consuming content.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
If you’re a fan of Jake Gyllenhaal, you should absolutely watch his episode on Hot Ones. IMO, Hot Ones is one of the best shows on YouTube, and Jake was an entertaining guest.
YouTuber Hacksmith Industries spent a whole year trying to make John Wick’s bulletproof suit in real life - seems possible.
The Raya celebration continues over this long weekend. We are off on Monday for Labour Day hols and will be back on Tuesday. Meanwhile, anyone wants to share some Raya Rendang with us?