- The Coffee Break
- ☕️ Jho Low paid USD20 mil (RM88.8 mil) just to get a picture taken with Barack and Michelle Obama
☕️ Jho Low paid USD20 mil (RM88.8 mil) just to get a picture taken with Barack and Michelle Obama
No such thing as free lunch - 'free' toll to cost govt RM93 mil. India > China - world's most populous country. Indonesia's aquatech startup eFishery set to be next unicorn.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
USD20 mil (RM88.8 mil) — the price fugitive Jho Low paid to Grammy-award-winning rapper Pras Michel to arrange for Jho Low to take a photo with President Barack Obama in 2012, Michel told jurors at his illegal-lobbying trial. Whilst Jho Low got his photoshoot, his father Larry Lau Hock Peng, had the chance to sit next to Obama at one point. Malaysians essentially just sponsored the most-expensive casual photo ever taken.
The largest clinical trial of stem cell therapy that spanned five years from 2014 to 2019 in patients with heart failure (n=565, ages 18-80) found that a single administration of adult stem cells directly into an inflamed heart could lead to a long-term 58% reduced risk of heart attack or stroke among heart failure patients. Heart failure is when the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. Read the published study here.
On Wednesday, the United Nations’ World Population Dashboard crowned India as the world’s most populous nation with a population of 1.4286 bil, slightly ahead of China’s 1.4257 bil. China’s numbers do not account for Hong Kong and Macau. In 2022, India welcomed 23 mil babies whilst China’s population shrunk for the first time in 6 decades, as it saw only 9.56 mil newborns last year. View: UN World Population Dashboard
No such thing as free lunch - the toll-free travel announced by the government will cost RM93 mil to be paid to highway concessionaires, according to Deputy Finance Minister I Ahmad Maslan.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Court matters: Muhyddin to strike out charges, paranormal being taking the stand
Former PDF PM Muhyiddin Yassin has filed a motion to strike out the four counts of power abuse he was charged with and also seeking acquittal and discharge of these offences. He previously claimed these charges were political persecution against him. Along with the motion filed, he seeks to delay the criminal proceedings until this application is heard. To recap, the charges alleged that as the PM and Bersatu president, he had received RM232.5 mil in briefs from corporate entities and an individual. Read Muhyiddin’s justification here for striking out the charges.
A former lecturer and independent election candidate in the 2018 Port Dickson by-election was charged with the murder of her husband. She caused a stir when she addressed the court and claimed that it was her murdered husband that was speaking. The husband speaking via his “possessed” wife told the court that his wife did not kill him and that he was fated to die. The judge played the situation well, telling the accused (or her husband) to wait for her trial to commence before making statements.
Immigration Dept busts children trafficking syndicate to EuropeChild trafficking is a lucrative business — for each child that obtains a passport and is escorted to Europe, the syndicate will be paid between EUR30k-50k (RM145.9k - RM243.2k), according to a preliminary investigation by the Immigration Department. Immigration detected discrepancies when a local husband and wife brought a child to obtain a passport, but the child failed to communicate in BM and had distinct facial differences from the suspects.
The syndicate’s modus operandi: parents will be convinced to bring the birth certificates of their 12-year-old child to the Immigration office to apply for a passport. At the counter, the child that will be smuggled will be fingerprinted and a photograph taken instead. The couple will act as a ‘transporter’ and bring the child to Sri Lanka using a Malaysian passport.
Authorities are investigating how long this syndicate has been operating and how many children were involved.
A more meaningful Raya for some prisoners
Under the Madani Ihsan Licensed Release of Prisoners program, PM Anwar announced that more than 1,000 prisoners would be released early so that they can celebrate Raya with their respective families. This early or licensed release is in accordance with Section 43 of the Prisons Act and is eligible for those sentenced to less than one year of imprisonment and served one-third of their sentence, underwent prison rehabilitation programs and had a guarantor to provide a place to live and a job.
Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, has granted a royal pardon to Indonesian Jamil Arshad, who is the longest-serving prisoner, having spent 40 years in jail. Jamil fulfilled the Pardons Board’s condition and would be returning to his hometown in Sembawa, Indonesia, indefinitely. Previously in 1983, Jamil was sentenced to life in prison under Section 5 of the Firearms Act.
Father vs Daughter: Supermax board room fightCecile Jaclyn Thai, the daughter of big four glovemaker Supermax Corp Bhd executive chairman and major shareholder Stanley Thai, claimed she quit as the group’s non-executive director as she experienced “bullying and silencing” from other board members, including her father, whilst trying to uphold her fiduciary duties.
In her resignation letter, which has been confirmed to be authentic, she claimed there were concerted efforts by the company’s board “to act against corporate governance practices, punish dissent and silent transparency”, leading to her decision to step down.
Things took a turn in Nov 2021 when her father stated his intention to remove her from the board following her opposition to his proposed purchase of a new aircraft for USD47.39 mil (RM210.5 mil) to replace one that was acquired a year prior. The company has responded and refuted all her points in the resignation letter.
Stanley cofounded the company with his wife Cheryl Tan and has a stake of 38.38% in the group, worth about RM940 mil at the current market cap of RM2.45 bil.
Who are the other directors of Supermax - here’s the list and their profiles.
Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT) has acquired a 7% stake in AHAM Asset Management Bhd from Nikko Asset Management International Ltd, though the price tag was not disclosed. To recap, private equity giant CVC Capital Partners acquired a 68.35% stake in AHAM for RM1.54 bil middle of last year, valuing the company at RM2.25 bil. Assuming the valuation remains the same, LTAT would have paid RM157.5 mil for the 7% stake. No worries in funding — LTAT sold a 4.95% stake in Affin Bank last week for RM221.74 mil to the State Financial Secretary Sarawak. Fun fact: CVC Capital Partners also owns Nirvana Asia, Asia’s largest funeral services firm, after acquiring it back in 2016 for USD1.1 bil. Nirvana was founded in Malaysia and listed in Hong Kong in 2014.
Malaysian biotechnology firm ALPS Global Holding Bhd will invest RM13.3 mil for a 85% stake in South African medical cannabis company Cilo Cybin Holdings Ltd as part of its plan to list in Johannesburg by mid-year and with plans to list on Nasdaq towards the end of the year. Cilo Cybin is the first South African company to win the right to grow, process and package cannabis goods. Check out their site here - see the cannabis products for sale.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Lies have consequences: Fox settles Dominion defamation for USD787.5 millionFox News has settled the defamation lawsuit from voting machine firm Dominion Voting Systems for USD787.5 million, in conclusion to Fox repeatedly airing news about ex-US President Donald Trump’s allegations about voting machines and software flipping votes to give contender Joe Biden the win in the weeks following the 2020 election. The last-minute settlement saw Dominion accepting the offer, even though it comes to less than half of the initial USD1.6 billion in damages Dominion sought.
While the payout from Fox is reportedly one of the biggest ever financial settlements in a defamation case, the news agency will not lose too much. The payout pales in comparison to the numbers Fox News parent Fox Corporation has in its portfolio: USD1.23 billion in net income for the 2022 fiscal year, cash reserves of around USD4 billion, and the USD17.6 billion fortune of controlling stakeholders Rupert Murdoch and family. However, a senior media executive has shared that the fee will likely be handled by insurance, meaning Fox may even come out unscathed.
Still, the settlement is a big win for Dominion controlling stakeholder, private equity firm Staple Street Capital Group, compared to the USD38.3 million they paid to acquire 76.2% of Dominion in 2018. Even with the math of taxes and legal fees, this still represents an ROI of over 20x for Staple Street. What a way to ROI on an investment.
Netflix: Growth challenges and no more DVDsWhile Netflix’s earnings for the first quarter of 2023 exceeded Wall Street expectations, the company is predicting weaker growth moving forward, primarily due to its challenges. The firm reported USD8.16 billion in revenue, a 3.7% YoY growth.
Read: Q1 2023 letter to shareholders
The firm will expand its solution to password-sharing over the coming months across selected countries in a bid to increase subscriber numbers, paired with the offering of an ad-supported, lower-cost streaming option. However, this saw only 1.75 million new subscribers for the quarter, below analyst expectations of 2.06 million.
Also, Netflix will be abandoning its roots, announcing it will be ending its DVD service in September. The firm began with a DVD shipping service to customers in the US in 1998, with the streaming service only launching in 2007.
Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph took to Linkedin to share their encounter with its now-dead rival Blockbuster in the early 2000s. Netflix offered Blockbuster to acquire the company for USD50 mil — clearly, it didn’t happen. Today, Netflix is worth USD143 bil.
Indian all-electric startup steps up to challenge UberIndian ride-hailing startup BluSmart is looking to take on Uber and Ola for a slice of the Indian ride-hailing market by fielding an all-electric taxi fleet with a campaign to pull disgruntled users from competitors. The startup aims to grow its fleet to 14,000 vehicles next year and 100,000 in five years.Considering the clean energy campaign by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration, this places the startup in an advantageous position against the dominant players. A full shift to electric vehicles will definitely be a significant undertaking for Uber and Ola, who are already facing driver retention and customer satisfaction issues. India’s ride-hailing market is currently worth USD13.4 bil, with a penetration of about 7%, leaving the already lucrative market largely untapped.
Indonesian fish startup may just be Softbank's latest unicornSoftbank-backed Indonesian startup eFishery is reportedly in advanced talks for a funding round that would increase its valuation to USD1.2 bil. Sources say the funding round could be led by the 42XFund – backed by Abu Dhabi royal Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s artificial intelligence firm G42. The size of the funding round is subject to change as negotiations are still ongoing, but the influx would boost the startup to unicorn status among Indonesia’s startups at a time when tech startups around the world are struggling for funding.
T. Rex skeleton going rate? USD6.2 mil – A T. Rex skeleton was recently auctioned in Europe, ultimately sold to a private individual for USD6.2 million. While this may not be the highest-ever sale for such a specimen, it remains rare. Notable is that more than half of the skeleton, named 293 Trinity, is made up of real bones, “a relatively high percentage” compared to most other auctioned skeletons, which have more casts or replacements.
Trump's first act after 2-year Instagram hiatus? Selling NFTs – Trump marks his return to Instagram after a two-year hiatus to sell NFTs of himself. This marks his second set of trading cards, going at USD99 per piece. His first set was sold in December, pulling in over USD1 million. Check out his IG page here.
Man City plans USD372.6 mil Etihad Stadium expansion – Manchester City has applied for an expansion of Etihad Stadium to add about 7,000 new seats, a covered fan zone, a club shop, a museum, and a 400-bed hotel. The expansion will see an investment of USD372.6 mil- this amount can build TWO new Stadium Shah Alams at RM787 mil (USD177.2 mil) a pop, with spare change to boot.
Long read: Take in the Good
Made a silly mistake at work? Accidentally said something you shouldn’t? Don’t make a too big fuss out of it. Instead, take in the good things in life that have happened to you throughout the day. Notice the good events.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
‘Floating crosswalks’ in Iceland to slow down speeding cars.
Selamat Hari Raya folks!
We will observe the public holiday announced by the PM, so we will be off tomorrow (21 April) and Monday (24 April).
To our Muslim readers, Selamat Hari Raya!