Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ MACC launched an investigation into a RM399 mil project involving Petronas and a foreign O&G company
LCS: paying more, getting less. Binance partners Thai energy tycoon, gets first SEA license from Thailand. The US debt limit saga - a deal made “in principle”.
Hope you had a good weekend! We hope your communications and comprehension still remain intact, unlike this.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
In the coveted enclave of Malibu’s premium domain, music moguls Jay-Z and Beyoncé have recently secured a remarkable architectural masterpiece—an awe-inspiring abode spanning an expansive 30,000 square feet for a whooping USD200 mil. It’s also the second most expensive real estate deal in the US — the top being USD238 million for an NYC apartment.
RM11.2 bil — the cost of building five littoral combat ships (LCS) and the number of units have been reduced to five from the initial six. The original contract cost amounted to RM9.13 bil for six ships. That’s a 46.4% increase over the original cost per ship basis. The kicker — the first delivery is slated for August 2026, a delay of seven years and four months. Ministry of Finance (MOF) has established a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to take over the company responsible, Boustead Naval Shipyard, for the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) construction project as a subsidiary. PM Anwar Ibrahim said the government has no choice but to see the project to completion. This is shrinkflation at play on a massive scale.
The John Wick franchise has achieved a monumental milestone as it surpasses the impressive mark of USD1 bil at the global box office as the latest chapter, Chapter 4, reigned in USD425 million and counting. There will also be a miniseries about how Winston Scott (played by Ian McShane in the movies) came to own and operate The Continental Hotel in the 1970s.
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3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
MACC didn’t open papers on claims by Anwar Ibrahim that PN took money from gambling companies
Law and institutional reform minister Azalina Othman Said in a written parliamentary reply to Ahmad Fadhli Shaari (PN-Pasir Mas), said the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had conducted a detailed investigation but didn’t open any investigation papers as the information was very general and no parties were able to confirm it. Azalina reiterated while no papers were opened, it doesn’t mean the case has been dropped.
PM Anwar Ibrahim, who implied that Perikatan Nasional had used gambling money to fund its 2022 election campaign, said the claims are not baseless.
Petronas is being investigated by MACC
The commission confirmed it opened an investigation into a RM399 mil project involving Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) and a foreign oil-and-gas company. MACC has found several weaknesses in practices, systems, and work procedures regarding the issue. The commission did not identify the target of its investigation or name the foreign firm involved in the project.
Petronas, in a statement to Reuters, said the investigation had not found any wrongdoing by Petronas nor its employees and directors.
Unity Government buttering up the South
Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli revealed that discussions had taken place among the state, federal, and Singapore governments regarding establishing a Johor-Singapore economic region to strengthen the state’s economic potential. However, the proposal has to be raised up to the Cabinet meeting before being discussed at the Malaysia-Singapore Joint Ministerial Committee for Iskandar Malaysia (JMCIM) Annual Meeting, which is expected to be held in mid-July.
Rafizi added that Johor has the potential to be the biggest beneficiary from the country’s focus on the energy transition sector due to its proximity to Singapore.
BNM: Economies need to brace for another round of rough currency markets
Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) has stated that the Malaysian ringgit’s performance will improve once uncertainties stemming from global market developments diminish. This positive trajectory will mirror the country's robust economic fundamentals, according to the central bank. BNM said the movements in the ringgit would continue to be market-determined and it would continue to manage the risks.
Will Telegram be banned in Malaysia? Not yet.
Telegram doesn’t want to cooperate with the Communications and Digital Ministry because it does not want to participate in “any form of political censorships”. Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil said the government is considering taking action against Telegram after numerous complaints about the messaging platform and the platform’s resistance to cooperating. Fahmi cited a specific complaint made by the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA), which involved the sale of points on the platform to doctors.
One of the five recently sacked officers from the Human Resources Ministry was previously fired 15 years ago by DAP MP M Kulasegaran due to alleged misconduct. Kulasegaran expressed surprise at the officer's reappointment but stated that it is premature to remove the current Human Resources Minister, V Sivakumar until wrongdoing is confirmed by the MACC.
Kinabalu Geopark has been granted recognition by UNESCO as the second global geopark in Malaysia after Langkawi, which was recognised in 2007. With this prestigious acknowledgement, Sabah Parks put Malaysia with several countries that have earned the title “Triple Crown” — World Heritage Site (WHS), Man and the Biosphere (MAB) and UNESCO Global Geopark (UGGp).
Malaysian shuttlers gave their all at the Malaysian Masters final at the Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil on Sunday and cliched the 2nd spot for the Men’s doubles and Women’s doubles categories. Congratulations, Man Wei Chong-Tee Kai Wun (Men’s doubles) and Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah (Women’s doubles). Watch Pearly Tan-M-Thinaah’s impressive 211 Rally Shot during the 2nd round last week!
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
200,000 Palestinians lose UN food aid
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) earlier May announced in a statement that effective June, around 200,000 people, or almost 60% of the beneficiaries in Palestine, will no longer be receiving food assistance due to severe funding shortage. A beneficiary shared that her family has been receiving food vouchers for the past year and a half from the WFP worth USD108 per month to cover their basic food needs.
The WFP has already cut cash assistance by 20% in the month, and by August, the agency will be forced to suspend operations in the West Bank and Gaza if no funding is received. The agency needs USD51 mil (RM243.7 mil)in funding to maintain its aid in Palestine until the end of the year. It is estimated that 1.84 mil or 35% of the Palestinian population did not have enough food. Funny how the West has plenty of funds to provide military aid but not humanitarian aid.
Sony learning from Marvel — to make 10 live-action PlayStation adaptations
Sony took on Marvel’s playbook by releasing two game adaptions - Uncharted (featuring Mark Wahlberg, Tom Holland) and The Last Of Us — with huge success. Further inspired by Nintendo’s success with The Super Mario Bros (grossed >USD1 bil in global box office sales), Sony has greenlighted at least 10 live-action movies and TV series from its popular PlayStation franchises. Why it took Sony so long to make such a move? Fear from past failure might be the answer. The company actually did release the Final Fantasy movie in 2001, but it turned out to be a flop. Perhaps, rather a good timing to leverage on its game franchise as the world is facing superhero fatigue. Sony must be salivating at the potential — the 31 movies from the Marvel Cinematic Universe made USD28 bil at the global box office. Check out the games owned by Playstation here.
Binance gets first Southeast Asian license from Thailand
The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange Binance announced that its 49-51 joint venture with Gulf Inova Co., Ltd has received a digital asset operator license from the Ministry of Finance of Thailand and is expected to launch in Q4 2023. Gulf Inova is the fintech arm of Gulf Energy, one of Thailand’s largest private power producers controlled by billionaire Sarath Ratanavadi (estimated net worth of USD11.7 bil by Forbes). Gulf Energy had earlier invested USD20 mil for a 0.4% stake in Binance’s US operations.
Local exchange Bitkub dominates the Thai market with a 75.4% market share. Siam Commercial Bank, Thailand’s oldest bank, had made an offer to acquire 51% of Bitkub for THB17.85 bil (USD500 mil) but subsequently scrapped the deal due to unresolved regulatory issues.
The US debt limit saga — deal made “in principle”
US President Joe Biden and House Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy reported achieved a deal “in principle”, days before 5 June, when the government is estimated to run out of resources to satisfy its obligations. The debt ceiling will be raised from its current USD31.4 tril for two years and cap spending. No surprises here, according to experts, as they said negotiations were “political shows”.
Though this is good news, the heavy intervention of central planners (i.e. Federal Reserve) has turned the US into a series of continuous financial mess. As the debt ceiling will be raised, new bond issuance estimated to be USD1.1 tril will be raised in the next 7 months, which could suck liquidity out of the market and make funding more expensive for companies.
The FBI newly released documents showed a potential assassination plot on Queen Elizabeth II’s 1983 visit to the US. The threat was made by a man who was seeking revenge for his daughter, who was killed in Northern Ireland. Her visit was made during heightened tensions amid The Troubles in Northern Ireland.
Singaporean authorities have approved the sale of Solein, a protein ‘made from air’. The protein powder, which resembles turmeric and tastes like a nutty mix of cashew and almond, is produced from air, water and electricity and microbes by Finnish startup Solar Foods. The method is similar to brewing beer, but instead of sugar, the microbes feed on nitrogen and CO2.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
It’s all about films today
Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his appointment as Netflix’s Chief Action Officer (CAO) in action style — he flew in a tank he owns from Austria and ran the massive tank over a Mercedes Benz parked in front of Netflix’s California HQ. Not exactly sure what his role entails. This announcement is in conjunction with the release of FUBAR (trailer here), Netflix’s latest action series featuring Schwarzenegger. What’s FUBAR? Definition here — you can guess what the first two letters stand for.
There were 3 Malaysian films ever invited to Cannes before Amanda Nell Eu’s Tiger Stripes. Check it out:
Kaki Bakar (1995) by U-Wei Saari
Karaoke (2009) by Chris Chong Chan Fui
Malaysians seem to be on a streak in the film industry. After Michelle Yeoh and Amanda Nell Eu’s success, Horologist is set to become the first Malaysian animated short film to premiere at the San Diego Comic-Con this July. Horologist is the brainchild of filmmaker Jared Lee and through a grant from MDEC, which he didn’t misappropriate to buy properties or go on luxury holidays, he turned his original idea from a manga into this animated short film. Looking forward to watching it! Horologist was also selected for the Cannes Film Festival’s Short Film Corner.