Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ Malaysia is in the top 3 for cryonism-capital
Never ending story, plot of Unity Govt getting toppled. Klang Valley folks will have 8 more new malls to shop in 2023. Alibaba considers IPOing int'l commerce unit (Lazada, AliExpress, Alibaba.com).
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) raised the overnight policy rate (OPR) by 25 basis points to 3%, to the surprise of many. The move has returned the OPR to the pre-pandemic level, last seen in November 2019.
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
3rd — Malaysia’s ranking in The Economist magazine’s crony-capitalism index, which estimates how much plutocrats profited from rent-seeking industries. According to the magazine, crony capitalists’ wealth constitutes nearly 3% of global GDP now or USD3 trillion (RM13.37 trillion). There are 311 billionaires globally whose wealth is largely believed to be derived from sectors which often feature chummy dealings with the state. We can proudly say we beat our neighbour Singapore!
How committed are the tech firms to artificial intelligence? In their first-quarter earnings calls, the big four — Meta, Alphabet, Microsoft and Amazon — mentioned “AI” 168 times. Leading the pack with the highest number of AI mentions was Alphabet, with 64. How AI will revolutionise how we use their service remains to be seen. Exciting times are ahead!
Developers are ignoring the oversupply of net lettable area (NLA) as Klang Valley will see 8 new malls opening in 2023, adding 3.4 million sq ft of NLA. That’s equivalent to 57 football fields. However, in recently opened malls, the occupancy rate has yet to breach the 50% mark. The footfall in one mall was so bad that famous influencer Ceddy had to close his store after opening for only a few months.
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3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Political baby boomers Abdul Hadi and Tun Dr Mahathir team up
PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang said his party agreed to meet Tun Mahathir as they shared much common ground, including Malay unity. During the meeting, Abdul Hadi and several other PAS leaders signed Tun Mahathir’s ‘Malay People’s Proclamation’, a 12-point document claiming that the Malays never controlled the economy and has lost political control.
The meetup between Abdul Hadi and Tun Dr Mahathir has stirred up the rumour mill that the Opposition is trying to topple the Unity Government. Johor ruler, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, expressed concern over certain reports that some factions are plotting to destabilise the Unity Government. Sultan Ibrahim said that enough is enough and the 30 over million people cannot be held for ransom over this kind of threat to topple the Government. The Johor ruler said that the country need to be politically stable for the economy to recover. After the current King’s tenure ends next year, ceterus paribus, Sultan Ibrahim will be the next Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
On top of that, a credible source from within the Istana Negara has said that the Palace will not entertain any claim that PM Anwar Ibrahim has lost the majority support and any future attempt to change the Government will not happen through the Palace.
Plus, the current Unity Government will be intact for at least until May 14 as the King, Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, is in the United Kingdom for a special visit at the invitation of King Charles III to attend the Coronation Ceremony at Westminster Abbey.
Five officers of the Human Resources Ministry are sacked
According to a source within the ministry, five officers that worked directly under the Human Resources Minister V. Sivakumar had their contracts terminated, while another officer has been cold storage back to the Public Service Department. Previously, Sivakumar was in hot water as two of his aides were arrested by the MACC for an alleged scandal regarding foreign workers’ recruitment.
Hisyam Teh to lead Muhyiddin Yassin’s defence team
From his failed attempt to keep Najib Razak from going to jail, Hisyam Teh Poh Teik will now take charge of defending another former prime minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, regarding the Jana Wibawa scandal. Muhyiddin is currently facing multiple charges of power abuse and money laundering in relation to the Jana Wibawa scandal.
Regardless of the outcome of the trial, I think that Muhyiddin need not be ashamed of his alleged crimes, as Malaysia is a land that celebrates corruption. During his visit to Sabah, Deputy PM Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced that the MARA junior science college (MRSM) in Kota Kinabalu will be named after the former Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman. Zahid said that the new name for the MRSM is a tribute towards Musa Aman for establishing the MRSM. We have no issues crediting someone for his or her effort, but an allegedly corrupted politician should not be celebrated in any way. Musa Aman faced 46 corruption and money laundering charges, including allegedly abusing his power to approve logging concessions for 16 companies in return for USD50.1mil. Surprisingly, all 46 charges were
magically dropped by the prosecution in 2020.
Siti Bainun goes to jail for abusing Bella
The Sessions Court has ordered Siti Bainun to serve her 12-year jail term for neglecting and abusing a Down Syndrome teenager named Bella. Sessions Court Judge Izralizam Sanusi also decided that the jail sentence must start immediately after the judge had dismissed Siti Bainun’s application for a stay of execution on her sentence, citing that the defence team had not shown any exceptional circumstances that warranted a stay.
Anthony Loke outperforms Wee Ka Siong by miles (actually KMs)
Transport Minister Anthony Loke announced that the Government will extend MyEG Services Bhd’s contract to provide Road Transport Department (JPJ)-related online services by three years. However, the contract extension will be non-exclusive, so MyEg will be one of the service providers out of many. MyEG has extracted supernormal profits long enough from rakyat — see how wildly profitable the company has been over the years here. With the exception of 1 year, its net profit margin has been consistently above 43% since 2017. Net profit margin measures how much of every RM1 revenue a company keeps for itself.
Loke also told the media that JPJ will allow the renewal of driving licences for up to 10 years, doubling the current maximum renewal period of 5 years. Better yet, there is a buy 9 free 1 offer (10% discount) when you renew your driving licence for 10 years! Home Minister, we’re waiting for you to announce 10 years passport!
However, Loke hasn’t released one thing — where is the report on the LRT incident last year?
Putrajaya has announced that a dual 5G wholesale network model will be adopted, but the second 5G wholesale network will only be established once Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB) achieves 80% coverage of the populated area by the end of 2023. The rollout of 5G currently stands at 57.8%. No more monopoly.
Following the announcement by the Government, CelcomDigi Bhd decided to pull out from participating in the equity of DNB. With this, the company has terminated the agreements to subscribe to a 12.5% stake in DNB.
Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) plans to invest USD4.1bil to build a green hydrogen and ammonia plant in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The project has received the state government's clearance.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
‘Remarkable’ results of late-stage trial of Alzheimer’s drug
US pharmaceutical giant Eli Lily announced that its late-stage trial of nearly 1,200 people of its experimental drug, donanemab, slowed the progression of symptoms significantly by 35% over a period of 18 months compared with a placebo. Experts have hailed the results as “remarkable”, despite some patients suffering serious side effects. Almost a quarter of patients suffered side effects, including temporary swelling in the parts of the brain, with 1.6% suffering serious brain swelling and two deaths attributed to the condition. The company aims to get the US Food & Drug Administration approval by as early as year-end.
More than 55 mil people worldwide are living with dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease accounting for 80% of dementia cases. It’s one of the worse diseases to befall anyone and their family as the disease progressively destroys thinking and memory (image not being recognised by your loved ones).
The US banking crisis continues, and yet the Fed raises interest rate
4 regional banks have closed shop since March, falling victim to the Federal Reserve’s aggressive rate hikes. Not helping with the situation, the Fed raised interest by 25 basis points (0.25%) for the 10th consecutive time in 14 months since Mar 2022 - the benchmark overnight rate now ranges between 5% - 5.25%. The Fed signalled it may pause further hikes and assess the fallout from recent banking failures. Another two banks are now in the firing line of investors’ confidence — PacWest Bancorp and First Horizon both saw their share price plunge by 40% after separately announcing that their earlier strategic plans did not materialise.
Why is the Fed so adamant in increasing rates? To fight inflation and hopefully regain its credibility. The Fed in 2021 claimed that inflation was “transitory” but turned out to be completely wrong. Also, between inflation and a banking crisis, the Fed might have a false sense that it is in full control of the latter than the former with its money printing capabilities.
Alibaba to spin off international commerce unit in IPO
Following its announcement in March that it will break up its empire into six units, Alibaba is in the early stages of exploring a US IPO of its international commerce arm that houses its international sites such as Lazada, AliExpress, Trendyol, Daraz and Alibaba.com. This unit contributed USD9.5 bil or 7.2% to Alibaba’s group revenue of USD132.5 bil in its 2022 financial year. Analysts peg the valuation of this international arm between USD29 - 39 bil.
View infographic: Alibaba revenue breakdown by business units
Ronaldo & Messi in the news
Ronaldo - 2023 world’s highest-paid athlete
His transfer to Saudi club Al Nassr, ratcheting his annual salary by 2x to USD75 mil and off-field activities of USD90 mil, propelled Cristiano Ronaldo to be the world’s highest-paid athlete in 2023 with estimated earnings of USD136 mil, according to Forbes. In second place and third place are also footballers Lionel Messi (USD130 mil) and Kylian Mbappe (USD120 mil). Collectively, the top 10 athletes brought in earnings of USD1.11 bil. See the rest of the list and Forbes’ cover here.
Messi’s uncertain yet potentially wildly lucrative future
Messi’s 2-year contract with Paris St-Germain ends this summer with an option to extend another year, though he is unlikely to renew it as signalled by his lack of response and defying the club for travelling to Saudi Arabia (Messi is the nation’s tourism ambassador) without the club’s permission, which saw him getting a 2-week suspension. He is speculated to make a return to Barcelona. Messi has also received interest from Inter Miami in the US Major League Soccer and a jaw-dropping offer to play for Sauid’s Al-Hilal club — USD400 mil for just one year’s worth of work. If he accepts the offer, Messi will be back on top of the preceding Forbes list.
The corporate bully faces his karma - Carl Icahn, the corporate raider and activist investor, saw his empire taking a hit following a report by Hindenburg Research (familiar name?) that accused Icahn Enterprises LP (IEP of overvaluing its holdings and relying on “Ponzi-like” scheme to pay dividends. IEP, now worth USD11.5 bil, is down 35% since the report was released. Hindenburg is the same firm that exposed alleged funny business at Adani Group, the vehicle of Asia’s richest man (before it got shaken by Hindenburg), Gautam Adani and payment processing company Block Inc. founded by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.
Read Hindenburg’s report: Icahn Enterprises: The Corporate Raider Throwing Stones From His Own Glass House.
Two drones attacked and exploded at the Kremlin, the heart of Russia’s government in Moscow. Kremlin was quick to accuse Ukraine, then later the US for assisting Ukraine in this attack as an assassination attempt on Putin (Putin was not in the Kremlin during the attack). Defence and political analysts think it was a staged attack by the Russians as many facts didn’t line up - perfect imagery of the attack, the drones evading multiple layers of air defence surrounding the Kremlin, Kremlin’s “immediate, coherent and coordinated response”.
Bhutan, the Himalayan kingdom, through its investment arm Druk Holding & Investment together with Singapore-based Bitdeer, owned by a prominent crypto entrepreneur Jihan Wu, is seeking investors to raise USD500 mil to develop a green crypto mining industry by leveraging its abundant hydropower. Druk has explored mining Bitcoin since it was about USD5,000, which was around 2019-2020.
This week, we are doing it a bit differently - here’s your weekend reads:
How Tony Hsieh’s friends and family milked millions in his drug-fuelled final months — Tony Hsiesh is the co-founder of Zappos and the author of the seminal business book, Delivering Happiness.
No shortage of imposters at the Boston Marathon — even the marathon has its fake runners.
The inside story of Warren Buffett’s big Japan bet, over glasses of coke at Four Seasons — why Japanese conglomerates Mitsubishi Corp, Mitsui & Co., Sumitomo Corp, Itochu Corp and Marubeni Corp went to kiss the ring of the Oracle of Omaha.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Only in Malaysia, we need a Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) to solve traffic woes.
A surefire way to be miserable. Simple 9-minute guide by Mark Manson.