☕️ Muhyiddin - second PM in Malaysia's history to be charged with graft today
BNM maintains OPR at 2.75%. HWC Coffee MY to invest RM60 mil, opening 85 outlets. Money Heist: La Aeroporto - USD32.5 mil heist at Chile airport.
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1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
The reality of Wall-E may come sooner than expected as 51% of the world is on track to be overweight or obese by 2035, according to The World Obesity Federation’s 2023 atlas. This means more than 4 billion people will be overweight if no actions are taken to address the issue. There is also a cost to society — USD4 trillion annually by 2035. In Malaysia, 41% will be categorised as obese by 2035.
RM1.89 bil was spent by Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB) to roll out the 5G network in Malaysia as at end-2022. Are you feeling the 5G yet? 3,906 sites out of the 7,509 sites planned have been completed.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department's unprofessional mistake meant the late basketball player Kobe Bryant’s widow got USD29 mil in settlement from the county. The police shared graphic images of Kobe Bryan’s fatal helicopter crash three years ago. Mrs Bryant shared the names of four sheriff's deputies she said had distributed gratuitous photos of the dead children, parents, and coaches”, who had been travelling to a basketball game.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
When politicians don’t behave
Former PM Muhyiddin Yassin will be charged in court today in regard to the abuse of public funds related to the Jana Wibawa program. Yesterday, he presented himself at the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters in Putrajaya to record his statement. He was detained for about seven hours before being released on bail at 8.20 pm. During the 7-hour interrogation, according to the man himself, the former premier was questioned on two separate matters, which firstly was unsurprisingly related to the Jana Wibawa program. The second matter in contention was quite interesting as Muhyiddin was also queried about the tax exemption appeal by Syed Mokhtar Albukhary.
Prior to the brief detainment of Muhyiddin, PM Anwar Ibrahim stated that he was not the mastermind behind the MACC investigation against Muhyiddin and that the probe was not politically motivated. It makes sense as the current MACC commissioner and attorney-general were appointed by Muhyiddin himself.
The prosecution is appealing the High Court’s decision to acquit former PM Najib Razak and 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda in the 1MDB audit report tampering trial. Both of the men were freed by the court last Friday after the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case. In law, a prima facie case is one in which the evidence in favour of a party is sufficient to call for an answer from his opponent. Former Second Finance Minister and Titiwangsa MP Johari Abdul Ghani has been appointed to chair a special task force established to resolve issues related 1MDB.
Bukit Aman's Classified Crime Investigation Unit will investigate into PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang’s claims that Perikatan Nasional (PN) was attempting to overthrow the unity government. The police investigation was initiated following the police reports lodged by Amanah and Selangor PKR youth.
The Overnight Policy Rate remains at 2.75%
For those with mortgages, good news — no hike in monthly payments. Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) will maintain the current overnight policy rate (OPR) at 2.75% after the central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) concluded its meeting on Thursday. Some economists expect the raise to happen in the 2nd quarter of the year. If the US Federal Reserve hikes its rate again, most likely BNM has to follow suit.
Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli stated that the central bank can decide independently on the OPR rate without the interference of the Government. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the beauty of the monetary policy and fiscal policy, where one will be the check and balance for the other.
The Kulim Airport row
The issue started after PM Anwar Ibrahim’s Budget 2023 announcement, where the Subang and Penang airports have been prioritised at the expense of the proposed Kulim airport, which would cost RM7 bil. Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi was not happy, claiming that the state government had submitted proposals to various federal government agencies in 2020. Uh, who was ruling then? Transport Minister Anthony Loke responded that the project cannot be cancelled as you cannot cancel something that does not exist, as his ministry did not receive any proposal regarding the project.
On top of that, Sanusi also stated that he had sent two letters to PM Anwar in order for him to present the proposals for the project, but he has yet to receive any reply. Sanusi is confident that the Kulim Airport project can be developed using private money.
PM Anwar shut it down then and there and stated that Syed Mokhtar Albukhary, who received the proposal for the project, could not move forward to support the project as the RM7bil price tag was too steep.
Since there will be no special withdrawals from the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), PM Anwar Ibrahim has announced that EPF members can use the savings in their Account 2 as collateral for bank loans. Come on, who will this really benefit?
HWC Coffee Malaysia will open 35 stores nationwide this year, including the launch of a flagship store and a coffee academy, where both of which will be situated in the Klang Valley area - all in with an investment of RM25 mil. It will invest another RM35 mil in 2024 to open 50 stores, bringing it to a total of 85 by the end of next year. HWC claims to be Malaysia’s first speciality coffee chain. HWC Coffee Malaysia founder Hoe Kian Choon is also the founder and CEO of the highly successful Cuckoo Malaysia. Malaysia’s coffee market is projected to be USD1.46 bil (RM6.6 bil) this year, according to Marketresearch.com.
Loving the coffee competition in the scene. More options for caffeine addicts!
A more spectacular coffee chain expansion is under our global news section below.
Segue — Michael Pollan also has a few amazing documentaries on Netflix — my favourite is How To Change Your Mind (trailer here), where Pollan talks about the history and uses of psychedelics, including LSD, psilocybin, MDMA and mescaline.
Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd’s bankers’ favourite news — speculation of privatisation. Roughly 13 years ago (June 2010), the company went private. A little more than two years later (Oct 2010), the company went public again, raising USD1.5 bil. Then in 2018, there was news of privatisation again. It’s the year 2023, and the news of privatisation surfaces again. However, the company clarified that it has not received any privatisation proposal.
Legoland Malaysia Resort will spend RM40mil for routine maintenance and cleaning of the theme park, on top of the addition of new attractions to lure in more visitors. The refurbishment is timely as the theme park is more than 10 years old! It was opened in September 2012.
In collaboration with Financial Faiz
The nation’s leading personal finance influencer Financial Faiz together with Let's Jom Studio is organising a Personal Finance 101 class next week. The workshop, at just RM299, you will get to learn from industry professionals on budget management, credit card tricks and tips, tax management and much more. 44 more seats available — register here now.
Check out Financial Faiz’s YouTube page - a wealth of personal financial knowledge there. With 227k subscribers, it says something.
Note: The workshop will be primarily delivered in Bahasa Malaysia
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
‘Money Heist: La Aeroporto’ in Santiago, Chile
An attempted multimillion-dollar failed heist at the Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport in Santiago, the capital of Chile, had gone south, leading to a shootout that killed a robber and a security official. 10 to 12 robbers said by Chile’s Deputy Interior Minister Manuel Monslave to be “highly organised, highly armed and probably well-planned robbery” attacked airport workers who were moving USD32.5 mil (RM146.9 mil) cash off of a plane that arrived from Miami, US.
This wasn’t the first time the airport was a robbery target. In 2017, an armed group stole USD18 mil (RM81.4 mil) and three years later, a similar heist occurred from an armoured truck, robbing USD15 mil (RM67.8 mil). Must be plenty of moles in the airport.
FTX fallout - the current loser and winners
Silvergate, a crucial mainstream bank providing banking services to crypto businesses, has decided to voluntarily shut down following the crypto meltdown and FTX fallout. The bank reported a USD1 bil (RM4.52 bil) loss in the fourth quarter as investors raced to withdraw more than USD8 bil in deposits. Fortunately for the bank, it was able to meet the bank run as instead of tying deposits up in loans, the bank kept most of it in easy-to-liquidate securities. Unfortunately for the bank, the deluge of withdrawals had caused the bank to dump these securities resulting in a USD718 bil (RM3.2 bil) loss, far exceeding the bank’s total profit since 2013.
FTX alone accounted for USD1 bil of the bank’s deposits. US federal prosecutors are probing the bank and its dealings with FTX’s trading arm, Alameda Research. The bank, founded in 1988, focused on real estate deals but, in 2013, revamped its business model to serve the crypto industry, making it one of the rare banking institutions to provide its services to crypto firms. What a sending, demise caused by the crypto winter.
Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, has gained market share for the fourth consecutive month following the collapse of FTX, rising to 61.8% in February from 59.4% in January, with spot volumes of USD504 bil (RM2.28 tril), an all-time high market share for the exchange. Coming in at a distant second is Coinbase with a trading volume of USD39.9 bil (RM180.4 bil), Kraken in third position with USD19.3 bil (RM87.3 bil).
Good situation, bad situation — the lawyers will always stand to benefit somehow. Together with consultants and accountants, hundreds of them billed FTX USD38 mil (RM171.8 mil) just for the month of January alone, based on court records.
The return of Luckin Coffee founder and the insane expansion of Cotti Coffee - 1,300 stores in 5 months
Talk about a comeback - launched in Oct 2022, the value-focused coffee chain is averaging 8.7 new outlets opening daily across 181 Chinese cities, including opening 80 outlets in one three-day period. The company previously announced plans to reach 10,000 stores across China by the end of 2025.
Cotti Coffee was founded by Luckin Coffee’s founder Jenny Qian and its then-chairman and angel investor, Charles Lu. Both were axed from the company following an accounting scandal that saw Luckin’s sales inflated by USD310 mil (RM1.4 bil). At their peak, they both were worth a combined USD4.2 bil (RM19 bil).
Luckin Coffee has recovered and reversed its fortune under its new leadership and is now China’s largest coffee chain with over 8,200 outlets, far ahead of Starbucks, which reportedly had 6,090 stores as of the end Jan 2023 in China. Starbucks plans to hit 9,000 outlets by 2025. Luckin reported its first full-year profit in 2022 - RMB1.1 bil (RM713 mil) on revenue of RM13.3 bil (RM8.6 bil).
Read: Fall from grace: Luckin Coffee’s former billionaire CEO fired amid fraud scandal
An Indonesian court has sentenced two football match officials to prison terms after finding them guilty of negligence in the stadium stampede back in October 2022 that killed 135 people in one of the world’s deadliest sporting disasters. The match organiser was sentenced to 1.5 years in jail and the stadium security official to 1 year.
World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is in talks with state gambling regulators in Colorado and Michigan to legalise betting on high-profile, scripted matches. WWE is working with Ernst & Young to convince regulators that there’s no chance of results leaking to the public. PwC and EY have historically worked with award shows, like the Academy Awards (aka Oscars) and Emmys, to keep results secret. Interestingly, in the US, one can bet on the Oscars’ results, which is legal. What are the odds like for Michelle Yeoh’s Everything Everywhere All At Once?
Weekend read: How universities became giant piggy banks for hedge fund billionaires
Universities have endowment funds — contributed by alums and invested by the universities to generate funds to finance the universities’ expenditures and provide affordable access to education for students. Over time, these endowments have strayed from their objectives due to growing financialisation - they are behaving more and more like a profit-seeking entity and, with hundreds of billions, becoming a juicy target for Wall Street. Research showed that the growing hedge fund-like nature of endowments has actually made affordability worse for students.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
A huge fire at a 42-storey high-rise building under construction in the Kowloon district, Hong Kong. Giving vibes of the Dark Knight.
A rare snow tornado following after hailstorm caught on video
Sorry, no earth-related content to complete the reference to the band’s name. But here’s our thread on al-ikhsan Sports, the nation’s largest sports retailer. Read about its overnight success that took 30 years to grow into nearly RM500 mil in annual sales.