Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ New King incoming - to be announced today
LRT, MRT to fully adopt open payment system by Aug '25. Ukraine formed a battalion of all Russians to fight Russia. Study: Tai chi helps to slow down Parkinson's disease symptoms
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
The flow of inbound foreign direct investment has significantly declined in China, with just USD4.9 bil in the second quarter, marking a 94% drop from the same period in 2021, according to Nomura. Furthermore, foreign venture capital investment in China also saw a sharp decrease, with only USD4.4 billion in the first half of the year, down from about USD55 billion for the entire year of 2021, as reported by PitchBook, a data provider. The lack of business contacts and civilian exchanges between China and the outside world may have more profound implications for China’s economic growth potential in the years ahead.
RM330 bil — Malaysia’s shadow economy currently accounts for 21% of the gross domestic product (GDP), says Deputy Finance Minister I Ahmad Maslan. He added the rate is much lower than in the 2000s when the shadow economy accounted for 30.2% of the country’s GDP. The improvement was due to the introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST) previously. The shadow economy refers to economic transactions that are deemed illegal, either because the goods or services traded are unlawful in nature or because the transactions failed to comply with governmental reporting requirements.
31 years and 165 days — the world’s oldest dog, Bobi, unfortunately passed away last weekend. In dog years, that’s a whopping 217 years old! Its owner, Leonel Costa, said the secret of the dog’s longevity was good food, fresh air and lots of love and belly rubs. Bobi was a purebred Rafeiro do Alentejo, a breed of Portuguese dog that has an average life expectancy of some 10 to 14 years.
It’s how you stay informed. Get the daily newsletter of many Malaysians for free.
Together with BÖN Estates
Looking to get into the real estate space at the highly coveted address Mont Kiara?
Introducing Bon Kiara, the latest project in Mont Kiara by the BÖN Estates Group. To find out more about this property, check out Mr Money TV’s informative and holistic tour and review of the property here!
To find out more about this project, visit BON Kiara’s official website.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Malaysia will announce a new King today
Today, nine royal families will convene at Istana Negara to choose among themselves who will be the next King or Yang di-Pertuan Agong when the ‘contract’ of the current King, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, ends in January 2024. Appointment of the King has followed a rotation since independence, suggesting that Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar, of the southern state of Johor, is in line to take over after Sultan Abdullah.
Did you know that the cost of building the Istana Negara was more than RM800 mil and the cost of maintaining it is about RM75 mil. The palace that houses the current and perhaps the future King is 97 hectares in size, 13 times larger than the White House.
Putrajaya to implement Palestine Solidarity Week at schools
In an effort to do everything to support the Palestinians except for sending troops into the besieged enclave, the Education Ministry sent a circular that all public schools, including vocational colleges, will hold a week-long solidarity event that will commence from 29 October to 3 November. This solidarity week is intended to teach kids about humanitarian values and colour-blind empathy.
Of course, in anything that is related to the Palestine-Israel issue, there will be counterarguments. Parti Kerjasama Anak Negeri President Henrynus Amin stated that school should be a place to focus on the education curriculum and not a platform for political discussion. Henrynus said that this solidarity week may create a tense environment between students or teachers who have different views on the issue.
The Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) secretary-general and the Ba’ Kelalan MP Baru Bian also objected to the Government’s move that forced the students and teachers to take sides on the complex Palestinian-Israel issue. Several other Borneon MPs also shared the same concern as Baru and reiterated that schools should remain neutral spaces for learning, growth and understanding.
The good and bad sides of the Cabinet
The bad — Human Resources Minister V Sivakumar is to face the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). PAC chairperson Mas Ermieyati Samsudin stated that the proceedings were initiated to dissect the management of training funds and the effectiveness of training programs by HRD Corp.
The good — Transport Minister Anthony Loke told the Parliament that Prasarana Malaysia Bhd (Prasarana) will need until August 2025 to equip all turnstiles at all stations to accept an open payment system. With the open payment system, commuters can pay their fares by using credit or debit cards, on top of the existing Touch-n-Go and tokens system. Surprisingly, Loke also updated that all 57 Komuter stations have been equipped with turnstiles that support an open payment system.
Loke also relayed the intention of his Ministry of Transport (MOT) to negotiate with the Singaporean Government to continue the service of the cross-border Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd (KTMB) Tebrau Shuttle service from Johor Bahru to Singapore, even after the Rapid Transit Service (RTS) commences its operation. Under the current bilateral agreement regarding the RTS Project, it was agreed by both countries that the Tebrau Shuttle service would be terminated six months after RTS became operational. However, Loke believes that the rationale for continuing the Tebrau Shuttle service is on point as it provides more choices for the public to travel between the two countries.
The US-based private equity KKR &Co. is mulling investing USD400 mil into Malaysian-based sub-sea cable company OMS Group Sdn Bhd. The proposed capital injection by KKR will fund OMS Group’s expansion plan. Apart from private capital injection, OMS had been considering raising money publicly as soon as this year, where the company could have as much as USD300 mil.
Citaglobal Bhd, a company partly owned by the current King, as reported by us yesterday, had acquired a 30% stake in iFACTORS Sdn Bhd, a submarine cable systems company, for RM25.2 mil. Moving forward, with this acquisition, Citaglobal could bid for subsea high voltage power cables jobs, further enriching its portfolio in the renewable energy and telecommunications business.
Glove maker Careplus Group Bhd’s 51:49 joint venture (JV) with GoAuto Group Sdn Bhd, Nexv Manufacturing Sdn Bhd (NMSB), has been granted a license from the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry (Miti) to manufacture and assemble energy-efficient vehicles. NMSB plans to build an electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing plant on Careplus’ 74-acre land in Chembong, Negeri Sembilan.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Russians vs Russia
Ukraine announced that it had created a whole new battalion consisting of Russians who wanted to fight their own country, confirming an article published by Bloomberg. These Russians consist of ethnic minorities in Russia, including Yakuts and Buryats, and are treated like second-class citizens in their own home country. These Russians have been assigned call signs to protect their identity and the new battalion does not recruit captured Russian soldiers.
More sanctions - bring it on
20 months and 11 rounds of hard-hitting sanctions later from the West, Russia’s economy is still holding up well - its economy grew 4.9% in the second quarter. The Kremlin said it is unfazed about the prospect of further sanctions and that Russia has been living under a sanctions regime for decades dating back to the Soviet Union era. In fact, Russia has been sanction-proofing itself since 2014 after it illegally annexed Crimea from Ukraine.
The latest hot investment — Cat Bonds
The ‘cat’ here stands for catastrophe bonds, one of the year’s best-performing debt classes, returning 17%, as compared to US Treasuries that lost a boatload of money. The instrument rewards investors for taking on insurance-market risks related to environmental aspects such as natural disasters. The World Bank, a major issuer, is set to issue an additional USD bil over the next five years, further growing the cat bond market, which is worth about USD40 bil currently. The funds raised will be used by the World Bank to provide protection against a wider range of natural disasters for developing countries.
When a contractually defined disaster strikes, the investors in cat bonds pay the insured party — inventors stand to lose some or all their money. Historically, investors in cat bonds have avoided such payouts more often than not. Of the roughly 30 cat bonds issued by the World Bank, about half a dozen have been triggered, requiring investors to cover partial or all of the damage. Learn more about cat bonds here.
In another news related to actual cats, police in China have rescued more than 1,000 cats from being slaughtered and sold as pork or mutton. Animal welfare activists tipped off the police, who subsequently intercepted the truck, uncovering an illicit trade of cat meat and raising fresh concerns about food safety.
Meta’s solid quarterly performance overshadowed by “specific geopolitical event”
Facebook parent Meta reported that its quarterly profit more than doubled compared to last year to USD11.6 bil, as revenue climbed 23% to USD34 bil. Despite this stellar performance, its share price took a beating, down 3% and continued sliding following a warning from Meta CFO Susan Li that the company is observing slowing ad revenue in the fourth quarter due to a “specific geopolitical event” (do we need to mention which?). Some interesting stats:
Facebook's average monthly active users rose slightly to 3.05 bil
Meta’s “family” of apps (i.e. Instagram, Whatsapp) saw monthly active users grew 7% year-on-year to 3.96 bil. That’s 1 of every two people in the world is a Meta user.
7% increase in time spent on Facebook, 6% on Instagram “as a result of our recommendation improvements.”
View: Meta Earnings Presentation Q3 2023
Singapore’s third-largest bank UOB is a beneficiary of Swiftonomics, following its tie-up with Taylor Swift’s concert, giving its cardholders exclusive presale access to Swift’s six shows in Singapore. Fees from its card business jumped 89% yoy to a record SGD104 mil, accounting for nearly a fifth of net fee income, higher than the 10% contribution in the same period last year. The bank is repeating the same playbook with a tie-up with Ed Sheeran.
A 5-year study by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine found that the martial arts tai chi may help slow down the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease for several years. Parkinson’s is a progressive brain disease which leads to tremors and slow movement, which has no cure. We don’t think tai chi at work counts. View the study here.
The Beatles is back with their “last song”, which will be released next week, more than 50 years after the British band broke up. The song “Now and Then” is based on a 1970s demo recording by John Lennon and was completed last year by Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Ringo Starr, the two remaining living members of the 4-man band. George Harrison died of cancer and John Lennon was shot dead by a fan.
Weekend read: Grab’s 70% tumble shows the limits of Singapore’s tech dream
Since its listing in Dec 2021, Grab’s share price has been on a downtrend, losing nearly 75% of its value. The company has raised a total of USD16.5 bil. Now, compared this gargantuan amount raised to Its market cap now, which stands at about USD12.3 bil. Someone somewhere is sure to have lost lots of money. Grab may have built a great business, but whether it will turn around and be a good investment, only time will tell.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Too much work isn’t the reason why you may be feeling burnt out. The lack of impactful work is the reason why.
Is the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company as good as they make themselves to be? John Oliver dissects them.
Let’s have a little bit of fun on today’s news, shall we? A restaurant has misinterpreted an order from one of its patrons as a ‘sirap limau ikat tepi’ order did come but not as expected - it was literal.