☕️ PM Anwar appointed 5 business, finance experts as (pro bono) advisors to finance portfolio
PM Anwar back in UMNO HQ after 25 years for Unity Govt meeting. Bard - Google's answer to ChatGPT. SG arrests 18 y.o ISIS supporter, self-radicalised watching Zakir Naik YouTube videos.
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1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
50 billion — the number of views on YouTube Shorts daily, according to Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai. Launched in 2021, Shorts is YouTube’s response to TikTok. In addition, YouTube enabled creators to share advertising revenue from Shorts beginning Feb 1, prompting more creators to move more of their content over to the platform.
40 — the rank of Malaysia in The Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) global democracy index. The latest edition of the index shows that almost half (45.3%) of the world’s population live in a democracy of some sort, while more than a third (36.9%) live under authoritarian rule.
The world’s oldest dog — 30 years and 266 days — is Bobi; a Rafeiro do Alentejo. Bobi was born in the village of Conqueiros, Portugal, on May 11 1992, and as of Feb 1, he holds the Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest dog.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Anwar Ibrahim named his five lieutenants
PM and Finance Minister Anwar Ibrahim has appointed five business and economics experts to advise him on the finance portfolio. The panel will be chaired by former Petronas chief executive officer Tan Sri Hassan Marican and flanked by FPO Ventures Sdn Bhd chairman Ahmad Fuad Md Ali, Sunway University economics studies director Professor Yeah Kim Leng; Universiti Malaya professor of economics Rajah Rasiah, and Sarawak Energy Bhd chairman Amar Abdul Hamed Sepawi.
Anwar said the panel's focus would be on addressing the country’s cost of living crisis and reigniting Malaysia’s economic development. The panel would not be receiving any form of payment from the government. The previous administration’s PM, Ismail Sabri Yaakob, spent RM136K a month (27,200 sets of Menu Rahmah) on his special advisers.
Unity Government held its first secretariat meeting
According to DPM Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the secretariat meeting is meant to find common ground to interpret the manifestos of the Unity Government. The meeting was attended by Umno and BN leaders, as well as leaders from Pakatan Harapan, Gabungan Rakyat Sabah, Gabungan Parti Sarawak and Warisan. The meeting was held at Menara Dato’ Onn — UMNO’s Headquarters.
Fun facts — 1) It has been 25 years since Anwar Ibrahim last stepped into the building; and 2) It is the first time a DAP leader stepped into the building.
In a piece of UMNO-related news, UMNO President Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said there have not been any discussions on the possibility of sacked UMNO members joining the parties in the coalition.
The floods situation in Pahang getting worse
The number of evacuees being housed in relief centres rose to 5,021 in the evening, compared to 4,230 people yesterday morning. In Johor, the number of evacuees has dropped to 59 compared to 163, whereas, in Kedah and Terengganu, the number remained the same.
The Rural and Regional Development Ministry urged relevant agencies to report infrastructures damaged by floods so the government can take prompt action.
With floods occurring so frequently, the government cannot rest on its laurel on the climate change front. Short-term solutions will only get us so far.
The interesting story of how a put option cost three individuals RM46.44 million.
Minister of Finance Inc (MOF Inc)-owned Perbadanan Nasional Bhd (Pernas) obtained a RM46 million summary judgment from the High Court against Serba Dinamik Holdings Bhd’s group managing director Mohd Abdul Karim Abdullah and two former senior executives of Serba Dinamik subsidiaries — Rosland Othman and Rosli Hamat. Under the put option, Rosland and Rosli agreed to pay Pernas the difference between RM3 and the actual share price should the price of Serba Dinamik shares fall below RM3 per share.
But how did Abdul Karim get involved?
There was a supplementary option agreement, which stipulated that Karim would be absorbing the losses that Pernas could suffer should the share price of Serba fall below RM3. We know how low it fell to.
A put option gives the contract holder the right, but not the obligation, to sell a security at a predetermined price within a specified time frame. So if the price of the security falls to 0 and the pre-determined price is RM1, the other party is obliged to pay the contract holder RM1 even though the price is 0 — this is a form of protection/hedging. An interesting story here is how billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman bought USD27 mil worth of protection for his portfolio that turned into USD2.6 bil — a 100x gain during the Mar 2020 market pandemic selldown. Though he did not use a put, but the idea is similar.
Read: Put Option: What it is, how it works, and how to trade them.
Hartalega Holdings Bhd, the world's largest nitrile glove maker, reported a net loss of RM31.91 mil for its 3QFY23 ended Dec 31, 2022, compared to a net profit of RM259.06 mil in the same period a year ago. The loss was due to significant moderation in average selling prices (ASPs) and lower sales volume, along with higher energy and labour costs. Hartalega expects the challenging landscape to continue amid the current softened ASPs of rubber gloves.
MyEG Services Bhd (MyEG) and Datasonic Group Bhd saw their share prices plummet yesterday after the news that the Immigration Department will directly handle all immigration transactions in 2025. MyEG and Datasonic closed at -26.7% and -7.07%, respectively. The zero-sum characteristic of the capital markets propped up the shares of Iris Corp Bhd by 32% at closing. Iris is developing a new immigration system for the Immigration.
AirAsia might finally get back on its feet this year thanks to the travel demand from China, which has reopened its borders. The budget carrier intends to lease 15 additional aircraft to cater to the demand from China alone. Currently, AirAsia has 150 planes in the air and expects to put all 204 of its fleet back in service by August. On the regularisation of Capital A Bhd’s PN17 status, Tony Fernandes said the company is on track to do it by August as well.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Turkiye-Syria earthquake - death toll at 5,000, 23 mil people exposed
The confirmed death toll has shot up to 5,021 in both Turkiye and Syria. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that the death toll could be north of 20,000, and 23 mil people potentially are affected by the earthquake.
Some explanations by experts why this earthquake was so deadly: poor quality of buildings, as buildings adhering to earthquake-resistant design codes were in the minority, and the first tremor struck at 4:17 am when most people were asleep.
Amidst all the destruction, fortunately, some children were rescued and pulled out from the rubles — watch here and here.
Donations can be made to the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey (Malaysia) as below.
Meanwhile, crypto exchange giant Binance will airdrop USD100 worth of its own token BNB to all Binance users identified to be living in the regions affected by this earthquake. The company estimates a total donation of USD5 mil.
ChatGPT continues hogging the tech limelight:
Swiss banking giant UBS says that OpenAI’s ChatGPT may be the fastest-growing application in history after it was estimated to hit 100 mil monthly active users (MAU). TikTok took nine months to hit the same milestone. An average of 13 mil people used ChatGPT daily in January, doubling levels in December.
A Colombian judge shared in a radio interview that he used ChatGPT to help rule on a case about the medical rights of an autistic child. This is in accordance with the law, which says virtual tools can be used to aid a case. A professor has opposed the use of ChatGPT by this judge, arguing in a Twitter thread (it’s in Spanish, but we are linking it anyways) that the AI too can “return incorrect, inaccurate and false results”.
But beware - in an interview with Time magazine, OpenAI’s chief technology officer said the bot “may make up facts” as it writes sentences. She explains that ChatGPT generates responses by predicting the logical next word in the sentence - but what’s logical to the bot might not be accurate.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog became the world’s first leader to publicly use ChatGPT to write the opening section of his speech at a cybersecurity conference in Tel Aviv. He did emphasise that AI will not replace humans - hope this calms the nerves of his speechwriter.
After raising a “code red” plan in response to ChatGPT, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced via the company’s blog that Google will release its conversational AI tech called Bard to “trusted testers” in the coming weeks before making it widely available to the public. Bard will be powered by Google’s large language model, Language Model for Dialogue Application (LaMDA). Even before the competition has started, OpenAI has already won in 1 aspect - ChatGPT sounds like a lot much better name than Bard.
A list of jobs to be replaced by AI below — take it with a pinch of salt. The list was generated by ChatGPT — could be Skynet (Terminator reference) instilling fear into us humans.
Social network companies in the news:
The less talked about social network Pinterest announced during its earnings call that the service now has 450 mil monthly active users globally, a 4% growth YoY. For the full year 2022, the company generated USD2.8 bil in revenue (+9% YoY) and recorded a USD96 mil loss.
Pinterest earnings press release here.
The Information reported, citing the document that there were 290,000 subscribers to the USD8 per month Twitter Blue, with 180,000 US subscribers making up 62% of this total - less than 0.2% of Twitter’s monthly users in January. This will contribute just USD28 mil to Twitter’s annual revenue, a far cry from Elon Musk’s target of USD3 bil. Musk said on Sunday that the company is “trending to breakeven”.
After eight trading sessions of getting hammered following the allegations made by Hindenburg Research, Adani Group stocks surged, with its flagship company Adani Enterprise hitting the 20% upper circuit limit following an early repayment of USD1.1 bil of loans that matures on Sep 2024. Despite the rally, the group’s overall market loss still stands at about USD118 bil since Hindenburg unveiled its investigation.
Singapore authorities arrested an 18-year-old student who became an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) supporter after getting self-radicalised in 2020 while watching YouTube videos of foreign extremist preacher Zakir Naik. This controversial Muslim preacher has a PR status in Malaysia, and then-PM Tun M refused to extradite Zakir Naik to India to face criminal charges. The student had violent plans for Singapore - stab and kill non-believers and carry out a mass-casualty attack by recruiting a suicide car bomber.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 👁👁
The hilarious names of Superman if he was born in Asia
The world’s top 10 wealthiest women throughout 2022 visualised.