Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ PM Anwar: No cabinet re-shuffle (today)
Boustead-KLK deals fell through. 14 year old gunmen involved in fatal shooting at Siam Paragon in Bangkok. Meta wants to launch ad-free plan in EU for USD14 per month.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
A survey conducted at Stanford University last year found that employees reported feeling 7.4% more productive when working from home. In contrast, managers believed that employees were 3.5% less productive when working remotely. This discrepancy highlights a perception gap between employees and their managers regarding remote work productivity. Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor and billionaire businessman, thinks employees are slacking off and hitting the golf course during the workday - he’s not entirely wrong as research by Stanford University found that remote work "powered a huge boom in golfing," with visits to golf courses surging on weekdays and mid-afternoons compared to pre-pandemic times. Golfers are playing more golf on weekdays - 143% more on Wednesday in 2022 vs. 2019.
View report: How working from home boosted golf.
A total of 69 American companies defaulted on debt payments in the first eight months of this year, marking a 176% increase from the same period in 2022, according to data from S&P Global Ratings. In August alone, there were 16 instances of nonpayment, the highest tally for that month since 2009, during the aftermath of the global financial crisis. This increase in corporate debt defaults suggests growing financial strain among businesses in the United States no thanks to the aggressive rate hikes by the Federal Reserve. It could be presaging an event that dwarfs the 2008-2009 financial crisis, Stephanie Pomboy, the founder and president of the boutique research firm Macro Mavens.
Malaysia’s real estate market in the first half of 2023 remained stable, with transaction values increasing by 1.1% to RM85.37 bil compared to the same period in 2022. However, the volume of transactions saw a slight decrease of 2.1%, totalling 184,140 transactions for the first half of 2023. These figures reflect the overall performance of the real estate sector during this period.
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3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
PM Anwar: No announcement on Cabinet reshuffle (today)
Speculation of a Cabinet reshuffle has been rife since the Pulai and Simpang Jeram by-elections last month. News outlets went berserk yesterday, reporting of a possible Cabinet reshuffle. DPM Ahmad Zahid Hamidi added fuel to the fire on Sunday when he said he believed a reshuffle would likely happen and soon. However, PM Anwar Ibrahim said there is no announcement today.
Irrelevant MCA urged the PM to relinquish his Finance Ministry position to focus on managing the country. Mike Chong, the party’s Youth deputy chief, suggested that the PM should remove underperformers such as Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli and Agriculture and Food Security Minister Mohamad Sabu. Chong claimed Rafizi has failed to improve people’s lives and his only suggestion was asking people to cook at home instead of eating out. Malaysiakini set the record straight — and clarified that Rafizi did not urge people to cook their own meals. On the other hand, Chong said Mat Sabu failed at managing food shortages and addressing sharp price hikes in people’s daily essentials.
PAS opts against appeal in Kemaman election nullification, awaits election commission's move
PAS has decided not to challenge the recent ruling that nullified their win in the Kemaman parliamentary seat during the 15th General Election (GE15). Instead, they will wait to see what steps the Election Commission (EC) takes next. The decision was made after a judge found similarities between the Kemaman and Kuala Terengganu petition cases and indicated that corruption played a role in the GE15 Kemaman polls, although the judge did not specify the party involved. PAS will base its following actions on the guidance provided by the EC in response to the court's ruling.
High Court acquits five accused in 2017 murder of teenager T. Nhaveen
The High Court in George Town has acquitted and discharged five individuals facing charges related to the murder of teenager T. Nhaveen in 2017. S. Gopinath (32), J. Ragesuthan (24), S. Gokulan (24), V. Sharmah (24), and K. Tatisan (24) were accused of the murder and grievous assault of Nhaveen and his friend T. Previin on June 9, 2017, near a learning centre in Jalan Kaki Bukit, Bukit Gelugor. Nhaveen suffered severe injuries, including burns and signs of physical assault, while Previin escaped during the incident.
In acquitting the five, High Court Judge Radzi Hamid said the prosecution had failed to prove a prima facie case against the five. Radzi, in his ground of judgement, added that the police had failed to conduct investigations into these cases fairly.
Government urged to learn from Hamzah's handling of food crisis
Malaysia's government is being advised to take a page from Hamzah Zainudin’s playbook when dealing with food supply challenges. Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal, the leader of the United Youth Movement (Armada), praised Hamzah’s approach during his time as Minister of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives, and Consumer Affairs.
Hamzah successfully maintained a stable sugar supply despite industry pressures to raise prices and introduced the People’s Outreach Sales program during global price fluctuations. These measures eased public concerns and benefited both traders and industries. The irony is that Hamzah Zainudin's son, Muhammad Faisal Hamzah, along with another individual, previously faced court charges related to cooking oil supply discrepancies. What a “playbook” indeed.
AirAsia has successfully secured a substantial five-year loan of up to USD150 mil (RM708.46 mil).
This sizable financial support will be dedicated to the vital tasks of maintaining their aircraft and engines, as well as fortifying their day-to-day operations. This loan, accepted by AirAsia from a financial institution, is strengthened by a corporate guarantee from Capital A Bhd, the aviation arm of AirAsia, which will remain effective throughout the loan's term. The board of directors at Capital A Bhd has thoroughly assessed the loan and determined it aligns with their standard business practices and is in the group’s best interest.
The RM1.15 bil Boustead-KLK deal fell through - sources
The highly anticipated sale of a 33% stake in Boustead Plantations Bhd (BPlant) by the Armed Forces Fund Board (LTAT) and Boustead Holdings Bhd to Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd (KLK) did not materialise, sources have revealed. However, in response to this, BPlant said the deal is still “pending a final decision between transacting parties”. The deal, aimed at alleviating Boustead's substantial short-term debt of RM3.99 bil, would have seen KLK paying RM1.15 bil for the 33% stake. In the meantime, the government has allocated RM300 mil this week to assist LTAT in resolving its liquidity challenges and is actively seeking to secure a total of RM2 bil by the end of this year to provide crucial support and stability to LTAT.
Trading in the shares of KLK and BPlant were both suspended yesterday pending an announcement today.
Great Eastern is about to get bigger as it takes over AmMetLife
Great Eastern’s Malaysia subsidiaries have officially signed an implementation agreement with AMAB Holdings, a subsidiary of AMMB Holdings Berhad and MetLife International, to acquire two insurance businesses in Malaysia. In this proposed acquisition, Great Eastern Life Assurance Malaysia (GELM) and Great Eastern Takaful Berhad (GETB) will acquire 100% of the shares of AmMetLife Insurance Berhad (AML) and AmMetLife Takaful Berhad (AMT). The deal is said to be worth around RM1.12 bil.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Meta values your attention at USD14
The Wall Street Journal reported that Meta Platforms is looking to make users in the European Union (EU) pay as much as USD14 per month to access ad-free versions of Instagram or Facebook or agree to personalised ads for the free versions. The plan comes after the social media company was handed a fine to the tune of EUR390 mil earlier this year by Ireland's Data Privacy Commissioner for sending users ads based on their online activity.
Will this come to Malaysia? It depends on how strict our regulators want to be with Facebook. So, your ad-free attention is probably worth RM0 for now.
14-year-old believed to be the shooter at a fatal shooting in Siam Paragon, Bangkok
Thai police said they had arrested a 14-year-old suspected gunman after a shooting at a luxury mall in the capital Bangkok that emergency services said had killed two people and injured five others. Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin expressed concern over the incident and urged the authorities to investigate. The last mass shooting in Thailand was last year when a former police officer killed 22 children in a nursery last year during a gun and knife attack.
NFSW video here, where shooting sounds could be heard.
Family offices in Singapore may face further scrutiny
Minister of State Alvin Tan said in parliament that authorities found that one or more of the accused in the case involving more than SGD2.8 bil of assets may have been linked to single family offices that were awarded tax incentives. The Monetary Authority of Singapore, the central bank, is reviewing its internal incentive administration processes. The money laundering scandal, which has ensnared major banks and property agents, has ballooned into one of the largest in the country and put a spotlight on potential loopholes. Financial Times reported that the financial hub may also regulate luxury assets, including cars, watches and handbags - meaning, one will soon will be KYC-ed for making high-value item purchases.
Singapore has experienced a significant increase in the number of single-family offices, which are established by ultra-wealthy individuals to manage their wealth and investments. By the end of 2021, there were approximately 1,100 single-family offices in Singapore, a notable rise from the 400 recorded in 2020.
WeWork missing USD95 mil in interest payments
In a move to put pressure on the lenders, WeWork declared it would not make two sets of interest payments about USD95 mil. WeWork says it has the cash on hand, but it wants to restrike deals with lenders under more favourable terms. The co-working company warned investors in August that it may go bust with the existing lease costs and debt load. Interim CEO David Tolley said bankruptcy is not on the cards yet, although it will make it easier to shed unprofitable leases.
Elon Musk sued for defamation for calling a man neo-Nazi on X
Elon Musk allegedly defamed a California man by claiming that the recent college graduate was a federal agent operating undercover with a neo-Nazi organisation. Musk’s massive presence on the platform resulted in a deluge of hate toward Benjamin Brody, who belonged to a Jewish fraternity and previously remarked on the fraternity’s website that he wanted a job with the government. The irony.
Evergrande shares soared 40% after the trading suspension was lifted
Shares in troubled Chinese real estate giant Evergrande experienced a significant surge as trading resumed in Hong Kong. The stock initially soared by over 40% before closing 28% higher, though its market valuation has plummeted by nearly 99% since July 2020. Despite being China's former top-selling property developer, Evergrande has been grappling with a massive debt burden exceeding USD300 bil.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
LEGO’s huge profit margins put some luxury brands to shame.
Marques Brownlee likens the iPhone to Porsche’s 911 — if it (the formula) ain’t broken, don’t fix it.