Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ PM proposes Asian Monetary Fund to reduce dependence on USD and International Monetary Fund #dedollarrization
After mandatory death penalty, rotan next in the spotlight. Richard Brason's Virgin Orbit files for bankruptcy. NASA unveils historic moon crew - this time, not exclusively white men.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
The Road Transport Department (JPJ) has collected RM807 million in revenue as of February 2023, according to JPJ director-general Datuk Zailani Hashim. Zailani added that as of March, the JPJ recorded a total of 35,309,623 cumulative vehicles throughout Malaysia. DOSM’s projected that the country’s population in 2022 totalled 32.7 mil. Go figure.
According to an analysis by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, the financial industry in the US saw its bonus pool sink to USD33.7 billion last year, down 21% from 2021. The average bonus received by an employee on Wall Street was USD176,700 (RM779,000 per employee), the lowest since 2019 and the biggest percentage decline since the global financial crisis.
In the name of science, a marine scientist named Joe Dituri is living underwater for a record 100 days to research prolonged compression on the human body. The world record for the longest time spent underwater in a fixed environment is currently 73 days. Dituri is presently living in Jules’ Undersea Lodge, an underwater habitat located 22 feet deep in a Florida lagoon. The pressure inside the lodge is approximately 10 pounds per square inch more than on the surface — here’s a video of a squished banana in the lodge.
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3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
About 13,000 contract doctors are to be given permanent positions within three years
PM Anwar Ibrahim told the Parliament that 12,800 contract doctors would be absorbed into permanent positions within three years. For this year alone, the Government will provide 4,300 contract doctors with permanent positions, utilising the RM1.2bil fund put aside in Budget 2023.
As for the planned 3-day strike organised by the ‘Mogok Doktor Malaysia’ (MGK) group, it went from bad to worse for the group. After the Hartal Doktor Kontrak (HDK) pulled out from supporting them, as we mentioned yesterday, on Tuesday, MGK deactivated its Instagram account, which was used to spread information about the strike. Plus, there was no disruption in service at all major public healthcare facilities.
After the abolishment of the mandatory death penalty and natural life imprisonment, rotan is next in the spotlight
Deputy Law Minister Ramkarpal Singh assured the Parliament that Putrajaya would be reviewing the rotan punishment imposed by the civil courts. Currently, the punishment of rotan served to prisoners exists in both civil and syariah courts. Pasir Gudang MP even added that the rotan punishment is primitive and inhumane up to the point where some prisoners are willing to extend their jail term by a year just to avoid the rotan.
Immigration Department is under attack
Immigration director-general Ruslin Jusoh has confirmed that its website was hit by a cyberattack in the form of defacement on its main page by a hacker called ‘CaptainSmok3r’. The attack in the early hours of Tuesday did not lead to any information leakage. However, the Immigration Department decided to shut down the website in order to reconfigure the website’s security system.
Cybersecurity is a major concern in this country and one thing for sure is that Malaysia is not known for its cybersecurity globally. According to a study, Malaysia ranked 50th in the world in terms of overall cybersecurity. We are doing a little bit better than Pakistan but losing out to worn-torn Ukraine.
China Special Edition
China is open to Malaysia’s proposal to set up an Asian Monetary Fund in a bid to reduce reliance on the dollar or the International Monetary Fund. Both Putrajaya and Beijing are also working towards enabling trade matters to be conducted using either the ringgit or renminbi. As we witness the inevitable decline of the US dollar as the global reserve currency, read here on how the Bretton Woods Agreement in 1944 led to the prominence and meteoric rise of the greenback.
China's Foreign Ministry said that it would like to handle the differences between China and Malaysia in the South China Sea via proper dialogue and consultation. This statement came following a planned exploration project by Petronas that will be conducted on areas allegedly claimed by both countries.
PM Anwar said that Petronas will proceed with the exploration project and PM Anwar already stated the country’s stance to Beijing during his recent official visit to the country.
Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT) is in talks with a Sarawak state-owned entity for the sale of a 5% stake in Affin Bank Bhd, in a deal potentially worth about RM227.35 mil. The potential sale may be caused by LTAT’s proposed privatisation of its 74.1% owned Boustead Holdings Bhd, where LTAT seeks to reduce its overall shareholding in Affin Bank to below 50%, to avoid obtaining BNM’s approval for ownership beyond the 50% threshold. At the moment, both LTAT and Boustead Holdings collectively control 54.1% of the bank.
Summary of key deals from China:
RM80 bil — Investment in a refining facility in Pengerang by Rongsheng Petrochemical Co Ltd.
RM32 bil — Total investment by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group for the next phase of its collaboration with Proton for the Automotive High-Tech Valley (AHTV) in Tanjong Malim.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
NASA unveils historic moon crew - this time, not exclusively white men
NASA has unveiled the 4-member crew of its Artemis II mission, making history as it includes the first Black astronaut, the first woman and the first Canadian to return to the moon 50+ years after the last Apollo moon landing in 1972. All of NASA’s previous moon orbiting and landing missions were all crewed by 24 white men.
The mission scheduled for Nov 2024 will send the astronauts on a 10-day flight around the moon (no landing), travelling over 2.2 mil km. NASA has promised to land a woman and a person of colour on the moon in its Artemis III mission. Just how far is the moon? For comparison, the International Space Station is only 420 km above Earth’s surface and the moon is 370,000 km away.
Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit files for bankruptcy
The satellite launch company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US as it seeks to liquidate its assets after it failed to secure long-term funding following a January launch failure that plunged into the ocean (watch here) — it was the first rocket launch out of Britain. The company laid off 85% of its 750 employees last week. Unlike its peers that use rockets to launch the initial stage, Virgin Orbit launch rockets from a Boeing 747, allowing for short-notice launches from anywhere - watch below
Branson’s Virgin Group owns 75% of the company and has invested over USD1 bil in the business. Virgin Orbit’s second-largest shareholder is Abu Dhabi‘s sovereign wealth fund Mubadala with a 17.9% stake. The company’s market cap now is US65 mil — collapsing 98% from its peak of more than USD3 bil two years ago.
Learn: What is Chapter 11 bankruptcy?
French cosmetics group L’Oreal made its largest-ever brand acquisition as it struck a deal with Brazil’s Natura & Co to buy Aesop, an Australian luxury brand, at an enterprise value of USD2.53 bil. Headquartered in Melbourne, Aesop was established in 1987 and now operates almost 400 stores and recorded sales of USD537 mil in 2022, up 21% year-on-year.
Enterprise value is a comprehensive measurement of a company’s value as compared to its equity value/market cap derived from its share price as it accounts for total debt and cash.
Guoquan Supply Chain (Shanghai) Co, a supermarket chain specialising in selling hotpot and barbeque ingredients, is seeking a Hong Kong IPO that could raise USD300-500 mil. Guoquan opened its first supermarket in 2017 and has expanded rapidly through a franchise model, with more than 10,000 stores across China. The pandemic was a boon to business as its store count surged from 1,500 in Nov 2019 to 7,000 by Jul 2021. The company was last valued at USD2 bil in its Series D round in Mar 2021. We previously covered Shenzhen Pagoda Industrial Group, China’s largest fruit retailer — read here if you are keen to know more.
Indonesian e-commerce giant Bukalapak has acquired a majority stake in Malaysia’s price comparison platform iPrice Group (check out the site here). iPrice has raised about USD26 mil since its inception. Deal terms were not disclosed apart from iPrice mentioning that Bukalapak invested “a sufficient amount of capital”.
Japan breaks with US and allies, buying Russian oil above price cap
Japan has received an exceptional authorisation from the US to buy Russian crude oil above the price cap of USD60 imposed on Russian seaborne crude oil. The price cap is an attempt to reduce Russia’s income from selling oil. Japan heavily relies on imported fuels for its energy needs. The dependency partly explains Japan’s hesitancy to fully back Ukraine against Russia — it is the only G7 member not to supply Ukraine with lethal weapons.
Finland has officially become the 31st member of the NATO alliance yesterday, despite Russia’s warning against joining. Russia made a warning again last week that any “new members of the enemy block will become a legitimate target” of “Russia’s retaliatory measures”.
Jimin of K-pop supergroup BTS has become the first South Korean solo artist to top the US songs chart, Billboard Hot 100 list, with his hit, Like Crazy (listen here on Spotify). BTS was the first South Korean act to top the Billboards charts in 2020.
The UK’s data watchdog has fined TikTok GBP12.7 mil for failing to protect the privacy of children. The short-form video site used the data of children under 13 without parental consent. It was estimated that the platform allowed up to 1.4 mil UK children below 13 to use the platform in 2020 without parental consent.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Roger Federer and Trevor Noah collaborated on a promotional video for Switzerland Tourism. Fun fact — they are both half-Swiss and half South-African.
BBC Earth shows just how silent (pin-drop silence) a barn owl flies compared to a pigeon and a falcon.