☕️ PM: There is a RM10 bil leakage in diesel subsidy
Putrajaya withdrew appeal against ruling on the exclusivity of the word ‘Allah’. Indonesian billionaire buys stake in Malaysia's Premier, Royal Gold tissue maker. Vice Media filed for bankcruptcy.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
Singapore, are you okay? The country down south recorded a temperature of 37.0°C last Saturday, matching the highest daily maximum temperature reported four decades ago.
Nintendo has sold 125.6 million units of Switch since its launch in 2017, but the Japanese game giant needs to quickly find a successor to satisfy gamers and its investors. The downward trend is clear: It shipped 23.06 mil units in 2022, 22% fewer Switch consoles than the previous year. Moreover, the company hasn’t indicated if it will launch a new console this fiscal year.
The private equity markets are set for another subdued year, according to Navis Capital Partners co-founder and managing partner Nicholas Bloy. Bloy said the PE deal volume and value in Southeast Asia this year will be “about the same” as last year — USD13 bil in 2022. That’s a 52% decrease from the year before, according to Bain &. Co’s data. 2021 was a good year for PE firms.
View charts: PE deal value, deal count, median multiple
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3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Azam Baki is not on the ‘naughty list’ anymore
PM Anwar Ibrahim told the media that the decision to extend Azam Baki’s contract for another year as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner is due to his satisfactory performance. PM Anwar said Azam had performed his duties without bias under his premiership, thus merits the ‘here-we-go’ for Azam’s contract extension. This is a major U-turn for Pakatan Harapan (PH) since being placed to govern the country. A worse u-turn compared to this will be Najib Razak’s pardon.
Putrajaya has withdrawn from appealing against the landmark ruling regarding the exclusivity of the word ‘Allah’
Putrajaya has withdrawn the appeal against the High Court decision that disallows the exclusivity of the word ‘Allah’ only for the use of Muslims. In March 2021, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur allowed a non-Muslim Sarawakian, Jill Ireland, to use the word ‘Allah’ for religious and educational purposes. The decision by the Federal Government has received much backlash from Muslim civil societies such as the Gerakan Pembela Ummah, which stated that the move by Putrajaya could confuse vulnerable Muslims.
Read op-ed: Getting to the root of the Allah word and controversy.
The new subsidy game
No more electricity subsidies for households with high consumption - Without sparing any details, PM Anwar Ibrahim said that the Government will no longer subsidise households that consume a lot of electricity (examples given are households that use multiple air conditioners). He added that these households need to pay the market rate for electricity. From Jan 2023 until the end of June 2023, Putrajaya has allocated RM10.76 bil to cover electricity subsidies for domestic and non-domestic consumers in the low voltage (LV) category.
The domestic tariff in Malaysia is 21.80 sen per kilowatt-hour (kWh). According to Tenaga Nasional Berhad's (TNB) 2022 Annual Report, the cost of power generation is about 51.90 sen/kWh.
Fleet card to ensure a better diesel subsidy system — Putrajaya will introduce a fleet card system to monitor diesel consumption as there is a leakage of RM10 bil in diesel subsidy. According to PM Anwar, the use of diesel skyrocketed in 2022 by 37.7% from a consumption of only 6.1 bil litres in 2019. Something somewhere has gone wrong - the statistics do not make sense as the number of registered diesel vehicles only increased by 2.4% during the same period, from 2.08 mil vehicles in 2019 to 2.13 mil vehicles in 2022.
Water supply issues
Water supply normalises for most Penangites — Penang CM Chow Kon Yeow stated that water supply has normalised to about 400,000 Penangites in Seberang Perai and parts of Penang Island. The water supply issue started when the automatic sensors at the Sungai Muda barrages in Kedah suffered catastrophic failures that led the flood gate to open and released large amounts of freshwater into the sea. From a national security point of view, it goes to show how vulnerable is our water security to be hijacked by rogue or foreign foes. Now extrapolate this to our food and energy security.
Putrajaya to take over the water supply management in Sabah and Kelantan — PM Anwar said that the Government has initiated plans to federalise the water supply management in Sabah and Kelantan to solve the water supply issues in the respective states. PM Anwar stated that this move will involve a considerable allocation that may involve the issuance of sukuk. Stock market investors, start looking for water-related counters!
The shift towards better policy-making for Malaysia
PM Anwar Ibrahim has launched the region’s first Fourth Industry Revolution Centre (C4IR), a collaboration between the Ministry of Economy and the World Economic Forum (WEF). The nineteenth centre of its kind in the world is created to accelerate the development and adoption of emerging technologies such as AI, machine learning and the data-based economy.
The Economic Action Council (EAC), the highest economic advisory body to the Federal Government, will be creating a new central database hub dubbed Padu to find, keep and store better and more complete data. Padu will be managed by the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) and will further improve Putrajaya’s policy-making in the future. PM Anwar stated that the current data is incomplete and may lead to poor decision-making.
Pacific Senior Living Sdn Bhd, which is part of US-based Columbia Pacific Group that also owns the Columbia Asia hospital chain, has signed a 30-year lease agreement with Employees Provident Fund (EPF) to repurpose the historic 63-year-old office building in Jalan Gasing into a state-of-the-art senior living facility. The facility that will be named Mahogany will be open in Q32024 and will have 212 keys.
Oei Tjie Goan (aka Teguh Ganda Widjaja), who is part of the ultra-rich Widjaja Family based in Indonesia that has a net worth of USD10.8 bil, is now a substantial shareholder of NTPM Holdings Bhd with a 22.42% stake. NTPM is one of the largest paper manufacturers and you may know them for their brands, such as Premier and Royal Gold. The stock was up 8.9%, giving it a market cap of RM550 mil. Widjaja could have spent an estimated RM100 mil to build this stake.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
The tale of two elections
Thai voters created a political earthquake by rejecting nearly a decade of military-backed rule. The Move Forward party and opposition heavyweight Pheu Thai dominated Sunday’s ballot in a rout of army-backed parties. Many Thais fear that the military and its backers may yet try to block the winning parties from taking office. Thailand’s two main opposition parties agreed to form a ruling coalition with four other parties. The alliance of six parties would command 309 seats, which is still short of the 376 seats needed to ensure Move Forward Party’s leader, 42-year-old Pita Limjaroenrat to be elected as prime minister.
Turkey’s battle for the presidency isn’t over, as it looks almost sure to go to a run-off. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was hoping to secure a third term, has failed to secure the required 50% of votes in the elections, despite faring better than predicted. A run-off vote is a second round of voting that takes place when no candidate receives more than half of the presidential vote.
Vice Media Group filed for bankruptcy
The company behind the websites Vice and Motherboard was once valued USD5.7 bil in 2017 and now it could possibly be taken over for USD225 mil. It was once heralded as part of the vanguard of companies set to disrupt the traditional media landscape. Vice’s downfall came as the company struggled to turn a profit. The business model for free online journalism is challenging. Content is where the value lies, but creating content is expensive. Vice is known for its expensive journalism — global trips, controversial figures, dangerous territories and so on. As it files for bankruptcy, it is waiting for a white knight.
Ukraine asks for more weapons after its ammunition depot was allegedly destroyed
President Volodymyr Zelensky met the UK's Rishi Sunak as part of his tour of Western allies. To tip the battle in Ukraine’s favour, the United Kingdom has agreed to send hundreds of long-range missiles and armed drones to Ukraine. Ukraine is looking to repeat its success in Kherson last year by targeting Russia's command centres, logistics hubs and ammunition depots in occupied territory.
Social media footage showed a massive explosion rocking the western Ukrainian city of Khmelnytskyi following a mass attack by Russian drones. The mayor of the region, Oleksandr Simchyshyn, confirmed that crucial infrastructures and private houses have been damaged, with civilian casualties. The Russian Ministry of Defense said the attack destroyed an ammunition depot and hangar. Weirdly, very few West-leaning publications published this piece of news.
The Discord Leaks revealed that Wagner Group owner Yevgeniy Prigozhin made Ukraine an extraordinary offer. In late January, Prigozhin offered to give Kyiv information on Russian troop positions in exchange for Ukraine’s commanders withdrawing their soldiers from the area around Bakhmut. What’s in it for Prigozhin? The heavy toll that fighting has taken on his paramilitary forces and Prigozhin doesn’t want his group to suffer more casualties. If the past is any indicator, Prigozhin’s days are numbered — high-profile Russians linked to the Kremlin tend to find themselves mysteriously dead.
Read: How the mysterious deaths of 23 elite Russians sparked a global murder mystery.
In relation to the Discord Leaks, the leak suspect was preparing for a “race war”
Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old Massachusetts Air National Guard member, was arrested last month in connection with the leak of dozens of top-secret Pentagon documents about the war in Ukraine and other national security issues. According to the Washington Post, Teixeira appeared to be preparing for a violent struggle against perceived adversaries, including Black people, liberals, Jews, gay and transgender people.
The biggest benefactor of the US vs China trade war is India. Apple supplier Foxconn is investing USD500 million to set up manufacturing plants in the southern Indian state of Telangana. The investment will create 25,000 direct jobs in the first phase.
A 78-year-old American has been sentenced to life in person on spying charges. John Leung, also a Hong Kong permanent resident, was arrested on suspicion of espionage in April 2021. No details of his crime were provided. Last month, China passed new counter-espionage legislation expanding the list of activities that can be considered spying.
OpenAI’s Sam Altman’s cryptocurrency project, Worldcoin, is close to getting USD100 mil funding. Altman’s project proposes to use eyeball-scanning technology to create a global identification system that could be used to gain free access to its own global currency, Worldcoin. Not sure what it is good for.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
How did A24, an independent entertainment company, become so successful in just a decade? Its most recent success — is Michelle Yeoh’s Everything Everywhere All at Once.
Which online food delivery company is the best-funded? The German service Delivery Hero is by far the most well-funded food delivery service globally. Despite all the funding, the company’s market cap is only USD11 bil - not so great returns for investors in the company. Food delivery is a tricky business, otherwise, Uncle Tony wouldn’t have exited the market.