- The Coffee Break
- ☕️ Public prosecutor gives judiciary a bad name
☕️ Public prosecutor gives judiciary a bad name
HSR: 7 consortia, 31 companies submitted RFIs, Japan firms out. How to avoid getting bombed in the Red Sea - identify as Chinese. YTL Power Int'l stock return: +400% in a year.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
Information as of 0730 UTC+8 on Jan 16, 2024. The US Markets were closed due to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday.
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
Finding growth in retro — Fujifilm Holdings aims to grow sales of its Instax instant camera business to JPY150 bil (USD1.01 bil) in the coming fiscal year, marking the fourth consecutive year of record-breaking revenue for the product. This is more than 3x the level 10 years ago, driven by demand from Gen Z. Fujifilm estimates that roughly one bil photos are taken each year using its Instax camera compared to trillions taken with phones, creating an opportunity for untapped demand for printed photos.
USD869 bil — the collective wealth of the world’s five wealthiest men — LVMH’s Bernard Arnault, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, legendary investor Warren Buffett, Oracle’s Larry Ellison and Tesla’s Elon Musk - more than doubled from USD405 bil in 2020. Translating this growth to an hourly basis, that’s USD14 mil per hour, according to Oxfam, an NGO that publishes its annual report on world poverty to coincide with the yearly World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland - a gathering of the world’s business elite to discuss global issues. On the other hand, those at the bottom of the pyramid, with nearly five bil people worldwide, have grown poor. This widening wealth disparity was caused by the pandemic, when rich countries pumped money into their economies, leading to an inflated value of assets held by the rich.
Read Oxfam’s report: Inequality Inc.
Not only did the world’s poor get poorer, but their countries saw their debt burden rising as well as developing countries spent a record USD443.5 bil (RM2.06 tril) on debt-service payments (including interests and principal), up 5% in 2022 and is expected to continue increasing, according to the World Bank. The world’s 75 poorest countries were hardest hit as debt service payments hit a record USD88.9 bil in 2022, and interest payments alone quadrupled since 2012 to USD23.6 bil.
If you feel like you’re losing everything, remember that trees lose their leaves every year and they still stand tall and wait for better days to come.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
The reverse ‘lembu punya susu, sapi dapat nama’ story
In her keynote speech at the Opening of the Legal Year 2024, Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat did not bar herself from speaking her mind as she blamed the public prosecutor for the bad reputation of the judiciary after the public prosecutor had withdrawn criminal charges against specific high-profile individuals last year. Tengku Maimun added that when the public prosecutor withdrew the charges, the courts only had a set of consequential options — either granting a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) or a discharge amounting to an acquittal (DAA). Tengku Maimun said that the public must understand this conundrum before painting the judiciary as ‘corrupted’.
In response to the statement by Tengku Maimun, the public prosecutor who is also the Attorney-General (AG), Ahmad Terrirudin Salleh said that the public prosecutor is empowered under Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution to withdraw charges. As the cherry on top of the icing, the public prosecutor did not have to disclose why the charges were dropped. Fun fact: according to Transparency International, in appointing the Attorney-General, the candidate for the AG does not require the confidence of the judiciary or the public as to his capabilities and integrity. The candidate for the AG only needs to gain confidence from his appointer, the Prime Minister. This has made it easier for unchecked and inappropriate decisions to be made in cases involving high-profile individuals.
In an for sure related unrelated news, a former aide to Mohamad Sabu during his tenure as the defence minister, Mohd Azhar Che Mat Dali, was freed from charges of soliciting and accepting more than RM6.48 mil of bribes. The sum was allegedly related to helping FEHM Entity Sdn Bhd obtain the maintenance contract for the defence ministry’s intelligence system. However, the reason behind the acquittal was unclear and it was not known whether the discharge was a DAA or a DNAA.
Kuala Lumpur-Johor-Singapore link in the spotlight
MyHSR Corporation Sdn Bhd (MyHSR) chairman Fauzi Abdul Rahman announced that seven local and international consortia involving 31 firms submitted Request for Information (RFI) concept proposals for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) project. Fauzi confirmed that no Japanese companies submitted the RFI proposal. Moving forward, MyHSR will review the proposals. However, no fixed timeline is given for the review as this is the first time MyHSR is undertaking such an exercise. The findings of the RFI will be shared with the Transport Ministry and the Cabinet for their further review.
In making Johor Bahru Darul Singapore more Singapore-centric, a lot of businesses, especially on the Malaysia side of the Causeway, are looking to move their enterprises closer to the 4km Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link’s station at Bukit Chagar. This move is in anticipation of the completion of the RTS Link by the end of 2026. Singaporean companies are also looking to venture into Malaysia as the Johor-Singapore Special Economic Zone (JS-SEZ) is slowly materialising. In 2022, Johor received RM70.6 bil in foreign investments, where Singapore is the second-largest foreign investor. The number surely will multiply with the creation of the JS-SEZ.
Malaysian companies expanding in the region
ACE Market-listed Sunview Group Bhd’s subsidiary Fabulous Sunview Sdn Bhd has inked an agreement with several undisclosed Cambodian companies to develop some renewable energy facilities in Cambodia. Sunview currently owns and operates 21 solar photovoltaic facilities throughout Malaysia.
George Kent (Malaysia) Bhd wholly-owned subsidiary George Kent International Pte Ltd (GKI) had invested RM2.46 mil for a 70% stake in George Kent (Vietnam) Company Ltd to operate an assembly plant capable of producing 600,000 water meters annually in Vietnam. The plant will start its operations in 2Q2024 and supply water meters to the Vietnamese market and possibly its neighbouring countries.
Another Malaysian company is foraying into the Vietnamese market as Tien Wah Press Holdings Bhd has formed a 50-50 joint venture with Cat Loi Joint Stock Company (CLC) to initiate the business of production of paper packaging, print packaging and other business activities. Tien Wah Press will invest RM1.14 mil in paid-up capital for the joint venture, where all the monies are sourced from internally generated funds.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
When to, not to be associated with China
The right time: When you are at risk of getting bombed, claim that you are Chinese. According to a report by Bloomberg, several cargo ships and tankers in the Red Sea have been broadcasting that their crew is fully Chinese on their automatic identification system to avoid getting attacked by Houthis as the Israel-Palestine conflict spills over to the important sea trade route. This practice indicates that owners of the ships and crews believe that linking themselves to China may help them appear sympathetic towards Palestinians in Gaza, as China has been critical of Israel’s bombardment and invasion of Gaza.
The wrong time: Chinese search giant Baidu’s share price plunged by more than 10%, wiping out more than USD4 bil in value, following a report by South China Morning Post linking Baidu’s generative AI Ernie to a university affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Strategic Support Force, which oversees cyberwarfare- had tested the ChatGPT-like Ernie. Baidu debuted Ernie in 2023, becoming China’s earliest answer to OpenAI’s ChatGPT and claimed that it has amassed 100 mil users and matched GPT-4’s capabilities. Baidu has denied the affiliations, but the damage is done financially on its market cap as it raised concerns that the US might sanction Baidu over its military ties.
Chip and data centre landgrab
The next frontier for real estate investment will be in the cloud through data centres. Asia is fast becoming a hunting ground for global investors to set up data centres spurred by demand for cloud services and AI. Data centre demand in Southeast Asia and North Asia is expected to grow by 25% a year through 2028, nearly double the rate of the US at 14% per annum. Investment giants such as KKR and Bain Capital have allocated and deployed billions to acquire stakes in data centre businesses in Asia. Data centre growth will spill over for chip demand.
To this end, South Korea embarked on an ambitious tech expansion as it unveiled plans to invest more than USD470 bil (RM2.18 tril) to establish the world’s largest chipmaking cluster, led by firms such as Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix. The two-decade-long plan, spanning up to 2047, will see the area from Pyeongtake to Yongin becoming the world’s largest area, capable of producing 7.7 mil wafers monthly by 2030. South Korea aims to increase its global chip production market share to 10% by 2030 from 3%.
Discounted iPhones available - only in China
Competition in China is so tough that even the iPhone brand succumbed to competitive pressure. Apple is cutting retail prices of some iPhones, something it hasn’t done in years, by 5% or up to 500 yuan. This discount is branded as a Lunar New Year event, lasting from Jan 18 to Jan 21. Apple’s latest iPhone 15 series saw poor demand in China compared to previous models. A Jeffries analyst estimated that China’s iPhone sales collapsed 30% year-on-year in the first week of 2024. Home-grown brands such as Xiaomi and Huawei are starting to catch up and offer competitive models. Some companies and government departments have been limiting workers’ use of Apple devices, further impacting demand.
India bans ByteDance’s music-streaming app Resso
ByteDance is shutting down Resso in India after the government demanded its removal from app stores. TikTok has been banned in India since 2020, along with other China-affiliated apps. Resso's closure in India marks its final market, but ByteDance is still pursuing the music business with TikTok Music.
Hitman’s past revealed after getting killed
In Brazil, a man was shot and killed in front of his wife and son, exposing his hidden past. Darko Gleiser, a contract killer, had been on the run for ten years since escaping Montenegro in 2014. He had assumed a new life in Brazil, and his wife was unaware of his true identity. However, his secret was uncovered when it was found that his passport belonged to someone else who had lost it in 2017. Montenegro authorities confirmed his involvement in a previous murder through matching fingerprints.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Imagine making 130 times more than your annual FD rate in a single year — the wild returns of YTL Power International Bhd.
Last Friday, YTL Power International, the utility subsidiary of YTL Corp shot up by 9.2% (31 sen), adding a staggering RM2.53 bil in market cap in a single day.
YTLPOWR was the top performing mega stock (>RM10 bil market cap) on KLCI in 2023, making a massive return of 252.78%… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
— The Coffee Break | Grow Smarter Daily (@BreakMyCoffee)
Jan 15, 2024
Tesla earlier in Sep 2022 unveiled its humanoid Tesla Bot. Now, see it in action in a controlled environment - folding clothes. We can confidently say that there’s a higher demand for these bots to fold clothes than for EVs.
Optimus folds a shirt
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk)
Jan 15, 2024