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☕️ Rafizi: Malaysians are addicted to eating out, but it isn't our fault
Malaysia has enough rice stockpile for another 5 months. Tesla produced its 5th mil car. J&T express eyes USD1 bil IPO on HKSE but faces regulatory hurdle.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
Tesla has hit another milestone — producing its 5th million car. The milestone was achieved last week. The news comes just six months after the automaker produced its four millionth car. This production milestone coincides with a significant event in the automotive industry (in the US), namely the historic strike initiated by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union against the major automakers Ford, General Motors (GM), and Stellantis. Crazy world we live in.
One in 10 Japanese are now aged 80 and above, according to a government report issued to mark the annual Respect for the Aged Day. Japan’s enduringly low birthrate and its citizens’ long lifespans have led to the country achieving the status of being the world’s oldest nation in terms of the percentage of people aged over 65. This year, Japan reached a historic milestone, with 29.1% of its population falling into this age group. Japan’s population continue declining to 124.4 mil.
Asians sleep 35 minutes less than their European counterparts. While Malaysia is not listed in The Economist’s The Lie-in-dex, we can probably infer the same of our neighbour’s, Singapore, dozing hours. Singaporeans, on average, sleep 6.5 hours on weekdays and 6.7 hours on weekends.
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3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Rafizi Ramli: Malaysians addicted to eating out
Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli said Malaysians are spending a higher proportion of their income on eating out and takeouts compared to fellow Asian country South Korea. On average, local households spend about a third (27.5%) of their disposable income on cooked food or takeaway vs. South Korea’s 12.8% and Singapore’s 8.4%. It’s also one of the reasons why Malaysians feel the pinch of inflation.
"The one (spending) that is most elastic and most difficult to come down is actually cooked and takeaway food.” — Rafizi Ramli
Don’t worry. It’s not our fault. Rafizi went on to say that the past policies, such as the shift from agriculture, have increased the cost of food in Malaysia as the country relies on imported food and farmers are not properly incentivised to grow produce such as ginger and chilli locally. Additionally, poor public transportation has led Malaysian households to subsist on eating out and food delivery. The structure of the nation’s economy and wages in the past have also added to the habits of the nation.
The obvious solution is to — raise the wages of Malaysians, but this won’t happen overnight. Rafizi said the government’s initiative of moving from broad-based fuel subsidies towards targeted schemes will improve the lives of all Malaysians (except those that get less of the subsidies, duh).
Najib received over RM60.6 mil from Prince Faisal, Bank Negara analyst reveals in 1MDB trial
In an ongoing trial involving alleged misuse of RM2.3 bil in 1MDB funds, a Bank Negara Malaysia analyst, Adam Ariff Mohd Roslan, revealed that former Prime Minister Najib Razak received over RM60.6 mil in two transactions in 2011. According to the analyst, Najib got precisely RM60,629,839.43 from Prince Faisal Bin Turkey Bin Bandar Alsaud on two separate dates. The money came through the same bank account that received funds from a company tied to fugitive businessman Jho Low.
It is reasonably believed that the Riyad bank account was used as a pass through account to transfer monies from Good Star Ltd originated from the subject matter (1MDB). — testimony of Adam Ariff Mohd Roslan.
Adam Ariff also testified that Good Star Ltd got over USD810 mil from 1MDB between 2009 and 2011. Najib faces charges of getting bribes totalling RM2.3 bil and money laundering.
TLDR: Based on the money trail analysis, 1MDB → Good Star Limited → Prince Faisal → Najib Razak.
Witness denies lying about alleged bribery involving Lim Guan Eng
In the trial of former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng, a key witness, Ibrahim Sahari, has denied changing his story about a disputed RM2 mil payment. Ibrahim, a former director of Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd (CZCSB), faced questions from Lim’s lawyer, Gobind Singh Deo, about inconsistencies in his testimony. He previously said the money was for businessman G Gnanaraja in another case but later claimed it was meant for Lim in this trial.
Despite the differences, Ibrahim insisted he heard this from CZCSB's senior executive director, Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zuklifli, and suggested that the lawyer ask Zarul for clarity. Ibrahim maintained that at least part of the money, including the RM2 mil, was intended for the former Penang chief minister.
AirAsia rebrands its SuperApp to AirAsia Move
The transformation, set for the coming months, will also include integrating BigPay, Capital A's financial services superapp. AirAsia Move aims to offer a one-stop solution for travel and finance needs, including balance display, top-ups, and payments via BigPay. It will introduce new financial features like “buy now, pay later,” remittances, and bite-sized insurance. Capital A's digital subsidiary will also be renamed AirAsia Move Digital, led by Nadia Omer, with CEO Tony Fernandes as executive chairman.
Of rice prices and supply
The Ministry of Domestic Trade and Cost of Living (KPDN) will launch the Rahmat Rice Sales program to address rising rice prices and local supply shortages. Consumers will access subsidised rice through a RM150 mil allocation approved by Parliament. In addition, KPDN aims to manage price challenges for imported goods like sugar and onions, implementing mechanisms to prevent excessive costs to consumers. KPDN will also offer 10 to 30% discounts through the Rahmah Sales event.
Malaysia's Agriculture Minister, Mat Sabu, reassures that the country has enough rice stockpiled for up to five months, totalling 900,000 metric tonnes. A program with suppliers aims to increase stockpiles by 20%. The minister expects the domestic rice supply to recover in a month and is in discussions with India for rice supplies. There are no immediate plans to use the government's rice stockpile. In response to queries about restricting the sale of local rice to foreigners, Mohamad Sabu clarified that there were no plans to implement such restrictions, emphasising that foreigners also contribute to the country's development and should have access to food.
Perak saw a boost in the investment value of its Automotive High-Technology Valley to RM40 bil, up from RM32 bil, largely due to Proton's decision to move its operations to Tanjung Malim. This includes a focus on electric vehicle manufacturing, creating job opportunities for 160,000 people over a decade. The move will also keep skilled workers in Perak rather than seeking employment elsewhere. Additionally, Perak is exploring industrial development opportunities in Bagan Serai and Parit Buntar.
The sale of a 33% stake in Boustead Plantations Bhd (BPlant) to Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd isn't a complete company sale, according to Defence Minister Mohamad Hasan. He clarified that this move by the Armed Forces Fund Board (LTAT) aims to address cash flow problems and settle Boustead’s debt by the end of 2023, preventing bankruptcy. The deal also grants LTAT and Boustead priority rights to develop land with a potential gross value of RM8 bil. BPlant’s recent profits came from plantation sales and rising palm oil prices, but they now require more financial resources for replanting due to ageing trees. This situation has prompted discussions to assist Boustead, which LTAT, a retirement fund for the armed forces, has invested significantly in the company.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
A whistleblower alleges that the CIA paid hush money to reject Covid-19 China lab leak theory
The issue regarding the origins of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, has been a subject of ongoing debate and investigation. A recent development suggests that a senior-level CIA officer has claimed that six of seven specialists investigating the virus’s origins were initially inclined to believe it came from a lab in Wuhan but were allegedly offered financial incentives, leading them to reverse their conclusion and instead state that the origin was uncertain.
Let’s look at the incentives — why would the CIA want to cover this up? Could it be because of the fact that funding for the infamous Wuhan Institute of Virology came from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)?
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2021 said the lab leak theory is extremely unlikely. Peter Ben Embarek, who led a joint investigation by the World Health Organization (WHO) and China into the origins of COVID-19, stated that their research suggested a "natural reservoir" for the virus in bats. However, the investigation indicated that it was unlikely for the virus to have originated directly in Wuhan.
J&T eyeing for a USD1 bil listing on HKSE
Established in 2015, J&T Express has grown to become a significant player in the logistics and courier industry, particularly in Southeast Asia. The company is eyeing a USD1 bil initial public offering (IPO) on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, but one thing stands in the way — regulatory hurdle. J&T recorded revenue of USD7.27 bil in 2022, with net profit of USD1.57 bil, compared with a USD1.52 bil revenue and USD664 mil loss in 2020.
In its prospectus (click here to view), the company claims that the fund will be used to raised to buy more sorting machines and equipment, add self-owned transportation vehicles and buy properties for warehouses. Additionally, the IPO proceeds will also be used to build up its business in the Middle East and Latin America, two new markets for the company. J&T also disclosed that its shareholding structure in Indonesia violated a local regulation that limits foreign ownership in a courier company to 49%. Its co-founders, Jet Lee and Tony Chen, and foreign investors such as China’s Tencent Holdings and California-based Sequoia Capital own the majority stake in the company.
Another peculiar item in J&T’s prospectus — fair value change seems to be a major contributor to the profitability in 2022.
The Butterfly Effect: How hedge funds’ arbitrages could (potentially) bring the world down
The Bank for International Settlements (BIS), often called the “central bank for central banks”, has issued a warning about the potential risks associated with leveraged bets in the US Treasuries market. Specifically, the BIS expressed concerns about the growth of the basis trade, where hedge funds exploit small differences in prices between Treasury bonds and their equivalents in the futures market. The BIS highlighted the build-up of leveraged short positions in US Treasury futures as a financial vulnerability worth monitoring. They are concerned that this could trigger margin spirals, potentially causing dislocations in the USD25 trillion market.
The US Treasury market is one of the world’s most closely watched as it sets borrowing costs for US government debt, with USD750 bil changing hands daily in August, according to data from Sifma.
Read: What is basis trading?
Taiwan-based Foxconn, the world's largest contract manufacturer of electronics, intends to double its workforce and investment in India by next year. V Lee, Foxconn's representative in India, announced this on LinkedIn to mark Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 73rd birthday.
Ant Group reportedly plans to exit its investment in A&T Capital, a USD100 million vehicle that played a central role in its digital asset investment strategy. This move suggests that Ant Group might be scaling back its involvement in the digital asset space, possibly due to regulatory concerns or changes in its strategic priorities.
Things that can only happen in Australia — a man fined AUD2,322 for taking his pet snake to surf with him on the Gold Coast beaches. Queensland’s Department of Environment and Science began investigating Higor Fiuza and his bredli carpet python Shiva after videos surfaced on social media. The department said Higor endangered Shiva and breached his permit to keep the snake by taking her out in public.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
It is the hardest for tennis players to make it big in the arena, as compared to other top sports.
The most streamed movies in 2022 — Encanto took the top spot with 27.4 billion minutes spent by streamers.