Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ Rafizi: Subsidies bill to exceed >RM100 bil if oil hits USD100
KWAP readies RM500 mil to invest in local startups. foodpanda in talks to sell its ASEAN business, Grab rumoured to acquire for EUR1 bil. Tocoron - an actual prison with nightclubs, pool, mini zoo.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli has warned that if the world crude oil price reaches USD100 per barrel, the Malaysian government may need to bear more than RM100 bil in subsidies annually. He emphasised the importance of targeted subsidies as part of efforts to strengthen the country's fiscal position in the face of rising oil prices. Rafizi said the government will use the Primary Data Base (Padu) as the main mechanism for the targeted subsidy. That’s about a quarter of Malaysia’s 2023 Budget (RM388.1 bil).
The French government has allocated EUR200 mil to address challenges in the wine industry, including falling demand, overproduction, and the cost of living crisis. The majority of the funding will be used to purchase excess wine stock, which can be repurposed for products like hand sanitisers, cleaning items, and perfume. Rather than selling it for cheap, the French would rather destroy the surplus.
Americans currently hold a substantial USD28.7 trillion in home equity, as reported by LendingTree. Although this figure has decreased from its peak of USD31.8 trillion in Q2 2022, it still amounts to around USD334,000 of equity per owner-occupied housing unit in the United States. However, this is mainly paper value wealth though — home equity is defined as the actual property’s current market value less any charges/liabilities that are attached to that property, which one can loan against.
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3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Putrajaya’s final destination-esque trailer crash update
The sand-laden trailer driver, who hit a column of vehicles, resulting in two fatalities, stated that he could not brake his vehicle in time. However, Putrajaya district police chief A Asmadi believed that the driver should have had enough time to stop as per the closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage depicting the trailer switched from the middle to the left lane prior to hitting the vehicles. The 25-year-old driver was tested negative for drugs and had no prior offences.
NFSW — you can watch the video here.
The police outriders who were controlling the traffic at the accident site during training to identify the route for the Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) event adhered to all the SOPs. Although the real cause of this freak accident is unclear, according to Puspakom Sdn Bhd, for checks conducted on 270,385 heavy vehicles in 1H2022, only 15.8% of the vehicles failed to comply with the standards set by the Road Transport Department (JPJ). It was a comparatively small number, and most heavy vehicle accidents were still mainly caused by the driver itself, such as speed driving. In the context of this accident in Putrajaya, a normal vehicle driving at 60km/h needs at least 45 meters to fully stop, while heavy vehicles would require more. One may assume that the lorry driver overestimated his driving skills.
National rice crisis
Agriculture and Food Security Minister Mohamad Sabu said that the move to empower the Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Ministry’s personnel in matters related to enforcement duties of the current rice supply issues will only be considered if the situation becomes more severe. At this moment, Mat Sabu signalled that the situation is still ‘under control’. Recently, Putrajaya announced the Beras Rahmah initiative, where imported white rice will be sold at around RM13 - RM14 per five-kilogram pack, as a short-term stop-gap measure to mitigate the low supply of locally produced ‘cheap rice’ in the market.
In Selangor, Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari said that any rice supply shortage in areas across the state can be resolved within 24 hours. So, for example, if your local supermarket runs out of rice, you can lodge a report to the Kawal Selia Padi dan Beras Negeri Selangor at the agency's hotline and within a day, the rice supply at that location will be replenished. Amirudin stated that panic buying is the main cause of the rice supply shortage in the state.
While in Kelantan, our folks in the northern east coast state of Peninsular Malaysia seemed to be unbothered by the ongoing national crisis. This is because the demand for local rice is low and the stocks of local rice are always available. Although the price of Thai rice or ‘beras siam’ is more expensive (RM4 per kg compared to local rice’s RM2.60 per kg), Kelantanese preferred the smuggled Thai rice more as the quality of the rice is way superior compared to our local rice. I guess kudos to Kelantanese for having a better quality of life in terms of rice consumption.
Malaysia open to purchasing more Turkish military hardware
During a sidebar meeting between Malaysian and Turkish officials, in conjunction with the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, PM Anwar Ibrahim said that the country is willing to buy more military hardware from Turkey. However, the final decision will still rest with the Malaysian Armed Forces Council to decide what is best for the Malaysian military. Previously in 2022, Malaysia purchased three Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI)’s Anka drones and recently, it was rumoured that Turkish-based Roketsan had won the USD20 mil contract to supply 108 Karaok anti-tank guided weapons to Malaysia.
KWAP goes into the venture capital arena
Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (Diperbadankan) (KWAP), a pension fund for local civil servants, has set aside RM500 mil under Dana Perintis to invest RM250 mil each into Malaysia-focused venture capital (VC) funds and as direct injection into local startups in the next 18-24 months. The priority sectors will be the silver economy, food security, education, energy transition, financial inclusion and digital economy. On a side note, for the first seven months of 2023, KWAP achieved a total unaudited gross investment income of RM3.8 bil with assets under management (AUM) standing at RM184.5 bil.
Proton 🤝 Smart
Proton Holdings Bhd and Smart Automobile are exploring the possibilities of manufacturing the Smart models in Proton’s Tanjung Malim plant. At this moment, Proton is already the distributor of the Smart electric vehicle in the ASEAN region and this possible upgrade into Smart’s manufacturing partner will surely boost Proton’s aspiration to introduce its own electric vehicle by 2025.
Sarawak to invest RM10 bil in sour gas system
Sarawak Premier Abang Johari announced that the state is investing more than RM10 bil into the Sarawak Integrated Sour Gas Evacuation System (SISGES) in Tanjung Kidurong, as part of the move to make Bintulu the hub for sour gas. Sour gas is a natural gas that contains high levels of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and carbon dioxide (CO2). Sour gas is mainly used for electricity power generation, fertiliser production and can also be injected back into oil reservoirs to help increase oil production. Recently, a sour gas reinjection in Kazakhstan increased the country’s total oil and condensate output by 7%.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
AI: for better, for worse
Researchers from the University of Tokyo believes it may have developed an AI system that could understand the emotional state of chickens based on a technique called “Deep Emotional Analysis Learning”, which analyses changing vocal pattern. The system is found to be capable of translating various emotional states of the chickens, including fear, hunger, excitement, and distress. The experiment was tested on 80 chickens in collaboration with a team of animal psychologists and veterinarians. There are some limitations nonetheless - variations in breeds and complexity of some communications, such as body language.
What’s the significance of this? This system would help improve animal welfare in animal-related industries or, in the words of the lead researcher, “design a much better world” for animals. This also takes us a step closer to talking to animals, like the case of Dug in the movie Up.
At least 20 teenage girls in a Spanish town have reported that they saw AI-generated naked photos of themselves circulated on social media and around schools. A mother of a victim said the photo looked so real if she didn’t know the body of her 14-year-old daughter. An image of one of those girls had the logo of the AI-powered app ClothOff that “undresses anybody with our free service”, according to its website.
Deals, deals, deals
Delivery Hero, the parent company of foodpanda, headquartered in Germany, confirmed that they are in talks to sell some parts of their business, mainly under the foodpanda brand, in 7 ASEAN countries, namely Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and the Philippines. A German business magazine reported that Grab could be a potential buyer, paying a little more than EUR1 bil (RM5 bil) for these 7 markets.
Grab has USD5.6 bil of cash on its balance sheet as of June 30, so they can pretty much afford it. If it materialises, it would be an anti-competition concern for consumers and regulators as Grab will be essentially dominating the food delivery market. Also, a question is how this would affect AirAsia’s partnership with foodpanda signed in May. AirAsia is embarking on its own superapp journey.
foodpanda, HQ in Singapore, operates in 12 markets in Asia Pacific. Delivery Hero acquired the company in 2016 for USD500 mil.
Billionaires on hotel shopping spree in Singapore. At least 10 members of this 3-commas club are now investing more than SGD6 bil (RM20.6 bil) to build new hotels and expand their operations across the city-state, with a focus along Singapore’s main shopping strip on Orchard Road.
Toshiba, the Japanese conglomerate, is set to end its 74-year stock market history since it started trading in May 1949 on the Tokyo Stock Exchange as a consortium of investors led by private equity firm Japan Industrial Partners has purchased 78.65% of its shares in a deal worth USD14 bil to take it private. The firm’s history dates back to 1875 when it started out as a maker of telegraph equipment and now businesses ranging from electronics to nuclear power plants.
The past few years had been a tough ride for the company as it was embroiled in a multi-billion dollar accounting scandal, massive losses from its US nuclear power business and was found to have colluded with the Japanese government to suppress the interests of foreign investors.
Studio Ghibli, the legendary anime studio founded by famed Hayao Miyazaki, who is now 82, has been acquired by private broadcaster Nippon TV to ensure the continuity of the studio. Deal terms were not disclosed. The studio has built a cult following around the world. It is behind the famous character Totoro and one of the highest-grossing anime films, Spirited Away (watch trailer here), which grossed USD380 mil globally. The highly anticipated Ghibli Theme Park was opened in Nov last year - check it out here.
Former New York mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg (the owner of the Bloomberg financial media empire) will pump another USD500 mil into the next phase of his energy transition campaign, the Beyond Carbon initiative, aiming to shut down “every last” coal plant in the US and slash gas-fired capacity in half by 2030. The money would support litigation against utilities and power companies and financing to assist local communities with coal plant closures.
Imagine a theme park but in a prison. Venezuela, with some 11,000 security personnel, has taken back control of the Tocoron prison, which inmates have run for years. Pool, nightclub, mini zoo, bank, casino — all available there. The jail also doubled as the HQ of Tren de Aragua, Venezuela’s most powerful transnational gang. It is reported that the gang’s leader, Hector Guerrero Flores, had escaped the prison. Take a tour of the
theme parkprison here.
Weekend Read: YTL - Futureproofing the 68-year-old infrastructure conglomerate
A cover story by Forbes on one of Malaysia’s largest conglomerates with businesses ranging from hotels to utilities, YTL, redefining itself and making big bets in the solar-powered data centre business.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Apple’s iOS17 is out. 17 cool features to check out. My favourites - no more duckin’ autocorrect.
If you have watched the American comedy White Chicks (2004), you will appreciate the below. The original scene in the movie here. The movie trailer here - perhaps a movie to Netflix and chill to over the weekend.
Malaysian values practised by Malaysian politicians and rakan-rakan.