Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ RM28,880 per scoop of the world's most expensive ice cream certified by Guinness World Records
Asst. account in a gov agency stole RM24.8 mil, unnoticed for 7 years. RM20 bil mixed development project in Genting Highlands. SG President (not PM) stepping down.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
The US Markets were closed in observation of Memorial Day.
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
USD4.1 bil — the take-home earnings of hedge fund Citadel CEO Ken Griffin in 2022, making it the highest among hedge fund managers last year and also the most ever in the 22-year history of the rankings by Institutional Investor. Whilst the S&P500 lost almost 20% last year, Citadel’s flagship fund posted a staggering 38.1% gain, outperforming the S&P500 by nearly 60%. 2022 also marked the fund’s best year in 13 years, returning 117% over a 3-year period. Citadel made USD16 bil in 2022 and returned USD7 bil to investors. See the ranking here.
Between 1995 to 2013, Southeast Asia accounted for 41% of the world’s pirate attacks, according to Time. The eastern coast of Sub-Saharan Africa and the Malacca Strait are the two major global hotspots for maritime piracy. It turns out, climate change played a huge part in the increase in maritime piracy, according to a new study. Fishermen resorted to part-time piracy activities as their livelihoods are affected by low fish supply.
Read study: Climate change, fish production and maritime piracy.
JPY880,000 (RM28,880) — the cost of 1 scoop of the world’s most expensive ice cream, according to the Guinness World Records. Japanese ice cream brand Cellato took 1.5 years to develop Byakuya - “white knight” in Japanese — that comes with edible gold leaf, white truffle and natural cheeses. RM28.9k gets you 5,760 Menu Rahmah meals at either KFC or Pizza Hut — these two brands, owned by QSR Brands, became the 3,000th company to participate in the Menu Rahmah initiative, said Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Minister Salahuddin Ayub.
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3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
A public servant cunningly siphoned millions of public money for the past 7 years
Deputy PM Zahid Hamidi, also holding the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development portfolio, told the media that a 37-year-old assistant accountant allegedly embezzled a mouth-watering RM24.8 mil since December 2016. The public servant who worked in an agency under Zahid’s ministry which is the South Kelantan Development Authority (Kesedar), also utilised the identification details (IDs) of another nine individuals working in Kesedar to siphon off the money from the agency to a company under his name via 194 transactions. The mystery of the missing money is solved — now, how did it go unnoticed for 7 years?
Malaysia detains a suspected Chinese ship that illegally salvages old shipwrecks
Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) detained a China-registered bulk carrier ship off the coast of Johor for failing to show anchoring permits. The boat that is carrying 32 crew is also believed to be the same ship that scavenged two British World War Two wrecks off the coast of Malaysia — the HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse as cannon shells and scrap metal were found onboard upon further investigation by MMEA.
So, why is the Chinese ship willing to go all the way to our territory in search of old and rusty metal? These old underwater shipwrecks are rich with low-background steel that is used for ultra-sensitive scientific and medical instruments and equipment. Low-background steel is steel manufactured before 1945, a period when the atmosphere was not contaminated by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. Current steel that has a high presence of radioactivity can negatively affect the accuracy of sensitive equipment, so that is why old sunken shipwrecks are the new gold.
Putrajaya stated that the agreed Kuala Lumpur-Karak Expressway (KLK) expansion project between the Gombak toll plaza and the Mempaga intersection (Central Spine Road) in Bentong will commence by Q3 2023 and be completed in 2026. The RM2.1 bil expansion project will also include the construction of an additional tunnel at Genting Sempah and the installation of new street lights along the highway.
The Sarawak State Government has officially submitted a proposal for the construction of a Trans-Borneo Railway. The proposed train service that will run across the island of Borneo will pass through Sabah and connect to Kalimantan, which will house the new capital of Indonesia, Nusantara. No mention of costs.
This idea has been mooted and considered before. In 2022, then Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong stated that the Ministry of Transport had no intention to study the feasibility of a railway network linking Sarawak and Sabah to Kalimantan. The ministry’s focus at the time was more towards prioritising air transport in connecting the cities and towns on the Borneo island.
The Pahang State Government is betting the heaven to boost its tourism sector
Pahang Menteri Besar Wan Rosdy witnessed the launching of Genting Xintiandi, an RM20 bil gross development value (GDV) mix-development project that will be situated 3,000 feet above sea level in Gohtong Jaya. The project that will be jointly developed by Genting Malaysia Bhd (GENM) and Aset Kayamas will be located on a 60 acres site and will take about 15 years to complete. Genting Highlands area is one of the key tourism powerhouse in Pahang and this new project is believed to attract more tourists in the future. Durian runtuh for the shareholders, but let’s hope for no tanah runtuh.
While it is all rainbow and sunshine in the Genting company, not all is well in the Genting family. The daughters of the late Lim Siew Kim, who is the child of the late founder of the Genting group of companies, Lim Goh Tong, are disputing the will of their mother in court. The two children, Chan T’shiao Li and Kimberly Chan T’shiao Miin, stated that there was malice in the execution of the will and claimed that they are the rightful heir of her mother’s assets. According to the current Siew Kim’s will, the RM1.6 bil is 70% divided to the Dikim Foundation, where Siew Kim’s lawyer, Low Beng Choo, was made a director of the foundation after the death of Siew Kim. The remaining assets are given to Siew Kim’s only son Marcus.
KL Sentral LRT Station is now known as ‘KL Sentral redONE’
Prasarana Integrated Development Sdn Bhd (Pride, not the other Pride) announced a five-year partnership with mobile virtual network operator redONE Network Sdn Bhd for the latter to plaster its name beside the KL Sentral LRT Station. redONE CEO Farid Yunus stated that this partnership is a smart move by his company as the main demographics of the mobile virtual network operator’s customers are the B40 and M40 groups, and securing the naming rights of the KL Sentral LRT Station makes marketing sense.
It is unconfirmed how much Pride is getting from this deal. But if we benchmarked with other previous deals, Pride is likely to bag no less than RM10 mil as Bank Rakyat paid RM10 mil for a five-year deal to obtain the naming rights for the Bangsar LRT Station back then in 2015. Factor in inflation, KL Sentral being a prime location and higher footfall, a price tag above RM20 mil isn’t that farfetched.
Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) had denied the rumour that its indirect unit Malaysia Marine and Heavy Engineering Holdings Bhd (MHB) will merge with the debt-saddled Sapura Energy Bhd in a potential play to consolidate the two key players in the oil and gas service industry. Sapura, where’s the white knight with a shining RM1.8 bil war chest to save the company?
Turnaround on the horizon at Air Asia X Bhd (AAX). The airline just released its Q1 performance for the quarter ended 31 Mar 2023. Some highlights:
4x surge in revenue to RM548.8 mil from RM113.02 mil a year earlier.
Net profit was a massive RM328 mil. However, this was boosted by a reversal of RM265.9 mil in provisions on debts and investments.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), a common profitability metric for capex-heavy industry, came in at RM360.3 mil, 36% higher than pre-pandemic in 2019.
Passenger load factor at 80% vs pre-pandemic at 83%.
Flew 504,476 passengers
17 aircraft in its fleet, with 11 active and operational
Shareholder’s equity at RM40.8 mil vs negative shareholder equity of RM285.2 mil in the preceding quarter, paving the way for the company to exit its PN17 classification.
Average base far per passenger of RM785 and the average ancillary revenue per passenger (baggage fees, cancellations, assigned seats etc) of RM244. In other words, 23.7% of the average total revenue per passenger is derived from ancillary income.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
US largest insurer stops homeowner application in California
Growing risk from catastrophes like wildfires and inflation (i.e. rising construction costs) in California now is so significant that State Farm, the US largest property and casualty and auto insurance provider, couldn’t even bear to stomach the risk and has stopped accepting new homeowner applications. Existing customers will continue to be served.
Wildfires have been a years-long issue in California, leading to insurance companies dropping customers from the state. The 2018 Camp Fire destroyed 11,000 homes and displaced nearly 50,000 people, leading to a USD8.4 bil in insured losses, making up the major chunk of the USD12.4 bil in damages claims from California wildfires in 2018.
The FTX aftermath at Temasek
Singapore’s state-owned investment firm Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd said it slashed compensation of senior management and the investment team responsible for the FTX investment that led to a loss of USD275 mil for the firm. Its internal review found no misconduct amongst its staff and lay the blame on FTX for “fraudulent conduct intentionally hidden from investors”.
Temasek is also capping exposure to early-stage companies at 6%or SGD24 bil of its total portfolio of SGD403 bil as of 31 Mar 2022. The firm said its early-stage investments are slightly above the industry average for venture capital funds. Its Chief Investment Officer Rohit Sipahmalani said such investments allow the firm to keep abreast of trends and in technology and innovation. Some of the successful early bets Temasek took: Alibaba in 2010 and BioNTech, Pfizer’s partner in creating the Covid-19 vaccine. A spillover benefit of this investment — BioNTech is setting up a manufacturing facility in Singapore and making it the German company’s regional HQ.
Kudos to Temasek on enforcing accountability — hard to come by investment professionals bearing the brunt of a bad investment. More often than not, their situation is usually a ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ kinda situation.
Singapore President to step down, not running for second term
Singapore’s eighth and first woman President Halimah Yacob announced that she will not be running for a second term in the upcoming election this year. The 66-year-old was appointed in 2017 and her term ends this 13 Sep.
The 2017 presidential election was a unique one as it was reserved for members of the Malay community to contest, as the community had no member elected as president in the past five terms. Halimah was the first Malay president in 47 years. Constitutional amendments were made in Nov 2016 to mandate the reservation of the elected presidency for candidates from a particular racial group should there not have been a president from that group in the past five most recent presidential terms. She was also the first woman Speaker of Parliament in 2013.
On the surface, her presidency is a sign of progress, but look deeper, it was filled with controversies - an interesting read here on the multiple angles Singaporeans weren’t happy with the process of her coming into power.
Turkey has decided on its president after round 2 of the election or run-off election. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won the re-election, securing 52.16% of votes vs his challenger, Kemal Kilicdaroglu with 47.84% of votes. Erdogan will serve his third term as the president. Tough road ahead for him to rebuild the nation after a deadly earthquake and persisting inflation.
Geofencing - the tech McDonald’s and Chick-Fil-A will leverage to make the perfect crispy fries when a mobile order is made. The tech will allow these chains to track the customer’s location so staff will only prepare to prepare the meals when they’re nearby. In the case of McDonald’s, the chain receives an alert when the mobile order customer is 3 minutes away. The pursuit of perfect takeaway fries - is this a good reason to enable location tracking on their app?
It has been five months since Cristiano Ronaldo started playing for Al Nassr in the Saudi Pro League. Football is a team game — but in this case, Ronaldo’s massive star power has elevated not just the club on the global stage but also the league and attracted other big-name players to join the league. Take Al Nassr’s Instagram, for example - before Ronaldo joined, it had 860,000 followers and has jumped by 17x to 14.7 mil followers now with Ronaldo on board. Read here on the further impact Ronaldo brand has brought to Saudi Arabia’s football world.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
There’s the LGBT that divides us, and there’s the LGBT that unites us, especially in this crazy hot weather.
Michelle Yeoh addresses the Harvard Law School Class of 2023.