Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ The Genting Job - casino heist, RM4.6 mil chips stolen
Winner winner, chicken dinner - chicken subsidy withdrawn, prices drop, govt saves RM100 mil per month. Big Oil aims to be Big EV. Ukraine might be forced to a peace talk with Russia soon.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
92 — Malaysia rose 17 places in the rankings for democracy representation in 2021. It’s something to be proud of, as dozens of nations globally experienced recent declines in democratic values. Malaysia has made significant progress in representation over the past five years due to credible elections and the establishment of free political parties. The price we paid — four prime ministers in a span of five years. The Global State of Democracy 2023 study was done by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), a Swedish political advocacy group. Read the full report here.
1,160 individuals have been detained by the police for suspected involvement in call centre scam syndicates for various scamming offences for the first nine months of this year. Some 148 raids were conducted to cripple the scam call centres in the same period of the year.
The average salary of a CEO of big companies in the S&P500 index earned USD14 mil last year, according to data provider MyLogIQ. Only 250 times as much as the average worker. Over the past decade, the median pay for CEOs of big companies in the S&P500 index has climbed by 18% — twice the rise in the median full-time wage in the US. It’s all relative — the total compensation of S&P 500 CEOs last year was equal to 0.5% of the net profit of the index’s firms and 0.03% of their combined market value.
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3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Two PN MPs apparently poached to switch sides
Kubang Pasu MP Ku Abd Rahman Ku Ismail and Besut MP Che Mohamad Zulkifly Jusoh revealed during a press conference that they were offered positions and projects in return for pledging support for PM Anwar Ibrahim. Ku Abd Rahman apparently received a WhatsApp message from an unnamed individual with an offer to build a hotel in his constituency. Meanwhile, Zulkifly received an email with a similar offer. The claims were unable to be verified.
Coalition government spokesperson Fahmi Fadzil were quick to dismiss the claims, stating that the current support for PM Anwar Ibrahim was sufficient and exceeded the 149 MPs for a two-thirds majority.
Following a meeting by Bersatu’s disciplinary board last Friday (Nov 3), Kuala Kangsar MP Iskandar Dzulkarnain Abdul Khalid has been suspended as a Bersatu member for four years for violating Article 22.1 (f) of the party’s constitution after pledging his support for Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s leadership. Now why would opposition leader Hamzah Zainuddin suspend Iskandar after claiming that the latter was coerced to show support to PM Anwar? You be the judge of the situation.
A couple more things on politics
The Dewan Rakyat website may publish the names of MPs found to be deliberately absent from Parliamentary sittings so that their parliamentary constituents can be informed of the matter. It’s pending the Parliamentary committee’s approval. Muhyiddin Yassin and Hadi Awang will likely make regular appearances on the list if it gets implemented.
The Jepak state seat by-election held over the weekend has been won by incumbent Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), with nearly double the majority it received in the 2021 state election. GPS candidate Iskandar Turkee garnered 9,638 votes, giving him a winning majority of 8,784 yesterday, according to the Election Commission (EC).
The chicken subsidy was withdrawn last week, but why did prices fall?
Last week, Nov 1, the price controls of chicken (ceiling price of RM9.40 per kg) were discontinued and allowed to free float (i.e. follow market forces of supply and demand). Agriculture and Food Security Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu (Mat Sabu) said the government could save RM100 mil per month by floating chicken prices.
When the plan was first announced, many were worried about the rise in food prices. Consumers Association of Kedah (Cake) president Yusrizal Yusoff said the plan could aggravate the people’s cost of living. Yusrizal asked the government to instead focus on strengthening and building the capacity of local poultry breeders for sustainable food security.
The good news is that the price of chicken didn’t go up (above the ceiling price) but dropped below the controlled price. Two major supermarkets in the country were selling chicken between RM7 and RM7.40 per kg. Federation of Livestock Farmers' Associations of Malaysia (FLFAM) adviser Jeffrey Ng said there is always adequate chicken supply in the country. Ng added that the demand for chicken tends to increase during festive seasons, but only for a short period of time.
The power of a free market. But will the price of our chicken rice reflect this fall in raw ingredient cost?
MYAirline fiasco gave more trouble to its co-founder Allan Goh Hwan Hwa. Bernama reported that Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) Director Commissioner Ramli Mohamed said the police have opened a new investigation paper on Goh after receiving 67 police reports about the i-Serve investment scheme. The case, involving the losses of over RM81 mil in an investment scheme, is being investigated under Section 420 of the Penal Code for fraud.
Serba Dinamik Holdings Bhd's request for an extension to release its annual report for the financial year ended June 30, 2023 (FY2023) was denied by Bursa Malaysia. The financially distressed oil and gas company was supposed to release its FY2023 annual report by Oct 30, 2023. The Practice Note 17 (PN17) status company said it will file an appeal against the rejection with Bursa Securities.
So what happens next? When a company files to disclose its annual report within a timely manner (within four months from the close of the financial year), Bursa Malaysia can suspend the trading of the securities (Serba is already suspended), public/private reprimand, fines, de-list, and any other actions deem fit. Good luck to Serba Dinamik Holdings Bhd’s shareholders.
Casino chips worth RM4,607,800 were stolen from a casino in Genting Highlands last week. Apparently, one of the rooms where the chips were stored had been broken into by force. At least 10 suspects have been arrested so far. No further details were divulged as the case is still under investigation. There is only one way in and out of Genting — this must have been quite a tight operation. The Genting Job.
Opposition leader Hamzah Zainudin claimed many Malaysians on social media want Perikatan Nasional (PN) to take over the government. Hamzah said comments on social media have criticised the unity government for failing to resolve pertinent issues affecting them. Maybe our democratic ranking can be even higher if voting can be done via social media.
On the National Service Training Program (PLKN), the Defence Ministry has clarified that only those born in 2007 (and onwards) will be called for the program if it is to be implemented by next year. The ministry explained that the trainees would be selected based on their year of birth. The maximum age limit to become a trainee is 35 if the trainee defers the training.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Big Oil aims to be Big EV
Oil and gas giants are waking up to an electric vehicle (EV) future and starting to invest across the value chains. Here’s what some of these O&G giants are up to:
EV ‘pumps’ or charging station is a hot play amongst Big Oil. BP has given Elon Musk’s Tesla some business — it is purchasing USD100 mil worth of Tesla Superchargers, making it the first deployment of Tesla’s chargers on an independent network in the US. BP Pulse, the firm’s charging business, has installed more than 27,000 charging plugs and aims to get to 100,000 by 2030, involving an investment of USD1 bil.
Shell Recharge, the Big Oil’s charging arm, is quite far ahead compared to BP. It has 140,000 operating plugs globally and earlier this year bought Volta, a US charging provider, for USD169 mil to spearhead its Big EV ambition. In September, it opened a massive charging hub in Shenzhen, China, with 258 points (a typical charging station has 4 to 12 plugs) in partnership with China’s EV OG, BYD - check it out here.
Unlike its European peers, US Big Oil is less keen on charging play and more interested in what they do best — extracting raw materials, or lithium in this case, which is a key component in EV batteries. In the middle of the year, Exxon Mobil bought up 120,000 acres of land in Arkansas for more than USD100 mil for the purpose of lithium mining. Exxon’s CEO said they can produce lithium “at a much lower cost” than traditional mining. Its peer, Chevron, is also said to be considering the same. Little did we know that oil drilling can produce lithium-rich brine as a byproduct, which has historically been ignored.
Ukraine might be forced to a peace talk with Russia soon
Western officials have begun discussing holding peace negotiations with Russia and Ukraine as growing fears amongst the Western officials, namely the US and EU, that the war has reached a stalemate and that it will be won by whoever can hold out the longest, concerns over keeping up with the growing supply of aid to Ukraine and Ukraine running out of forces, unlike Russia which has 3x the population of Ukraine. Particularly, the shortages of the army are a major concern for the Biden administration, as the lack of competent forces will render any weapons supplied useless. US officials said that Ukraine likely will only have until the end of the year before it needs to begin peace negotiations.
Apple’s fourth straight quarter of declining revenue
Apple announced that its revenue dipped marginally by 1% to USD89.5 bil in the quarter ending Sep 30, compared to the same period last year, though net income is up 10% to USD22.9 bil (a juicy 25.6% net margin!). Some highlights:
iPhones contributed USD43.8 bil in sales or nearly 49% of its quarterly revenue.
As for the rest of its products (i.e. Macs, iPads, wearables), they contributed 51%.
Services (i.e. Apple Music, TV+, iCloud) hit a record-high of USD22.3 bil in revenue, up 16% year-on-year.
Apple remains a cash-rich company — it has USD162 bil cash on hand.
View: Apple’s consolidated financial statements.
Twitter (or X) is in the midst of planning to roll out a username marketplace, making good on a promise by Elon Musk to rid the site of inactive accounts and dormant handles (and also another way to monetise). Twitter defines an account as inactive if no one has logged into it within the last 30 days. It is seeking buyers willing to pay up to USD50,000 for the perfect handle. Twitter’s valuation has dropped an average of nearly USD70 mil a day during Musk’s first year of ownership, down 55% from the price Musk paid to take the company private at USD44 bil.
31-year-old ‘Crypto King’ Sam Bankman-Fried of bankrupt crypto exchange FTX has been found guilty on all 7 counts of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering and faces a maximum of 110 years of prison. The crypto exchange imploded after it was revealed that he allegedly misused USD8 bil of customers’ funds. As usual, like all criminals, he maintained his innocence.
Singapore’s PM Lee Hsien Loong announced that he will hand over the party’s leadership to Deputy PM Lawrence Wong before the next general election, which has to be called by Nov 2025. Lee previously said he would step down before his 70th birthday, which was in Feb 2022, but the plan was disrupted by the pandemic. Lawrence Wong, 51, has been endorsed as the leader of the party’s fourth-generation or 4G.