☕️ Tiered EPF employer contribution, dividend rate to address the nation's impending retirement crisis?
AWS to invest RM25.5 bil in MY over the next 15 years. Peculiar timing - LTAT to privatise Boustead Holdings Bhd, following Pharmaniaga fiasco. Tesla's Master Plan 3 - boring, uneventful.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
RM25.5 billion — the new investment from Amazon Web Services (AWS) over 15 years (average of RM1.7 bil per year) for a new infrastructure “region” in Malaysia. It is the largest international technology investment in the country to date. The company said the investment will accelerate digital adoption in the country further. Credit is given where it’s due — former Minister of International Trade and Industry Azmin Ali actually met representatives from AWS last year. Bittertweet from Azmin.
2,995 days (8 years, 3 months, 13 days) — the Guinness World Records set for most consecutive visits to Disneyland by 50-year-old Jeff Reitz from California, US, though in between, he had to pause due to the pandemic. He was awarded Honorary Citizenship by Disneyland after 366 days, a dinner for completion of Year 2 and a gift backpack when he reached Day 2,000 in 2017.
The year 2022 saw 187 internet shutdowns, documented by the digital rights group Access Now and the #KeepItOn campaign – a coalition of about 70 organisations. Internet shutdown is a common tool used by governments to silence dissent and control their populations without attracting the ire of the international community. India emerged as the biggest offender, with at least 84 shutdowns in 2022.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Flooding in Johor worsened
Over 25,000 people have been placed at 187 temporary flood relief centres since 8 am yesterday. The Johor disaster management committee said all 10 districts statewide have been hit by floods. The Meteorology Department has also put Johor in the red or dangerous zone for continuous rain. Hope the situation down south gets better soon.
Boustead Holdings Bhd to be privatised
Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT) made a voluntary takeover offer to privatise Boustead Holdings Bhd by buying the shares it does not own at 85.5 sen apiece. The armed forces pension fund is expected to fork out RM703.25 million for the deal based on the 40.58% it does not own. The offer price is at a 30.5% premium over the last traded price of Boustead shares at 65.5 sen prior to the announcement. However, 85.5 sen is a steep discount over the conglomerate’s net asset per share of RM1.64.
The timing is certainly odd, following the announcement of Pharmaniaga Bhd’s quarterly loss of RM402 million. Boustead owns a 52% stake in Pharmaniaga.
KLIA Aerotrain gave tourists a taste of Malaysia
114 passengers were stranded by the Aerotrain breakdown on Wednesday and had to walk almost half a kilometre to the Satellite Building in the typical Malaysian weather. Following the embarrassing incident, Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) announced all Aerotrain operations at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) Main Terminal have been suspended until further notice. MAHB managing director Iskandar Mizal Mahmood said the existing trains were beyond serviceability given that the assets were 25 years old. Malaysia Truly Asia.
In the circus of politics
Bersatu treasurer Mohamed Salleh Bajuri has been arrested by the MACC in relation to the use of the party funds. No further details on his arrest were divulged.
Mukhriz Mahathir, unable to fill his father’s shoes, decides to step into the shadows instead. The president of Pejuang said the party has submitted an application to join Perikatan Nasional (PN) in a desperate attempt to remain relevant. In Pejuang letter’s, it’s stated that the Pejuang wants to join PN to ensure there is no split in Malay votes in the upcoming elections. Fun fact — All 67 Pejuang candidates who competed in GE15 lost their deposits of RM10k each, including Tun M.
Kepala Batas MP (PN) got the flak for listing her achievements during her first 100 days as people’s representative. In her 100 days report card, she had attended a total of 58 weddings and thanksgiving ceremonies; and visited 58 funerals in the constituency. Does she deserve an A? Nah. She is a member of parliament (MP) — she definitely has bigger problems to solve.
Najib Razak’s 1MDB Tanore Case — RM2.28 bil deposits into his private bank accounts — is expected to drag on until November 2023. Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah added 30 days for the trial, which stretches to November 2023. The prosecution team are expecting five more witnesses to be called to testify on the case.
On another 1MDB-related note, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kim Kardashian were questioned by US Inland Revenue Service investigators and Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors for their ties with the mastermind, Jho Low. From a Monet painting to casino winnings of USD350,000 — crazy how connected Jho Low was — by buying his way into their world with our money. Read here.
Expect your luxury goods to be more expensive in the second half of 2023. Deputy Finance Minister Steven Sim said the luxury tax is expected to be rolled out by 2H2023. Sim assured that the tax will be at the introductory level and would not make the country less competitive.
A Kuching businessman almost lost RM1 million from his bank account just last week after answering a phone call. Fortunately, he managed to recover the funds after calling the National Scam Response Centre (NSRC) at 997. Weirdly, the RM1 million were transferred in two tranches — RM500,000 each — without OTP and notification to the man. Be vigilant. If you suspect you’re a victim of a scam, call 997.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
About EV: Tesla’s Master Plan 3, Chinese stocks hit by Tesla’s MP3, falling EV demand,
Elon Musk revealed Master Plan 3, the third part of Tesla’s “Master Plan”, in which the company targets to lead the world to eliminate fossil fuel and convert the world to sustainable energy. This comes 6 years after the second master plan, dubbed Part Deux. The nearly 3 hours long presentation by Musk and his core management team in short - boring and uneventful - enough to send its share price down 5% following the presentation. You can read the summary here.
There were no major announcements made, but still some worthy news to cover.
Tesla has been expected to unveil its much-awaited affordable EV to broaden its brand appeal but that did not occur, though engineers said that Tesla will cut assembly costs by half in its future generations of cars. A slide showed an image of 2 hidden vehicles, which Musk declined to comment on.
Tesla’s current global capacity was 2 mil cars per year and it targets to produce 20 mil units per year by 2030 in order to capture the mass market. Increasing production by 10x would require an additional 6x more investment of USD175 bil investment, according to Tesla’s CFO. Having only 4 models now priced at the higher end of the market (model S, 3, X, Y - get it?), Musk said Tesla would need as few as 10 models to hit the 20 mil mark, with an average sale of 2 mil per model. To compare, the world’s largest automaker, Toyota, sells just more than 1 mil Corollas a year globally.
Musk also announced that a new Tesla factory to be built in northern Mexico that would involve an investment of USD5 bil. This would be the company’s first factory outside the US, China and Germany. Most likely, another one coming soon to Southeast Asia - but definitely not Malaysia.
The Master Plan 3 presentation not only knocked down Tesla’s share price but various other EV-related Chinese listed companies. 3 announcements were made during the presentation that sparked the sell-offs of these Chinese stocks:
Tesla’s next drive unit will use a permanent magnet motor that doesn’t use rare earth metals, citing health and environmental risks
Tesla has designed its own transistor package that used 75% less silicon carbide
Tesla to drive down assembly costs by half, increasing margin concerns for these Chinese suppliers that count Tesla as an important customer
For all the hype of a greener future, ESG, and Zafrul happily promoting Tesla for merely setting up a retail presence in Malaysia, global EV sale has been on a downtrend, or to put it bluntly - collapsed. This is based on tracking by Oslo-based Rystad Energy, showing only 672,000 units were sold in Jan 2023, almost half of Dec 2022, and up by just 3% year-on-year over January 2022. EV market share tumbled to 14% in January, down from 23% in December. Rystad attributed this trend to tax credits and government subsidies that have been removed or reduced this year, dampening consumer sentiment.
Read Rystad’s statement here on the falling EV demand.
News from the land where its currency is worth 3.32x of MYR
The proportion of women directors appointed to the top 100 companies on the Singapore Exchange hit a record high in 2022. Women made up 36% of all directors versus 23% in 2021, and the highest since 2013 such data was collected. The long-term aim is to achieve a gender-balanced board - 60% men, 40% women. For Malaysia, the most recent data on gender representation of public-listed companies’ boards of directors was as of 1 July 2022 - read it here.
12,500 free round-trip air tickets to Hong Kong by Cathay Pacific allocated from the 500,000 announced earlier were snapped up within an hour. Malaysians’ turn to win these tickets will be from 16 Mar onwards. Sadly, only 7,000 tickets were allocated for Malaysia. Cathay requires users to register with them, take part in a quiz with 3 questions, and tickets will be distributed on a first-come-first-serve basis to those who get the answers right - visit here.
Singapore is hiking the threshold for global investors seeking permanent-residence status in Singapore in an attempt to create more jobs that benefit the locals and tackle the growing wealth gap caused partly by the influx of rich families from overseas. Applicants will need to invest at least SGD10 mil in a business, invest SGD25 mil in a government-approved fund, and for those establishing family offices, invest at least SGD50 mil in 4 four government-designated investment categories.
TikTok to set time limit for minors
The social media giant will impose a 60-minute time limit on users under age 18 in its attempt to address addiction towards the app and also introduce improved family monitoring features. That said, it is easy to bypass this as users would just have to enter a password to exceed the time limit. TikTok’s success to attract and engage users is both a badge of honour and a point of contention. It’s the most addictive social media app, according to Sensor Tower, with users spending at least 95 minutes a day on average.
Read TikTok’s statement here.
Rihanna x Puma is back
The German sportswear announced that it will be partnering with singer Rihanna again 5 years after she released a collection with Puma. Puma did not disclose the product line but featured Rihanna’s Fenty brand in its announcement. Rihanna has achieved success in the business world, equal to or beyond her music career - she’s a billionaire.
She made it onto Forbes 2022 Billionaire list with an estimated net worth of USD1.4 bil, largely contributed by her stake in Fenty Beauty, valued at USD2.8 bil, which is co-owned by French luxury conglomerate LVMH. Forbes estimated that Fenty Beauty generated about USD550 mil in revenue 1 year after it launched in 2020. May Rihanna’s new venture not go south like Beyonce’s, Beyonce has a similar partnership with Adidas, launching her Ivy Park clothing line - this isn’t going down too well.
Weekend Read: Retirement crisis in the making
Muhyiddin’s shortsighted solution to allow for early EPF withdrawals during the pandemic blew a massive RM145 bil hole (even bigger when factoring for compounding) in the coming retirement days of M40 and B40 Malaysians. One solution to filling the hole proposed in this article is to tier contribution rates by employers - higher rates for those with lower incomes. Read on to understand more and view the author’s analysis. There’s another (controversial) suggestion, which is tiering EPF dividend rates - read more here and here.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Teddy bears donation for child survivors of the recent earthquakes raining onto a football pitch during a match in Turkey
Hokusai - add this name alongside artists such as Pablo Picasso, Basquiat etc., that you know of. The iconic painting below, known as The Great Wave, was created by Japanese painter Hokusai in the 18th century. This painting is one of the 36 paintings in his most ambitious project called “36 views of Mount Fuji”, which he painted when he was 70.