Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ Women, Family & Community Development Minister Rina Harun in the spotlight again for the wrong reasons
PSA: Android users, to protect your bank accounts, don't simply install unknown APKs. BNM okays UOB MY acquisition of Citigroup MY. Starbucks unveils "Reinvention Plan". Ferrari's first-ever SUV.
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1. MARKET SUMMARY
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE
7.7% — JP Morgan’s forecast of Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2022. The figure is likely to be one of the highest in the region.
80,000 — the daily number of vehicles expected to use the Sungai Besi-Ulu Kelang Elevated Expressway (SUKE) along Sri Petaling to Jalan Hulu Kelang once it is operational. Senior works minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof will officiate the new RM5.7 billion highway tonight. The 24.4km highway is expected to reduce congestion in the eastern part of the city by 30%.
That said, building more highways is not a long-term solution to congestion.
The divorce that keeps giving — MacKenzie Scott, the former wife of Jeff Bezos, has given two Beverly Hills mansions worth about USD55 million to a housing charity, the California Community Foundation. Since the divorce, MacKenzie has given away more than USD12.5 bil of her wealth.
“Then there is the British Commonwealth where the wealth is not common.”
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Former PM Najib Razak was unable to attend his RM2.28 bil 1MDB corruption trial yesterday due to a blood pressure-related condition. He is given a two-day medical leave and is still warded at Kuala Lumpur Hospital (HKL). The trial would only resume on Sept 26. Let’s pray for a speedy recovery for Najib, so he can attend his trials as soon as possible.
Doraemon Minister Rina Harun went viral for the wrong reasons.
Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rina Harun posted a video meant to promote the ministry’s entrepreneurial programme at the World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur but it backfired. The video showed actor Rosyam Nor berating women for being “always late” and claiming he would “smack their heads”. Rina was seen smiling beside Rosyam when those remarks were made. Pengerang MP Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said slams the minister, saying the word “women” should be removed from the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry’s name.
We feel sorry for the women in Malaysia for having such a minister to fend for them. There are many ways to promote an event without the need to bring women down.
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Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) approved UOB’s acquisition of Citi’s consumer banking business in Malaysia.
Early this year, UOB and Citigroup announced the proposed transaction for the former to acquire the latter’s consumer banking business in Malaysia. The transaction is expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2022. All of Citi Malaysia’s retail banking and consumer credit card businesses would be transferred to UOB Malaysia upon completion of the acquisition.
Audit firm Grant Thornton managing partner charged with eight counts of CBT.
Narendra Jasani, a country managing partner with audit firm Grant Thornton, was charged before two separate Sessions Court judges with a total of eight counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT) amounting to RM2.38 million. Narendra is alleged to have committed the crime in his capacity as a manager and receiver of Sabah Forest Industries Sdn Bhd (SFI) over deposits belonging to Pelangi Prestasi Sdn Bhd. Grant Thornton Malaysia said it disagrees with the charges and will be vigorously defending Jasani with facts and evidence.
Pelangi Prestasi Sdn Bhd is a firm owned by tycoon Syed Mokhtar Albukhary vying to take over SFI.
Genting Group’s business in Hong Kong and Macau.
To consolidate the ownership of such trademarks and intellectual property rights under a single entity, Genting Bhd’s 50% indirectly-owned associate Resorts World Inc Pte Ltd is buying the entire stake in cruise trademarks owner Star Market Holdings Ltd for USD3.5 million (RM15.84 million) from Genting Hong Kong Ltd’s (Genting HK) 100%-owned subsidiary Star Cruises Asia Holding Ltd.
Left hand to right hand.
Meanwhile, GMM Ltd (a related co. of the Genting Group) is said to be one of the seven companies bidding on new casino licences in the world’s biggest gaming hub — Macau, with new contracts set to start at the beginning of 2023.
Do not simply download APKs (Android Package Kit) from unknown sources.
Five suspects in connection with a scam using compromised Android apps. have been detained by the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM). Investigations showed that the suspects created and used fake profiles on online chat platforms to entice victims to download an APK (Android Package Kit or installation file). The download then enables funds to be transferred from the victims’ bank accounts (to a third party).
Malaysia will be represented by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah at the state funeral ceremony of Queen Elizabeth II in London on Monday (Sept 19).
Bursa Malaysia Chairman Abdul Wahid Omar said Malaysia is unlikely to go into recession due to the diversified structure of its economy, and over time, the country has been less dependent on commodities. Wahid added the strength and stability financial system are also crucial to Malaysia’s resilience.
Regulated digital asset exchange (DAX) operator Luno will be bringing two cryptocurrencies — Cardano and Solana — onto its platform on Sept 21 and Oct 6, respectively.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Foreign spies on Twitter.
Twitter whistleblower and former security chief Peiter Zatko testified to Congress following his explosive whistleblower complaint on security vulnerabilities and flaws at Twitter that there the company was warned by the FBI that there is at least one Chinese MSS agent (China’s intelligent services) at the company. Zatko informed the company of the threat but an executive brushed it off. He earlier alleged that the Indian government had forced the company to hire one of its agents with access to sensitive user data.
European energy players’ differing fortunes.
Bailouts and windfall taxes are both concurrently implemented in Europe’s energy sector, which has turned into a mess due to sanctions on Russia.
The unfortunate ones — utility providers. Germany, Sweden and Finland are offering funding of a combined EUR100 bil to assist utility companies that are forced to pay higher gas prices. Germany had earlier bailed out its utility giant Uniper totalling EUR19 bil.
The fortunate ones — renewable energy generators, oil, gas, coal and refining firms. The green utility providers (e.g. wind, solar, nuclear) will have their revenue capped, with the excess cash going back to support consumers. The fossil fuel firms will face a windfall profit levy of 33% on their “unexpected profits”.
In related bailout news, fortunately for Germany, it made a windfall of EUR760 mil from the sale of a stake in its flagship carrier Lufthansa AG after it invested EUR306 mil during the Covid lockdowns to keep the airline afloat. Khazanah ought to learn something here.
Russia’s ‘influencer’ campaign
Declassified US intelligence assessment released alleged that Russia has covertly spent more than USD300 mil since 2014 to influence politicians in more than 24 countries calling this an “assault on sovereignty”. The assessment did not specify the countries or officials involved. However, these parties are being privately briefed by US intelligence on Russia’s covert financing. Some methods used — setting up foundations and fictitious companies.
This is a case of the pot calling the kettle black — the US has a long history of meddling with elections and domestic affairs of other countries. A researcher found that between 1946 to 2000, the US intervened in 81 elections of other nations.
Starbucks unveils “Reinvention Plan”
Starbucks announced a slew of plans during its biennial investor Day. Changes in consumption patterns due to the pandemic has seen orders increasing for pickups, drive-thru only and delivery-only and Starbucks is now becoming a ‘cold drinks’ company with iced drinks now contributing to 70% of its sales, particularly popular amongst Gen Z and millennials. The coffee giant will invest USD450 mil in revamping its stores in North America to optimise process flow (i.e. automation), adapting to these changes in consumption patterns. It will add another 2,000 new locations by 2025 in the US (it has more than 15,000 stores now) and expects to hit 45,000 locations by the end of 2025. Starbucks outgoing CEO Howard Schultz told CNBC that it expects China (5,557 locations as of Jan 2022) to overtake the US as its biggest market by 2025.
So confident with its plan and future prospects, the company adjusted the long-term forecast of its revenue and earnings to upwards to double-digit growth - earnings per share growth of 15-20% annually over the next three years and revenue growth of 10%.
On top of that, Starbucks is to resume its share buybacks - combined with dividends, it plans to return approximately USD20 bil to its shareholders in the next three years. All good stories have to eventually benefit shareholders, isn’t it?
Starbucks’ current market cap stands at USD106.8 bil.
Private equity investment in the blockchain.
Private equity giant KKR & Co (USD491 bil assets under management) is bringing PE to the blockchain - it is partnering with digital-assets specialist Securitize to partially tokenize one of its PE funds on the Avalanche blockchain to allow individuals to invest smaller amounts that would be required and with greater potential for liquidity (easier to buy/sell). The fund in reference is its USD4 bil Health Care Strategic Growth Fund.
Google will be forced to pay a USD4 bil fine to the European Union after its appeal on its landmark 2018 antitrust case was rejected by judges for abusing its dominant Android mobile operating system to promote Google’s suites of apps and services.
Al Jazeera op-ed - ‘Queen Elizabeth is not innocent of the Crown’s crimes’.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 👁👁
Get annoyed at leaking fountain pen — Royal version.
Apple’s smartwatch market share > next four players combined
Ferrari introduced its first-ever 4-door SUV model - the Purosangue, to finally compete with high-end SUVs like Lamborghini Urus, Aston Martin DBX and Porsche Cayenne. The SUV segment is a game-changer for luxury brands as it contributes to more than half of Lamborghini and Aston Martin’s revenue.