Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ Would you buy 99 Speed Mart's IPO?
Sunway vs Tropicana over alleged breach of contract. AI girlfriends is making male loneliness worse. Prada - from luxury fashion to spacesuits.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
36th — Malaysia’s ranking out of 132 countries in the Global Innovation Index 2023. The report from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) shows an increase in the overall score this year, rising to 40.9 from the previous year's score of 38.7. The ranking analyses a country based on seven metrics — from human capital and research to creative inputs. The Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MOSTI) aims to be in the top 30 by 2025.
Did you know you have to pay a daily tourist tax to visit Bhutan? Yes, daily — in 2022, the tiny Himalayan kingdom imposed a USD200 “sustainable development” fee to all its tourists except for tourists from its neighbour, India — which pays a lower USD15 daily fee. In a bid to stimulate tourism and help the industry recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, Bhutan has halved the fee to USD100 until August 31, 2027. Pre-covid, the fee was USD65.
According to Ampere Analysis forecasts, major global streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV+, Paramount+, and Max/HBO Max are set to invest USD42 bil in original and acquired film and TV content this year. This represents a 7% year-on-year growth rate, which is notably slower than the 24% growth observed in streaming spending in 2022. Amazon is pouring USD12 bil into streaming content, but its hit rate is not as good nor consistent with its spend. However, Amazon is quietly assembling something that has eluded most of its rivals: a model for how to make streaming pay — via its advertising machine. Amazon is projected to make USD45 bil in advertising revenue this year. Making of a behemoth.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Barisan Nasional (BN) retains the Pelangai (Pahang) state seat but with a smaller majority
UMNO’s Amizar Abu Adam won the Pelangai by-election, obtaining 7,324 votes with a majority of 2,949 votes (vs GE2022’s 4,048 majority). The voter turnout was 72.12%. On the other hand, Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) Kasim Samat obtained 4,375 votes. The Pelangai by-election was held after its incumbent, Johari Harun, 53, died in a plane crash in Shah Alam on Aug 17.
PN’s chairman Muhyiddin Yassin earlier in the week said there was a possible change in Pahang’s state government if PN wins the contested seat despite having six fewer seats to form the government. Sorry Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, your dream of becoming the state’s menteri besar didn’t come true from this election.
The next by-election is Jepak, Sarawak, on Nov 4, 2023. The seat fell vacant following the passing of Gabungan Parti Sarawak’s Talip Zulpilip on Sept 15, 2023.
Malaysia bagged RM40.6 bil of committed investments from PM’s UAE visit
Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim's two-day working visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) facilitated by the Investment, Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti) resulted in RM40.6 bil of committed investments for Malaysia. These investments span various sectors, including renewable energy, aerospace, and logistics. Notably, Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company PJSC (Masdar) has committed to investing up to RM37.8 bil in the development of renewable energy projects with a 10GW capacity in Malaysia.
The UAE was the second largest trading partner among countries in the West Asia and Gulf Cooperation Council region in 2022. Bilateral trade reached RM38.73 bil last year, representing a significant increase of 73.5% YoY.
Top Glove Corporation Bhd (TOPGLOV, 7113) recorded its first-ever annual loss of RM926.6 mil in the financial year ended Aug 31, 2023 (FY2023) as it wraps up FY2023 with a loss of RM463.2 mil in the fourth financial quarter (4Q23). The loss was mainly due to goodwill impairment of RM138 mil and impairment and write-off of property, plant and equipment of RM251 mil — i.e. kitchen-sinking exercise. Top Glove’s executive chairman Lim Wee Chai believes the light is at the end of the tunnel as glove demand is gradually picking up and the glove average selling price is bottoming out. The world’s largest glove manufacturer produces about 28.5 bil pieces of gloves annually — and this is at a 30% utilisation rate.
It looks like the country’s biggest grocery chain, 99 Speedmart, is eyeing an initial public offering (IPO) next year. Chinese daily China Press cited The Edge’s weekly report, which states 99 Speed Mart Sdn Bhd is looking to raise up to RM1.5 bil on Bursa Malaysia next year. Interestingly, The Edge’s article (sighted) mentioned that the company recorded a net profit of RM550 mil in 2021 from revenue of RM7 bil (7.86% net margin). The founder, Lee Thiam Wah, owns 96% of the company, while his wife, Ng Lee Tieng, owns the remaining 4%. Why does Lee want to list the company when he and his wife are the sole owners? Why is Lee willing to share the profits with the public investors? Must be one hell of a problem that money can’t solve.
Sunway Education Group Sdn Bhd, RHB Trustees Bhd, and Sunway REIT Management Sdn Bhd have taken legal action by filing a writ of summons and statement of claim against Tropicana Education Management Sdn Bhd and Tropicana Corporation Bhd for a breach of contract over the purchase of a RM208 mil property. The plaintiffs allege that the defendants obstructed their due diligence process, leading to significant losses.
Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Razarudin Husain confirmed that former Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng has arrived in Malaysia to assist the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal investigations. Ng has been convicted in the United States but has yet to start serving his jail term.
Air quality in 7 states at unhealthy levels
19 areas in 7 states recorded unhealthy air quality, with Nilai, Negeri Sembilan, recording the highest reading of 162 at 5pm yesterday. The government announced last week that schools can close immediately without waiting for approval if the air pollution index (API) exceeds 200. For the latest API readings, visit here.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Tragic weekend: Israel, Palestine descend into chaos, deadly quake in Afghanistan
Palestinian militant group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, launched a massive attack on Israel with total casualties on both sides exceeding 1,000 people and many more thousands wounded. An easy-to-read breakdown of this conflict here by Al Jazeera. BCC claimed this is the most ambitious operation Hamas has ever launched from Gaza and the most serious cross-border attack on Israel in a generation.
The attack came during a Jewish festival and a day after the 50th anniversary, a major Middle East war* known as the 1973 October War to the Arabs, Yom Kippur to the Israelis, which the significance is not lost on the Hamas leadership. Hamas announced that the group’s military operations are in response to all the atrocities against the Palestinians faced over the decades and called for the international community to stop atrocities in Gaza.
NSFW - watch how the attack unfolded.
*The 1973 war, which lasted for barely three weeks, started when Egypt and Syria attacked Israel to regain their territories lost in the 1967 6-Day War when Israel captured these territories. The aftermath of the war led to a change in geopolitical dynamics in the region between Arab nations and our usual suspect in wars - the US (oil is involved). An interesting read on this war here.
From the Middle East, the heart-break moves to central Asia in Afghanistan as the nation was hit by a 6.3-magnitude earthquake, one of the deadliest quakes to hit the country in 2 decades. The death toll has crossed 2,000 people, with 1,240 injured and 1,320 houses completely destroyed.
AI: On mental health, relationships
Professor Liberty Vittvert, in an op-ed, said that the rise of AI girlfriends is making male loneliness worse. AI girlfriend provides a “perfect relationship” without the ups and downs of a real relationship. This could worsen the silent epidemic of loneliness amongst men and eventually affect birth rates. A study last year in the US showed that 34% of women were single as compared to men at 63%.
Read op-ed: AI girlfriends are ruining an entire generation of men.
Replika, a popular app that provides AI-powered digital partners, has grown in popularity since the pandemic and has come under the spotlight with recent developments in generative AI. The app now has more than 10 mil users, with some of its users having reported being in love, engaged in an exclusive relationship, or even married to their AI partners.
One of these interactions developed on Replika has led to an unhealthy digital partner that encourages its human partner to commit murder. Last Thursday, a 21-year-old man was sentenced to 9 years in prison for breaking into Windsor Castle with a crossbow and declaring he wanted to kill the Queen in 2021. Prosecutors released his interactions with his Replika companion, many of them intimate and demonstrated an “emotional and sexual relationship” with the chatbot. The man asked the chatbot about his murder target and the bot encouraged him to carry the attack out.
Taylor Swift’s new record
Taylor Swift’s upcoming 2 hours 48 minutes concert film just became the highest-grossing concert film, exceeding USD100 mil in advanced ticket sales and dethroning Justin Bieber’s “Never Say Never” in 2011, which grossed USD99 mil. The movie is set to debut worldwide on Oct 13 in 100 countries (sorry Malaysian Swifties, we are not on the list).
Michael Jackson would have held on to this tile if it wasn’t for his death. “This Is It” grossed USD261 mil worldwide but is not considered a concert film because it only documents the performance preparations of the King of Pop, who died before performing on stage.
Still on the entertainment front, Las Vegas casino and hotel operator MGM Resorts experienced an opposite fortune to Swift as it disclosed that it will take a USD100 mil hit in earnings due to a cybersecurity attack back in September.
How to be a billionaire? Find a friend like Warren Buffett and bet early on them. Since Buffett took over the former textile company Berkshire Hathaway in 1965, its share price has grown more than 4,000,000%. Stewart Horeisi and family, who bought Berkshire shares in 1980, have made it to the latest Forbes 400 wealthiest Americans with an estimated USD3 bil net worth, with his Berkshire stocks amounting to USD2.2 bil. When Horeisi first started buying, the share price was about USD300 — it’s now USD525,425. Then again, who are we kidding? Even if we have a friend like this, most of us would have sold and taken profit when it’s up 2-3x instead of holding the stock for 40 years at least.
3D-printed (vegan) salmon fillets are now available in Europe, brought to you by food tech startup Revo Foods, making it the first company to do so in Europe. Its CEO claimed that it “has a similar taste, but like any meat alternative. It’s not 100% the same”. The ‘salmon’ is made from mycoprotein from mushroom roots with plant-based fats to mimic the texture of real salmon. Alternative seafood like Revo’s could reduce overfishing and microplastic pollution caused by fishing nets. Check out the salmon here — looks like the real thing.
Italian luxury fashion brand Prada is entering the spacesuit segment. It will be collaborating with Axiom Space to design NASA’s new spacesuits for the Artemis III mission in 2025, will see the first crewed lunar landing since Apollo 17 in 1972, and also the first woman to land on the moon. Axiom was hired by NASA in June 2022 to build its latest spacesuits after revealing it had spent USD420 mil since 2017 trying to develop its own suits.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
A brief history of the Isreal-Palestine conflict.
An inspiration to work hard for the rest of the year so you can afford your dream home. Take a tour of The Floating Treehouse, built next to a forest reserve in Batu Pahat by Design Seed.