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☕️ Zeti: AG slashed 1MDB fine from RM23 mil to RM15 mil
Hadi to be investigated over comments on the Pardons Board. AirAsia X YTD share return: +335%. EPL clubs expected to spend over GBP2 bil in this summer transfer window.
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
Most, if not all, are wondering when will the bear market come. However, some investors have learned or are learning the lesson the hard way. Only 30% of every shorted stock was profitable this year so far. Based on a news report early this month, short sellers have lost USD170 bil betting against US stocks this year, no thanks to the artificial intelligence-fueled rally.
Premier League clubs have set a new record by spending GBP1.95 bil (RM11.43 bil) on players during the summer transfer window. Analysts from Deloitte predict that the total spending will likely surpass GBP2 bil. Chelsea will likely be the top spender this summer, having already spent GBP343.8 mil, or close to one-fifth of the total spent.
During the second quarter of 2023, Malaysia's live birth rate saw a notable rise of 13%, as reported by the statistics department. Chief Statistician Uzir Mahidin stated that the country documented 105,961 live births in Q2 2023, a significant increase from the 93,799 live births recorded in Q2 2022.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Cops investigate PAS leader’s remarks on Pardons Board authority
Police are investigating Abdul Hadi Awang, the leader of PAS, over his comments questioning the authority of the Pardons Board. This investigation stemmed from a speech he made at the PAS Bakri division headquarters on Aug 26. The police are looking into this matter under the Sedition Act 1948, which could lead to a fine of up to RM5,000 or three years imprisonment if convicted.
Hadi questioned the role of the Pardons Board, which includes the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Prime Minister, and Attorney General, saying that in Islam, the accuser needs to seek forgiveness from the victim or their family.
Day in court: LGE, Zeti
In Lim Guan Eng's graft trial, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission's digital forensic officer, Wan Mohd Firdaus Wan Yusof, denied providing an incomplete report about a conversation between businessman G Gnanaraja and former senior director of Consortium Zenith Construction, Ahmad Zarul Mohd Zulkifli. He disagreed with the defence’s claim of missing details in the forensic report, including terms like “chocolates” and “big boss,” which referred to the purported “money” and former PM Najib Razak. The trial accuses Lim Guan Eng of taking a 10% cut in the RM6.3 bil tunnel project profits and taking RM3.3 bil in kickbacks from Zarul.
The former governor of Bank Negara, Zeti Akhtar Aziz, said that the central bank originally suggested a fine of RM23 mil against 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), but then Attorney-General (AG), Mohamed Apandi Ali, lowered it to RM15 mil. This revelation came out during the 1MDB-Tanore trial about the alleged misuse of RM2.3 bil from 1MDB.
Zeti explained that the central bank needed the AG’s permission for such fines. She also mentioned that she didn't know if then-Finance Minister Najib Tun Razak tried to cancel the fine. Najib faces charges of obtaining bribes and money laundering related to 1MDB funds. The trial continues on Tuesday.
Trouble giant Chinese property developer Country Garden — the Malaysia episode
Following PM Anwar’s announcement on making Forest City a special financial zone, Chinese developer Country Garden assures its Forest City project in Malaysia is progressing as planned, despite concerns over its finances due to missed payments of USD22.5 mil this month. The project, on reclaimed islands in Johor, aims to house 700,000 people by 2035.
Bank Negara Malaysia stated that local banks in the country have minimal exposure to Country Garden, specifically to its subsidiary, Country Garden Real Estate, in Malaysia. The exposure is less than 0.1% of all loans and bonds in the country as of June 2023.
AirAsia X Bhd (AAX) has achieved its fourth consecutive quarterly net profit in Q2FY2023, amounting to RM5.54 mil. This marks a significant turnaround from the net loss of RM652.52 mil reported in the same period last year. The strong performance is attributed to a 379% increase in quarterly revenue, driven by the resumption of international travel following the reopening of borders. As of 30 June 2023, the company had 11 aircraft activated, compared to five a year ago. AAX chief executive officer Benyamin Ismail said the group had submitted a waiver application to Bursa Securities in July on the group’s Practise Note 17 (PN17) status.
View: AAX Q2 FY2023 Quarterly Announcement
AAX shareholders are having a laugh to the bank this year. Year-to-date, the stock is up by a staggering 335%, from 57 sen to RM2.48 sen as of yesterday, valuing the company at RM1.11 bil.
Mercury Securities Group is about to make history by becoming the first stockbroking firm to be listed on Bursa Malaysia in 20 years. The company, based in Butterworth, Penang, plans to raise RM39.27 mil by offering 157.09 mil shares at RM0.25 each for its ACE Market listing. The funds will primarily go towards margin financing services (RM26.86 mil) and digitalisation plus marketing for the stockbroking business (RM2.88 mil). View its prospectus here.
The Agriculture and Food Security Ministry requests importers of fish products from Japan to adhere to safety procedures and regulations to ensure consumer safety. Importers must get an import permit from the Malaysian Quarantine Inspection Services Department and stick to the Fisheries Department's conditions. Each batch of fish consignment should also have a health certificate from Japan.
Green hydrogen to be the next big thing in Malaysia
Malaysia aims to become a significant hub for green hydrogen exports by 2027. The country plans to attract investments for producing this new type of energy. Minister of Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad highlighted the potential of green hydrogen as a clean fuel. The roadmap is part of the National Energy Transition Roadmap and aims to boost the economy by tapping into the potential of green energy. Crash course on the hydrogen economy in tweet below.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
The market is brutal and unforgiving as the values of companies combust
Digital mortgage lender Better.com had an abysmal public market debut where its share price tanked to close at USD1.19 last Friday. Shares of its SPAC partner Aurora were trading at USD17.45 on Wednesday before Better.com officially went public. The lender was once valued at USD7.7 bil. The closing price last Friday valued the company at a mere USD19.14 mil. Talk about value evaporation, 99.7% went poof.
Better.com CEO Vishal Garg was infamous for firing more than 900 employees or about 9% of its workforce, on Zoom just before the holidays in Dec 2021. Also, Better.com is SoftBank-backed, having invested USD500 mil in 2021.
In the East, China’s troubled developer Evergrande Group started trading for the first time since March 21, 2022. To the surprise of no one, it plunged 87% on its opening yesterday on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, now trading as a penny stock at HKD0.35. The resumption of trade coincided with its reported loss of RMB39.25 bil (USD5.38 bil) for the first half of the year. This marks a decrease from the RMB86.17 bil loss reported in the same period last year. At its peak in 2017, the company was worth HKD420 bil (USD53 bil). Talk about bad timing.
One bans Abaya and another bans education. The victims? Women
Ahead of the upcoming school year, France’s education minister has announced a ban on children wearing the abaya, a loose-fitting, full-length robe worn by some Muslim women (view here), in state-run schools. This move aligns with the existing policy of not allowing the display of large crosses, Jewish kippas, or Islamic headscarves in French public schools.
Around 100 women whom a Dubai-based conglomerate billionaire owner Khalal Ahmad Al Habtoor intended to sponsor for university education in the United Arab Emirates have been prevented from travelling by Afghanistan’s Taliban authorities. The Taliban’s recent policies include closing educational institutions to female students and implementing restrictions on women's travel, permitting it only with a male companion or mahram.
What do rich people go after? Power
Billionaire founder of Foxconn, Terry Gou, has declared his candidacy for the presidency of Taiwan as an independent in the upcoming January 2024 election. Gou, the country’s wealthiest individual with an estimated net worth of USD7.2 bil according to Forbes, has pursued political ambitions since stepping down from Foxconn in 2019. To run as an independent candidate, he must gather 290,000 signatures by November 2, and he has been actively engaging in campaign-style activities across Taiwan. Gou is promising to bring peace to the country.
Where is his confidence coming from? Gou flexed Foxconn’s connections with Apple, Amazon, Tesla, and the current investor favourite, Nvidia. If Beijing confiscated Foxconn's assets, supply chains would be massively disrupted.
“Taiwan must not become Ukraine and I will not let Taiwan become the next Ukraine.” — Gou
We hope we won’t be targeted for calling Taiwan a country…
British Museum asked to return Chinese artefacts
The call for the British Museum to return Chinese artefacts has gained traction on social media, especially after the alleged theft of around 2,000 items. This demand became a trending topic on Weibo following a nationalist newspaper's editorial. The British Museum, which holds a significant collection of Chinese antiquities, has faced pressure due to the reported loss, theft, or damage of these artefacts. The museum houses approximately 23,000 Chinese objects spanning from the Neolithic age to the present.
A sedition case against former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was dismissed by a court on Monday, offering some relief for him. Meanwhile, his appeal against a corruption conviction will be decided by a high court on Tuesday. The Balochistan High Court stated that prosecutors had not obtained the necessary consent from the federal or provincial government to file sedition charges.
Restauranteurs and seafood sellers in South Korea face another challenge
Just when food and beverage (F&B) begins to enjoy the turnaround after struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic, their livelihoods are in the firing line again. Despite the scientific consensus that Japan’s plan does not pose a risk to the public, South Koreans are unconvinced. Based on a survey by Consumers Korea, 92.4% of respondents said they would reduce seafood consumption after Japan’s release of the treated water.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Typically, when it comes to the definition of a good life, people tend to associate a happy life with a meaningful life. There is another perspective — a psychologically rich life. And yes, it’s backed by science (or rather, research).
How multi-lingual are you? Watch how this investigation officer speaks Mandarin, Hokkien, Cantonese and Thai. Watch till the end.