Curated Insights 2018.08.03

Once in a lifetime, if you’re lucky

Apple did it the old fashioned and the new fashioned way – great products, great marketing, incredible innovation, brilliant people, global supply chain, incessant improvements and updates, buybacks and dividends, R&D and M&A, domestic hiring and international outsourcing, wild creativity and diligent bean-counting. They had it all and used it all. It’s an amazing story. Many of us were able to be along for the ride.


Business lessons from Rob Hayes (First Round Capital)

It is a red flag for me if the founders have 20 slides in their deck on their product and are not getting into issues like distribution, team or other parts of the business. There have been very few products that cause people to beat a path to the door of the business on their own [like Google or Facebook]. Successful companies almost always have operators running them who know how to market, sell, manage an income statement and hire.


Why do the biggest companies keep getting bigger? It’s how they spend on tech

The result is our modern economy, and the problem with such an economy is that income inequality between firms is similar to income inequality between individuals: A select few monopolize the gains, while many fall increasingly behind.

The measure of how firms spend, which Mr. Bessen calls “IT intensity,” is relevant not just in the U.S. but across 25 other countries as well, says Sara Calligaris, an economist at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. When you compare the top-performing firms in any sector to their lesser competition, there’s a gap in productivity growth that continues to widen, she says. The result is, if not quite a “winner take all” economy, then at least a “winner take most” one.

What we see now is “a slowdown in what we call the ‘diffusion machine,’” says Dr. Calligaris. One explanation for how this came to be is that things have just gotten too complicated. The technologies we rely on now are massive and inextricably linked to the engineers, workers, systems and business models built around them, says Mr. Bessen. While in the past it might have been possible to license, steal or copy someone else’s technology, these days that technology can’t be separated from the systems of which it’s a part.

This seemingly insurmountable competitive advantage that comes with big companies’ IT intensity may explain the present-day mania for mergers and acquisitions, says Mr. Bessen. It may be difficult or impossible to obtain critical technologies any other way.

Everything bad about Facebook is bad for the same reason

Facebook didn’t intend for any of this to happen. It just wanted to connect people. But there is a thread running from Perkins’ death to religious violence in Myanmar and the company’s half-assed attempts at combating fake news. Facebook really is evil. Not on purpose. In the banal kind of way.

Underlying all of Facebook’s screw-ups is a bumbling obliviousness to real humans. The company’s singular focus on “connecting people” has allowed it to conquer the world, making possible the creation of a vast network of human relationships, a source of insights and eyeballs that makes advertisers and investors drool.

But the imperative to “connect people” lacks the one ingredient essential for being a good citizen: Treating individual human beings as sacrosanct. To Facebook, the world is not made up of individuals, but of connections between them.

The solution is not for Facebook to become the morality police of the internet, deciding whether each and every individual post, video, and photo should be allowed. Yet it cannot fall back on its line of being a neutral platform, equally suited to both love and hate. Arendt said that reality is always demanding the attention of our thoughts. We are always becoming aware of new facts about the world; these need to be considered and incorporated into our worldview. But she acknowledged that constantly giving into this demand would be exhausting. The difference with Eichmann was that he never gave in, because his thinking was entirely separated from reality.

The solution, then, is for Facebook to change its mindset. Until now, even Facebook’s positive steps—like taking down posts inciting violence, or temporarily banning the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones—have come not as the result of soul-searching, but of intense public pressure and PR fallout. Facebook only does the right thing when it’s forced to. Instead, it needs to be willing to sacrifice the goal of total connectedness and growth when this goal has a human cost; to create a decision-making process that requires Facebook leaders to check their instinctive technological optimism against the realities of human life.

Thinking about Facebook

If you accept that assumption, 35% EBIT margins on $97 billion in sales would equal $34 billion in operating income. Inversely, that implies more than $60 billion in expenses (COGS + OpEx). This suggests that Facebook’s run rate expenses will more than triple from 2017 to 2022. Over that same period, these assumptions would result in cumulative revenue growth of around 140%.

Let me give you one example to show just how much money we’re talking about here (over $40 billion in annual expenses). It’s assumed that Facebook will need to hire many people for its safety and security efforts. If it adds an additional 20,000 employees and pays them $200,000 each (not a bad salary!), that would cost them $4 billion a year. For some context, Facebook announced back in October that it planned on hiring an additional 10,000 safety and security personnel by the end of 2018. I’ve tried to give them plenty of room, and this still only covers roughly 10% of the incremental costs we need to account for to push operating margins to the mid-30s.

Here’s my point: I have a tough time understanding how Facebook can possibly need to spend this much money. It seems to me that this is largely a choice, not a necessity.


Apple’s stock buybacks continue to break records

No company has bought back more shares since 2012 than Apple. It has repurchased almost $220 billion of its own stock since it announced in March 2012 that it would start to buy back shares. That is roughly equivalent to the market value of Verizon Communications. Over that period, the number of Apple’s shares outstanding has dropped by just over a quarter.

Waymo’s self-driving cars are near: Meet the teen who rides one every day

Tasha Keeney, an analyst at ARK Invest, says that Waymo could choose to offer an autonomous ride-hailing service today at around 70 cents a mile—a quarter of the cost for Uber passengers in San Francisco. Over time, she says, robotaxis should get even cheaper—down to 35 cents a mile by 2020, especially if Waymo’s technology proves sturdy enough to need few human safety monitors overseeing the autonomous vehicles remotely. “You could see software-like margins,” Keeney says.

Bill Nygren market commentary | 2Q18

A closer look reveals that Gartner stock fell when management opted to substantially increase selling and marketing expenses to pursue accelerated organic growth, which in turn decreased the company’s reported earnings. The way GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) works, because the future benefit of a marketing expense is uncertain, the cost is immediately expensed. But at a company like Gartner, these marketing expenses could easily be seen as long-term investments in company growth. That’s because a Gartner customer tends to remain with the company for a long time—a little more than six years, on average. So we adjusted the sales and marketing expenses to reflect a six-year life, just like GAAP would treat the purchase of a machine that was expected to last six years. With that one adjustment, Gartner’s expected EPS increased by almost $3. Using our adjusted earnings, which we believe reflect a more realistic view of those intangible assets, Gartner appears to be priced as just an ordinary company.

Ferrari slumps after CEO says Marchionne target is ‘aspirational’

Ferrari is banking on Camilleri getting up to speed quickly to press ahead with Marchionne’s plan. While Marchionne was planning to retire from Fiat Chrysler in 2019, he was meant to stay on at Ferrari for another five years. His succession plan was not as advanced at the Maranello-based company as it was at FCA.


WeWork is just one facet of SoftBank’s bet on real estate

If the market opportunity is big, SoftBank will typically make investments in regionally dominant companies operating in that sector. After all, if worldwide dominance is difficult to obtain for any one company, SoftBank is so big that it can take positions in the regional leaders, creating an index of companies that collectively hold a majority of market share in an emerging industry.

Heineken inks $3.1 billion deal to grow in hot China market

The deal will help Heineken gain a tighter foothold in a crowded field by leveraging China Resources Beer’s extensive distribution network, while also sharing in the returns of China’s beer market leader. China is now the second-largest premium beer market globally, and is forecast to be the biggest contributor to premium volume growth in the next five years.

Under the deal, Heineken’s operations in the country will be combined with those of China Resources Beer, and the Dutch brewer will license its brand to the Chinese partner on a long-term basis, according to company statements Friday. China Resources Beer’s parent company will acquire Heineken shares worth about 464 million euros ($538 million). Heineken will also make its global distribution channels available to China Resources’ brands including Snow, according to the statement.

Branded Worlds: how technology recentralized entertainment

There are two answers to the first question: cost and time. Maybe it’s a lot easier to shoot and edit movies/TV than it used to be, but sets, locations, actors, scripts — those are all expensive and difficult. Better amateur work is still far from professional. And while it’s true we’re seeing interesting new visual modes of storytelling, e.g. on Twitch and YouTube, it’s very rarely narrative fiction, and it’s still distributed and monetized via Twitch and YouTube, gatekeepers who implicitly (and sometimes explicitly) shape what’s popular.

More importantly, though, democratizing the means of production does not increase demand. A 10x increase in the number of TV shows, however accessible they may be, does not 10x the time any person spends watching television. For a time the “long tail” theory, that you could make a lot of money from niche audiences as long as your total accessible market grew large enough, was in vogue. This was essentially a mathematical claim, that audience demand was “fat-tailed” rather than “thin-tailed.”

China is building a very 21st century empire—one where trade and debt lead the way, not armadas and boots on the ground. If President Xi Jinping’s ambitions become a reality, Beijing will cement its position at the center of a new world economic order spanning more than half the globe. Already, China has extended its influence far beyond that of the Tang Dynasty’s golden age more than a millennium ago.
It used to be the case that active portfolio management was the default investment style. Over time, and with the help of academic finance, we have come to realize that there are other factors at work. The most obvious of which is the market factor or beta. It is this insight that underlies the rise in index investing. A trend which by all accounts is still in place.

Regional Notes 2018.04.20

China replaces U.S. as top export market in another Asian nation

“The center of trade for Asia has clearly shifted to China from the U.S.,” said Eugenia Victorino, an economist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group in Singapore. “Trade protectionism isn’t helping and Asian nations will realize more and more that when it comes to trade, China now punches a heavier weight.”

China has displaced the U.S. over the past decade as the top export market for many Asian economies, including Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines. India is one of the few countries in the region that still counts America as a bigger market for goods than China.

Vietnam’s exports to China surged about 15 times to $50.6 billion in the decade through 2017, compared with a fourfold increase to the U.S. to $46.5 billion, according to import data compiled by the IMF. With exports accounting for almost 100 percent of gross domestic product in 2017, being overly reliant on one market can pose risks for the economy. To counter that, Vietnam is pursuing free trade deals with Japan and other countries in Europe and has also joined 10 other nations in March in signing a Trans Pacific trade pact.

India may become surprise victim of trade war, Rabobank says

A tariff war will reduce exports and lead to imported inflation, which will hurt Indian purchasing power and investments, according to the Rabobank study. That could mean as much as 2.3 percent of missed GDP growth for India by 2022. This goes against the argument that India is relatively insulated from a trade war, given its low share of total world exports of just 1.7 percent.

Besides a possible trade war, a faster-than-expected tightening of U.S. monetary policy will lead to capital outflows. Rabobank’s models estimate India losing $22 billion in capital flows by 2022, with the scenario getting complicated further, in case political instability hits India. The South Asian nation heads into a national election early next year.

Singapore releases public consultation on Airbnb-style home-sharing

Condominium owners who want to rent out their property for short-term stays can do so if owners holding on to at least 80 per cent of the development’s share value agree to allow such rentals, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has proposed. In a statement, URA said the framework will look at how short-term stays can be applied to developments with common property, such as condominiums, fire safety requirements, the role of management committees and how to regulate the platform operators, among other things.


Cost of living not the problem, low income is — MIER

“Our labour market pays very little in nominal income, it is very slow-paced and the skill level of our labour market is not improving. This aggregate number [of 3.3%], it hides a lot of unpleasant things in the labour market; low pay, low productivity, low skill, and the high number of foreign workers.”

Malaysia’s labour productivity stands at US$54,400 (RM211,616) compared with Singapore’s US$125,400, according to the MIER. According to the Department of Statistics, Malaysia achieved labour productivity value of RM85,031 in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Zakariah pointed out that the minimum wage policy represents a significantly lower proportion of the median wage, so that means there is a lot of room for an increase in minimum wage. However, he also acknowledged that many small and medium enterprises could not afford to pay the living wage of RM2,700 prescribed by Bank Negara Malaysia.

PUC to invest RM90mil in 11Street

Assuming that PUC reached its investment target, it would end up with as much as 24% stake in 11Street Malaysia, with ADS holding 37% and SKP at 39%. The investment amount translates to an implied valuation of 100% equity interest in CPSB ranging from RM333.33mil to RM375mil. Post signing of the definitive agreements, PUC will have the right to nominate and appoint the chief executive officer and chief marketing officer at 11Street Malaysia.

From 2015 to 2017, 11Street Malaysia reported an achievement of more than 300% growth in gross merchandising value (GMV), 160% growth to over 13 million product listings, and 200% increase to 40,000 sellers registered on its platform. As of Dec 31, 2017 11Street Malaysia recorded a GMV of approximately RM427mil and total monthly unique visitors (UV) of 13.5 million for the month of December 2017.


JAKS Resources puts property ambition on hold

The group has no plans to acquire more land for development amid a soft property market that is favourable for big-scale developers. “When the market picks up and if the opportunity arises, we may re-enter the property market. For now, we will stay away from property development.”

In the next two years, JAKS sees the US$1.87 billion 2x600mw coal-fired thermal power plant in Hai Duong Province, Vietnam, driving the group’s profit growth. “Construction of the power plant is currently 22% complete and is targeted to reach 50% by the end of the year. There is a strong indication that work on the project will be expedited for full completion in 2020. As such, 2018 and 2019 are crucial years for us,” Lam Poah said.

In Malaysia, JAKS is eyeing to participate in public infrastructure projects involving road works, bridges, hospitals and sewerage treatment plants. “We are focused in terms of going into areas where we are strong and the chances of us winning the projects are high. We look at smaller, pocket projects such as water pipe replacement or sewerage plant instead of going after mega projects where we can’t compete with the big boys,” said Si Eeng.


Signature MD baffled by group’s stock slump

“If it’s overreaction to the slow property market, this one is a very long-winded overreaction. They compare our business to other fast-moving consumer products, where they expect the revenue or profit to be steady and consistent. Our business depends on projects and their timing. No doubt we’re down now [with the slow property market]; that’s our challenge and we have to look at how to mitigate that and improve our retail business. Also, last time our projects order book grew because we couldn’t recognise [revenue] yet as the project sites not ready, as new ones came in. That gave the impression we’re flourishing. But when projects kick off as we recognise revenue, the order book will be reduced. But that doesn’t mean we have no prospects. We still have our retail. Should I be worried about getting new projects? I think the developers should worry first. If they don’t launch, they have nothing to sell. So if they continue to have business, so will we.”

Started in 2015, the cash vouchers scheme has secured letters of award (LoAs) for about RM50 million worth of kitchen cabinetry from some 30 projects — of which about 90% are yet to be realised. Revenue realisation is slow because it will depend on completion of project, sale, and handover of units to home buyers. “It’s the opposite of our project business — where the awards are slow but realisation [of revenue] can be fast,” Tan said.


Chin Well to make Vietnam focal point for fastener ops

“In July, the Vietnam facility will start to manufacture a new range of fasteners for South-East Asian market. These new fasteners will be used to connect reinforced concrete bars used in high-rise buildings.”

“We have plans to tap into the European market with our DIY fasteners. Currently, the Vietnam facility produces about 60,000 tonnes of fasteners per year. We foresee the operations in Vietnam to contribute about 50% to Chin Well revenue in two years, compared to 30%-40% now.”

Penang residential overhang more than doubles in 2017

The residential overhang in Penang more than doubled to 3,916 units worth RM3.82 billion in 2017 from 1,896 units worth RM1.47 billion in 2016. Similarly, the unsold [units] under construction recorded a 13.9% increase with 9,249 units (2016: 8,119 units).

The primary market recorded fewer new launches with 3,879 units in 2017, down by 31.3% against 5,646 units in 2016. Sales performance for the new launches last year – of which condominiums and apartments accounted for 65% – was promising at 39%. As at end-2017, there were 497,396 existing residential units with another 44,046 units of incoming supply and 24,597 units in planned supply.


‘Repopulating’ George Town via co-working, co-living spaces

“We want to repopulate George Town, so we want to have co-living spaces on the first floor of these shophouses, while the ground floor is used for commercial activities, preferably traditional trades and artisans,” newly appointed MBPP mayor Yew Tung Seang told the news portal.

The report also revealed that MBPP has worked with George Town World Heritage Inc (GTWHI) and Think City to restore a row of council-owned shophouses on the famous Kimberley Street, as the pilot project for co-living and commercial spaces for artisans.

“Rental will be kept affordable so that people will want to come back to live in George Town,” Yew told the news portal. It is hoped that such efforts will make the inner city of George Town “a liveable space for all”.

Company Notes 2017.07.21

Pentamaster in a filing with Bursa Malaysia

The three units will be injected into PIL for a collective RM86.78 million, which will be satisfied via the issuance of 999 PIL shares to Pentamaster.

“The internal reorganisation will facilitate a more efficient group structure by way of promoting a better segregation of business responsibilities and operations for Pentamaster’s existing automated solution business and its other smart control solution system business. This will in turn enable the management of the automated solution business and smart control solution system business to efficiently allocate resources and focus on their respective businesses. In addition, the internal reorganisation will also facilitate PIL to act as the listing entity for the proposed listing.”


Icapital.biz in a filing with Bursa Malaysia

With another rate hike expected in the coming months and the Federal Reserve’s plan to unwind its US$4.5 trillion balance sheet, this is confirming what I wrote in the said commentary – “With the US economic recovery remaining intact, one can expect the normalisation of her monetary policy to proceed at a pace faster than in 2015 and 2016.” Again, we hope that investors are prepared for this in a calm manner

…in a reflection of the uncertain global economic conditions created by the US-led 2008 global financial crisis, the Bank of Italy recently advertised for 30 junior positions with an annual salary of €28,000 and it received 85,000 applications – nearly 3,000 candidates for each post. With Italy’s youth unemployment close to 40% and the overall level at 11.3%, steady jobs are in huge demand. The trouble in Italy is that, once an employee is hired, it is hard for a company to get rid of them no matter how incompetent they might be. How Italy and other European nations got into such a devastating mess deserves deep research by the government and policymakers.


Capitaland Malaysia Mall Trust in a filing with Bursa Malaysia

The decrease was mainly due to negative rental reversions from Sungei Wang Plaza as it continues to be temporarily affected by the ongoing Mass Rapid Transit works and the closure of BB Plaza. Lower gross revenue was recorded for The Mines mainly due to lower rental rates and occupancy whilst lower gross revenue in Tropicana City Property was mainly due to lower occupancy at the office tower. The decrease was mitigated by better performance from Gurney Plaza and East Coast Mall on the back of higher rental rates achieved.

As the competition in the market place heats up with the opening of new shopping malls – of which many are located in the Klang Valley – in the second half of this year (2H 2017), the Manager expects the operating environment to remain challenging. As CMMT’s malls are largely focused on day-to-day necessity shopping, they have proven resilient through economic cycles in the past and should continue to do so. The Manager also expects the recent commencement of the Sungai Buloh-Kajang Mass Rapid Transit line to benefit Sungei Wang Plaza in the long term.


Maxis in a filing with Bursa Malaysia

…added 41k new subscriptions, achieving the highest net additions following the revamp of the flagship MaxisONE plan. The Power of ONE campaign which enabled subscribers to own a wide range of devices for RM1 continued to attract high ARPU customers. As a result, the Group has grown its MOP subscription base to 1.9 million with monthly ARPU of RM120, which is higher than the blended ARPU of RM102.

Prepaid ARPU was stable at RM42 per month supported by continuous growth in mobile Internet revenue…Hotlink FAST base has now surpassed 1.8 million subscriptions with monthly ARPU of RM44.

Customer demand for data continues to grow strongly, supported by the rising consumption of social media, increasing availability of TV and video on mobile devices and better user experience on mobile network.

Blended smart-phone penetration stood at 79% against 70% in the same period last year. Blended data usage grew more than double in the last 12 months and is now at 5.0GB/month. The Group’s expanded 4G LTE network, with a nationwide population coverage of 89% on a comparable peer basis, continued to be an important differentiator for customers to enjoy high speed unmatched digital experience.


Westports in a filing with Bursa Malaysia

Due to the ongoing changes in the container shipping industry, we expect our container throughput to be lower when compared to the previous year by between seven percent and twelve percent.

The second phase of Container Terminal 8, consisting of a 300-metre wharf and supporting terminal operating equipment and facilities, have just been completed and are expected to be commissioned into service soon. The total terminal handling capacity would then be increased to 12.5 million TEUs.

Construction work continues at the first phase of Container Terminal 9, consisting of a 600-metre wharf, and is expected to be completed by December 2017.


Syarikat Takaful Malaysia in a filing with Bursa Malaysia

For the year 2017, Takaful Malaysia will continue to emphasize the four core areas of customer reach, operational agility, cost competitiveness and stakeholder confidence to increase its overall market shares and continuously improving shareholders’ value… promote its unique proposition of rewarding a 15% Cash Back to its General Takaful customers for no claims during coverage period.


British American Tobacco (Malaysia) in a filing with Bursa Malaysia

Illegal cigarettes incidence for the same period has increased by about 16% from 50.0% in the first half of 2016 to 57.9% in May 2017. This was driven by the price gap between legal and illegal cigarettes and current macroeconomic factors that are impacting consumer spending power…in line with volume decline and the cessation of contract manufacturing for exports as of 31st December 2016.


TAS Offshore in a filing with Bursa Malaysia

Indonesia is expected to export about 30 million metric tons of bauxite alone in 2017 as a consequence of the easing on export ban of unprocessed mineral ores by the Indonesian government. This may call for the demand for vessels required for such activities.


WZ Satu in a filing with Bursa Malaysia

For civil engineering and construction segment, the Group not only accumulated an order book to last for the next two to three years but also the Group is confident that its order book will grow beyond the run-off rate. The current order book of RM1.0 billion will ensure the Group is kept busy for the coming financial year and beyond.

WZS Misi Setia Sdn Bhd’s (“MISI”) investment in the Automated Pipe Spooling fabrication plant has kicked-off well and has led to successfully securing contracts in The Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (“RAPID”) project. Since the previous reporting, MISI has secured additional works on top of existing contracts for RAPID projects. The above investment has come on stream and has been successfully translated into meaningful results as reflected and registered in the current quarter oil and gas segment result.


Saudee Group in a filing with Bursa Malaysia

…new products going to markets both locally and abroad. The Group has started collaboration with a few strategic partners to produce new halal food product to cater to the local and exports market. The product, manufactured under a patented technology, has a significant untapped market both locally and overseas.


Cycle & Carriage Bintang in a filing with Bursa Malaysia

The Mercedes-Benz trading operations recorded a loss primarily due to increased competitive intensity resulting in lower
unit sales, reduced margins and to a lesser extent higher operating expenses.

…with the model mix moving away from S-Class to the lower margin GLC-Class and E-Class. Margins suffered further due to strong competition in the premium car market.

Furniture exports keep growing

“The ban on rubberwood export would ensure sustainable supply to the furniture industry to achieve Natip’s RM16 billion target.”

“If we are allowed to employ five foreign workers for one local employee (5:1), we can expand faster but the home ministry wants to stick to the 3:1 ratio.”

“Malaysia wants to have a balanced policy by keeping the upstream players including the rubberwood sawn timber mills happy instead of helping the downstream value-added furniture industry. But Malaysia can export a quota of 100,000 cubic metres of rubberwood which would generate a total revenue of RM200 million to RM300 million. However, we hope the government would consider reducing the quota to 40,000 cubic metres.”

“Some manufacturers are thinking of Vietnam where there is sufficient labour and raw materials like acacia wood for use in our furniture. If the environment is not good, with unfriendly policies that impede growth, we might think of moving out of Malaysia.”


Mobile healthcare app to revive Palette’s earnings

The demand for mobile healthcare in Malaysia is not as good as in China at the moment, but we are targeting the locations that have higher tourism numbers such as Penang, Melaka, and Kuala Lumpur. We expect the whole mobile healthcare business segment to contribute about RM3 million to RM5 million in revenue…”

…it plans to diversify into traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to expand its earnings base by acquiring a 51% stake in TCM, food and herbal supplements trader Genopharma Sdn Bhd (GSB) for RM1.53 million.


Prestariang sees strong growth from SKIN

“It is a government-led initiative, as the current system needs to be refreshed and rebranded because some of the technologies used are old and things have changed. It is considered as zero risk for the government through the build, operate, maintain and transfer method under the public-private partnership.”

Payment to Prestariang will commence upon full commissioning of SKIN, with an average annual payment of RM294.7 million for 12 years (from the fourth to the 15th year) during the maintenance and technical operations period.


Foreign insurers are said to plan US$2 bil of Malaysia deals

A sale of a 30% stake in Great Eastern Life Assurance (Malaysia) Bhd could raise about RM5 billion (US$1.2 billion), while the disposal of a similar stake in Prudential Malaysia Assurance Bhd would fetch at least RM3 billion.

Foreign insurers have until end of June 2018 to reduce their holdings in local firms to 70% at most. The country’s central bank has been weighing tougher enforcement of a cap on foreign ownership as it seeks to boost local participation in the industry.


Bank Negara: Housing loan criteria review won’t resolve affordable housing issue

“Housing affordability has not improved significantly where average national house prices remained at 4.4 times of median income (affordable range is 3.0 and below), with lower affordability recorded for some major states and urban cities. Housing developers, working together with authorities and relevant stakeholders, should therefore intensify efforts to reduce costs and accelerate supply.”


RAM: Malaysian ports throughput growth to “remain at low single digit”

“Malaysia’s throughput remained resilient in 2016, with container throughput recording a 10-year CAGR [compound annual growth rate] of 6% while that of cargo throughput came in at 5%. At the same time, Malaysia handled more than 25% of the containers passing through the Asean-5 nations, in other words Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines and accounted for 3% of world container traffic.”

“On that note, regional port expansion is under way in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, adding at least 100 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) of new container-handling capacity over the next 20 years, with most of this planned along the Straits of Malacca. Although the new capacity will provide opportunities in terms of scale, there is a possibility of running into a supply glut and an ultra-competitive situation if trade growth does not keep pace.”


Don’t get ‘punch-drunk’ over Belt and Road, Munir urges Malaysia

“We must not be overwhelmed by the sheer size of the Belt and Road and think that good things are going to happen automatically. We must look at which part of it will work for Malaysia, and inevitably for Asean.”

…China’s investments in Malaysia’s planned port and railway projects over the next two decades could be as much as RM400 billion or 32% of the country’s expected gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017.

Data from Malaysia Investment Development Authority (Mida) showed that China is currently the largest foreign investor in the country. In 2016, Mida approved a total of 33 China-led projects valued at RM4.8 billion, almost double 2015’s tally of 17 projects worth RM1.9 billion.


Nazir urges govt to scrutinise benefits of Chinese-led deals

“What are the lessons that we have learnt across the 60 countries that have experiences in negotiating with the public and private China. This year is the 20th anniversary of the Asian financial crisis. What caused it? It is the infrastructure debt. Isn’t there a risk? This (Obor) is going to create huge infrastructure debts in the 60 countries. Nobody will not dare not to repay China. Therefore, the risk will eventually end up in sovereign balance sheet and then we have a problem. If this happens in many countries, then we have an Asian problem. That is one caution that we need to bring to the table.”