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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Bursa Chat - News Highlights (01.04.2009)

Malaysia
A few institutional players are believed to have held out from accepting IOI Corporation’s (IOI MK, Hold, TP: RM3.90) offer for IOI Properties after the VGO closed yesterday. IOI Corp now holds 91.33% of IOI Prop and the latter’s shares will see suspension next Tuesday, paving the way for its delisting. Should the outstanding shareholders not accept the offer, they would end up holding shares of a non-listed company. IOI Corp has stressed that it would not revise upward its offer price for IOI Prop. (Financial Daily)
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CIMB group’s (BCHB MK, Buy, TP: RM7.70) 93.15%-owned BankThai is poised to resume growth following its recapitalization exercise and the appointment of a new president and CEO, Subhak Siwaraksa. Subhak was appointed with effect from March 17, 2009. BankThai’s recapitalization includes a rights issue and an issuance of Hybrid Tier-2 capital, h with an aggregate amount of about 5bn baht (RM513.78m). BankThai is currently the 11 largest commercial bank in Thailand in terms of total assets and has 147 branches across the country. Subject to approvals, BankThai will be renamed CIMB Thai Bank Public Company Ltd, as part of its transformation programme. (Financial Daily)
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AirAsia Bhd (AIRA MK, Buy, TP: RM1.90) hopes to operate up to 50 daily flights to Singapore from Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia within the next two years, almost double the daily flights it has now. It plans to add flight frequencies to its existing routes, including to bump up its Kuala Lumpur-Singapore daily flights to 12 from the current seven, and introduce new routes between the island-city and the three countries. AirAsia currently has 10 routes connecting Singapore and is looking to introduce at least three new routes this year, which include Penang and Langkawi in Malaysia and Medan and Surabaya in Indonesia. (BT)
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Boustead Heavy Industries Corp expects to deliver seven vessels worth about RM1bn to commercial and military customers this year. The vessels comprise two patrol vessels, three chemical tankers, one unit floating yard and an anchor handling tug. BHIC has an outstanding orderbook of RM2.3bn which would last the company until 2011. Yard utilisation currently stands at 70% according to the Group (BOUS MK, BUY, TP: RM4.00) and they hope to improve on margins. Management also mentioned that they hoped the government would give indication of the tender of more patrol vessels so the group could plan ahead. (Malaysian Reserve)
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Axis Real Estate Investment Trust plans a bond sale in the first half of this year to help refinance debt as it prepares for potential acquisitions this year. Axis REIT, which is eyeing RM100m of property assets, may sell Islamic bonds under a seven-year programme to refinance about RM220m of debt, he said. Axis REIT may also raise about RM70m selling new units to private investors to help fund any acquisitions, LaBrooy said. (BT)
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MBM Resources Bhd’s unit F A Wagen Sdn Bhd (FAW) has terminated a dealership agreement with Volkswagen Group Malaysia Sdn Bhd. The agreement was entered back in May 2007 to assign FAW, a unit of Federal Auto Holdings Bhd which MBM owns an 86% stake, to market and sell Volkswagen vehicles and related products as well as to provide after sales services. MBM did not elaborate on the reasons for the termination. However, MBM said the termination is “in line with Federal Auto’s strategy of rationalising its motor business portfolio and strengthening the focus on its core marques”. Neither FAW nor Volkswagen Malaysia shall be entitled to any further compensation, MBM said. (Malaysian Reserve)
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The Selangor state government intends to seek legal action if the Cabinet today decides to increase the water tariff. The state claimed that the necessary pre-requisites for a tariff increase by Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (SYABAS) under the concession agreement were unfulfilled. The state commented that material deficiencies were found in the last audit, and that the cumulative effect of these deficiencies undermined the validity of the request by SYABAS for a tariff hike. It further stated that complaints of SYABAS’s highly unsatisfactory services were sent to the Ministry of Energy Telecommunications and Water with a request that the concession agreement be terminated, but the minister has yet to take action against SYABAS and has indicated that a licence would be issued to the concessionaire to continue its operations. (StarBiz)
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INVESTMENT RESEARCH
Malaysia
MCA will urge the government to privatise toll concessionaire PLUS Expressways Bhd as the move will prove beneficial for the people, a spokesman said. MCA will bring up the proposal in the upcoming monthly Barisan Nasional management meeting, and look to raise a dialogue with the Ministry of Works on the matter. MCA central committee member Wong Nai Chee suggested the privatization could be done through Khazanah Nasional Bhd (Khazanah), which holds 63.88% of PLUS (inclusive of shares held under UEM Group). According to Wong, the total acquisition price is between RM4.55bn and RM5.2bn, assuming a share price of RM3.50 to RM4. The government has an effective interest of 74% in PLUS through Khazanah and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) Board (which holds a 9.59% stake in PLUS as at 30 April 2008). Wong added that PLUS is a profitable company, and if PLUS were taken over, the possibility of waiving the toll increase can be carried out financially or legally, overcoming problems of minority rights in the future. (Financial Daily)
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Cabinet ministers, mentri besars and chief ministers have received invitations to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the new Prime Minister at Istana Negara on Friday. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi Abdullah said last week that he would seek an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin on Thursday to convey his intention to
step down as prime minister and pave the way for the leadership transition. If the Agong consents, then Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak would become Malaysia’s sixth premier. (The Star)
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Investment outflows from Malaysia surged to RM40.8bn in the fourth quarter, according to yesterday’s data, in what economists said signaled a flight to safety by investors. According to the Department of Statistics, there was an inflow of RM13.8bn in the third quarter. Portfolio outflows slowed to RM33.2bn from RM56.2bn in the previous quarter, showing foreign investors exiting debt and equities markets at a lower pace. (Financial Daily)
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The Asian Development Bank expects the Malaysian economy to contract 0.2% this year before bouncing back to a 4.4% growth in 2010. In its flagship annual publication, the Asian Development Outlook 2009 that was released in Hong Kong yesterday, it said Southeast Asia' growth is due to dwindle to just 0.7% this year, down from 4.3% in 2008. For the rest of developing Asia, growth will slow to just 3.4% this year, its slowest since the 1997/1998 Asian financial crisis. (BT)
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The Malaysian Communications & Multimedia Commission (MCMC) will call for tender bids in 3QCY09 for the UHF 470- 742 megahertz spectrum which will pave the way for the country to move into the digital television (TV) era. Although satellite TV player Astro is already on the digital wave, the last remaining stronghold of the old analogue technology is still the country’s free-to-air TV services such as RTM1 and 2, TV3, NTV7, 8TV and Channel 9. The winner of the spectrum will have to build a single digital terrestrial transmission/TV broadcast (DTTB) infrastructure for all broadcasters to ride on to transmit their TV programmes. (StarBiz)
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INVESTMENT RESEARCH
Global
Stocks surged Tuesday, recharging the rally that gave the Dow Jones industrial average its first month of gains after six straight declines. But all three major gauges declined in the first quarter. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 1.2% (+86.9 pts, close 7,608.9). The Standard & Poor' 500 index gained 1.3% (+10.3 pts, close 797.9) and the Nasdaq composite gained 1.8% (+26.8 pts, close 1,528.6). In currency trading, the dollar fell against the euro and gained against the yen. U.S. light crude oil for May delivery settled up US$1.25 to settle at US$49.66 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. (CNNmoney)
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Confidence among U.S. consumers stayed near a record low and a survey of purchasing managers showed business deteriorated further in March, indicating the economy remains deep in a recession. The Conference Board’s confidence index rose to 26 this month from 25.3, the lowest reading since data began in 1967, in February. The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago Inc. said its business barometer decreased more than forecast to 31.4; readings below 50 signify a contraction. Yesterday’s data signal consumers and businesses may be slow to lift spending in the aftermath of the economy’s deepest contraction in a quarter century. (Bloomberg)
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Home prices in 20 U.S. cities fell 19% y-o-y in January from a year earlier, the fastest drop on record, as demand plummeted and foreclosures rose. The S&P/Case-Shiller index’s decrease was more than forecast and compares with an 18.6% decrease in December. The gauge has fallen every month since January 2007, and y-o-y records began in 2001. A glut of unsold properties may keep prices low, shrinking household wealth and damping spending. Still, sales of new and previously owned homes rose in February, indicating the housing slump, now in its fourth year, may ease as policy efforts to unclog credit and aid borrowers begin to take hold. Recent reports showed builders broke ground on 22% more homes in February than the prior month - when starts plunged to a record low - and that sales of new and previously owned houses increased, signalling the industry’s decline may be closer to reaching a bottom. (Bloomberg)
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The U.S. government and the Federal Reserve have spent, lent or committed US$12.8trn, an amount that approaches the value of everything produced in the country last year, to stem the longest recession since the 1930s. The nation’s gross domestic product was US$14.2trn in 2008. New pledges from the Fed, the Treasury Department and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. include US$1trn for the Public-Private Investment Program, designed to help investors buy distressed loans and other assets from U.S. banks. Federal Reserve officials project the economy will keep shrinking until at least mid-year, which would mark the longest U.S. recession since the Great Depression. (Bloomberg)
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Europe’s inflation rate dropped to the lowest on record in March as the economic slump intensified across the region, adding to concerns that deflationary pressures are emerging. Inflation in the euro area slowed to 0.6% from 1.2% in February, the European Union statistics office in Luxembourg said yesterday. The March rate is the lowest since the data were first compiled in 1996. Inflation is subsiding as Europe’s economy grapples with the worst recession since World War II and companies cut spending and jobs to weather the global slump. (Bloomberg)
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German unemployment rose more than economists forecast in March as foreign and domestic demand weakened, affecting companies’ profits and forcing them to cut costs and jobs. The number of people out of work rose a seasonally adjusted 69,000 to 3.4m, the Federal Labour Agency said yesterday. Economists forecast an increase of 52,000, according to the median of 32 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. The adjusted jobless rate rose to 8.1% from 8%. While the German government plans 82bn euros (US$108bn) in stimulus measures, Europe’s largest economy may contract as much as 4.3% this year, according to the RWI economic institute. (Bloomberg)
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INVESTMENT RESEARCH
Global
Japan’s recession deepened as the unemployment rate surged to a three-year high, wages fell and job openings plunged at the fastest pace in three decades. The jobless rate rose to 4.4% last month from 4.1% in January, the statistics bureau said yesterday. The ratio of jobs available to each applicant tumbled to 0.59 from 0.67, the biggest drop since 1974, the Labour Ministry said. Companies from Toyota Motor Corp. to NEC Corp. are firing thousands of workers, increasing pressure on the government to give more assistance to the nation’s jobless, most of whom don’t receive benefits. Prime Minister Taro Aso said the government plans to unveil a stimulus package in mid-April that will include aid for households. Wages slid 2.7% as a record slump in exports forced manufacturers to slash production and overtime. Household spending fell 3.5%, a 12th monthly decline, indicating domestic demand is unlikely to make up for the collapse in exports. (Bloomberg)
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The World Bank and OECD warned surging unemployment may inflict another blow on the global economy as they cut their economic outlooks for emerging and rich nations. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said that the economy of its 30 members will contract 4.3% this year and predicted unemployment in the Group of Seven will reach 36m late next year. The World Bank lowered its growth forecast for developing countries this year by more than half to 2.1% and President Robert Zoellick expressed concern of a looming “unemployment crisis.” Rising joblessness adds urgency to the London summit of Group of 20 leaders to find remedies to the worst economic and financial turmoil in six decades. (Bloomberg)
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