Tuesday, 17 October 2017

(The Star) Industrial park plan welcomed in Sibu

SIBU: The Sibu Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) welcomed the announcement by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan that the government is planning to set up a new industrial park here.

Awang Tengah said this at the closing ceremony of a half-day Industrial and Entrepreneur Development seminar.

“It is great news for the Sibu business community. The enthusiastic applause from the 500 participants in the seminar is a strong indication of their excitement,” said SCCCI president Dr Hii Sui Cheng.

Dr Hii said the setting up of the new industrial estate can inject new industrial investment capital and spur expansion of new business and industrial activities which would benefit hundreds of local small and medium enterprises.

“Thanks to the initiatives of the state government, led by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg and assisted by his very experienced three deputies, Sarawak in general and Sibu in particular will see better days,” he added.

He pointed out that with the new industrial area in Sibu, coupled with better air connectivity, starting with jet liner service between Sibu and Kota Kinabalu, the park would help boost the economy and tourism industry here.

(The Star) Joint committee to head projects

KUCHING: The Rural and Regional Development Ministry will set up joint committees with Sarawak and Sabah to plan and implement projects under the ministry.

Its minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said this was decided following a paper presented by the state government on the matter at a meeting for rural development exco members here.

“The joint committee will be chaired by myself and (Deputy Chief Minister) Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah representing the Sarawak government. This is for us to discuss project proposals and implementation.

Ismail Sabri said the first meeting of the joint committee would be held after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak tables Budget 2018 in Parliament.

“After we know how much our allocation is, we can look at the projects to be proposed for implementation,” he said.

Besides the joint committee, he said the ministry also had a working committee chaired jointly by its secretary-general and the state’s rural development permanent secretary to monitor projects.

On the Hardcore Poor Housing Project (PPRT), Ismail Sabri said during the meeting, all parties agreed that repair work will be handed over to village development and security committees (JKKK) to carry out via gotong-royong.

“If the JKKK cannot hold a gotong-royong, they can appoint a contractor to do the work,” he said.

Ismail Sabri also said the lion’s share of the Federal Government’s allocations for rural development had gone to Sarawak over the years.

For instance, he said nearly half of the overall allocation for rural electrification from 2010 to 2017 went to Sarawak, which received RM3.374bil over the period.

In addition, RM1.499bil or 25% of the overall national allocation for rural water supply was given to Sarawak under the 10th and 11th Malaysia Plans while RM177.9mil (20%) was allocated for rural roads in Sarawak under the 11th Malaysia Plan.

For PPRT, RM94.4mil or 24% of the national allocation was given to Sarawak this year.

“In other words, the allocation for Sarawak is big in terms of percentage compared to other states,” Ismail Sabri said.

(The Star) Wellness-themed development project coming up in Melaka

Staying true to its name, Satori, meaning enlightenment in Japanese, is a mediwellness themed mixed development project to watch in the heart of Melaka.

Boasting a one-of-a-kind development, the project by Hatten Land offers a combination of health, fitness, beauty treatment, leisure as well as homes and a hotel.

It is set to carve a niche in the global wellness tourism market in a city that hosts 16 million tourists yearly.

It also creates opportunities for investors to capitalise on the growing potential of Malaysia being one of the top Asian countries for wellness tourism.

Set to be completed in 2021, the project with a gross floor area of 570,400sq ft will house over 192 serviced suites, a 85,250sq ft retail mall with 457 shopping lots and a 336-suite hotel.

More than 50 world-class facilities such as a one-stop fitness and aqua gym, health food outlets, a yoga room and ariel yoga, sea salt spa and mud baths, beauty and hair care outlets will be featured in the project.

Other facilities include a meditation hall, an infinity pool, sky lounge, a BBQ area with hammock chairs, a reflexology stone track, a herb garden and a Red Indian play zone, based on a Red Indian set and a bean bag theatre among others.

(The Star) Aspen Group to offer various bargains at upcoming fair in Queensbay Mall

Property hunters are in for a bargain with impressive deals offered by Aspen Group, where the needs of the buyer are put first.

As part of its ongoing My Aspen Deposit Campaign until Nov 30, the group will be offering a 5% down payment only plan, a professional grant with a sum equivalent of RM20,000 to qualified purchasers, a RM5,000 Ikea gift card, a free Ipad upon signing of SPA as well as free SPA legal fees to visitors at the Fair 2017 at Queensbay Mall, Penang.

Among the projects on display are Vervea commercial precinct and Vertu Resort, which are part of the RM10bil Aspen Vision City in Batu Kawan, Beacon Executive Suites in George Town and the group’s first affordable condominium in Tanjung Tokong — Tri Pinnacle.

Vervea comprises three and four-storey shop offices with a built-up space of between 3,300sq ft and 12,140sq ft.

Vertu Resort, on the other hand, is a resort-inspired urban condominium, furnished with a move-in condition with home furnishings as well as electrical and kitchen appliances.

The resort is packed with plenty of facilities and amenities to suit individual styles and preferences, including a 152m-long swimming pool and a rock climbing adventure area among others.

Priced at RM487,000 onwards, the condominiums with built-up space between 740sq ft and 1,800sq ft will be completed in 2020.

Beacon Executive Suites, a one-of-a-kind small office, home office (SOHO) development in George Town, comprising 227 executive suites with a standard unit size of 980sq ft, are also up for grabs.

Beacon Executive Suites are equipped with a comprehensive IoT (Internet of Things) Smart Service Solutions for residents to subscribe based on their needs.

Slated for completion in 2020, the suites will grace the skyline of George Town with unique features such as a Sky Podium, which provides a panoramic 360-degree view of the surrounding.

The Sky Podium is also fitted with facilities such as an Infinity Sky Pool, Sky Lounge and Sky Gym.

Pricing for a suite starts from RM695,000.

The group’s first affordable condominium in Tanjung Tokong, Tri Pinnacle, will also be featured at the property fair. It is slated for completion at the end of next year.

Tri Pinnacle, the first private-initiated affordable housing project in Penang, is equipped with state-of-the-art rooftop facilities that include a sky infinity swimming pool at the rooftop.

With a built-up space of 800sq ft, the highly sought-after project is priced from RM398,800 onwards for each unit.

For more details on these projects, visit booth N5 at Fair 2017 from Thursday to Sunday (10.30am to 10.30pm). Admission is free.

(The Star) Ahmad Zaki wins another KVMRT job worth RM288mil

PETALING JAYA: Ahmad Zaki Resources Bhd has secured an additional package worth RM288.5mil for the Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya (SSP) Line of the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (KVMRT) project.

The contract was awarded by Mass Rapid Transit Corp Sdn Bhd for package S206 of the KVMRT SSP Line, which comprises the construction of three elevated stations and other associated work at Serdang Raya (South), Seri Kembangan and Universiti Putra Malaysia.

“We have successfully completed packages V6 and S6 of MRT Line 1, the Sungai Buloh–Kajang (SBK) Line, and are now undertaking package V202 of MRT Line 2 - SSP Line.

“This additional package awarded to us demonstrates our capability and excellent track record as a railway infrastructure builder,” said group managing director Datuk Seri Wan Zakariah Wan Muda.

The new contract brings AZRB’s total wins for the year to RM502.5mil, bringing the current unbilled orderbook to RM4bil to sustain the group over the next three to four years.

(The Star) ECRL: Qualified sub-contractors can participate in pre-qualification exercise

PETALING JAYA: Experienced local sub-contractors that possess CIDB Grade G3-G7 and a minimum CIDB score rating of two stars may participate in a pre-qualification exercise that will facilitate them for potential tenders in the construction of the 688-km East Coast Rail Link (ECRL).

ECRL said in a statement that it had embarked on a roadshow to reach out to Malaysian sub-contractors in the east coast states and Selangor.

This is in line with the Government’s commitment for local companies to also be involved in this project, it said.

The ECRL stretches from Pengkalan Kubor in Kelantan to Port Klang in Selangor.

“Ample packages such as earthworks, formation works, drainage works, foundation works, building works and tunneling works would certainly generate interest among the subcontractors in the implementation of this infra-rakyat project,” said Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL) CEO Darwis Abdul Razak yesterday.

He said in a statement that the roadshow would involve four state capitals from Oct 15 to Oct 23.

MRL said it is progressing smoothly in the land acquisition processes in the East Coast states, and have also started soil investigation on several sizeable sites prior to civil works taking shape.

(The Star) WCT plans to sell new shares worth RM242mil

KUALA LUMPUR: WCT Holdings Bhd is planning to sell a further RM242mil worth of new shares to investors it has yet to identify, the company said in a filing with Bursa Malaysia.

This is the construction firm’s second fund-raising exercise so far this year.

Proceeds from the exercise would be used for the group’s working capital, part repayment of bank borrowings as well as the widening of its equity base, it said.

WCT in April had raised RM178mil by placing out 100.46 million new shares to select investors at RM1.77 apiece.

The new shares will be placed out in tranches within six months from the date of Bursa Malaysia’s approval. However, it said, the final number of placement shares to be issued would depend on the then prevailing market price of WCT shares closer to the implementation of the placement and the demand from the potential placees to be identified.

“As the approval in-principle of Bursa Malaysia for the listing of and quotation for the 125 million new ordinary shares pursuant to its approval letter dated March 24, 2017 has since lapsed, the company intends to seek fresh approval from Bursa for a new placement proposal,” WCT said.

(The Star) Affin to cater for bigger loans

KUALA LUMPUR: Affin Holdings Bhd said its new corporate structure will allow the bank to go after bigger loan business and strengthen its consumer banking activities.

Affin Holdings expects to complete its ongoing restructuring exercise in the first half of next year.

“The new structure is to simplify the work process of the Affin group and to become a stronger banking group,” said chairman Tan Sri Mohd Zahidi Zainuddin after its EGM yesterday.

Under the new structure, Affin Bank Bhd will assume the group’s listing status. This will allow the bank a direct access to the capital market for fund-raising activities.

Affin Holdings will transfer its stake in Affin Hwang Investment Bank Bhd, Affin Moneybrokers Sdn Bhd, AXA Affin Life Insurance Bhd and AXA Affin General Insurance Bhd to Affin Bank.

“The immediate impact of the restructuring is the improvement of capital in our commercial bank and the group, which would enhance our capability to provide bigger loans,” Affin Hwang Capital group managing director Datuk Maimoonah Hussain said.

Meanwhile, Affin Holdings Bhd group CEO Kamarul Ariffin Mohd Jamil said the bank has allocated RM300mil to enhance its services in consumer banking in the next five years.

“Between 2016 and 2020, we have allocated RM300mil to enhance our digitalisation, information technology and services for consumer banking segment,” he said.

He said the restructuring exercise would simplify the shareholding of the group and result in a more efficient structure.

“It will also allow us to move forward in achieving our next growth phase,” said Kamarul.

In the past, Kamarul said, the Affin Bank had been “corporate centric”.

“We want to expand our consumer banking which previously contributed 45% in revenue.

“There are a lot of opportunities in consumer banking and in terms of the risk factors, the non-performing loans are also lower as opposed to corporate banking,” he said.

He added that the bank is also focusing on its Islamic banking segment moving forward.

“Our Islamic loan books used to be 19%, but within the last two year it has grown to 34%,” Kamarul said.

On loan growth, Kamarul reiterated Affin was expecting between 5% and 6% growth this year, supported by various business segments.

On the voluntary separation scheme, Kamarul said, 300 employees would be involved.

(The Star) Banks tussle for long-term deposits

PETALING JAYA: With the deadline to hold more stable funds under Basel III looming closer, banks are positioning to offer higher fixed deposit rates, especially for those above six-month tenure.

Bankers and analysts said this was because such deposits are considered more stable under the Basel III net stable funding ratio (NSFR) requirement, which is expected to be implemented in 2019.

They also foresee some pressure on net interest margins (NIMs) due to higher funding costs, which may impact earnings, especially of smaller banks.

“As the compliance date draws near, it is reasonable to expect heightened competition among banks. The expected intense competition for deposits may, of course, impact NIMs. But we expect the disruption to be minimal since, over the years, banks have already shifted towards more stable funding. This disciplined posture of past years will hold us all in good stead for the future.”

With the liquidity coverage ratio (LCR) already operative, and NSFR coming into effect in 2019, Thor said banks are expected to manage liquidity by balancing both their short-term and long-term needs. “This calls for the continual exercise of fine judgment as it remains a delicate balancing act in managing the liquidity of a bank,” he noted.

RAM Ratings co-head of financial institution ratings Wong Yin Ching, meanwhile, said there would likely be some downward pressure on NIM closer to the NSFR effective date.

Banks have to either compete for retail and SME deposits, source for long-term wholesale funding or hold more liquid/short-term assets, all of which will affect funding cost or asset yield, added Wong.

Retail and SME deposits are considered more stable, and thus, enjoy a more favourable treatment under both the LCR and NSFR frameworks. Given this, banks have been placing stronger emphasis on garnering these types of deposits over the last few years, she added.

“While deposit competition will persist, it is likely to moderate in the immediate term, as Bank Negara has allowed sufficient time for Malaysian banks to prepare for the NSFR requirement, which will kick in no earlier than Jan 1, 2019.

“Earlier, the NSFR requirement was expected to be implemented in 2018,” she said.

The LCR and NSFR are global standards introduced as part of the Basel committee’s key reforms to develop a more resilient banking sector post the global financial crisis.

The LCR indicator measures a bank’s liquidity over a 30-day horizon, while the NSFR requirement measures a bank’s long-term funding stability and complements the LCR requirement.

In a recent report, Fitch Ratings noted that fixed deposits maturing within one month fell to 18% of total fixed deposits at end-August 2017 from 29% in January 2013 as the 30-day LCR was phased in.

The NSFR metric focuses on a 12-month time frame and is likely to encourage banks to compete more aggressively for even longer-tenure deposits, and shift towards long-term wholesale debt funding, the international rating agency said.

“Banks are likely to offer higher rates on longer-term deposits and shift towards longer-term wholesale debt funding. Retail deposits accounted for around 43% of total deposits at the country’s top-five banks at end-June 2017, up from 40% at end-2013,” Fitch added.

Taking a differing view, Malaysian Rating Corp Bhd (MARC) head of banking Sharidan Salleh said demand for longer-term deposits would increase, although he does not expect any material rise in deposit rates.

This is also based on the fact that our banking system is already in compliance with the minimum liquidity requirement, he said. “For instance, the LCR stands at 141%, while the NSFR as estimated by the central bank is above 100%.

“We also do not foresee banks moving away from short-term funding, given that this is considered ‘stable deposit’ if it meets certain criteria set by Bank Negara. For example, short-term retail deposits from depositors that have established relationships with the bank via other banking facilities is considered stable deposits,” Sharidan said.

However, he believes the new liquidity ruling will increase demand for retail deposits, which are more stable. Currently, deposits from individuals and business enterprises constitute 38% and 33% of total deposits.

CIMB Research senior banking analyst Winson Ng said the proportion for retail deposits would be higher due to the need to comply with LCR and NSFR and higher cost for corporate deposits.

He agreed that deposit competition may intensify but not significantly as most banks have been well prepared to meet the requirements for NSFR, Ng added.

(The Star) More jobs expected as tourism expands in Bentong

KARAK: There will be more job opportunities for Karak and Bentong residents as Bentong develops to become a “lung-washing” tourist destination, said Bentong MP Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

“The development of ecotourism in Bentong is gaining momentum. More tourists will be here and this will create more jobs for people in Karak and Bentong,” he said at the Ceria Deepavali event in the Karak Hindu Devalaya Paripalana Sabah temple here.

Liow said Bentong would be developed into a garden city, as a satellite city in the Greater Kuala Lumpur area.

“The township is expected to develop rapidly in the next five years with the construction of Central Spine Road and the East Coast Rail Link which will improve the connectivity,” he said.