Sunday, March 1, 2015

Bank Islam-MBSB merger in the air

Bank Islam-MBSB merger in the air
Saturday, 28 February 2015
AS the dust settles on the aborted three-way banking merger of last month, a plan is being floated on a “marriage” between Malaysia Building Society Bhd (MBSB) and Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd.
Sources say the idea of a merger between the two is being mooted at the shareholder level of both companies, namely the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Lembaga Tabung Haji (LTH).
According to sources, the interest for both parties to go into a corporate exercise is not altogether new and was first floated early last year. But by the time any formal move could be taken, CIMB Group Holdings Bhd had already entered the fray to initiate the proposed merger between MBSB and RHB Capital Bhd (RHB Cap). Now, with that out of the way, the plan is apparently being revisited but still at preliminary stages, sources say.
A common factor the two companies have is Tan Sri Samsudin Osman, who is chairman of EPF and BIMB Holdings Bhd – Bank Islam’s listed parent company. BIMB wholly owns Bank Islam, which is its main income generator. “Because of their common chairman, the two parties have a close relationship,” say sources.
The EPF is also a shareholder in BIMB with an 8.18% stake as at March 31, 2014, according to the company’s 2013 annual report. The pension fund has in recent years upped its stake in the stock from 4.73% in 2009. BIMB’s single largest shareholder is LTH with 54.69% while another fund, Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB), has a 5.11% stake.
The EPF, meanwhile, is MBSB’s single largest shareholder with 64.5%. The fund ended up with the large stake in the non-bank lender due to legacy issues from the 1998 financial crisis. It has been reported that the fund under its current leadership has made it a priority to reduce its interest in listed companies to ensure it remains as an investor and not the driver of the entities.
Bankers say that if a merger is to take place, the EPF would be able to vote, unlike the situation in the failed merger with CIMB and RHB. For funds to be considered a substantial shareholder, their stake has to be at least 10% in a company.
The fund was not allowed to vote in that deal as it is a common major shareholder of all the parties involved and there exists a potential conflict of interest.
According to some bankers, a merger between Bank Islam and MBSB makes a good fit. About 80% of MBSB’s assets are already Islamic and it aspires to become a full-fledged Islamic lender. In recent years, the company has been working to “close the gaps” towards a commercial banking platform, a practice it need not comply with but is undertaking for better perception and branding.

Bank Islam, meanwhile, is Malaysia’s first standalone Islamic bank set up in 1983. In the past few years, it has sought several mergers and acquisitions (M&As), but nothing materialised. “Bank Islam is the country’s standard-bearer in Islamic banking. After three decades in the business, it is only expected that it moves into the big league and grow market share,” notes a banker who reckons that Bank Islam would not be able to achieve its ambition to be a mega-Islamic bank unless it merges with another Islamic bank.
Business-wise, Bank Islam is much larger with a strong retail presence of 140 branches and a workforce of about 4,000. MBSB, which built its asset base largely from loans to personal financing, has 43 branches and 1,300 employees. However, it is diversifying and aims to double its corporate loan book to 30% by 2020 under a new five-year business plan.
MBSB’s cost-to-income ratio (CIR) is among the lowest in the industry at 22.36% in 2014, while Bank Islam’s is at about 50%, which is not unusual for a bank with retail presence, say analysts.
Bank Islam’s total assets as at Sept 30, 2014 were RM42.89bil, while MBSB’s is RM37.67bil currently.
Maybank Islamic Bhd, the Islamic banking arm of Malayan Banking Bhd, is the biggest Islamic banking outfit with total assets of RM132.30bil.
Bank Islam declined to comment on StarBizWeek’s queries.
Earlier this week, MBSB’s president and chief executive officer Datuk Ahmad Zaini Othman said that a corporate exercise is inevitable for the company in an increasingly competitive landscape. In an interview with StarBizWeek. he said that for the company to get out of this “no man’s land” and to be on firmer growth towards a financial institution platform, it needs to seriously look into a corporate exercise in the very near future.
On the synergies it is seeking from an M&A, Zaini said that it would have to be a marriage between retail and corporate, given that he felt MBSB can contribute more on the latter. Without being able to tap into low-cost deposits, MBSB is also going to find it difficult to grow.
Bank Islam’s managing director Datuk Seri Zukri Samat, in an interview with StarBizWeek last year, said that besides Indonesia, the bank is also aiming to grow its local footprint, in line with the central bank’s goal to have a mega-Islamic bank in Malaysia. As to its M&A options, he had said that the bank was open to candidates that can complement its strengths in consumer banking.
In 2011, Bank Islam failed to strike a merger deal with DRB-Hicom Bhd-owned Bank Muamalat Malaysia Bhd. Last year, there were talks that Maybank Islamic could be teaming up with Bank Islam.
“Bank Islam is a prized asset in the pilgrim fund’s stable of companies. However, a stake of 30% to 40% in a much larger entity is an attractive proposition,” says a banker. It is also likely that LTH would want to retain the Bank Islam name post-merger, given that it has a stronger branding and is after all Malaysia’s pioneering Islamic bank.
On valuations MBSB could fetch, some bankers think that it may not be able to fetch the 1.91 price-to-book value (P/BV) as in the previous bank merger deal, as economic conditions have weakened. MBSB could have been accorded a high valuation in that deal because of its high return on equity, say analysts.
Had that proposed merger materialised, it would have seen MBSB being acquired by CIMB-RHB’s Islamic banking operations to form a “mega” Islamic bank with total assets of RM122bil. At Friday’s price of RM2.20, MBSB is valued at RM5.96bil and trading at a P/BV of 1.30. Just last week, MBSB announced a net profit of RM1.02bil for the year ended Dec 31, 2014, bolstered by a one-off recognition of RM366.06mil in deferred tax assets.
As for BIMB, a restructuring may have to be done prior to any merger of Bank Islam, given that the former also owns a 60.5% stake in Syarikat Takaful Malaysia Bhd, which is also listed, and BIMB Securities Sdn Bhd, which make a minute contribution to the group’s bottom line. BIMB shares are valued at RM6.2bil at RM4.04. It had made a pre-tax profit of RM506.27mil for the nine months ended Sept 31, 2014.
On Thursday, BIMB announced that it asking for a time extension to submit its financial results for the fourth quarter ended Dec 31, 2014.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Malaysia’s 10 highest paying jobs

By: Iris Lee, Malaysia
Published: 4 hours 33 min ago
Malaysia – I always wanted to be pilot when I was a kid, and after seeing this list, I regret not pursuing my dream.
If you are rethinking your career, here is where the big bucks are according to
1) Pilot
A pilot earns RM35,000 on average per month, on top of travelling around the world.

2) Senior accountant
You probably spend the extra off-work hours crunching numbers to manage your huge paycheck of RM30,000 a month.

3) Materials engineer
A materials engineer earns about RM28,000 a month. That’s a lot for just testing materials used to create products.

4) Government affairs director
Being in the public sector not only gives you great benefits, but also a high salary at RM27,000 a month.

5) Team Leader in oil & gas, energy or mining industry
You will be compensated for being in a high-risk job, with team leaders in these industries earning about RM26,500 a month.

6) Recruiting manager
Bring in human resources, particularly in recruiting, can rake in the big bucks. The average pay for a recruiting manager stands at around RM25,500 a month.

7) Regional manager in banking
The banking industry has always been known for its perks. A regional manager for any bank in Malaysia can earn an average of RM25,000 a month.
Appeard in HRSG Mar 10
8) Chief operating officer
A COO of a company earns an average of RM24,722 a month.
9) Regional director
Being the regional director is the next best thing after COO, as this position rakes in about RM24,583 a month.
10) Geotechnical engineer
And last but not least, traipsing around in dirt as a geotechnical engineer brings in about RM22,833 a month.
The list above is generated through information submitted by users and also a database of salary information gathered from requirement agencies, companies and employers.
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Pharmacies to dispense medicines if proposal accepted

Pharmacies to dispense medicines if proposal accepted

PETALING JAYA: Instead of getting their medicine from private clinics, patients will have to obtain it from pharmacies if the Health Ministry accepts the proposed “Doc­tors diagnose, pharmacists dispense” system.

While the system may cause some inconvenience to patients, pharmacists say it will help bring down the prices of medicine and give doctors access to many more drugs to prescribe.

It is learnt that doctors and pharmacists have held several discussions on the issue over the last year and they plan to meet the Health Minister soon.

They are represented by the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA), Medical Practitioners Coalition Association of Ma­­lay­­sia, Islamic Medical Association of Ma­­­laysia, Malaysian Pharmaceutical So­­ciety (MPS) and Malaysian Community Phar­­macy Guild (MCPG).

According to MCPG president Wong Sie Sing, the five organisations had, at their last meeting on Nov 8, agreed in principle that dispensing be left to pharmacists.

Representatives of pharmacists later met Health Ministry director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdul­lah on Nov 26.

He said the two professions met to work out a timeframe to introduce the new system, adding: “I hope we can implement it by April.” Debate on the issue has been going on from as far back as 2008.
“If pharmacists are allowed to dispense, doctors would have access to 10 times more drugs to prescribe than what they have in stock. This will benefit the patients,” Wong said.

MCPG represents more than 2,000 community pharmacies employing some 2,500 pharmacists.

MPS president Datuk Nancy Ho said patients would receive further counselling from another group of well-trained healthcare professionals if pharmacists were to dis­­pense medication.

“The check-and-balance reduces prescription and dispensing errors. Dispensing separation is about professional medication management and only pharmacists are trained in this specialised practice. We know everything about a drug’s healing value and possible harm,” she said.

MMA president Dr H. Krishna Kumar confirmed that the associations had met on the proposed new system but said nothing had been agreed on yet.

Dr Noor Hisham confirmed meeting representatives of pharmacists, and said they discussed about integrating and consolidating the Pharmacy Act.
Stating that nothing had been decided on, he stressed that the ministry’s main priority was to ensure quality and safety.

Universiti Sains Malaysia (School of Phar­maceutical Sciences) Assoc Prof Mohamed Azmi Ahmad Hasalli said a 2013 study of 40 clinics and 100 pharmacies in Penang found that doctors dispensed more medicine and antibiotics and charged more than pharmacists.

Separation of dispensing rights will raise cost

MALAYSIANS are learning to adapt to rising prices all round, including the added burden of the impending Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Thus it is surprising that there are vested parties wanting and demanding to separate dispensing rights from doctors.

The one-stop consultation and dispensing of medicines by general practitioners has kept the price of healthcare affordable.

This time-tested practice has existed in Malaysia for more than a century.

Doctors package the cost of a visit to a GP on an average of RM50, which includes medicine and consultation.

If separation is done, the average cost will balloon many times more.

The GP then will have to charge RM30 to RM50 for consultation alone as approved by the Health Ministry Fee Schedule.

Patients will have to look for a pharmacy after consultation with a GP, to get the medicines of his prescription from the pharmacies. This will make healthcare unaffordable for most Malaysians.

GP clinics are easily accessible. There are probably more GP clinics than post offices or police stations in Malaysia. GP clinics exist even in remote corners of the country, including Sabah and Sarawak. Many GP clinics operate a 24-hour service.

Pharmacies are few especially in the rural areas. None offers round- the-clock services even in urban areas.

Most Malaysians prefer and have used this one-stop service without any complaints. Why change a system that works and keeps all happy?

Malaysia is known to have the most affordable private primary healthcare system in the world.

Let us not lose this hard won international accolade due to pressure and lobbying by those having financial self-interest.

Malaysians will have to pay a heavy price for this change if it ever becomes a reality.

They hope the Government will not yield to this “bullying” by the concerned parties to separate dispensing from doctors.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Matrix Concepts 4Q net profit up 39%, declares 6.5 sen dividends

Matrix Concepts 4Q net profit up 39%, declares 6.5 sen dividends

KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 12): Matrix Concepts Holdings Bhd ( Financial Dashboard) (fundamental: 1.85; valuation: 1.2) saw its net profit risen 39% to RM56.53 million for the fourth financial quarter ended Dec 31, 2014 (4QFY14), from RM40.66 million a year ago, due to better product mix in the property development segment, complemented with higher sales recognition for its residential and industrial properties.
Revenue increased 4.6% to RM151 million, from RM144.34 million in 4QFY13. Earnings per share (EPS) rose to 12.4 sen in 4QFY14, from 13.5 sen a year ago.
The Seremban-based property developer also declared a fourth interim dividend of 5.25 sen per share and a special dividend of 1.25 sen per share for the financial year ended Dec 31, 2014 (FY14), payable on April 9, 2015.
This brings total dividends of 17.33 sen per share, with payouts totalling RM77.2 million for FY14.
For the 12 months period (FY14), Matrix Concepts posted a record net profit of RM182.61 million, from RM151.56 million in FY13; while revenue was 4.3% higher at RM598.29 million, from RM573.5 million.
EPS for FY14 was 48.9 sen, compared with 64.1 sen the previous year.
In a statement today, Matrix Concepts said of total group revenue in FY14, residential and commercial properties contributed about 76% or RM453 million, while sales of industrial properties and land made up the remaining 24% or RM144.7 million.
“Our strong FY14 report card is the result of the group’s strategies to enhance efficiency and move up the value chain, even though the overall climate was challenging,” its chairman Datuk Mohamad Haslah Mohamad Amin said in the statement.
“The strong buyer response to our launches justified our commitment to availing properties that are within reach to a growing population in Negeri Sembilan and Johor,” he added.
As of Dec 31, 2014, Matrix Concepts' unbilled sales amounted to RM429.3 million, which will last it until 2017.
“We believe that demand for affordable products would remain intact in FY2015, and intend to continue our momentum, going forward. Hence, we target to launch new projects amounting to a gross development value (GDV) of RM1 billion in Negeri Sembilan and Johor, which will stand us in good stead to deliver stronger growth in the years to come,” said Mohamad Haslah.
As of 3.34pm today, the counter rose 6 sen or 2.14% to RM2.87, valuing the group at RM1.28 billion.
(Note: The Edge Research's fundamental score reflects a company’s profitability and balance sheet strength, calculated based on historical numbers. The valuation score determines if a stock is attractively valued or not, also based on historical numbers. A score of 3 suggests strong fundamentals and attractive valuations.)

Monday, February 9, 2015

EPF declares 6.75% dividend rate for 2014

EPF declares 6.75% dividend rate for 2014
by nurbaiti hamdan

PETALING JAYA: Contributors to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) have every reason to smile – EPF has declared a 6.75% dividend rate for 2014, the highest rate since 1999. With the latest dividend rate, total payout amounts to RM36.66bil, an increase of RM5.46bil compared to 2013’s RM31.2bil. In 1999, the dividend rate was 6.84%.

The EPF also recorded a RM39.08bil gross investment income for the financial year ending Dec 31 2014, an 11.66% increase from RM35bil in 2013.

Its chairman Tan Sri Samsuddin Osman said despite uncertainties in both the domestic and global markets, EPF had outperformed its achievement in 2013.

“Our global investments have contributed 33% towards our total income for 2014 despite being only 23% of our total assets.

“No doubt, the end of 2014 has been challenging for EPF due to the slump in global oil prices. The weakening of the ringgit in the fourth quarter added further uncertainty.

“However, our prudent diversification approach has given us the edge and resilience to weather the economic conditions, particularly in the global markets,” he said in a statement here yesterday.

In order to correspond with EPF’s objectives of preserving and adding value to members’ savings, Samsuddin said it aimed to provide at least a 2% returns of above inflation over a three-year rolling period.

The dividend declared for 2014 is equivalent to a rolling three-year real returns of 4.11% over inflation.

EPF, said Samsuddin, foresaw challenges ahead due to rising levels of economic uncertainty in both domestic and global markets on the back of low oil prices, potential reduction in global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth and further compression in fixed income yields.

Recent quantitative easing in global markets and a more deflationary outlook, he added, would also lower expected nominal yields for long-term investors like EPF.

However, Samsuddin said it expected inflation to “remain benign”, adding that EPF would continue to uphold its policy of judicious risk management and investment allocations.

The EPF account statement for the crediting of the dividend is available online via i-Akaun at myEPF website (

Alternatively, members can obtain their statement via EPF kiosks or visit any branch starting today.

considered another pre-chinese new year bonus for most of us, quickly go and check your money!!!!

Saturday, January 24, 2015


Making the REIT Investment

By SHAREN - 19 December 2014 @ 12:00 AM 
STRONG UPSIDE: Those with quality commercial, industrial and healthcare assets to do well
KUALA LUMPUR: It will not be all doom and gloom for Malaysian real estate investment trusts (REITs) next year, with potential upside from the injection of new assets and extensive refurbishment of existing portfolio assets in the past 12 months.
There are currently 16 REITs listed on Bursa Malaysia and the largest player is KLCC Stapled Group, which has property assets in excess of RM12 billion.
MIDF Research head Zulkifli Hamzah expected select REIT players to continue to do well, particularly those with quality properties in the commercial, industrial and healthcare space.
He is recommending REITs with strong assets, such as Sunway REIT, Al-Aqar Healthcare REIT, IGB REIT, KLCC Property Stapled REIT and Pavilion REIT.
Quill Capita REIT can also be considered as it has opened the Kampung Baru mall, which will contribute 100 per cent to its earnings next year.
Zulkifli said judging from the condition of the property market, there could be some easing in prices, given the softer market condition.
“Hence, we do not expect the REIT players to rush into buying as they would rather keep a wait-and-see stance. The gestation period for new acquisitions could be lengthy due to the purchasing process, further enhancement that might be needed, as well as ensuring the right tenant mix,” he said.
Zulkifli said depending on the capital requirement and the location of each REIT players’ existing assets, taking the enhancement route going forward might be less capital-intensive and have faster turnaround time.
On the other hand, RHB Research Institute Sdn Bhd expects Quill Capita Trust and Axis REIT to wrap up their respective asset acquisitions towards the end of this year or early next year.
It also expects Sunway REIT, CapitaMalls Malaysia Trust and Hektar REIT to start reaping the fruits of their labour as the extensive refurbishments of their malls are due to be completed by the end of next year.
On future acquisitions, RHB Research said it might be more challenging after the implementation of the six per cent Goods and Services Tax on April 1 next year.
It expected all purchases of commercial assets to be subject to the six per cent GST and, hence, could potentially cause the assets’ yields to become less attractive.
However, it expects no significant changes on the sector’s organic growth.
“We believe even if the electricity tariff were to increase again during the next review in mid-2015, the impact will be largely manageable as some REITs, such as Pavilion REIT and KLCC Stapled Group, have started raising their service charges and, hence, cushioning the impact of higher tariffs.
“At the same time, we also think that the GST is unlikely to dampen the REITs’ organic growth,” RHB Research said in its Malaysia Strategy 2015 report released this week.
It opined that retail REITs would outperform its peers, given their relatively stable average annual rental rate growth of five to seven per cent, compared with the two to three per cent growth in the industrial segment and flattish annual growth for the office segment.
Meanwhile, RHB Research thinks REITs could take a breather next year as the risk of further hike in the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) has been reduced following the fall of crude palm oil and crude oil prices.
“As the decline in commodity prices is expected to adversely affect the economic outlook, the focus has, therefore, been switched to stimulating growth rather than containing inflation. As a result, we believe the OPR will likely remain stable next year. This should be favourable to the REITs, given the steady yield spread and also stable interest cost on borrowings,” it said.
Meanwhile, Sunway REIT Management Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Datuk Jeffrey Ng Tiong Lip said it was a challenge for REIT players to acquire yield-accretive assets.
He said there were good assets in the market but the owners were selling at an expensive price, making the yields unattractive
“We will continue to look for assets, but more importantly, making acquisition in the current market condition is not easy as people want to sell them at a very high price. This means the yields would be lower. For REIT like us, we can’t acquire properties with low yields as it will be dividend per unit dilutive,” Ng told Property Times.
Sunway REIT Management is the manager for Sunway Real Estate Investment Trust (Sunway REIT), which has 12 assets in its portfolio.
Sunway REIT’s market capitalisation is RM4.4 billion as at December 5 and its total portfolio assets are valued at RM5.56 billion as at September 30.
Sunway REIT Management is buying Sunway Hotel Georgetown in Penang and Wisma Sunway in Shah Alam for RM134 million from its parent, Sunway Bhd, to provide stable cash distributions to unitholders.
These assets will be injected into Sunway REIT and raise its value to almost RM5.7 billion when both acquisitions are completed over the next 18 months.
Its last asset acquisition was in 2012 when it bought Putra Place in Kuala Lumpur.
The four-star hotel in Penang, which has a gross floor area of 192,383 sq ft, completed its refurbishment exercise in April last year and is said to have a market value of RM74 million as at July this year.
The hotel will be leased back to the vendor, Sunway Biz Hotel Sdn Bhd, for a 10-year term with the option to renew for another 10 years.
Wisma Sunway, a newly refurbished office building, is located within a captive office market in Shah Alam and more than 90 per cent of its tenants are government agencies.
The acquisition of the hotel and Wisma Sunway will be funded through Sunway REIT Management’s existing debt facility, which will increase its gearing ratio from 32 per cent as at September 30 to 33.5 per cent.
On the outlook for next year, Ng said the performance for Malaysian REITs in general was expected to be flattish.
“There is no question that the market is looking quite volatile. We are now seeing fluctuations of the ringgit and that may have an impact on interest rates. There is also government subsidy rationalisation. The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is coming up, too. There are also a lot of external factors we are going to face next year. All these will definitely affect consumer sentiments or business confidence. So it is definitely going to be a very volatile year.”
He also said the market for commercial assets such as retail malls, offices and hotels was in a soft competitive situation by virtue of the number of new properties of the various asset classes that are coming into the market.
“There are more hotels, malls and offices... it is very apparent that the supply is there and, therefore, the situation will continue to be very competitive,” Ng said.
Sunway REIT was listed on the Main Market of Bursa Malaysia on July 8 2010 and, with a RM5.7 billion portfolio, is the country’s second-largest REIT in terms of assets size as at December 5, behind KLCC Stapled Group.


Friday, January 16, 2015

Beware of the fake doctors

LATELY, there is a trend among marketers of health and beauty products to include over the top claims of how their products can cure certain medical diseases.
Most of these claims can’t be substantiated by any scientific methods. These claims are merely from testimonials of their clients after using their products.
Any inquiries made regarding these claims will be answered with accusations of the enquirer being an agent of anti-religious sentiments and Western beliefs.
Furthermore, some of these marketers claims to have titles such as “Doctor” and “Professor” from questionable universities. Some even have the title of “Sir”! Some of the professor titles are even conferred by certain companies instead of universities.
While they deny that they are deceiving the public by portraying themselves as medical doctors, their pamphlets seem to depict the contrary.
To the public, does a person wearing a white coat with a stethoscope around their neck look like a medical doctor? This is what is happening today.
Some might say that these people are not doing any wrong as they are merely helping to create a healthy lifestyle among Malaysians. But I have encountered some of these non-medical doctors giving disturbing advice to the public. Among them are:
> Diabetics should stop taking their medicine as diabetes mellitus is a disease of the mind and can be cured by a special water. All medicines prescribed by medical doctors cause hypoglycaemia and it will only do more harm;
> Hypertensive patients need not take any anti-hypertensives even though their blood pressure is 200/100 mmHg; and
> A thalassemic patient with haemoglobin of 4g/dl (severely anaemic) does not need a blood transfusion.
These dangerous types of advice are making it hard for doctors to manage patients adequately. There have been countless patients who have not come for follow-up treatment after listening to their advice. They only turn up later at the emergency department with fatal consequences.
In my short service history, I have seen countless patients with haemorrhagic stroke, diabetic ketoacidosis and acute renal failure due to non-compliance of treatment.
On questioning, it was found that these patients had been seeking advice from these non-medical doctors.
Despite this, I have yet to see any one of these “doctors” claiming responsibility for their mistakes. I have not seen any case of litigation against these “doctors”.
I have no interest here. I am just a normal medical doctor. I can easily say “these patients are looking for trouble themselves and I shouldn’t care” and wash my hands.
But as a medical professional, my job is not only to treat but also to prevent the population from getting sick. Prevention includes managing chronic diseases adequately.
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