Malaysia’s general election produced what many did not believe was probable, even if certainly possible: a respectable win for the ruling coalition, known as Barisan Nasional.
Yet some are now saying it will also produce something far less probable: a sudden end to its victor’s career. Really? Continue reading »
As we come to the end of the first week of official campaigning in Malaysia’s cliffhanger general election – expected to the closest since the country’s independence in 1957 – a strange thing is happening.
Foreign investor confidence in the southeast Asian nation of 29m people was supposed to be getting wobbly. But it isn’t. Continue reading »
Asia’s footprint in Africa’s commodity-rich economies has been growing, with Singapore-listed companies among the biggest investors.
Wilmar, the world’s largest refiner of palm oil, first moved into Africa in 2007 with a couple of palm oil refining joint ventures in Uganda and Ivory Coast. Africa is short of refined palm oil and Wilmar spotted an opportunity to fill that gap. Maersk, the Danish shipping line, says a significant proportion of the goods carried in ships from Singapore to Africa is refined palm oil.
Now Wilmar is expanding its African business to sugar. Continue reading »
Waiting for Najib Razak, Malaysia’s prime minister, to call a much-anticipated general election is getting to be painful.
First it was to have been called at the beginning of the month. This would have meant polling in the last week of March, a convenient time since schools are out and classrooms are often used as polling stations in Malaysia. Continue reading »
Election give-aways are the oldest political trick in the book.
But in Malaysia the prime minister, Najib Razak, is taking them to a new level with the distribution of cash handouts to low-income workers as he prepares to fight a tight election with the country’s opposition.
With the opposition making its own splurge pledges, the voters face some tempting offers. But investors may be less enthralled by the potential pressure on future budgets. Continue reading »
Bose, the US maker of speakers and home entertainment systems, has chosen what to some might seem an unexpected location for its first manufacturing plant in Asia: Penang, on Malaysia’s western coast.
The plant will be the sixth for Bose worldwide, allowing it to supply markets in Asia more easily than from places such as Mexico, where it already has a plant. Continue reading »
For emerging market-watchers, data matter. But if you really want an insight into how trends are shifting on trade flows – especially in Southeast Asia – it pays to listen to a shipping line.
Maersk, the Danish operator which is the world’s largest shipping line in terms of container traffic, sees what is carried on its ships daily, thanks to what is listed on bills of lading as cargoes are loaded onto its ships. Continue reading »
Promoting investment into places like Sabah, on the eastern tip of Malaysia’s bit of Borneo, isn’t easy at the best of times. It is a remote part of Southeast Asia known mostly for spectacular diving and eco-tourism in lush rain forests.
But with the launch on Tuesday of air and ground assaults against Filipino insurgents in eastern Sabah, a few brave souls from the Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority appeared at a Singapore hotel at an exhibition showcasing investing in Malaysia. Continue reading »
To the lengthening list of foreign companies beating a path to Myanmar, add at least two more: Wilmar, one of Asia’s largest agribusinesses, and Cargill, the commodities’ trader.
Wilmar, a Singapore-listed group and the world’s largest processor of palm oil by volume, told beyondbrics it planned to make “significant investments” focusing on rice, fertilisers, sugar and vegetable oil. Cargill told beyondbrics it was “exploring opportunities” in the southeast Asian country for importing and exporting food and livestock feed.
Continue reading »
Robust domestic demand, the rise of the middle class and healthy corporate balance sheets are reasons why southeast Asia is being talked up as the last man standing in an otherwise anaemic global economy.
But Thiam Hee Ng, a senior economist at the Asian Development Bank, has sounded a rare note of caution on the region. He points out four factors that should give the boosters pause. Continue reading »
It’s not often that the cities of Kuala Lumpur and Ottawa are mentioned in the same sentence. Yet the Malaysian and Canadian capitals, respectively, are at the centre of an intriguing dilemma for emerging market watchers.
Petronas, the state-owned Malaysian oil and gas group, is waiting to see whether its C$5.5bn ($5.5bn) bid for Progress Energy, a Canadian operator of huge shale gas fields, will pass muster with the Canadian authorities. Continue reading »
The conventional wisdom for the past six months has been that south-east Asia is pretty much the last man standing in the global economy.
Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore have delivered decent growth, thanks to strong domestic demand and, even as the eurozone crisis and China’s deceleration have buffeted them.
But the region may be starting to slow. Continue reading »
Bad news often slips out when no-one seems to be paying attention.
That’s what appears to have happened on Friday when Bank Indonesia released shockingly bad quarterly current account figures – with a deficit of 3.1 per cent of gross domestic product, more than double the previous quarter’s 1.5 per cent, a figure that was itself revised downwards. Continue reading »
If your aim is to “truly prevent a rebound in housing prices” – as China’s Politburo promised recently – you won’t necessarily welcome news from a big property developer that it’s on track to release residential units at projects dubbed “The Loft” in Chengdu and “Dolce Vita” in Guangzhou.
Yet that is what CapitaLand, a Singapore-based property developer, said on Wednesday, noting that the “underlying fundamentals” of China’s housing sector “remain sound”. Continue reading »
If you are a banker with a thin book of business in equity capital markets – which probably means most of you – try moving to Kuala Lumpur.
Bankers in KL are enjoying a boom of breathtaking proportions. About $5.5bn of money has been raised in two big ticket initial public offerings in the last three weeks alone: Felda, the Malaysian palm oil company, defied global market gloom with a $3.2bn IPO; and IHH Healthcare was priced on Tuesday at the upper end of its indicative range. Continue reading »