Breakfast briefing: Tuesday, May 23 (Update)

Adding connectivity: The SmartLink technology in Ford's plug-in device allows models that do not come pre-equipped with a modem to be more connected. — Reuters

MarketWrap: US stocks rose on Monday, boosted by technology shares and by defense companies, which gained after the United States and Saudi Arabia signed a multi-billion dollar arms deal. The DJIA closed up 89.99 points, or 0.43%, to 20,894.83, the S&P 500 gained 12.29 points, or 0.52%, to 2,394.02 and the Nasdaq added 49.92 points, or 0.82%, to 6,133.62. - Reuters


Oil prices rose on Monday as growing confidence that top exporters would agree to extend supply curbs this week and speculation that the cuts could be deepened further pushed prices to their highest levels in more than a month. Brent futures rose 26 cents, or 0.5%, to settle at US$53.87 a barrel, - Reuters

Forex summary

*The ringgit gained 0.22% to 4.2950 versus the US$

*It lost 0.35% to 4.8316 versus euro

*Up 0.24% to 5.5792 per pound sterling

*Up 0.22% to 3.0988 per Singapore dollar

*Down 0.05% to 3.2141 per Aussie

*Flat at 3.8670 per 100 yen

Top foreign stories

Ford names Hackett as CEO to tackle car rivals, Silicon Valley: Ford Motor Co abruptly named James Hackett as chief executive on Monday, responding to investors' growing unease about the US automaker's slumping stock price and its ability to counter threats from longtime rivals and Silicon Valley. - Reuters

Morgan Stanley shareholders approve executive compensation plan: Morgan Stanley's executive compensation plan received the support of over 90% of its shareholders at the bank's annual meeting in its New York wealth management headquarters on Monday. Morgan Stanley awarded chief executive James Gorman US$22.5 million in 2016, up 7% from the year ago period. - Reuters

Hackers hit Russian bank customers, planned international cyber raids: Russian cyber criminals used malware planted on Android mobile devices to steal from domestic bank customers and were planning to target European lenders before their arrest, investigators and sources say. Their campaign raised a relatively small sum by cyber-crime standards - more than 50 million roubles (US$892,000) - but they had also obtained more sophisticated malicious software for a modest monthly fee to go after the clients of banks in France and possibly a range of other Western nations. - Reuters

Shareholders go to court seeking to oust Akzo chairman: Akzo Nobel shareholders angered by the Dulux paint maker's rejection of a 26.3 billion euro (US$29.5 billion) takeover proposal from US rival PPG Industries took their fight to an Amsterdam court on Monday. - Reuters

Long seen as partners, Huntsman and Clariant seal US$14b merger: US-based Huntsman Corp and Switzerland's Clariant AG are combining to create a chemical manufacturer with a market value of about US$14 billion, the deal coming together after years of tentative mutual approaches. The HuntsmanClariant specialty chemicals company will be 52% owned by Clariant shareholders and valued at around US$20 billion when including debt, Clariant said. - Reuters

Top local stories

IHH’s lira problems: IHH Healthcare Bhd wants to reduce its risk in Turkey due to the volatility of the Turkish lira against the US dollar and the spiralling medical inflation there. IHH chief financial officer Low Soon Teck said the company was actively engaging with local banks there to look at various options to reduce its risk by converting part of a euro loan loan into lira. - StarBiz

KLK hedges CPO production: Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd (KLK) says it has hedged a portion of its future production to protect profits against the falling price of crude palm oil (CPO). The company warned that rising production in Malaysia could further depress CPO prices in the coming months. - StarBiz

UMW-OG sinks deeper into the red in first quarter: UMW Oil & Gas Corp Bhd (UMW-OG)’s net loss widened to RM104.12mil in the first quarter from RM65.08mil a year ago on a revenue that also fell 15.28% year-on-year to RM74.28mil. The results were weighed down by the drilling services and oilfield services segments. - StarBiz

HNA said in talks to buy stake in HK’s Value Partners: Chinese conglomerate HNA Group Co is in talks to buy a stake in Hong Kong fund house Value Partners Group Ltd, sources said, in what would be at least its fourth investment in an asset manager in half a year. HNA is in discussions to buy at least part of chairman Cheah Cheng Hye’s holding in Value Partners, they said adding It may then seek to increase its stake further. A transaction could value the company at more than US$2bil (RM8.6bil), another person said. - Bloomberg

Lafarge slips into the red: Building materials firm Lafarge Malaysia Bhd reported a net loss of RM48.9mil in the first quarter versus a net profit of RM20.6mil a year ago due to lower operating profit and worsening pricing pressure. The group’s revenue fell 16.1% to RM561.9mil year-on-year. - StarBiz

SPAD to appoint external auditor: For the first time, the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) will appoint an independent technical auditor to assess key aspects of Kuala Lumpur’s multi-billion ringgit rail lines. The audit will cover areas such as safety, maintenance and reliability levels as well as the availability of the rail line service, including the Kelana Jaya and Ampang light rail transits as well as the Kuala Lumpur monorail. - StarBiz

Star Media to further diversify into non-print businesses: The proceeds from Star Media Group Bhd’s proposed disposal of its 52.51% equity interest in Singapore-listed Cityneon Holdings Ltd worth S$115.61mil (about RM360mil) will enable the group to further concentrate and diversify into non-print-related businesses. Star Media Group chairman Datuk Fu Ah Kiow said the transaction, if approved, would allow the group to unlock value in its investment. - StarBiz

Gabungan AQRS first-quarter earnings soar to RM16m: Gabungan AQRS Bhd quadrupled its net profit to RM16.14mil for its first quarter, driven by higher contributions from its construction and property divisions as well as from land sales. Revenue doubled to RM158.94mil. - StarBiz

Tune Protect still pursuing joint venture in Indonesia: Tune Protect Group Bhd is still actively pursuing a joint vplan in Indonesia and hopes to announce details of the tie-up by this year. Group CEO Razman Hafidz Abu Zarim said the insurer is currently talking to several parties to ensure that the JV this time would materialise with the right partner.

CGC aims to approve guarantees worth RM4.7bil this year: Credit Guarantee Corp Malaysia Bhd (CGC) is targeting to approve 9,500 guarantees valued at RM4.7bil this year, up 12% from 2016 in terms of value. This is to provide SMEs with greater access to funding, said CGC CEO Datuk Mohd Zamree Mohd Ishak, adding that last year, it approved 7,568 guarantees valued at RM4.2bil. - StarBiz

MK Land gets surprise tax bill from IRB: MK Land Holdings Bhd said its subsidiary Saujana Triangle Sdn Bhd – the developer of its flagship Damansara Perdana project in Petaling Jaya – had been served with notices for an additional income tax of RM55.7mil and a 45% penalty of RM25.07mil by the Inland Revenue Board (IRB). The tax bill of RM80.77mil is in relation to years of assessment 2009-2011 and 2013. - StarBiz

Johari: No plans to raise GDP forecast for now: Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani says it is still too early to consider the stronger-than-expected first-quarter gross domestic product growth as an indication to revise upwards the official forecast of the country’s growth, as the trend is merely reflective of global trends. - StarBiz

Halex announces board changes as new shareholder takes control: Halex Holdings Bhd’s entire board except for its chairman decided to step down on Monday. This followed the emergence of Waras Dinamik Sdn Bhd, whose takeover offer they had all opposed, as Halex’s majority shareholder with a 50.14% stake. - StarBiz

MyClear, MEPS merge to form PayNet: Bank Negara’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Malaysian Electronic Clearing Corp Sdn Bhd (MyClear), has merged with Malaysian Electronic Payment System (MEPS) to form Payments Network Malaysia Sdn Bhd (PayNet). Governor Datuk Seri Muhammad Ibrahim said PayNet would serve as the operator of a shared payments infrastructure for wholesale and retail payment transactions in Malaysia. - Bernama

AirAsia to introduce ePos system for F&B orders on flights: Budget carrier AirAsia will introduce an electronic point of sales (ePos) system in the next eight months to allow passengers to make food and beverage (F&B) orders and payments online during flights. Group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said the ePos system could be accessed through the onboard WiFi service, roKKi. - Bernama

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