Dott. Giulio Perrotta
Dott. Giulio Perrotta

    Dal  2 Maggio 2012 ...

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LA "RASSEGNA STAMPA QUOTIDIANA INTERNAZIONALE" (II PARTE)

Tutte le notizie dal "The Sun Daily" (Regno Unito)

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Business

Xi’s carbon neutrality vow to reshape China’s five-year plan (Mon, 26 Oct 2020)
BEIJING/SHANGHAI: Chinese leaders will discuss ambitious new measures to tackle climate change on Monday at a government plenum to finalise a new five-year national development plan, after Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to make the country "carbon neutral" by 2060. Policymakers are under pressure to include radical climate targets in the new 2021-2025 "five-year plan", with the COVID-hit economy weighing on their decisions. Government departments drawing up the document were scheduled to complete the first draft by April, but Xi's announcement to the United Nations that the country will offset all its emissions within 40 years meant they must integrate the new climate goals. Xie Zhenhua, formerly China's top climate official and now advisor to the environment ministry, told Reuters that while the new targets were "based on ample research and calculation", everyone would now have to make adjustments. Before September, few expected China to promise more ambitious curbs on climate-warming greenhouse gases over the next five years, with policy documents signalling Beijing's intent to make energy security and the economy its top priorities. It was also expected to go on a new coal-fired power construction spree, but government scholars have been forced to revise their old drafts. "Right now every level of government is busy working on the 14th Five-Year Plan," said Kevin Lo, Associate Director at the David C. Lam Institute for East-West Studies in Hong Kong, who studies China's environmental policies. "The understanding is that there is no time to waste if China is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060." Experts say China needs to bring the share of coal in its total energy mix from 58% last year to less than 50% by 2025, and provide enhanced support for technology like carbon capture. It could start by setting an absolute emissions cap for the first time, said Zou Ji, head of the Energy Foundation China, which has been involved in five-year plan research. "Our recommendation is to establish a target to control total carbon emissions (by 2025)," he said at a conference last week. NOT A "SIDE ISSUE" Since 2019, China made energy security a major priority, with the government supporting an increase in fossil fuel output and reviving coal-fired power projects. Beijing also bet on new infrastructure to drive its economic recovery, and official data showed a spike in demand for energy-intensive products like steel and cement. But China now has to rethink its plans, government researchers said. He Jiankun, vice director of the National Expert Committee on Climate Change, said Beijing must cap emissions and even achieve "negative growth" in coal consumption by 2025. China would need to stop building and financing all new coal-fired plants, Zou said, a move that would affect 300 GW now in the pipeline. In comments circulated on social media, Li Tianxiao of the Development Research Center, a cabinet think tank, predicted China would need to double wind and solar capacity to around 500 GW each by 2025. China has little time to spare. Consultancy Wood Mackenzie said solar, wind and storage capacities would have to rise 11 times by 2050, while coal-fired power must halve. "The most challenging part of the shift is not the investment or magnitude of renewable capacity additions but the social transition that comes with it," said Wood Mackenzie analyst Prakash Sharma. Zou said Xi's announcement put climate firmly at the heart of China's entire economic and political strategy, and China's entire economic structure now faced "systematic change". "Climate will never be a side issue," he said. "Its position is much, much higher than before." - Reuters
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Geely’s new EV plant will build premium Polestar cars - sources (Mon, 26 Oct 2020)
BEIJING/SHANGHAI: An electric vehicle (EV) factory planned by Chinese automaking group Geely will produce cars under the premium Polestar marque, two people with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Monday. Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co Ltd plans to build a plant with annual manufacturing capacity of 30,000 premium EVs in the western city of Chongqing, run by a wholly owned, newly registered company, showed documents on its website. Geely and Polestar declined to comment on the marque. The plan comes as foreign automakers including BMW AG and Tesla Inc expand EV production in the world's biggest market, sourcing major EV components such as batteries locally and often exporting the end product. Hangzhou-based Geely is China's most internationally known automaker. It owns Volvo Cars and Lotus, almost half of Proton and 9.7% of Daimler AG. Its Hong Kong-listed Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd is planning a Shanghai float. Through wholly owned company Polestar, it builds low-volume Polestar 1 hybrid performance cars in the western city of Chengdu and Polestar 2 volume sedans in Taizhou in the east. It also plans to begin production of the Precept sedan, displayed at this year's China auto show. Polestar aims to eventually offer bigger, more sporty vehicles at its showrooms, which currently span nine countries and whose number it plans to raise to 45 from 23 by year-end. Polestar Chief Executive Thomas Ingenlath told Reuters the firm is scouting markets in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. Geely is also building a factory in China to make sport-utility vehicles under the Lotus marque, Reuters reported. - REUTERS
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Asia shares turn mutes as S&P 500 futures slip (Mon, 26 Oct 2020)
SYDNEY: Asian shares got off to a subdued start on Monday as surging coronavirus cases in Europe and the United states threatened the global outlook, while China's leaders meet to ponder the future of the economic giant. The United States has seen its highest ever number of new COVID-19 cases in the past two days, while France also set unwanted case records and Spain announced a state of emergency. That combined with no clear progress on a U.S. stimulus package to pull S&P 500 futures down 0.5%. EUROSTOXX 50 futures eased 0.4% and FTSE futures 0.3%. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan went flat, still short of its recent 31-month peak. Japan's Nikkei dithered either side of steady, and South Korea's main index lost 0.3%. Chinese blue chips shed 1.1% as the country's leaders met to chart the nation's economic course for 2021-2025, balancing growth with reforms amid an uncertain global outlook and deepening tensions with the United States. A packed week for monetary policy sees three major central banks hold meetings. The Bank of Canada and Bank of Japan are expected to hold fire for now, while the market assumes the European Central Bank will sound cautious on inflation and growth even if they skip a further easing. Data due out Thursday is forecast to show U.S. economic output rebounded by 31.9% in the third quarter, after the second's quarter's historic collapse, led by consumer spending. Analysts at Westpac noted that such a bounce would still leave GDP around 4% lower than at the end of last year, with business investment still lagging badly. "To fully recover the activity lost, additional meaningful fiscal stimulus is a must," they argued in a note. The U.S. Presidential election will again loom large as markets move to price in the chance of a Democratic president and Congress, which would likely lead to more government spending and borrowing down the road. That outlook drove U.S. 10-year Treasury yields to their highest since early June last week at 0.8720%. They were trading at 0.83% on Monday. "We have raised the probability of a Democratic sweep, already our base case, from 40% to just over 50% and have increased our expectation of Biden to win from 65% to 75%," wrote analysts at NatWest Markets in a note. "We see steeper U.S. yield curves and a weaker USD as likely to prevail in our base case." The dollar was flatlining on Monday, having fallen broadly last week. The euro was holding at $1.1840 and just under its recent top of $1.1880, while the dollar was pinned at 104.80 yen and not far from last week's trough of 104.32. The dollar index was a fraction firmer at 92.904, after shedding almost 1% last week. In commodity markets, gold edged down 0.1% to $1,898 an ounce. Oil prices fell further in anticipation of a surge in Libyan crude supply and demand concerns caused by surging coronavirus cases in the United States and Europe. Brent crude futures lost 65 cents to $41.12 a barrel, while U.S. crude fell 69 cents to $39.16. - Reuters
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Choppy outlook for Malaysian economy to persist until year-end (Mon, 26 Oct 2020)
PETALING JAYA: Although the outlook for Malaysia’s economy has improved in the second half of the year with the resumption of many economic activities and boosted by the government’s various stimulus measures, the outlook could become choppier and uneven as the risk of slower recovery has heightened of late with the increasing Covid-19 cases and the corresponding partial lockdown measures put in place. Interpac Securities said although Malaysia’s recent economic data points to growth resuming, the trend may be ebbing with the growth rate tapering – matching the performance of many other economies. “The easing growth suggests that the pent-up demand may just be one-offs and that future performances may become choppier and slower due to the unsettled global economy as yet, particularly if another wave of infection strikes that could weaken demand dynamics again,” it said. It pointed out that the end of the loan moratorium may alter domestic consumption patterns to a more cautious one, while certain sectors like aviation, hospitality, entertainment and tourism could continue to reel from their extended closures. “Even as employment prospects have recovered somewhat, the threat of further job losses is still very real amid the still challenging economic conditions for the rest of the year, particularly if the economic recovery stalls. “As a result, domestic demand may remain subdued for longer with capital spending also likely to wane further that could aggravate the economic conditions going forward.” Malaysia’s leading index (LI) remained resilient in August, expanding by 7.6% year on year, which matched July’s numbers – further cementing the view that the economy in the third quarter is recovering from the shock of Covid-19. However, Public Investment Bank Research cautioned that economic recovery in the third quarter could be softer than expected amid the continue spread of Covid-19. “Efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19 could be a precursor for a rise in fiscal spending and a loss in output and therefore, a drag on the engine of growth. This may also take some shine out of the LI in the fourth quarter,” it said. There are silver linings to the grim prognosis, however, as the employment rate is set to dip back below 4% which will drive higher consumption and investment activities while a more buoyant external sector is also expected to drive commodities demand. Inflationary pressures are expected to remain benign going into 2021, remaining below its longer-term average of 2% due in part to the lower fuel cost and reduced cost pressures. Interpac views Bursa Malaysia’s outlook as remaining fluid, and this could see the key index lingering within a tight band and around the psychological 1,500-point level as it attempts to build up a base. “Market participation has thinned substantially of late and with fewer catalysts, we think that market interest is likely to remain on the thinner side for now. While the downside bias is still present, the 1,450-1,460 levels should provide support, with the upsides potentially topping out at 1,550-1,580,” it said. At those levels, it said the KLCI will be trading at 16x-17x forward price to earnings ratio (PER), within its forward averages. Meanwhile, Malaysian corporate earnings (FBM EMAS) could slide 32% in 2020, before recovering some 20% in 2021, with much of the improved earnings to emanate from heavyweight glove makers. That said, with vaccine availability nearing, the research house said it sees see interest in glove maker stocks waning, even as glove demand could hold for the time being, given that it will still require a gestation period before most of the world’s population is inoculated. “Consequently, we think glove makers’ share prices could be pressured again after their significant outperformance and this could dampen the performance of the overall key index in due course. As it is, glove maker stocks’ valuation remains rich even after their recent pullback, with the PERs well above their 5-10 year forward averages on expectations that their strong earnings growth will continue well into next year.” While earnings are expected to recover, the risk to the improved earnings remains, particularly in fourth-quarter 2020, due to the resurgent Covid-19 cases worldwide that could slow the recovery. Furthermore, the country’s economic indicators are showing some signs of moderation that could also point to a slowdown in the earnings recovery for the remainder of the year.
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Strategies to manage loan/financing commitments (Mon, 26 Oct 2020)
AS WE continue to face the dual economic and health crises, Malaysians must start getting their finances in order and make sure that they will continue to meet their financial responsibilities. However, with many still in a tight spot due to reduced salaries and retrenchments in the workforce, these financial commitments may be a challenge. If you are in this situation, here are some strategies for handling your loans/financing and credit card commitments. But first, you need to calculate two things: first, your total monthly financial commitments – your car, home, or personal loans/financing that you may have. Not to forget, if you have any credit card Easy Payment Plan installments for large purchases you recently made, you need to include this into the total as well. Secondly, you should also identify how much you can repay each month during this period (let’s call this your repayment budget). Knowing these figures in mind will make it easier to decide your next steps. Find short-term income opportunities In this “new normal”, there has been a spike in on-demand services, such as food or parcel delivery and ride-hailing. More platforms are actively hiring short-term or part-time roles to meet this demand, making this an opportunity to create a temporary income stream to meet your financial commitments. On top of that, there are also various freelancing opportunities if you have the right technical skills to meet them. From creative skills such as copywriting and photography/videography to more technical ones such as SEO management and coding, these jobs are often listed online. Most freelance jobs can be done remotely, which means you can work with a client that’s based anywhere around the world! Whether you are on reduced salaries or still looking for a new job, these “side hustles” can be a good way to increase your repayment budget and help you meet your monthly financial commitments. Just remember that this income is meant to meet your financial obligations, so try your best not to splurge. Convert higher-interest facilities into term loans If your current repayment budget is below your total monthly financial commitments, you will need to look into ways to manage your debts quickly– don’t just pay the minimum amount for all of them and hope for the best! This is because different credit facilities have different terms and interest/profit rates. In a low-OPR environment that we are currently experiencing, an existing home loan/financing may actually become “more affordable” due to the lower prevailing interest/profit rates. Finally, credit cards are not affected by OPR (Overnight Policy Rate) at all, and start charging interest/profit if you do not pay the full outstanding balance at the due date – it is by far the most expensive credit facility to own if you cannot repay in full. You should take the necessary steps to ensure that you do not neglect your loan obligations and if you are not able to do so, you should seek the help and options available to you from the banks. The goal is to set your finances straight so that you are able to clear off debt more quickly within your current repayment capabilities. Credit cards are useful payment instrument tools and having one will certainly be beneficial at times where “contactless” transactions are the way to go due to current pandemic situations. However, spending wisely is necessary so that you do not rack up debts and lose track of your expenditures which you may not have the ability to repay. If you are currently in this situation, please be aware that there is the option to convert them into term loans with lower prevailing interest rates. So it is important to sort this out with your bank and manage your credit card debts soonest possible. The problem with credit cards will not go away by simply ignoring the matter and may affect your Central Credit Reference Information System record and creditworthiness. Home financing, personal loans and hire purchase loans are generally repayable based on a monthly repayment schedule. However, based on the current circumstances with the pandemic, it is pertinent to seek alternative repayment options if you are not able to resume repayment commitments obtained prior to the pandemic. Again, it is important to gauge your finances in order for you to manage it properly. Any default in the repayments may affect your creditworthiness and could hinder your future prospects of securing a loan with the banks. Do not take this lightly as it may impair your ability to obtain your required financing in the future. Too complicated? Speak to your bank Getting the right help with your bank is not complicated at all, but you do need to discuss it with your banks to work out an option that is best suited for you based on your current circumstances. These are challenging times, and the banking industry is prepared to assist where needed. Repayment assistance is available to eligible Malaysians who are affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, and it is a simple and straightforward process. 98% of all repayment assistance applications have been approved thus far – a testament to the industry’s commitment to lend a helping hand. The banks will provide customers with options in terms of repayment assistance, such as reduced monthly installments spread over a longer tenure, or an extension of three months of the loan moratorium if the customer was retrenched in 2020 due to the pandemic. Moreover, any repayment assistance taken during this period will also not affect your credit health, as they will not be recorded in Ccris. Once you have sorted out your repayment options with your banks, it is vital to maintain prompt payment according to the new repayment schedule in order to maintain your creditworthiness and also work towards lessening your debts. Stay positive and take charge It is easy to feel stressed or despair during times like these – nobody could have predicted such a profound economic impact, after all. But it’s important to remember that we’re not alone in this, and it’s crucial to make decisive actions to take charge of our financial situation. Of course, not everyone may be comfortable to try out the strategies shared above. It can be intimidating, and we might even make mistakes. If you feel this way, you should speak to your bank as soon as you can. This article was contributed by Mohd Kauthar Rozmal, the editor-in-chief of The Outlook Asia, a digital portal that features financial news, insights, and analysis relevant to the Malay community. He has expertise in topics around finance and investment.
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The Green Equilibrium – Third regulatory period for Malaysia’s electricity sector (Mon, 26 Oct 2020)
PENINSULAR Malaysia’s electricity sector will enter the Third Regulator Period (RP3) where cost inputs for electricity will be adjusted to reflect current and forecast situations between 2021 and 2023. This process involves forecast demand for electricity, projected fuel cost, new generation capacity’s fixed system cost that will be carried forward from the Second Regulator Period. The basic question to the Energy Commission (ST) as the regulator – is it right for businesses and domestic consumers to pay for ST’s incompetence? The Electricity Supply Act and the Energy Commission Act clearly guide the commission members and the officers to follow the roles and responsibilities placed upon them. The law also limits the minister’s power only to enhance the electricity sector and not make it worse. Unfortunately, ST just follows directions of the minister without rejecting them in accordance to the law that empowers them. Since 2014, many direct negotiations and renewable energy (RE) projects have increased the electricity reserve margin beyond what is needed. The power purchase agreement (PPA) holders will not lose the investments. That means the system cost will increase and impose a higher cost to the electricity tariff where it is deemed unnecessary. Based on ST’s own report, the RP3 will have 48% (2021), 44% (2022) and 36% (2023) reserve margin respectively. It will rise to 42% in 2024. Based on the 2013 Energy Commission Report, the Planning and Implementation Committee for Electricity Supply and Tariff criterion for reserve margin is Loss of Load Equivalent (LOLE) at <= one day Why are we operating at a foolishly high reserve margin? In fact, just last year the former energy minister who is self-proclaimed “champion” of competitive bidding allowed another non-strategic and non-cost effective direct negotiation to build a power plant which causes higher reserve margin. The increase in reserve margin projections is not inclusive of newly launched “Prihatin-cluster” of renewable energy projects. We would like to state that the Association of Water and Energy Research Malaysia (Awer) is not against RE. We are more concerned about the impotent energy forecast and planning in Malaysia that seems to continue to add cost and not optimise cost to tariff. It is important to grow the energy mix in Malaysia with effective policies and implementation and not simply adding cost to the electricity. When a Covid–stricken economy is trying to recover, ST’s blunders are coming home to roost. The fuel cost savings, pandemic-driven drop in electricity demand, drop in forecast over-recovery by Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) as well as aid dished out under Prihatin to the electricity sector will definitely pose an impact to RP3. What should the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry do? It should: (i) Defer RP3 announcement until a transparent consultation process is done with all stakeholders. The results of the consultation must be made public. (ii) Put in place new policies to reduce the reserve margin of electricity to an optimised value within next five years. (iii) Investigate the direct negotiation and potentially “rigged” RE bidding processes that may have violated existing laws and policies. It is also a faster way to reduce the reserve margin and punish wrong doers. (iv) Bring back Energy Efficiency (EE) implementations that optimise electricity and energy usage so that we can achieve an efficient electricity supply and demand situation before going into too much of wasteful RE. When demand settings are still operating in a wasteful way, RE will eventually be wasted as well. The minister must correct this erroneous policy focus that came into play due to office politics in the energy sector since 2009. (v) Improve regulatory implementation for the transmission and distribution sector to reflect more transparent costing. The suggestions above will increase transparency and assist government to manage increase in electricity cost due to wrong implementations under ST and ministry in charge of energy. Is the minister of energy and natural resources ready to grab the bull by the horns? This article was contributed by Piarapakaran S, president of the Association of Water and Energy Research Malaysia (Awer), a non-government organisation involved in research and development in the fields of water, energy and environment.
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The Accountant’s Perspective – Corporate values, ethics and conduct in the new norm (Mon, 26 Oct 2020)
WE’RE NOT over the coronavirus pandemic yet, and there’s no saying when we’ll turn the corner. It’s already certain, however, that many old norms will change. Some changes are already upon us, others will yet come. Some may be transient, others more permanent. What can we expect by way of influences and changes to corporate values, ethics and conduct? While it’s tempting to pin most changes to being consequences of new ways of working such as remote work from home and videoconferencing, the reality is that the pandemic has affected most aspects of life. Consider the greater expectations on individuals showing unwell symptoms to voluntarily stay away from others, in public as well as at the workplace. Will each employee also carry a responsibility to call out a co-worker with symptoms who does not voluntarily stay away? Setting up a policing environment is not going to be the best answer, and corporates should instead consider how these responsibilities can be fostered effectively, building upon mutual trust and respect, a sense of social responsibility and doing the right thing. New expectations of conduct while working remotely from home are evolving. There may be less need for office-type rules, but some expectations about employees’ home work spaces may be justified. These could involve matters like safety, basic appearance, noise levels, dress code, sustainable practices, and on-screen presence. But how much influence can corporates have over employees’ home work spaces without being unreasonably invasive? And what if space constraints at home pose an inherent limitation to meeting some expectations? Will employees working continually over sustained periods of time have as strong a sense of identity with the organisation? Could a reduced pull to the centre weaken the link to organisational purpose and values? Could teaming as an ethos be strained in these settings? Deliberate efforts will be required to foster interactions between employees beyond just email, and to continually inspire upholding the organisation’s purpose and its values even from remote settings. Working extended hours continually from home may be an easy adaptation for some, but a challenge for others. Should the organisation accommodate flexibility in working hours as long as the work gets done timely? And do employers have a responsibility for compensating employees for home space and infrastructure such as broadband, printers and printing paper used at home? Many internal control processes and procedures historically evolved around doers, checkers, reviewers and approvers interacting in person or within physical proximity, and with physical documentation. Furthermore, operational resilience frameworks have traditionally identified possible single points of failure for which mitigating controls were designed. Some interactions at proximity could be lost, and multiple or repetitive possible points of failure could result from a remote work environment. Should designing multiple additional compensating controls be the response? Could that place a burden on employees, and feel like a distraction from productivity? What additive costs will stack up? Confidentiality and privacy norms may pose a different set of challenges, and corporates will need to consider whether their traditional controls and monitoring mechanisms may be compromised if the work force is substantially remote. Inspecting and auditing these controls were challenging enough in physical environments, so how will these operate in remote work environments? Client and customer interactions may also see a shift to less in-person and more remote styles. Deep discussions may be challenging if conducted remotely, the corporate lunch may be less desired, and group activities will not feel the same on Zoom or Teams. Absent traditional styles of interaction, corporates will need to pivot to new strategies for building and strengthening these relationships – and formulate activities that will be acceptable and those that won’t be in the future. While corporates deal with some of their own challenges, a cast of others in their supply chains will be dealing with similar challenges themselves. Will their responses sync up, or will the efforts of each need to be multipronged to deal with parties two or three degrees apart? Whose rules will trump in interactions? How resilient will these other parties be in this new set of circumstances, and should corporates diversify across their supply chains to dissipate their risks? Many organisations have cultivated the precept of “see-something-say-something” as an integral component of encouraging appropriate behaviours or calling out those that are inappropriate, including through whistleblowing. What would compensate for the diminished opportunity to ‘’see something’’ in a remote working environment? While work flows, processes and procedures may need to be redesigned, organisations will also need to put their minds to the effects of these changes on the conduct of their people. Statements of corporate values should be reassessed to align with new ways of work and expectations of ethical behaviour, relationships and responsibilities. Corporates would do well to take on the challenges of articulating the place of the organisation and its people in their immediate community and beyond. Codes of conduct should be reviewed to reflect expectations not only of employees but of the corporate itself. There is a unique opportunity to reframe and refresh what the organisation stands for, its purpose, culture and trust proposition in society, the role of its people in its story, and expectations of ethical behaviour and responsible conduct. This article was contributed by MICPA member, independent director and former EY global head of risk management Sukanta Dutt. Working extended hours continually from home may be an easy adaptation for some, but a challenge for others. Picture for represenational purposes only. – AFPPIX
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Canada’s Cenovus Energy to buy Husky Energy for C$23.6 billion (Sun, 25 Oct 2020)
BENGALURU: Canadian oil and gas producer Cenovus Energy Inc will buy peer Husky Energy Inc in an all-stock transaction valued at C$23.6 billion (RM74.73 billion), inclusive of debt, the companies said in a joint statement today. The deal is the latest sign of consolidation in the energy industry following the collapse of oil prices. Earlier this month Concho Resources Inc agreed to being taken over by ConocoPhillips for US$9.7 billion. That followed Chevron Corp's US$4.2 billion purchase of Noble Energy. Cenovus' deal for Husky implies a transaction equity value for Husky of about C$3.8 billion and a transaction enterprise value of about C$10.2 billion, according to the statement. Husky shareholders will receive 0.7845 of a Cenovus share and 0.0651 of a Cenovus share purchase warrant in exchange for each Husky common share, according to the statement. The combined company is expected to generate annual synergies of C$1.2 billion and will operate as Cenovus Energy Inc with headquarters in Alberta, Canada, the statement said. Cenovus CEO Alex Pourbaix will serve as chief executive of the merged company with Jeff Hart, currently Husky's finance chief, becoming chief financial officer. Cenovus said the combined company will be the third largest Canadian oil and natural gas producer with production of 750,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day of low-cost oil and natural gas. The transaction has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of Cenovus and Husky and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2021, the companies said.
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US airlines suffering from business class blues in age of Covid (Sun, 25 Oct 2020)
NEW YORK: The Covid-19 pandemic has ushered in the era of video meetings. But can Zoom really replace in-person meetings that require business executives to travel? US airlines have suffered a steep decline in this lucrative category of travel. They do expect a rebound – just not right away. "I suddenly stopped travelling in March because of the concerns around Covid," JJ Kinahan, market strategist at TD AmeriTrade, told AFP. The halt was a bit of a shock for someone who typically spent about 75 nights a year away from home for work. Now his company only authorizes travel on a case-by-case basis. While Kinahan says he does not miss the flights, he does miss the personal connection with hotel doormen and receptionists he would encounter regularly in his travels. As for Zoom meetings, he said, "you don't have the same back and forth." Airlines are really feeling the pain: the four largest US carriers – American, United, Delta and Southwest – together lost nearly US$11 billion (RM45.72 billion) in the third quarter. Americans have tentatively resumed leisure travel. For the first time since mid-March, the number of travellers passing through airport security on Oct 18 exceeded the one million mark. But that is still far below the 2.6 million recorded on the same day in 2019. Many companies have begun to authorise travel, but only in very limited amounts. Companies have to consider the legal ramifications of asking employees to get on a plane. Alexandra Cunningham of the law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth notes that travel is unavoidable in some cases, such as repairs that require a specialized technician. While some workers in enclosed places, like slaughterhouses and cruise ships, have been able to claim compensation after falling ill, it is not clear if an employee would be able to successfully prove they contracted Covid-19 while on a business trip, she said. Even so, "an employer's best protection right now... is to follow the guidance of the CDC, to limit travel to essential business," she said, referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Different quarantine rules in some US states also can make short trips impractical. The disappearance of business travellers is a big problem for airlines. While they comprise only about a third of passengers, they account for half of annual revenue, according to the industry group Airlines for America (A4A). "Business travel is incredibly important to United," the airline's chief Scott Kirby said on a recent conference call. "It was our bread and butter," he said of the segment that has collapsed by 85-90%. Kirby tried to remain upbeat though he said he does not see a rebound until late next year, while volume will not return to normal until 2024. Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said the recovery could take much longer. "Just like 9/11, everybody said the world is going to change, people aren't going to fly. They were wrong," he said this week on CNBC. But he added, "I'll bet you it's a long time from now -- it may be 10 years before business travel recovers." Delta chief Ed Bastian said the new normal might mean business travel is 10-20% lower than the pre-pandemic level as video meetings replace some trips. But "it's not going to be a substitute," he said. Meanwhile, the rise in teleworking could even help air travel, as remote workers have to make the trek back to their offices a few days a month, United executive vice president Andrew Nocella said on a conference call. "Business traffic may be different, but we think it will return," he said. – AFP
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Big week for Big Tech as earnings, hearings loom (Sun, 25 Oct 2020)
SAN FRANCISCIO: Big Tech is bracing for a tumultuous week marked by quarterly results likely to show resilience despite the pandemic, and fresh attacks from lawmakers ahead of the November 3 election. With backlash against Silicon Valley intensifying, the companies will seek to reassure investors while at the same time fend off regulators and activists who claim these firms have become too dominant and powerful. Earnings reports are due this week from Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and Google-parent Alphabet, whose combined value has grown to more than US$7 trillion (RM17.28 trillion). They have also woven themselves into the very fabric of modern life, from how people share views and get news to shopping, working, and playing. Robust quarterly earnings results expected from Big Tech will "highlight the outsized strength these tech behemoths are seeing" but "ultimately add fuel to the fire in the Beltway around breakup momentum," Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said in a note to investors. The results come amid heightened scrutiny in Washington of tech platforms and follow a landmark antitrust suit filed against Google which could potentially lead to the breakup of the internet giant, illustrative of the "techlash" in political circles. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans have voted to subpoena Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executives of Twitter and Facebook respectively, as part of a stepped-up assault on social media's handling of online political content, notably the downranking of a New York Post article purported to show embarrassing information about Democrat Joe Biden. CEOs of Twitter, Facebook and Google are already slated to testify at a separate Senate panel on Wednesday examining the so-called Section 230 law which offers liability protection for content posted by others on their platforms. The four giants drawing the most scrutiny – Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google – have been wildly successful in recent years and have weathered the economic impact of the pandemic by offering needed goods and services. Google and Facebook dominate the lucrative online ad market, while Amazon is an e-commerce king. Apple has come under fire for its tight grip on the App Store, just as it has made a priority of making money from selling digital content and services to the multitude of iPhone users. The firms have stepped up lobbying, spending tens of millions this year, and made efforts to show their social contributions as part of their campaign to fend off regulation. "For the most part, tech companies know how to do this dance," said analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group. "They don't spend a lot of time bragging about how well they have done any more." Ed Yardeni of Yardeni Research said the outlook for Big Tech may not be as rosy as it appears. "For one, regulators at home and abroad are gunning to rein in some of the largest US technology names," Yardeni said in a research note. "Also, the Covid-induced tech spending enjoyed over the past six months won't likely be replicated." Of interest to the market short-term will likely be whether backlash about what kind of content is left up and what is taken down by online titans causes advertisers to cut spending on the platforms. Organisers of a Facebook ad boycott vowed early in the third quarter to continue their campaign, saying the social network's top executives failed to offer meaningful action on curbing hateful content. At the same time, political conservatives have accused Facebook and others of political bias as social platforms step up their content moderation. President Donald Trump has threatened new regulatory measures which could impact the business models of platforms. Economic and social disruption from Covid-19 also looms over tech firms, which benefited early in the pandemic as people turned to the internet to work, learn, shop and socialize from home. "Performance will be best for those providing solutions for people working at home," analyst Enderle said. Amazon, Google and Microsoft each have cloud computing divisions that have been increasingly powering revenue as demand climbs for software, services and storage provided as services from massive data centres. Amazon has seen booming sales on its platform during the pandemic, and viewing surge at its Prime streaming television service. Enderle expressed concern that with Covid-19 cases and a lack of new stimulus money in the US, tech companies could reveal in forecasts that they are bracing for poorer performance in the current quarter. "The second wave of the pandemic has got a lot of folks spooked," Enderle said, "Those stimulus checks aren't going out and people are afraid of what is happening with their jobs; so that cuts spending and buying confidence." And even though Microsoft is well positioned in a booming video game market with a new Xbox console coming in November, its arrival could be soured if people worried about money cut back on such luxuries. – AFP
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Radiant Globaltech shareholders approve acquisition of Grand-Flo Spritvest (Fri, 23 Oct 2020)
PETALING JAYA: Radiant Globaltech Bhd shareholders have approved the acquisition of an 80% stake in Grand-Flo Bhd’s wholly-owned subsidiary Grand-Flo Spritvest Sdn Bhd (GF Spritvest) for RM11.6 million cash at its EGM today. Shareholders also approved the variation of the use of proceeds raised from its initial public offering (IPO) to partially finance the purchase of consideration of RM11.6 million, where RM11.5 million would be satisfied through IPO proceeds and the remaining RM100,000 via internally generated cash or bank borrowings. The acquisition of GF Spritvest would allow the retail technology solutions provider to expand its customer coverage to include non-retail customers such as fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), electronics, and utilities industries in Malaysia. Radiant Globaltech managing director Paul Yap Ban Foo said the acquisition of GF Spritvest allows it to expand its customer base beyond the retail segment into the FMCG, electronics and utilities industries. With majority of its clients from the essential services sectors, this provides business sustainability through various economic cycles. “Furthermore, we intend to integrate GF Spritvest’s software offerings to our AX B2B platforms, and combine technical support service teams. This allows us to create a synergistic effect through enhanced solutions and capture a larger market share in the non-retail segments, including the FMCG, electronics and utilities segments. “Once the regional borders are open, we will have the opportunity to bring GF Spritvest’s software offerings to countries where we have established a direct presence, namely Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. This would bring us one step closer to reaching our goal of becoming a leading total integrated technology player,” Yap said in a statement today. The acquisition is also supported by a service agreement with GF Spritvest director and CEO Cheng Ping Liong, who will continue to lead GF Spritvest. Further, Cheng would provide a cumulative net profit guarantee of RM3.2 million from the completion date of the share sale agreement (SSA) until the financial year ending Dec 31, 2022. The acquisition is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2020, pending the fulfilment of terms of the SSA. Upon completion, Radiant group would own 80% of GF Spritvest, while the balance 20% will be held by Jejaka 7 Capital Sdn Bhd. GF Spritvest provides electronic data capture and collation (EDCC) solutions that enable businesses to manage and collate data with barcode and radio-frequency identification technology. GF Spritvest’s EDCC solutions include assets tracking, sales force automation, warehouse and inventory control software and barcode devices. GF Spritvest’s comprehensive solutions include the supply, installation, and integration of EDCC hardware and devices, distribution and integration of both proprietary and third-party software, as well as technical support and maintenance services. “This acquisition is in line with the group’s long-term goal to diversify our customer base beyond the retail sector. In end-2018, we acquired Infoconnect Commerce Sdn Bhd, which expanded our customer base to include non-retail players such as manufacturing and industrial clients. This latest acquisition of GF Spritvest accelerates this objective by further improving our product offerings to non-retail clients, and opening up new markets for the enlarged group,” Yap said.
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Parlo sees potential RM420m in revenue from new biz activity (Fri, 23 Oct 2020)
KUALA LUMPUR: Parlo Bhd's expansion into foreign workforce management services sees the company potentially raking in RM420 million in revenue next year. This is as the company recently entered into an agreement to provide a range of migrant workforce-related services for 160,000 Myanmar migrant workers. Newly-appointed executive director Ti Lian Seng said Parlo, whose core activity is related to corporate and leisure travel arrangements, has been affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "Our nature of business is in tourism, and similar to other businesses such as airlines, the impact of the pandemic is inevitable. Therefore, we decided to expand into the new business, and simultaneously leverage existing relationships that Parlo has with its partners globally, such as in Japan and Thailand. “For example, we have partnered with dormitory and hostel operators before, and with this new business expansion, we would utilise our existing networks," he told Bernama in a virtual interview. Ti also explained that the agreement inked with Myanmar-based Diamond Palace Group of Companies Limited would allow Parlo to venture into other projects, whereby Parlo is expected to generate a digital identity document (e-ID) for 360,000 Myanmar workers. Under the definitive agreement between Parlo and Diamond Palace, Parlo would provide services, including travel, logistics and dormitory arrangements, medical examinations, vocational training, as well as ID solutions for migrant workers. Diamond Palace has an exclusive right to a 30-year concession with the Myanmar government to supply workers from the country. "We are providing services for Myanmar workers and it is also not limited to the Myanmar workforce in Malaysia, but also include workers in Japan and Thailand. This e-ID would have several features, including for security purposes and ID authentication, that would create efficiency from the initial stages where one applies to work abroad and when they start remitting money (back). "However, we are still working out the details of the ID project, but we certainly hope to introduce in it mid-2021," he said, adding that the company estimated a RM50 million working capital to develop the digital platform. The working capital would be either from the internal fund, bank borrowings or private placements, Ti said. To a question on travel restrictions, Ti said that the business is different from tourism, whereby the demand for migrant workers is high and not affected by travel restrictions, as it requires special approval. Citing the palm oil industry, Ti explained the COVID-19 pandemic has actually worsened the supply of migrant workers. The oil palm industry is grappling with labour issues due to the freeze on new intake of workers and difficulties to recruit new workers. Ti emphasised that Parlo is looking forward to making a profit next year following the new business venture. For the first half of this year, Parlo’s losses widened to RM4.04 million compared with RM346,000 a year earlier on the back of an 80 per cent plunge in revenue to RM14.92 million from RM77.95 million previously. - BERNAMA
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Maxis Q3 earnings up at RM365m (Fri, 23 Oct 2020)
PETALING JAYA: Maxis Bhd’s net profit for the third quarter ended Sept 30, 2020 jumped 2% to RM365 million from RM358 million a year ago on the back of resilient earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) and lower operating expenses. Normalised ebitda saw a slight decrease by 4.1% to RM924 million from RM964 million in Q3’19. Revenue fell 3.2% to RM2.21 billion from RM2.29 billion in the same quarter last year. A dividend of 4 sen net per share was declared for the quarter. The prudent distribution during this challenging time will allow Maxis to continue their commitment to consumers, businesses, and communities and at the same time preserve cash and ensure protection of the core business. For the nine months period, its net profit dropped 8.4% to RM1.07 billion from RM1.16 billion a year ago mainly due to loss of wholesale business and higher impairment made to receivables as the group revised the expected loss rates. Revenue fell marginally to RM6.71 billion from RM6.72 billion in the previous year’s corresponding period. Overall, Maxis’ Q3’20 performance reflects the company’s positive momentum of its convergence strategy, while navigating the challenges brought by Covid-19. Maxis CEO Gökhan Ogut (pix) said it delivered another quarter of strong performance, driven by its agility in adapting to a rapidly changing and challenging environment. “Keeping our employees, customers and the communities safe continue to be a priority while we focus on providing reliable connectivity and an unmatched personalised experience. For enterprises, we are committed to developing innovative solutions and being a key partner in helping them achieve their digital ambitions. We are doubling down on our convergence, fibre and Enterprise strategy to continue to create value for our stakeholders,” he said in a statement today.
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CIMB’s repayment assistance approvals reach RM10b (Fri, 23 Oct 2020)
PETALING JAYA: CIMB Bank Bhd and CIMB Islamic Bank Bhd’s repayment assistance programme approvals amounted to over RM10 billion as at mid-October for more than 60,000 applications from both individual and SME customers. The bank said its repayment assistance programme continues to be made available, to allow sufficient time for CIMB customers to apply. This is especially for those who have been affected by the resurgence of the pandemic and enhanced movement control order, but have yet to come forward to discuss with the bank. The bank has processed and approved close to 100% of repayment assistance applications from both individual and SME customers. Currently, around 85% of its customer base have resumed repayment of their financing as scheduled, from Oct 1, 2020, while the remaining 15% comprise of customers who have taken up the repayment assistance as well as others who are still negotiating restructuring terms with CIMB. “The bank stands ready to assist customers during this period and urges customers who are in need of financial assistance to get in touch with the bank. Over the past month, CIMB has been actively sending out letters and emails to affected borrowers who have not contacted CIMB to inform them of the types of extended financial support available. Customers can be assured that any financial assistance taken will not impact their Central Credit Reference Information System status,” the bank said. CIMB remains committed to ensure it meets the needs of customers and has ensured continued banking services through its branches and online banking platforms throughout this period.
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PLNG2 issues RM1.7b sukuk, oversubscribed by 3 times (Fri, 23 Oct 2020)
PETALING JAYA: Petronas Gas Bhd’s (PetGas) 65% owned subsidiary Pengerang LNG (Two) Sdn Bhd (PLNG2) has concluded the issuance of a 20-year multi-tranche sukuk murabahah amounting to RM1.7 billion under its Islamic Medium Term Note Programme. The oversubscription of just over three times reflects the market’s confidence in the company’s credit strength which has been assigned a rating of AAA by the Malaysian Rating Corp Bhd. “We are pleased with the overwhelming response and demand from the investors, underpinned by our robust and sustainable business model despite the current global challenges,” said PetGas managing director and CEO Kamal Bahrin Ahmad. The issuance is in line with continued efforts in driving efficient capital management across PetGas group, added Kamal Bahrin, who is also the chairman of PLNG2. The proceeds will be utilised by PLNG2 for syariah-compliant purposes, primarily to repay its outstanding US dollar shareholders’ loans in full, hence there will be no change in the group’s consolidated borrowings. Based on PGB’s consolidated statement of financial position as at June 30, 2020, there will be no material change in PetGas group’s consolidated gearing. In addition, the issuance will not have a material impact on the earnings, earnings per share and net assets per share of the group for the current financial year. PLNG2 operates the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Regasification Terminal Pengerang (RGTP) in Johor, and PetGas’s second regasification facility after RGT Sungai Udang located in Malacca. PLNG2’s other shareholders include Dialog LNG Sdn Bhd (25%) and Permodalan Darul Ta’zim Sdn Bhd (10%).
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Indonesia to extend loan restructuring incentives for banks to March 2022 (Fri, 23 Oct 2020)
JAKARTA: Indonesia's Financial Services Authority (OJK) will extend loan restructuring incentives for some banks until March 2022, it said on Friday, to prevent a spike in bad loans as a result of economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Such an extension allows banks to avoid making provisions for souring loans for a year longer than originally set, among other measures to help the industry, which saw loan growth of 0.12% in September, Indonesia's weakest in more than a decade. The incentives have helped keep non-performing loan (NPL) ratios below the regulator's healthy threshold of 5%. It said loan restructuring had reached 904.3 trillion rupiah ($62 billion) for 7.5 million debtors by Sept. 28, with NPL levels at 3.15% by the end of September, a slight drop from a month earlier. "The extension is an anticipation measure to buffer a decline in the quality of debts under restructuring," the regulator's chairman, Wimboh Santoso, said. "But the extension of restructuring policy would be handed out selectively based on assessment of banks to prevent moral hazard," he added in a statement, saying he also wanted to encourage debtors to "adapt" to the pandemic. The regulator did not elaborate, but said it was finalising a regulation to back up the extension, and would also extend a relaxation of capital conservation buffer rules while delaying adoption of Basel-III regulations. The move was "really helpful" for the banking industry, said Jahja Setiaatmadja, chief executive of Bank Central Asia , Indonesia's largest lender by market value. Loan restructuring requests have plateaued, but the pandemic's economic woes persist, said Aquarius Rudianto, director of retail banking at state lender Bank Mandiri, who welcomed the move. Aquarius added, however, that his bank's internal strategy was to continue building up provisions to be prudent. Without the extension, NPL could shoot up to 4% as weak economic activity could still pressure business, said Josua Pardede, chief economist at Bank Permata. "The hope is, with the extension, NPL could decline further, credit growth could pick up," Josua added. - REUTERS
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SC receives high queries on investment scams, establishes task force (Fri, 23 Oct 2020)
KUALA LUMPUR: The Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) has received 370 queries and complaints on illegal investment schemes as at end-September 2020 compared with 317 for the whole of last year. Chairman Datuk Syed Zaid Albar said of late, there has been a rise of “clone firm scams” where the fraudster would impersonate a legitimate licensed entity to dupe investors into believing that they are investing with a legitimate entity. He said based on SC’s findings, the promotion of such scams were commonly carried out via social media channels -- with the use of WhatsApp and Facebook being the most prevalent channels. “Investors who received offers of investment opportunities through WhatsApp messaging or Facebook channels should exercise caution. “I would like to advice investors to always verify the individual and entity’s status with the SC before investing their monies in any investment schemes,” he said in his welcome remarks at the SC virtual InvestSmart Fest 2020 (Virtual ISF 2020) here today. Syed Zaid said for the first six months of this year alone, Malaysians were reported to have lost RM914 million to scams. He said investors’ vulnerability to scams might be caused in part by their unrealistic expectation of returns from investments. In an SC survey earlier this year, it showed that a majority of investors in Malaysia have an unrealistic expectation of 24 per cent to 30 per cent returns per annum on their investments, he said. Today, investors’ vulnerability is also compounded by their search for yield in this low interest rate environment, he added. “Given the rapid increase of illegal investment scams, the SC has recently established an internal Task Force to focus on investigating and taking enforcement action against the perpetrators. “We urge investors to also play their part by coming forward to provide information to the SC if they have been approached by any person offering these schemes,” he said. The Virtual ISF 2020 is an annual flagship investor education event, running for three days starting today. The event features a strong line-up of industry experts sharing insights on investment opportunities, financial management, retirement planning, and how digitisation affects investment decisions, while reminding the public to stay vigilant when investing. This year’s edition, which was held virtually for the first time, has so far attracted more than 5,000 participants. - BERNAMA
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Huawei’s nine-month revenue growth slows as US restrictions bite (Fri, 23 Oct 2020)
CHINA's Huawei Technologies Co Ltd reported a 9.9% rise in nine-month revenue on Friday, as U.S. export restrictions and the global COVID-19 pandemic weakened sales growth in products such as smartphones and telecoms equipment. Revenue reached 671.3 billion yuan ($100.44 billion) over January-September, it said in a statement, without providing a segment breakdown. Revenue grew 13% in the January-June period. Net profit margin for the nine months was 8.0%, versus 8.7% over the same period a year earlier. Consumer Business Group Chief Executive Richard Yu earlier this year said Huawei would soon stop making high-end Kirin chips as U.S. restrictions on supplying the firm take effect. Analysts expect its stockpile of the chips to run out next year. Domestically, consumers have rushed to buy Huawei smartphones on concerns over the availability of newer models. Overseas, however, Huawei has faced sluggish sales, due in part to its lack of access to Alphabet Inc's Google Mobile Services. Last week, Reuters reported that Huawei is in talks with Digital China Group Co Ltd and others to sell parts of its Honor budget brand smartphone business in a deal that could fetch up to 25 billion yuan. Huawei also faces pressure abroad in its telecommunications infrastructure business. This week, Sweden said it would restrict Huawei and Chinese rival ZTE Corp from servicing its upcoming fifth-generation (5G) network. - REUTERS
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Manufacturing companies set to increase production localisation (Fri, 23 Oct 2020)
KUALA LUMPUR: Around 30 per cent of manufacturing companies plan to increase production localisation efforts over the next six months to better shield from future risks, according to global market research company Euromonitor International. The production localisation progress would make global supply and logistics chains shorter and provide new growth opportunities for North American and European suppliers, said in a statement. In addition, changing economic conditions and consumer preferences will impact the manufacturing sector, which will have to adapt to the ‘new normal’. The future of the global manufacturing industry will be defined by five key trends by 2025 including transition towards demand-driven supply chain; embracing digital solutions and automation; greater flexibility of supply chains; and, repurposing manufacturing capabilities. Manufacturing companies are expected to invest more in a demand-driven supply chain model and greater flexibility in their facilities. Meanwhile, around 50 per cent of companies plan to reshape their digital strategies and invest into e-commerce, while one-third of respondents from Euromonitor’s Voice of the Industry survey 2020 will accelerate investments into automation tools. It is also stated that the manufacturing sector is predicted to transform supply chains in the next two to three years, by making them more localised and flexible, while companies will also look for new ways to utilise manufacturing capabilities outside of their primary industry. - BERNAMA
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Goldman Sachs to pay nearly US$3 billion to settle charges over 1MDB scandal role (Fri, 23 Oct 2020)
WASHINGTON: Goldman Sachs on Thursday agreed to pay nearly US$3 billion (RM12.4 billion) to settle a probe into its role in Malaysia's 1MDB corruption scandal, and its Malaysia unit agreed to plead guilty to violating foreign bribery laws, drawing a line under a saga that has dogged the bank for years. The settlement resolves a probe by US authorities into the bank's role in underwriting three bond offerings in 2012 and 2013 that raised US$6.5 billion for Malaysia's government. Under the terms, Goldman has been slapped with a US$2.3 billion penalty and about US$600 million of disgorgement. While the saga has proved a humbling and reputationally damaging episode for Wall Street's powerhouse investment bank, Thursday's settlement will allow chief executive officer David Solomon to accelerate his plan to reshape Goldman as a more conventional bank, analysts said. In a court hearing, Goldman Sachs Malaysia said it would plead guilty to violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in relation to the scandal. The move follows a US$3.9 billion settlement the bank reached with Malaysia in July to settle all charges against the bank there related to the matter. The scandal dates back to the government of former Malaysian prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, which set up the 1MDB fund in 2009. The Justice Department estimated US$4.5 billion was misappropriated by high-level fund officials and their associates between 2009 and 2014. In November 2018, the US Justice Department filed criminal charges against two former Goldman Sachs bankers tied to the scandal, Tim Leissner and Roger Ng. Goldman has been investigated by regulators in at least 14 countries, including the US, Malaysia, Singapore and others, for what its leadership did and did not know about the transactions. According to the Justice Department, Goldman earned US$600 million in fees for its work with 1MDB. Leissner, Ng and others received large bonuses in connection with that revenue. – Reuters
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