Snippets & Commentary

US & China Trade War: No, Trump, you are not winning it. The US$100bn thus far collected, had been largely from American consumers. The backlash in the US has been muted so far as they affected parts of a bigger product and some were absorbed by manufacturers. Any further tariffs will hit Americans more directly, as in final products purchased. The pushback and the looming second term could make Trump pullback on some of his silly "my gun is bigger than yours" mentality.

You'd think that Malaysia would be a natural beneficiary but the stock market has not been showing that at all. Because a trade war could be temporary, and it is difficult to make rash reinvestment decisions based on an escalating trade war. Who knows? A Democrat could defeat Trump next. That's the troubling stuff, business owners cannot make long term decisions on capital based on short term gyrations. But if the stalemate drags on and Trump wins again, then you can see real capital redeployment.

Air Asia / Mavcom:  AirAsia did the right thing to drag Mavcom to court over passenger service charges (PSC) dispute with MAHB. We somehow have TOO MANY regulatory bodies or oversight bodies, overseeing too many things, and not MAKING REAL DECISIONS. Trying to get AirAsia and MAHB to the arbitration table has and will be useless. The wounds and differences between the two have long been there, healing and split open again and again. MAVCOM, do your job. By dragging MAVCOM to court, this will make MAVCOM having to deal and make decisions every time there are disputes from now on. And trust me, there are one hundred and one niggling points of contention between the two ill-fated relatives.

Soh Chee Wen (Blumont, Asiasons, Lion Gold):  The proceedings there were just as interesting as Najib's current trial. The SG authorities had no choice but to act owing to the massive losses suffered by a significant number of the investing public.    ... Was there a collusion to move share prices higher? Yes. ... Was there a strategy to engineer a market collapse? Of course not. If there were, the main players would have jumped to Taiwan or Brazil when it happened, and not in offices in SG waiting to be apprehended. ... Did the SGX contribute to the fall by imposing trading restrictions and designations of securities? Yes by virtue of the "fears triggered", it compounded the fall.  ... Are Soh and his cohorts being made scapegoats? Well, a bit.. they did something "wrong and painted a fictional landscape for the shares they controlled, and should be penalised for those activities. But it looks like there is a bit of "witch hunt" and "burning of books" undertaken to skewer them for more than they deserve, so as to nullify the anger of the public.

Telenor and Axiata:  Obviously a plan drafted by Khazanah, rather than being mooted by Axiata. Could be the fact that Khazanah has been on the backfoot over its dismal performance in recent years, and needed to jazz up its portfolio somewhat. This deal looked to be a lot of trinkets and a bejewelling effort to distract from people asking "so, what are you doing with your portfolio??"  The synergies are seeming limited for a merger. Both companies have operations in Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Pakistan. In countries where Telenor does not have a presence, Axiata also operates in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Cambodia and Indonesia. The savings from inter-connectivity is now much reduced with the rise of internet free calls. ...Axiata still left dangling with the NCell (Nepal) situation. ... Khazanah may benefit doing this by virtue of the valuation gap between Axiata (at 5-6x) vs Maxis at 13x. A merger may value Axiata closer to 10x. Show and tell time.

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