Wednesday, July 21, 2010

MISC in RM1.4bil deal

The Star 21-07-2010

Purchase of 4 tankers part of unit AET’s plan to expand its fleet size

PETALING JAYA: MISC Bhd’s wholly owned subsidiary AET Inc Ltd yesterday signed a contract to purchase four new 320,000-deadweight tonne (dwt) very large crude carriers (VLCCs) from Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co Ltd of South Korea for about US$430mil (RM1.38bil).

MISC said in a filing with Bursa Malaysia that the tankers would be delivered between December 2012 and October 2013.

“The contract is entered into as part of AET’s growth plans to expand its fleet of VLCCs,” it said. The total consideration of US$430mil, which is based on the price of the vessels, costs of modifications and enhancements to meet with AET’s requirements, will be paid fully through AET’s internally generated funds.

“The contract is not expected to have any material impact on the earnings of MISC for the financial year ending March 31,” MISC said.

It said the contract was not subject to the approval of any authority or its shareholders. “To the best of our knowledge, none of MISC’s directors, substantial shareholders and persons connected to them has any direct or indirect interest in the contract,” it added.

It was reported last week that AET aspired to build up a fleet of 150 tankers, including VLCCs and medium-range product tankers, with the aim of expanding its lightering business in the US. (Lightering involves the transfer of cargo between vessels of different sizes to facilitate the berthing of large oceangoing vessels at a shallow port.)
MISC, whose major shareholders are Petroliam Nasional Bhd and the Employees Provident Fund Board, said on its website that it has an existing fleet of 11 VLCCs with a total of 3.328 million dwt. “In line with our aspiration to be a total logistics provider, our fleet is expanding aggressively, along with the rapid growth of our business,” it said on the site.

KL-Ipoh electric train to run soon

The Star 21-070210 By JAGDEV SINGH SIDHU
Delay in services should not be repeated for remaining portions of rail project

PETALING JAYA: The RM6bil Ipoh-Rawang rail track, which was completed in 2007, is set to see its maiden electric train service to Kuala Lumpur soon.

However, critics have warned against any delay in kicking off operations along the rest of the electrified rail artery in Peninsular Malaysia once construction is completed by the end of 2013.
They said electric train sets (ETS) should be ready for deployment once the Ipoh-Padang Besar stretch is completed by 2013 and the link between Gemas and Johor Baru expected to be ready around the same time, so that billions of ringgit of infrastructure funded by taxpayers did not lay idle and under-utilised.

The embarrassing delay in the start of the new train services along the upgraded Ipoh-Seremban stretch was the result of improper planning but this should not occur again once the remaining double-tracking project in the peninsula is completed. A source said money for new ETS had been allocated under the 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP) and their construction would take about two years.“The lesson from that mistake has been learnt,” he said, referring to the late utilisation of the completed Ipoh-Seremban track. Given that it takes 24 months for the ETS to be built, orders would theoretically go out by the end of next year for the trains to be used on the electrified double tracks once built in three years.

Currently, the MMC Corp Bhd-Gamuda Bhd consortium is upgrading the 329km Ipoh-Padang Besar stretch for RM12.5bil. The RM3.45bil Seremban-Gemas electrified double-tracking project was awarded to Ircon International Ltd and is scheduled for completion in 2012.

The RM8bil Gemas-Johor Baru electrified double-tracking project has been slotted for award under the 10MP.

The understanding is that the project for the Gemas-Johor Baru route, which could be awarded soon, would be completed by 2013. The value of the ETS order should be large, considering that many train sets would be needed to ply along the spine of the peninsula once all three components of the electrified double-tracking project are completed.

Reports indicated that KTM Bhd (KTMB) is set to launch a rail service using ETS soon which would cut the current travel time from Ipoh to Kuala Lumpur to two hours. That service, which is now due to start 2½ years after the electrified tracks were completed, would be extended to Seremban. KTMB was reported to have ordered five six-car ETS for RM250mil in 2007 to service the 300km route between Ipoh and Seremban. The travel time would be reduced by an hour and the ETS can carry 350 passengers, which is 100 more than the current trains do.

KTMB could not be reached for comment.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

SPNB to call for LRT project tenders by June

STATE-owned public transport operator Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd (SPNB) will call for tenders for Package A of the light rail transit (LRT) line extension in the Klang Valley by end of this month and award the contracts in November.

Package A includes contracts for main civil works for the Kelana Jaya line from the Kelana Jaya station to Summit USJ (9.2km) and for the Ampang line from the Sri Petaling station to Kinrara (7.4km). It also includes sub-contracts for facility works for the supply of segmental box girders for both the lines, SPNB group managing director Datuk Idrose Mohamed said.

Following that, SPNB will call for tenders for 24 sub-contract works to build stations and park & ride facilities for each line.

"We will award the contracts to the most competitive bidders. We have pre-qualified 15 contractors for the main line and 17 sub-contractors for the facilities work," he told a media briefing in Kuala Lumpur yesterday."For the remaining sub-contract works, it will be opened to Class A contractors," Idrose added.

It is learnt that the contracts under Package A are worth some RM3 billion. Idrose declined to comment.The whole LRT extension project is estimated to cost about RM9 billion.Companies like Sunway Construction, IJM Construction, Muhibbah Engineering, MRCB Engineering, Gamuda, Ahmad Zaki, Loh & Loh Construction, MTDC-Persys, Mudajaya Corp Bhd, MMC-Zelan, WCT-Sinohydro, Ranhill-CCCC, UEM Builders-Intria Bina, Zabima-Leighton, Trans Resources Corp and Fajarbaru Builder-Signatium Construction are expected to bid for the main lines.

SPNB had earlier launched a RM4 billion bond programme to finance the initial stages of the project, of which RM2 billion has been drawn down, Idrose said.It has so far awarded sub-contracts worth RM88 million to relocate telecommunications and TNB low voltage (underground) cables.

Idrose said it may launch a second bond programme for Package B, or look for other sources of funding.Contracts for the system work under Package A will be called later when the whole alignment for the Ampang and Kelana Jaya LRT lines, which cover a total of 17.7km and 17km respectively, are approved, Idrose said.

SPNB now has sectional approval of the final railway scheme from the Department of Railways, covering a distance of 12km from the Kelana Jaya station to USJ Subang, while the approval for the Ampang line covers a distance of 15.2km from the Sri Petaling station to Taman Puchong Prima.On talks that the LRT lines may be extended to Kota Damansara, Sungai Buloh and Cheras, Idrose said SPNB has a plan for it and will be ready when there is approval from the government.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Prince Court CEO resigns

The chief executive officer of internationally accredited private healthcare facility Prince Court Medical Centre (PCMC), Stuart Rowley, has tendered his resignation, sources say.

Rowley was one of three key management staff of the hospital that was asked to go on leave on June 22 2010, pending an outcome of an audit review.

It is understood that the audit findings are currently being reviewed.

The other two key personnel told to go on leave are the chief medical officer (CMO) and the legal adviser. It is not known if the CMO and legal adviser have resigned.

In a press statement to Business Times last week, PCMC had said that the three were requested to take leave in the interest of objectivity and to enable the audit to be concluded satisfactorily.

PCMC is owned by Petronas Hartabina Sdn Bhd, a unit of state-owned oil company Petroliam National Bhd (Petronas), and managed by Vamed Healthcare Services Sdn Bhd and its partner, the Medical University of Vienna International Hospital Operations GmbH.

Business Times was unable to confirm if Rowley, who is also listed as a director of Petronas Hartabina since 2005, has resigned from this post.

The hospital has assured that changes have not affected the day-to-day operation or the level of patient care, and interim personnel had taken over relevant functions.

Vamed Healthcare Services managing director Stuart Pack is said to have stepped in to take over some responsibilities and will stay on until the audit is completed.

Pack could not be reached to confirm the developments as he was in a meeting. It is understood that the management has briefed the hospital's staff about Rowley's resignation.

Rowley could not be reached for comment.

PCMC had been a subject of much discussion since its opening in late 2007 over the lavish amount spent to build and equip it.

While the official price tag for the 300-bed hospital is reported as RM544 million, many say that the price has crossed the RM1 billion mark, including for the leasehold land (for current and future development) and equipment.

In a 2008 interview, Rowley said he expected the hospital to be operationally profitable by the end of the second year and will achieve net profit in eight years.

Last year, it was reported that the hospital, which focuses on health tourism, was looking to achieve sales of RM120 million in the financial year ended March 31 2010.

In 2009, the hospital posted a loss before tax of RM203.25 million on the back of RM24.12 million revenue.

(Blogger's comment: A medical college which went for listing recently makes more than RM100 million per annum. Better turn Prince Court to a teaching hospital)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Second Half Slowdown: Here's What to Expect

By Morgan Housel
July 2, 2010

Keep this in mind when sifting through the end-of-the-world headlines: This, too, will pass.

Passing through the second half of 2010, however, may feel like a firm kick to the face.

Don't act like you didn't see this coming. By and large, the now-evident second-half slowdown is not a factor of European fallout or the Gulf oil spill (although neither helps). It's the retrenchment in stimulus spending and housing credits, both of which end in very predictable, well-telegraphed, and even written-into-law ways. This slowdown shouldn't surprise anyone.

Could have seen it coming
Take the impact of stimulus spending, courtesy of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, aka the $787 billion stimulus package). The effect this program has on GDP peaked in Q2 2010, and will fade over the next few years.

The slowdown isn't insignificant, either. The Congressional Budget Office's most recent estimates of ARRA's quarterly impact show a second-half GDP drag of somewhere between 0.5%-1% compared with the first half. That might not sound apocalyptic, but Q1 GDP growth registered just 2.7%. That makes a 1% drag nothing to sneeze at. It's also worth noting that ARRA's effect on 2011 GDP should be roughly half that of 2010, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

Last week, Larry Summers, President Obama's lead economic advisor, said, "A year ago the question was about a free fall, it was about depression. Today the questions are about the pace of recovery. That's a much better kind of question to hear."

He's right -- today is unquestionably less awful by comparison. But questioning the pace of the recovery shouldn't be pooh-poohed. Consider that the economy needs to grow roughly 2% per year just to keep unemployment from rising. If a recovery is measured by job creation -- and it should be -- then the second half will feel recessionary for millions of Americans, regardless of what the GDP numbers say.

Housing's last hurrah
Housing will be the other major drag on growth. Since the homebuyers' credit expired at the end of April, the housing market has been perfectly derelict, with new home sales collapsing to the lowest levels ever recorded.

This, too, should surprise no one. When you pay people to buy homes, as the housing credit did, you pilfer future demand. That's obvious. The question is how much demand the credit's existence stole.

Alas, that's tough to quantify, and I won't insult you with a guess (although many others will). This credit has been around in one form or another since mid-2008, so it's been a while since we've had a normal market to use as a comparison. Just eyeballing the spike in home sales before the credit expired in April shows that its ability to frontload demand was quite potent. Ironically, the more successful the credit was during its existence, the more violent the hangover will be in its absence. We're now experiencing that hangover, and the cast of Animal House would be impressed with its severity.

An offshoot risk here is that the credit's short-term success gave homebuilders a false sense of optimism, leading to a pickup in construction. As wretched as most housing headlines have been lately, residential investment was actually one of the largest contributors to GDP growth late last year, and housing starts experienced a burst of growth early this year that devoured expectations.

Why is that dangerous? Given the excess overhang of unsold homes -- estimated at more than 7 million units -- any itch to built seems positively crazy, and the chickens may soon come home to roost for megabuilders such as KB Homes (NYSE: KBH), Lennar (NYSE: LEN), and DR Horton (NYSE: DHI). Just listen to DR Horton's February conference call, where CEO Donald Tomnitz warns, "We're focusing on reducing our inventory post March to comply with the expiration of the tax credit." That's appropriate medicine for the housing market, but it'll be a sledgehammer on second-half production and construction.

Morning in America?
Amid it all, there's room for optimism. You just have to look hard and be creative. Much of what will be wrung out during the second half are artificially supported excesses that encumber a sustainable recovery. For housing in particular, you'll never see a real recovery until prices fall to appropriate levels, which they've struggled to do under stimulus package after stimulus package. The headlines you should cheer for are the ones that say, "Housing Starts Grind to a Halt," and "Prices Fall off a Cliff." That's when recovery can begin -- and those are the headlines that likely await the second half.

Scary headlines are also best friends with opportunity. The Dow Jones has fallen for eight of the last nine trading sessions. Is this justified? Maybe. People are terrified. Dreams are shattered. But it's presented some nice entry points. A few possibilities I like are ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM), Philip Morris International (NYSE: PM), and Patriot Coal (NYSE: PCX), all three of which have been brutalized in recent months and trade for compelling, if not mouthwatering, valuations.

What should you expect out of the second half? Lots of bad news, probably. It was bound to happen. But it's that same bad news that plants the seeds of a recovery -- a real, true recovery this time. In that sense, now's the time to be optimistic.

Check back every Tuesday and Friday for Morgan Housel's columns on finance and economics.

Fool contributor Morgan Housel owns shares of Philip Morris International. Philip Morris International is a Motley Fool Global Gains recommendation. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

(Blogger's note: Of course all these are happening only in America! We are on the way to recovery already. This year alone, Bank Negara has raised interest rate by 75 points, showing confidence that we are pedalling out of the recession.)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Mahathir warns of double-dip recession

Malaysia may slip into a double-dip recession if European countries face a similar slowdown, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The former Prime Minister said there were emerging signs of a double-dip recession hitting European countries and this would indirectly influence the Malaysian economy.

"I just returned (from England). In Europe (a double-dip recession) is imminent. If that happens, we may also be "infected"",

he told reporters after witnessing a contract signing agreement between Iris Corp Bhd and Koperasi Atlet Malaysia Bhd in Kuala Lumpur today. Dr Mahathir was commenting on predictions made by economists and analysts that a double-dip recession may occur in the second-half of this year and whether Malaysia would suffer the same fate.

While saying the government had in place several economic plans and adopted progressive measures like the New Economic Plan, Dr Mahathir said it would, however, be difficult to predict the future as whatever occured overseas would have repercussions on Malaysia. "Government is doing a lot of things but we cannot predict (the future) as external developments do affect us," he said. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said on Tuesday that Malaysia may face a double-dip recession in the second-half of the year prompted by external factors. A famous banker also said recent data emerging out of the United States and Europe pointed to a possible global economic recession. - Bernama

Power plant upgrades in the works

Dated 16 June 2010.
Business Times

The Energy Commission will soon call for bids to upgrade existing power plants in Peninsular Malaysia for use from 2015 onwards.

"Malaysia's power consumption increases by 3 per cent every year.
By 2015, we'll need 800 megawatts (MW) more power and
by 2017, a further 1,000MW,"
said Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin Fah Kui."If we don't plant up, we'll face brownouts," he told Business Times in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. Brownouts refer to the drop in voltage in electrical power supply.Malaysia's electricity reserve margin could fall below the 20 per cent threshold if there are no efforts made to boost production capacity.The future power supply in the peninsula is at risk after it was confirmed that electricity from the Bakun hydroelectric plant in Sarawak will only be used to meet the state's power needs.

Malaysia now has an installed capacity of 22,000MW.

It was reported that MMC Corp Bhd is keen to spend as much as US$1 billion (RM3.26 billion) to expand its 2,100MW Tanjung Bin power plant by another 800MW.

Similarly, Tenaga Nasional Bhd is seeking to raise capacity of its Manjung facility by 2,000MW from its current 2,100MW, at an estimated cost of between RM6 billion and RM7 billion. (USD1.84b to USD2.15b)

Under the 10th Malaysia Plan (2011 to 2015), the government plans two power plant upgrades in Peninsular Malaysia and construction of a new one in Lahad Datu in Sabah.

"So far, power plant operators in Perak, Negri Sembilan and Johor have indicated their interest to expand capacity," Chin said.

"We're only planning for two here, so we'll call for bids. The Energy Commission will make the necessary preparation," he added.

(Blogger's query: So where will the two upgrades be located? Manjung, Tg Bin, or NS?)

M'sians should consider investing in US$47bil Indon infrastructure sector

The Star 9/7/2010

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian investors should consider Indonesian market as it offers huge potential, including infrastructure projects worth US$47bil that are expected to be rolled out in the next four years.

Indonesian Ambassador to Malaysia Tan Sri Prof Da’i Bachtiar said bilateral trade between Malaysia and Indonesia stood at US$11.5bil last year and was expected to grow by double digits this year.

“Investment from Malaysia in Indonesia was US$1.5bil last year while from Indonesia to Malaysia was US$500mil, which still provide a lot of room to grow,” he said at the Activate Asia: Insight Indonesia Forum yesterday.

The event was co-organised by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor (KLCCCI) and HSBC Bank.

Tan Sri Prof Da’i Bachtiar ... ‘Indonesia now has a relatively open foreign investment regime.’ Da’i Bachtiar said Malaysia was in eighth position with 23 projects worth US$77.3mil, or 2.1%, of the total foreign direct investment (FDI) in Indonesia in the first quarter. He said the top five investing countries were Japan, Singapore, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.

“Indonesia now has a relatively open foreign investment regime and looks to foreign investment to boost its economy. Virtually all sectors allow foreign participation except those of specific national interest.”

He said the government had issued several new regulations to ease the entry of foreign firms and capital into Indonesia.

Chamber president Tan Sri William Cheng said Indonesia was now back on its development track after 10 years of economic reformation post-1997/98 economic crisis.

“With a population of over 230 million and gross domestic product of up to US$515bil, which is driven by its significantly improved domestic consumption, Indonesia has become one of the most attractive markets,” he said.

HSBC Bank Malaysia Bhd executive director Jon Addis said Islamic finance was an area that had great potential in Indonesia as it only contributed 3% of the nation’s total banking assets last year compared with about 20% in Malaysia.

KRA Group CEO Karim Raslan said the large consumption of its people had helped keep Indonesian economy afloat despite the global financial crisis.

He said investors should not just focus on Jakarta as there were a lot of opportunities in places like Palembang, Medan, Pekanbaru and Pontianak.

12 weeks to conduct RM36bil MRT feasibility study

The Star 9/7/2010

Consultants said to advise Govt on four main aspects including suitability and cost

PETALING JAYA: The feasibility study on the proposed RM36bil mass rapid transit (MRT) system by Gamuda Bhd and MMC Corp Bhd is expected to be presented to the Government in about three months time, said a source familiar with the matter.
It was earlier reported that the Government had appointed two independent consultants – Minconsult Sdn Bhd and Andercon Technologies Ltd – to carry out the study.

The source said the consultants had been given a period of 12 weeks to revert and present their recommendations on the project to the Government. “They are to review and advise the Government on the MRT proposal in relation to its suitability with policy objectives, strategies on public transport, socio-economic benefits as well as its feasibility and cost,” it said.

It is understood that the consultants have been hired by the Finance Ministry in consultation with the recently-formed Land Public Transport Commission or SPAD.
Minconsult was involved in the bridge maintenance and management system study for phase 1 of the Star LRT project. SPAD is supposed to coordinate, integrate and regulate all public transport systems in the country as well as come up with a masterplan.

Previous reports indicated that the MRT project might start as soon as early next year.
To recap, MMC and Gamuda in a joint venture, had submitted a proposal dubbed the Klang Valley integrated transportation system, which was presented to the Economic Council in February. The proposed MRT network consists of two radial lines and a circle line, which has similarities with the train networks in most major cities. It is commonly known as a “wheels and spokes” concept. In total, the MRT network will cover up to 150km of lines, with about a third of them to be built underground.

Although analysts are generally positive about the project, questions remain as to whether the Government can afford such a massive project. It is also left to be seen if the Gamuda-MMC proposed MRT project will be part of SPAD’s public transport masterplan

Minconsult is multi-disciplinary engineering and project management company that offers a wide range of engineering consultancy services in the civil and structural, mechanical, electrical, petrochemical and environmental fields. The company was involved in bridge maintenance and management system study for KTMB Bhd, Phase 1 of Star LRT system (now Ampang Line) and the feasibility study for the proposed Kota Damansara-Central Business District-Cheras LRT line, according to its website.
Andercon is a Canada-based company specialising in installing, configuring, and administering Oracle database infrastructures.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

BCorp gets two projects in China

The Star 7/7/2010

PETALING JAYA: Berjaya Corp Bhd (BCorp) has entered into a concession framework agreement with Xinan Public Asset Investment Co Ltd (XPAI) for the proposed construction of two wastewater treatment plants in Xinan County in Guandong province, China.

BCorp told Bursa Malaysia it would have the right to build, operate and maintain the proposed projects for a period (inclusive of construction) of 25 years and thereafter transfer the same back to XPAI at no cost.

“The estimated cost of the proposed projects is about 200 million renminbi (about RM97mil) and will be implemented in phases. The proposed projects are expected to generate total revenue of about 1.07 billion renminbi (about RM516mil) during the concession period,” it said.

BCorp said its wholly-owned subsidiary to be incorporated in China would have the rights to revise the tariff every two years during the concession period in accordance with the variation in operation cost factors such as electricity tariff and consumer price index.

N-S highway and NKVE to get 4th lane costing RM1.4bil

The STAR 7/7/10

Govt awards RM1.4bil contract to PLUS

PETALING JAYA: The Ministry of Works has informed PLUS Expressways Bhd’s wholly owned subsidiary Projek Lebuhraya Utara-Selatan Bhd (PLUS) that the Government has awarded it a contract estimated to be worth RM1.143bil to build a fourth lane along certain stretches of the North-South Expressway and the New Klang Valley Expressway.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia, PLUS Expressways said the stretches were Shah Alam to Rawang, Shah Alam to Jalan Duta and a section from Nilai (North) to Seremban.

“The details of the proposed funding for the fourth lane widening works are under review,” it said "and discussion with the Government, and shall be subject to the approval of the Government, bondholders/lenders and the board of directors of PLUS and/or PLUS Expressways,” it added.

“PLUS Expressways will make the appropriate announcement to the exchange in a timely manner on any further development on this matter,” it said.

About Me

A seeker of success (whatever that means) treading on a path, searching, to return to the wholesomeness that was him when he was launched into this big school called Earth.