Isnin, 3 Februari 2014

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The Star Online: Business

Merger and acquisitions on the cards for Brahim's in H1?

Posted: 03 Feb 2014 08:00 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: This year may see Datuk Ibrahim Ahmad Badawi (pic), who holds an indirect 54.89% stake in Brahim's Holdings Bhd, injecting more assets via privately held Dewina Holdings Sdn Bhd into the listed in-flight caterer-cum-restaurant operator.

Analysts who cover the stock believed Ibrahim would be injecting several assets into the company this year, with one saying the exercise could happen in the next few months.

"What I've heard is that the paperwork has been done, it just needs to be confirmed. I'm confident this exercise will happen in the first-half of the year," she said.

Another analyst said it did make sense that a merger and acquisition could be in the offing, as the recent announcements on the tie-up with Labuan Halal Hub Sdn Bhd (announced on Jan 16) and Japanese airline ANA Holdings Inc (announced on Jan 7) involved the provision of halal meals. Dewina Food Industries Sdn Bhd, a Dewina subsidiary, provides Brahim's ready-to-eat meals and sauces.

"I'm not sure of the timeline, but these announcements could hasten the asset injection exercise," he noted.

Ibrahim, who helms both Brahim's and Dewina as executive chairman, declined to comment further on the matter.

"My privately held entities are not as big as Brahim's. Several of the more recent projects announced need to be nurtured, but these projects have potential to be injected later on," he told StarBiz.

He also did not discount a separate listing for Desatera Sdn Bhd, a joint venture (JV) between Dewina and Koperasi Angkatan Tentera Malaysia Bhd, which has been awarded a contract to operate military cookhouses up till 2026.

"Desatera has potential; it's injectable but it can also stand on its own," he said, adding that this venture, which operates 67 cookhouses, needed to be nurtured before any move to list or inject it into Brahim's could be initiated.

Other ventures under Dewina, which Ibrahim said might be potentially acquired by Brahim's, were Dewina Food; a plant manufacturing meals in Jordan in a 50:50 JV with a Jordanian government agency, an upcoming plant in Saudi Arabia, and a plant with a farm, including an abattoir and facilities for value-added products, in Ningxia, China, in which Dewina has a 49% stake.

While not new, the speculation, along with news of recent ventures, has attracted interest in the company's stock, with the share price having risen about 132% since the beginning of July to RM2.21 on Jan 30, 2014.

Early last October, Koperasi Permodalan Felda Malaysia Bhd (KPF) emerged as a substantial shareholder in Brahim's with a 5.2% stake, while pilgrimage fund Lembaga Tabung Haji, already a major shareholder with a 5.3% stake, acquired another 366,500 shares in early January.

KPF has a 20% stake in MSM Malaysia Holdings Bhd, which operates a sugar duopoly in the peninsula together with Central Refinery Sdn Bhd, part of the Tradewinds group.

Ibrahim said Brahim's RM150mil sugar refinery near Kuching would be completed by the end of next year. The company plans to initially provide 180,000 tonnes of refined sugar in Sabah and Sarawak, where annual demand has been estimated to be around 300,000 tonnes.

Facebook plans low-key birthday bash

Posted: 03 Feb 2014 07:30 PM PST

SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook has grown into an Internet giant over the last decade, but it is celebrating its birthday with a low-key, belated party and an eye toward the future.

While the arrival of its 10th anniversary on Tuesday has pundits analyzing the social network's past and theorizing about its future, the Internet juggernaut is trying to stay focused on the job at hand.

"Just as we do every year, we will have an internal party on Friday afternoon," Facebook spokeswoman Arielle Aryah told AFP in response to a query regarding the company's birthday celebration plans.

It remained to be seen whether the Menlo Park, California-based social network, which now boasts over a billion users, had something playful planned for its actual anniversary on Tuesday.

In an earnings call last week to discuss stellar quarterly results, Facebook chief and co-found Mark Zuckerberg gave a nod to the growth seen during the past decade but focused on the future.

Zuckerberg spoke of making "apps" for showcasing Facebook features on smartphones or tablets to stay in synch with mobile Internet lifestyles.

Long-range goals included using artificial intelligence to figure out how pictures, videos, comments and more shared at Facebook are related and of shooting toward helping people share anything they want, with anyone they want, whenever they want.

Facebook broke ground late last year on an expansion to its campus in former Sun Microsystem digs in the Silicon Valley city of Menlo Park.

The new West Campus was designed by respected architect Frank Gehry.

As Facebook celebrates its 10th anniversary, the world's biggest social network is finding its path as a maturing company, adapting to an aging user base.

Zuckerberg has repeatedly described Facebook's mission as "making the world more open and connected," and some say he has accomplished just that.

The company created in a Harvard dorm room in 2004 has established itself as a phenomenon, securing its place in the world of the technology giants.

"Facebook has made the world much smaller, much more interactive," said Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdhry.

In its short history, Facebook has become a part of daily life for more than a billion people around the globe.

"More than 20 percent of all time spent on the Internet is spent on Facebook," says Lou Kerner, founder of the Social Internet Fund.

Facebook says it has a global total of 1.23 billion monthly active users, including 945 million who use the social network on a mobile device.

And, a Pew Research Center survey released Monday suggests no slowing momentum for the network, even though more than half of US Facebook users said they are turned off by oversharing and didn't like the fact that they showed up in pictures without giving permission.

After a calamitous initial public offering in May 2012 plagued by technical glitches, Facebook saw its share price slump by half.

But the company has been on a roll for the past year, with its stock hitting record highs.

According to the research firm eMarketer, Facebook has become the second-largest recipient of digital advertising spending behind Google, and is particularly strong in mobile ads.

"Facebook appears the best way to play the social Internet," Morgan Stanley analysts said in a note to clients, preferring Facebook to the up-and-coming network Twitter.

Maybank to offer ringgit Trade Financing in China

Posted: 03 Feb 2014 07:27 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Maybank is offering trade financing in ringgit across China through branches in Beijing in Shanghai, which includes letters of credit, financing of imports, exports and currency swaps.

In a statement on Tuesday, Maybank said other Chinese banks may also apply to be Maybank's appointed agent to offer ringgit financing to any of their customers across China.

Global head of transaction banking John Wong said the trade financing facility provides a new liquid currency with hedging options, helps minimises foreign exchange exposures and enabling both parties to benefit from better trade terms and a reduced supply chain costs.

"The ringgit Trade Financing service further reinforces Maybank's position as the key go-to Malaysian bank for businesses in China as it was the only Malaysian bank appointed by People's Bank of China as a market maker for ringgit/renminbi, and since 2012, Chinese customers have been allowed to maintain ringgit accounts at Maybank Shanghai branch," he said.

Wong said the bank is focusing on Supply Chain Financing that supports open account trades, which are the dominant form of trade in Asia.

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