Ringgit is Asia’s strongest currency
Malaysian assets are back in favor as investors focus on encouraging signs of an economic turnaround instead of the 1MDB scandal. The ringgit is easily the strongest major Asian currency this quarter, climbing twice as much as the next best, the Chinese yuan. Global funds have bought the most Malaysian stocks year-to-date since the same period in 2013, and net inflows to the bond market surged in April and May. Double-digit acceleration in the country’s exports has lifted the economy, which grew 5.6% on-year in the first quarter, the most since early 2015. (Bloomberg)

London remains attractive to Malaysian institutional investors
London continues to attract Malaysian real estate investors and developers including prominent institutional investors such as the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), Lembaga Tabung Haji and Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (Diperbadankan) (KWAP), although these funds have slowed their buying activity slightly. These funds are expected to continue investing in London as its office market is still showing good returns, with rental yields of offices in London ranging from 3.5% to 4%, compared to 2% to 3% yields in Singapore. In addition, these investment funds and REITs need to diversify their portfolios. Meanwhile, Malaysian property developers are also rather actively looking for new projects or building their schemes in London, thus committing significant capital. (The Edge Markets)

Ikhmas Jaya bags RM36mil job for Setia City Mall phase two
Ikhmas Jaya Group Bhd has bagged a RM36 million contract for works at the proposed Setia City Mall Phase 2 retail development. The job comprises site clearance, earthworks, piling and pile caps, ground slab and ancillary works for the project. The contract works are expected to commence on August 9, 2017 and be completed by April 11, 2018. Ikhmas Jaya’s total outstanding order book is currently RM903.9 million. (The Edge Markets)

AEON to dispose Mahkota Cheras mall for RM87.8mil
Aeon Co (M) Bhd is selling the Aeon Mahkota Cheras Shopping Centre and the freehold land on which it sits for RM87.8mil. The proposed disposal to Foremost Wealth Management Sdn Bhd would give it an estimated gain of RM17mil. The property has a net book value of RM67.4mil, and the two-storey shopping centre building is seven years old. The disposal is in line with its corporate strategy of focusing and developing its future retail business, and the cash proceeds will be used as working capital and to reduce borrowings. (The Star Online)

Boon Koon Group to diversify into property development
Commercial vehicle manufacturer and trader Boon Koon Group Bhd is planning to diversify into the property business by participating in a GDV RM306.1 million commercial development in Petaling Jaya. Its unit BKG Development Sdn Bhd had inked a joint development agreement to build some serviced apartments and retail lots with Aera Property Group Sdn Bhd. The project will comprise two blocks of 29 storeys with 752 units of service apartments, a podium with 13 shoplots, a basement carpark and eight-storey carpark. The project is expected to be completed in March 2021. (The Star Online)

Gamuda to gain from booming construction sector
Construction outfit Gamuda Bhd’s leading role in the multi-billion-ringgit transportation infrastructure projects will continue to stand it in good stead among investors. Analysts said the company would be in a good position to benefit from the booming construction sector in Malaysia, given its dominant roles in the MRT and other rail-based projects such as LRT3, ECRL, and KL-Singapore HSR. The company is also set to gain as the project delivery partner in the Penang Transport Master Plan. (The Star Online)

(Photo from The Star)

RM1,000 fine proposed for lost passports
The Immigration Department proposed that a fine of RM1,000 be imposed on those who lose their passport for the third time. Since Malaysian passports were among the most sought-after passports in the world, the government was now considering a heavier penalty on lost passports to thwart would-be forgers. The proposed penalty is a RM200 fine for the first time, RM500 (second time) and RM1,000 for the third and subsequent times. (The Star Online)

Blackstone to buy Singapore REIT for S$900mil
U.S. private equity group Blackstone Group LLP agreed to buy Singapore-listed and Japan-focused Croesus Retail Trust (CRT) for S$900.6 million, part of an trend of buyouts of real estate investment trusts (REITs). “Croesus Retail Trust has an established portfolio of quality Japanese retail assets. This transaction represents a good opportunity for Blackstone’s real estate business to further expand its platform in Japan,” said Christopher Heady, head of real estate Asia at Blackstone Group. (Reuters)

Alibaba spending US$1bil in SEA’s Lazada
Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding is investing an additional $1 billion in Southeast Asian online retailer Lazada Group, boosting its stake by nearly a third to 83%. Lazada, founded in 2012, is headquartered in Singapore and also operates in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.Besides financial support, Alibaba’s investment has provided Lazada with several benefits, including access to a wider range of merchants and improving its logistics capabilities. (The Star Online)