Jack Ma launches South-East Asia’s first Alibaba office in Malaysia
Alibaba Group executive chairman Jack Ma has launched the group’s first office in South-East Asia at the UOA corporate building in Bangsar South. Ma met Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad earlier on Monday in Putrajaya and said he was surprised at the Prime Minister’s knowledge about technology. Ma was in Malaysia last November to attend the groundbreaking launch of DFTZ with former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. DFTZ, which was launched by the previous administration, is an e-hub set up by the Alibaba Group and the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC). The project is expected to double the goods exported by small and medium enterprises, create 60,000 jobs locally and facilitate US$ 65bil worth of traded goods by 2025. (The Star Online)

Alibaba’s investment in Malaysia is US$100mil and counting
Just over a year after announcing its partnership with the Malaysian government for the Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ), Alibaba Group has already invested US$100 million (RM400 million) in its various initiatives here. According to its founder and executive chairman Jack Ma, “there will be much more”. However, Ma was quick to point out that its financial investments are not for buying land or building physical infrastructure, but to develop technology and local capabilities. Several noteworthy initiatives that have already been taken by Alibaba include the construction of the KLIA Aeropolis logistics hub, which is targeted to be completed in 2020. (The Edge Markets)

Japanese banks positive towards extending yen credit to Malaysia
Several Japanese banking institutions are responsive towards extending yen credit in the form of soft loans to Malaysia, said Japanese Ambassador to Malaysia Dr Makio Miyagawa. He said Japanese premier Shinzo Abe had sent a ‘clear cut’ note that the government and private sector should consider the request by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who visited Japan last week. Dr Mahathir said if the yen credit was extended as a soft loan, it would help the country deal with its debt problem. During the 1997 financial crisis, Malaysia obtained a soft loan from Japan with an interest rate of just 0.7%, repayable over 40 years. (The Star Online)

Y&G Corp aborts plan to buy RM31mil Pontian land
Y&G Corp Bhd has withdrawn plans to buy two adjacent parcels of freehold land totalling 23.39ha in Pontian, Johor, for RM30.96 million. Y&G said this follows the expiry of the last extended conditional period on May 26. With the termination, the vendors are expected to refund MASB the deposit of RM3.1 million within 14 days. The proposed land acquisition was part of Y&G Group’s objective of concentrating on its core businesses of property development by further increasing its land bank size. (The Edge Markets)

Ringgit slips to five-month low
The ringgit slid to a five-month low of 4.0015 against the US dollar yesterday, and economists expect the local currency to hover around 3.95 to 4.05 amid rising pressure from external headwinds. The continued selldown in the ringgit could extend into the third quarter of 2018 (3Q18), with hopes of recovery by 4Q18 when there is clarity on local and foreign uncertainties. Last Thursday, the US Federal Reserve raised its target fed funds rate by 25 basis points to 2% from 1.75%, the seventh rise from near-zero rates since late 2015. (The Edge Markets)