Cabinet approves RM21.6bil national connectivity plan
The Cabinet has approved the implementation of the RM21.6bil National Fiberisation and Connectivity Plan (NFCP), says the Communications and Multimedia Ministry. Its minister Gobind Singh Deo said the five-year plan starting this year will provide nationwide digital connectivity that is high quality and affordable for all Malaysians across the urban and rural divide. He said the Cabinet views the NFCP, part of the nation’s preparedness for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as a crucial infrastructure project and a strategic effort to enhance the economic competitiveness by bridging the digital gap. The RM21.6bil cost of implementing the NFCP will involve the infrastructure projects in targeted areas. “The NFCP’s main targets include the provision of an average speed of 30 Mbps in 98% of populated areas and gigabits availability in selected industrial areas by the year 2020 and all state capitals by 2023,” he said. The NFCP project is expected to be launched in mid-September. (The Star Online)

Hong Kong investors shun Singapore for homes in Malaysia, Taiwan
Singapore’s housing market isn’t turning out to be the beneficiary many may have thought from Hong Kong’s increasingly fraught protests. Instead, investors are looking to cheaper property markets like Malaysia, Thailand and Taiwan. Hong Kong has held the title of the world’s least affordable real estate for nine years in a row now, and unhappiness over property prices is one factor fueling the unrest. Many people with the means in Hong Kong have been looking at contingency plans, which can range from shifting funds abroad to physically moving from the city. Taiwan made the grade due to its relative ease of assimilation – both locations use traditional Chinese as opposed to simplified characters on the mainland. According to Mah Sing Group managing director Leong Hoy Kum, Hong Kong buyers are attracted to Malaysia due to the country’s “tropical weather, cleaner air, good education system, attractive properties and mix of Asian values and Western infrastructure.” (The Star Online)

Affordable housing a shared responsibility, says Bank Negara governor
In line with the country’s commitment to provide adequate and affordable housing for all income levels, particularly for the lower-income group, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) Governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus stressed that affordable housing is a shared responsibility and that the government is looking at how infrastructure providers could play their part in reducing the cost of houses. “There are three components which make up the biggest proportion of the cost, namely land, construction and infrastructure,” she said. Explaining further, the governor said “more importantly is to adopt strategies to raise income levels of households to make housing more affordable to the rakyat.” Over the period 2007-2016, growth in house prices have outpaced household income. (Malay Mail)

IJM awaits govt’s decision on toll highways takeover
IJM Corp Bhd is still awaiting the government’s decision to acquire 15 toll highways nationwide, says chief executive officer and managing director, Datuk Soam Heng Choon. Previous reports indicated the government would offer to acquire tolled highways owned by PLUS Malaysia Bhd (including the NSE) for RM30.8 billion, those owned by Projek Lintasan Kota Holdings Sdn Bhd (Prolintas) for RM3.1 billion, Gamuda Bhd for RM5.6 billion and IJM Corp Bhd for RM2.7 billion,with the acquisitions paid via the issuance of debt papers to the concessionaires. However, no official offer has been made to the concessionaires for now, as the government assess all the proposals thoroughly, before making an official announcement. Meanwhile, Soam said the construction and property segment will be the main driver of IJM Corp’s top line. (Malay Mail)

Six Malaysian companies in Forbes Asia’s Best Over A Billion list
Six listed Malaysian companies have made it to Forbes Asia’s inaugural Best Over A Billion list. They are Batu Kawan Bhd, Hap Seng Consolidated Bhd, IHH Healthcare Bhd, Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd, Press Metal Aluminium Holdings Bhd and Public Bank Bhd. The inaugural list spotlights 200 top-performing listed companies across Asia Pacific with revenues of US$1 billion or more. Forbes Asia said from a universe of 3,200 listed companies in the region, candidates were evaluated based on more than a dozen metrics, including average five-year sales, operating income growth, return on capital, and projected growth over the next one to two years. The biggest companies on the list by market value include internet behemoths Alibaba and Tencent, semiconductor giants Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and SK Hynix, as well as Fast Retailing, operator of the Uniqlo apparel chain. (NST Online)