No DPM in new Cabinet, CIMB boss Tengku Zafrul appointed Finance Minister

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has opted to not appoint a deputy prime minister and instead had decided to appoint four senior ministers, namely the Minister of International Trade and Industry, Minister of Defence, Minister of Works and Minister of Education. The four ministers will assist the Prime Minister, which includes chairing Cabinet meetings when the premier is not around. Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali has been appointed as the International Trade and Industry Minister, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob as Defence Minister, Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof as Works Minister and Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin as Education Minister. Notably, CIMB Group Holdings Bhd chief executive officer Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Aziz has been appointed as Finance Minister. The premier said Tengku Zafrul will be appointed as a senator. The ministers will be taking their oaths at the palace today. (The Edge)

Malaysian Cabinet lineup 2020 (Source: The Borneo Post)

Malaysia may revise Budget 2020 on oil price plunge — MIDF

The new Malaysian government will have to come to terms with the reality of low crude oil prices and may revise Budget 2020, as crude oil prices are currently trading 45% lower than the benchmark set for Budget 2020. MIDF Amanah Investment Bank Bhd Research said it is expecting Malaysia’s GDP growth to be “under pressure” in 2020 at this juncture, following this year’s continuous slump in crude oil prices, which escalated on Monday. “The newly formed government will likely revise the Budget 2020 and we may see a reduction in government expenditure and investment,” it added. Brent crude oil prices fell to US$31/bbl on Monday — its lowest since 2016 — after Saudi Arabia reportedly planned to oust competitors by increasing production and to give discounts to major clients as retaliation after OPEC+ talks last week failed to reach a consensus to lift prices. On the positive side, MIDF Research said retail fuel prices especially RON95 may touch RM1.32 per litre if average Brent oil price stays at US$35/bbl. (The Edge)

PKNS exploring REIT opportunity

The Selangor State Development Corp, better known as PKNS is still keen to enter into the real estate investment trust (REITs) business. PKNS chief operating officer Norita Mohd Sidek expressed the corporation’s intention to enter into REITs through its investment arm, PKNS Real Estate Sdn Bhd (PREC). It was reported in 2015 that PKNS was looking to put its commercial property assets like the Shah Alam Convention Centre (SACC) Mall, Menara PKNS (Petaling Jaya) and Menara Worldwide, valued at about RM500 million into a REIT and list it on Bursa Malaysia within three years. PKNS had targeted to establish the REIT via PREC in 2018 but postponed the plan to 2019, while it looks for quality assets like Grade-A office space to raise PREC’s total asset value to RM1 billion. Norita did not say when PREC would be listed or which assets will be included in the REIT. There are currently 18 REITs listed on Bursa Malaysia. (NST Online)

Tesco sells businesses in Thailand, Malaysia for US$10.6bil

Britain’s biggest retailer Tesco said on Monday it will return US$6.6 billion (5 billion pounds) to shareholders after agreeing to sell its businesses in Thailand and Malaysia to Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group for an enterprise value of US$10.6 billion. The UK supermarket group kicked off a review of its Asian businesses in December after receiving interest in the assets, signalling a further retreat from its once lofty global ambitions. The deal’s completion would mean Tesco’s only overseas operations, apart from Ireland, would be its central European division, consisting of stores in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. (NST Online)

Malaysia reports 18 new cases of Covid-19, 117 in total

Malaysia on Monday (March 9) announced 18 new cases of Covid-19 (coronavirus), bringing the total number of cases to 117. One patient of the newly identified had travelled to Iran between Feb 20-27. Among Malaysia’s second wave of cases beginning late February, only six cases had travel history, while the vast majority were infected locally with close contacts, the ministry said. Two patients remained in intensive care, the ministry added. The ministry also announced a collaboration with the country’s private medical sector to provide home testing for Covid-19, without having to visit a healthcare facility. It also repeated its advice that Malaysians avoid travelling to territories or cities affected. (The Star Online)