EcoWorld Malaysia calls off proposed merger with UEM Sunrise

Eco World Development Group Bhd (EcoWorld Malaysia) has decided not to pursue the proposed merger with UEM Sunrise Bhd following discussions with UEM Sunrise this month. The decision comes after careful evaluation by the board alongside EcoWorld Malaysia’s own business plans and the current challenging environment with the reimplementation of the MCO. The proposed merger would have created one of Malaysia’s largest property companies with a projected GDV of RM173.2bil and a total landbank of more than 17,000 acres locally. EcoWorld Malaysia chairman Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin said the cessation of talks on the proposed merger will enable it to actively pursue other corporate proposals that may be more complementary to its present growth plans and strategies. “It will also enable us to focus on the group’s own business plans for FY2021 which include a sales target of RM2.875 billion for EcoWorld Malaysia that is 25% higher than the actual RM2.3 billion sales recorded in FY2020,” he said. (The Sun Daily)

COVID-19 infection cases expected to drop in four weeks

The Ministry of Health (MOH) expects COVID-19 infections in Malaysia to drop to around 500 to 1,000 cases a day in four weeks, said Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah. He said following the implementation of Movement Control Order (MCO) from today to Jan 26, the ministry would be monitoring COVID-19 case data and development in the two weeks. “If we implement it for four weeks, InsyaAllah we could decrease the number of cases to 1,000 or 500 (a day) if possible,” he said. “After MCO, we will implement Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) and we are expecting to flatten the curve in May or June,” he added. Dr Noor Hisham said a more drastic approach had to be taken to break the infection chain of the disease. The Emergency order allowed the Health Ministry (MOH) to work with private hospitals on COVID-19 and non COVID-19 hospitals. (Bernama)

Finance Ministry to expedite BPN 2.0 payments starting Jan 21

The Finance Ministry will expedite the Bantuan Prihatin Nasional Phase 2 (BPN 2.0) payments totalling RM2.38 billion to the 11.06 million eligible recipients, who comprise 10.6 million BPN recipients and about 460,000 new recipients. Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz said payments to the B40 and M40 groups would be credited directly into their bank accounts starting Jan 21 and Jan 25, respectively. Those without bank accounts would be able to receive payments at Bank Simpanan Nasional branches from Jan 25 onwards subject to the bank’s standard operating procedure guidelines. As for recipients in Sabah and Sarawak who do not have a bank account, he said payments would be made from early February to April 1 at locations to be announced at the end of this month. Approvals can be checked starting Jan 15 at the official BPN portal, BPN 2.0 is part of the RM10 billion Prihatin Supplementary Initiative Package (KITA PRIHATIN) announced by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Sept 23 last year. (The Star Online)

Several sectors affected by MCO 2.0

CGS-CIMB expects the second round of movement control order (MCO 2.0) to weigh on brewers, consumer, gaming, real estate investment trusts (REITs), airlines and banks. It said the MCO 2.0 could negatively impact brewers due to weaker on-trade sales, while consumer sales will be impacted by lower footfall, reduced dining-out activities and shorter operating hours. It also expects gaming to be affected due to lower numbers forecast operators (NFO) sales and reduced visitors to Genting Highlands due to travel restrictions. Meanwhile, REITs will be affected by lower retail mall footfall and tenant sales, as well as cancellations of hotel bookings. It also opined that airlines or airports will be hit by the interstate travel ban, while banks could be affected as the MCO 2.0 may raise the possibility of further overnight policy rate (OPR) cuts. Overall, the new restrictions are not expected to significantly impact KLCI earnings if it is not extended beyond two weeks. (The Edge)

US House votes to impeach Trump, making him 1st US president impeached twice

The US House on Wednesday voted to impeach President Donald Trump over “incitement of insurrection,” making him the first president to be impeached twice. While the number of Democrats sponsoring the impeachment article indicated there had already been enough votes to impeach the president, 10 Republicans also cast the “yea” vote. That is a stark contrast to the vote to impeach Trump in December 2019, at which time no Republican representatives crossed the party line. The final vote Wednesday was 232 in favour and 197 against. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi cited the Capitol riot by Trump loyalists last week and said the president “incited this insurrection, this armed rebellion against our common country”. The impeachment resolution cited Trump’s speech to supporters on Jan. 6 that was followed by some of the crowd breaching the Capitol building to interrupt Congress’s certification of the 2020 election results as his “incitement of insurrection.” On top of that, the president’s repeated claims of voter fraud in the election, as well as insistence to “find enough votes” to overturn the state’s presidential election results, were also mentioned. (Bernama)

Nancy Pelosi signs article of impeachment
Nancy Pelosi signs the article of impeachment against President Donald Trump (Source: 9News)