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Sunday, July 3, 2022

Global chip shortage shifts consumer attention to Malaysian used car industry

A waiting list of three to six months has become a common complaint among new-car buyers not just in Malaysia, but globally. It is by no fault of the car manufacturers. The automotive and industrial sectors were among the hardest hit by the global chip shortage.

They are not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel yet as the semiconductors supply crunch is likely to last through 2023 and perhaps longer . Intel Corp, the world’s largest manufacturer by revenue of semiconductor chips, reported that the shortage is likely to continue until the end of 2024 due to a lack of manufacturing equipment.

The situation was further aggravated by the constant shutdowns of chip manufacturers during the Covid-19 pandemic, while any available supply was prioritised to consumer electronics. This eventually crippled the supply to carmakers and resulted in a growing backlog of orders for new cars. Several of the world’s biggest carmakers, including Volkswagen and Toyota, expressed that this remains a major problem for them.

Closer to home, the chip shortage in Malaysia created a ripple effect on the supply and demand chain in the automotive market. It negatively influenced the total industry volume (TIV) numbers and production output, which led to a price hike, a longer waiting period, and a delay in deliveries of new cars.

The Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) reported that the ongoing computer chip shortage and the supply chain disruption caused by the flood in December 2021 had affected TIV numbers in January 2022 . It may take a while before local production and supply return to normal . Moreover, MAA expects new car prices in Malaysia to increase due to the rising price of raw materials and logistic costs, which will amplify as the chip shortage persists .

These external factors delivered a domino effect to the automotive industry, which led to a longer waiting period and late deliveries for new vehicles. This impact was apparent when a local carmaker announced that orders placed after May 1 would only be delivered after July 1. The Sales and Service Tax (SST) exemption ending on June 30, 2022 may also result in higher car prices or a decline in the sales of new cars.

While local carmakers compete to ship vehicles to buyers and adjust to this disruptive phenomenon, consumers have been peeling their eyes looking for attractive alternatives. Furthermore, the used car market makes a strong contender with many shifting their demands to pre-owned cars as a viable and appealing option. As consumers seek alternatives to meet their needs and overcome this disruption, pre-owned cars became in demand and provided a boost for sales in the market.

Having seized this window of opportunity, used car dealers have enjoyed brisk business from January to May 2021, with sales increasing by more than 10% compared to the same period in 2020. Moreover, there are some 10 million active drivers in Malaysia, and the numbers are growing each year with first-time car buyers, half of whom opted for used cars, as reported by MAA. This is a testament to the high demand for pre-owned vehicles.

Furthermore, the surge in demand for pre-owned cars has led to growing opportunities for brands like Carsome to bridge the supply and demand gap for vehicles and address the need for private transportation ownership in Malaysia. Given the situation, brands in the used car market have also been ramping up initiatives to improve the quality of pre-owned cars while providing a better customer experience to ease the process of owning a vehicle with financing options.

While this serves as a stopgap solution in the dire state of supply and demand in the automotive industry, it is undeniable that this situation presents an opportunity for used car players to change the perception that pre-owned cars are not just “hand-me-downs” anymore.

This perception is further dispelled by key players in the used car industry that offer a thorough inspection process, with other added services to provide customers the peace of mind and convenience they need. For example, at Carsome Certified Lab, all cars have gone through a 175-point inspection process before they are selected to undergo many stages of refurbishment to become a Carsome Certified car. The journey to owning a pre-owned car is also made easier at Carsome PJ Automall, a newly launched Carsome Experience Center where customers can view, test drive a car, and explore financing options and car aesthetics services in one location for total convenience.

Regardless of the global chip shortage, used car players must continuously strengthen their offerings, and what better time to do that than now, when the demand for pre-owned cars is high. It must include quality-assured cars, extensive vehicle selection amid the rising demand, seamless transaction experience, and better customer service – to cement its market presence and consumer trust.

This vision, when practiced, not only drives the used car market forward while catering to consumers’ demand but also establishes a sustainable journey for pre-owned car brands within the industry itself. It ultimately indicates that the Malaysian automotive industry has the potential to contribute massively to the economy as a whole.

This article is contributed by Carsome Certified Malaysia country general manager Alan Cheah.



Source: The Sun Daily

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BCorp announces changes in boardroom

PETALING JAYA: Berjaya Corp Bhd (BCorp) has announced changes in its boardroom effective July 1, 2022.

The group has appointed two new non-independent non-executive directors to the board, namely Tunku Tun Aminah Sultan Ibrahim Ismail and Chryseis Tan Sheik Ling.

The group also saw the resignation of Datin Seri Sunita Mei-Lin Rajakumar and Datuk Hisham Othman as independent non-executive directors. Hisham has been appointed as the CEO and executive director of Berjaya Assets Bhd (BAssets) effective July 1, 2022.

“The new line-up and changes in the BCorp boardroom reflect a total of 14 members of the board of directors. Nine female directors representing 64% of female representation, far exceeding the 30% recommended under the Malaysian Code on Corporate Governance,“ BCorp said in a statement.

The new board of directors line-up:

1. Tan Sri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun – Non-independent non-executive chairman

2. Datuk Seri Robin Tan Yeong Ching – Non-independent non-executive deputy chairman

3. Vivienne Cheng Chi Fan – Executive director/ joint group CEO

4. Syed Ali Shahul Hameed – Executive director/ joint group CEO

5. Datuk Seri Zurainah Musa – Executive director

6. Nerine Tan Sheik Ping – Executive director

7. Tunku Tun Aminah Sultan Ibrahim Ismail – Non-independent non-executive director

8. Chryseis Tan Sheik Ling – Non-independent non-executive director

9. Datuk Robert Yong Kuen Loke – Senior independent non-executive director

10. Dr Jayanti Naidu G. Danasamy – Independent non-executive director

11. Penelope Gan Paik Ling – Independent non-executive director

12. Datuk Leong Kwei Chun nee Datuk Anne Eu – Independent non-executive director

13. Norlela Baharudin – Independent non-executive director

14. Tan Peng Lam – Independent non-executive director

Meanwhile, in another statement on Hisham’s appointment as BAssets CEO and executive director, BAssets said Hisham has extensive top management experience in various spheres of business such as strategy, investments, operations management, financial management, risk management, project management, quality, marketing & sales, business development, governance, compliance, and stakeholder management.

“Having been a CEO in various industries for many years, Hisham has valuable in-depth experience in the fields of property development, construction, highways, concessions, infrastructure, automotive, and transportation. He is familiar with the project management, design, construction, execution, completion and maintenance of projects.”

Hisham holds a Bachelor of Civil Engineering from the University of Western Australia and a Master of Business Administration from Universiti Putra Malaysia. He holds a Senior Management Certificate from Insead of France.

Hisham is a Qualified Risk Director and a Member of the Institute of Enterprise Risk Practitioners based in the UK. He is also a member of Malaysian Institute of Corporate Governance and Institute of Corporate Directors Malaysia.



Source: The Sun Daily

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US multinationals grapple with soaring dollar

Malay Mail

NEW YORK, July 3 — The rapid rise of the US dollar since the start of the year is a double-edged sword for American multinational companies, pushing some of them to decide whether to hedge or reposition their activities abroad to avoid fallout.

For an importer, the surge in the greenback against the euro, yen or British pound is a plus, because it makes the products they buy cheaper.

But for a US export company, products sold in dollars have become more expensive, which increases the risk of losing clients and seeing sales decline.

And they also lose money when converting foreign revenue back into to dollars.

Many firms already revised their earnings forecasts for the year to account for the changing exchange rate, including computing giant Microsoft, which warned its quarterly sales will fall by US$460 million (RM2.03 billion) and its net profit by US$250 million due to the currency hit.

Adobe, Salesforce, Biogen and Pfizer have all warned that the dollar’s rapid rise will have a greater impact on their accounts than expected.

US$40 billion hit

Companies that generate most of their revenue outside of the United States are the most exposed, starting with tech giants, medical equipment makers and service companies, according to Kyriba, a corporate cash management platform.

Kyriba estimates the currency effects could mean a US$40 billion hit to earnings of S&P 500 firms in the first half of the year.

The Federal Reserve’s decision to aggressively hike interest rates to combat rampant inflation, combined with an influx of funds into the country from investors looking for a safe haven in uncertain times, have combined to boost the US dollar.

The greenback has risen 13 per cent compared to the euro over the last 12 months, approaching parity, and gained 22 per cent against the yen.

“Short term, that’s a good thing for the United States because it means all the imports are cheaper and it puts downward pressure on inflation,” said Desmond Lachman of the American Enterprise Institute think tank.

But further out, the effect on the US economy is more nuanced, because if exports fall, “the United States trade deficit widens and then we get more external debt.”

But multinationals “don’t have control over these big items,” he explained.

They can, however, mitigate the effect of fluctuations in foreign currencies in which they price and invoice goods by adopting hedging strategies — using financial instruments that provide a kind of insurance against losses caused by the changing exchange rate.

Most corporations already have hedging programs in place, and they change their plans on a quarterly or even monthly basis, sometimes trying to predict currency movements, Kyriba’s Bob Stark said.

But it’s not an exact science, he noted, especially in a time of great uncertainty about the direction of inflation, interest rates and the possibility of a recession.

Changing countries to cut costs

But “since the start of the pandemic, CFOs have gotten very good at looking at multiple scenarios and building on them,” Stark said.

Sporting goods giant Nike, for instance, warned Monday that currency effects would cut annual revenue by several percentage points. But the profit hit is much lower because of the hedging.

The current high volatility in foreign exchange markets also means it costs more to hedge, so some firms are choosing not to use those instruments.

Among the other tools at their disposal, multinationals can reduce their exposure with other techniques, such as by paying their Japanese suppliers in dollars, by renegotiating prices, or even by buying their supplies from different countries.

Or they can simply wait for the US currency to weaken before repatriating their profits.

However, once the exchange rate has strengthened, there is limited room to manoeuvre, according to Nikolai Roussanov, a finance professor at the University of Pennsylvania — especially when prices are also rising because of supply chain issues and energy costs.

“If you try to react to something already happening, it might come to bite you later because some of these movements are quite transitory,” he told AFP. — AFP




Source: Malay Mail

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Argentine economy minister who renegotiated IMF debt resigns

Malay Mail

BUENOS AIRES, July 3 — Argentine economy minister Martin Guzman, who led debt renegotiations with the International Monetary Fund, announced his resignation Saturday, sparking fresh uncertainty in Latin America’s third largest economy.

Guzman did not say why he resigned in his statement addressing President Alberto Fernandez, but called on the centre-left leader to mend internal divisions so that “the next minister does not suffer” the same difficulties he did.

“It will be essential that you work on an agreement within the ruling coalition,” he added in the statement shared on Twitter.

His resignation comes two weeks after Vice President Cristina Kirchner, a former president who has been a constant critic of the government, gave a speech attacking Fernandez’s economic management.

Political analyst Carlos Fara told AFP that Guzman’s resignation was “a check mate for the president’s autonomy” and had given Kirchner the upper hand in their power struggle.

“The resignation will have a very bad effect in the markets. Even if the president and vice president reach a consensus on managing the economy, from now on everything will be conditioned by Cristina Kirchner’s pressure.”

As economy minister, the 39-year-old Guzman was tasked with renegotiating a US$44 billion (RM194 billion) debt with the IMF that Argentina insisted it could not afford to repay.

The original debt of US$57 billion — the last tranche of which Fernandez declined after succeeding his liberal predecessor Mauricio Macri, who had solicited the loan — was the largest ever issued by the IMF.

Despite resistance from Kirchner, Guzman managed to agree a deal and save Argentina from defaulting.

But Guzman was often faced with hostility from the Peronist Justicialist Party, the major force in the Frente de Todos (Everyone’s Front) ruling coalition that counts both Fernandez and Kirchner as high-profile members.

Kirchner’s faction has gone after Guzman ever since Everyone’s Front lost control of the senate during last year’s midterm legislative elections.

The IMF deal was only ratified by parliament thanks to support from the centre-right opposition, as a group of legislators in the ruling coalition led by the vice president’s son Maximo Kirchner boycotted the vote.

‘Growth crisis’

Guzman said whoever replaces him will need “centralised management of the necessary macroeconomic political instruments to consolidate the progress made and face the challenges ahead.”

While agricultural powerhouse Argentina has the third largest economy in Latin America, it has been in economic crisis for years, with inflation of more than 60 per cent in the last 12 months.

The country was already struggling with rising poverty, unemployment and a depreciating currency before the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated matters.

Earlier this week, Fernandez admitted the country was facing “a growth crisis” due to a shortage of foreign exchange.

The IMF deal included provisions to contain inflation and reduce the budget deficit from 3 per cent in 2021 to parity by 2025.

Guzman’s detractors within the ruling coalition hit out at him over perceived excessive zeal in tackling the budget deficit and his monetary policy.

He complained several times that these criticisms sent worrying signs to already jittery markets, making his job ever harder.

In a recent report, the Eurasia Group political risk consultancy said the internal divisions would not be resolved any time soon.

“Infighting within the administration will continue to worsen, further hurting the administration’s ability to develop a coherent policy plan,” said Eurasia.

Although he did not reveal what his next post would be, Guzman said he would “continue working and striving for a fairer, freer and sovereign homeland.”

Fernandez has yet to comment on the resignation of Guzman, who is one of his closest allies. — AFP




Source: Malay Mail

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Tesla deliveries fall with temporary closure of China factory

Malay Mail

NEW YORK, July 3 — Tesla’s deliveries of electric vehicles fell in the second quarter compared to the previous one due mainly to a weeks-long closure of its factory in China, the company said Saturday.

Elon Musk’s enterprise delivered 254,695 vehicles from April to June, it said in a statement.

That’s 27 per cent more than the same period a year ago but down 18 per cent from the January-to-March quarter of 2022 and the first such decline in more than two years.

This marks a disappointment for a company that says it is posting strong growth, touting the opening of two new factories this year, in Germany and Texas.

The drop in deliveries was bigger than that anticipated by analysts, who had expected 264,000 vehicles to be handed over to buyers, according to FactSet, a financial data and software company.

Tesla warned in April that supply chain snarls hitting the auto industry in general would keep disrupting the company’s production until the end of the year.

Still, it delivered a record number of cars in the first quarter of 2022.

But in the second quarter Tesla had to grapple with the closure of its Shanghai factory for several weeks because of strict lockdown measures in China due to a surge in Covid-19 cases.

In its statement Saturday the company said it produced 258,000 vehicles in the second quarter “despite ongoing supply chain challenges and factory shutdowns beyond our control.”

It also said June was the highest vehicle production month in Tesla’s history.

Elsewhere in the industry, General Motors and Toyota saw their second quarter sales in the United States drop by 15 per cent and 23 per cent respectively, compared to the same period in 2021. — AFP




Source: Malay Mail

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Hundreds of flights axed as US kicks off long holiday weekend

Malay Mail

WASHINGTON, July 3 — Airlines cancelled several hundred US flights Saturday at the start of a long and almost certainly messy holiday travel weekend as carriers struggled to staff their planes.

As of mid-day, with Americans gearing up for July 4 Independence Day celebrations, some 600 flights within, into or out of the United States had been cancelled and more than 2,500 were delayed, according to flight tracking service flightaware.com.

The numbers on Friday were awful as well, with 587 US flights scrapped among a global total of 3,060 cancellations, the site said.

For days, amid a surge in travel as summer rolls in and people sick of cooped up pandemic life look to go places again, horror stories have abounded as travellers got stranded at airports, enduring odysseys to get where they are going.

The airline industry was devastated in the early stages of the pandemic as people stayed close to home.

And although federal Covid-19 relief spared airlines from laying off staff, tens of thousands of workers left the industry after carriers urged early retirements.

Today’s industry has about 15 per cent less staff compared with the pre-pandemic period to handle about 90 per cent of pre-2020 passenger volume, analysts at Third Bridge consultancy estimated.

The travel chaos has drawn scrutiny from Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and others in Washington.

On Saturday Buttigieg put out a series of tweets that were essentially consumer tips on what to do if one’s flight is cancelled, like whether to accept travel points or miles as compensation or demand a cash refund.

“You can often negotiate on this. That’s between you and the airline,” Buttigieg wrote.

Delta pilots walked informational picket lines at several airports Thursday to demand a new contract and complain of overwork, among other gripes.

“Quite frankly, it’s irresponsible scheduling, over scheduling. Coming out of the pandemic, we’re scheduling more flights than we have people to fly them,” Delta pilots association union leader Jason Ambrosi told CNN on Saturday.

“The pilots are getting fatigued, quite honestly,” Ambrosi said. They do not want to strand travellers or crew members, he said, “but it’s a safety issue.”

Pilots are the most acute issue in a broad airline industry labour crunch, said Third Bridge analyst Peter McNally.

“There’s no short-term fix,” McNally told AFP. “The issue becomes most pronounced during these seasonal peaks.”

Airlines say they’re working to address the situation, recruiting pilots and other staff and trimming summer seat capacity by 15 per cent.

While acknowledging the pilot supply problem, airline industry officials point to other exacerbating factors, including turbulent weather, increased staff absences due to Covid and insufficient personnel at flight traffic control at some sites. — AFP




Source: Malay Mail

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Saturday, July 2, 2022

The 8 Best Things to Buy in July — and 5 to Avoid

Friends eating outdoors at a picnic table in a back yard
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Editor's Note: This story comes from partner site DealNews.com. July might seem like it has a single good shopping day — July 4th — but you can actually find great deals all month long! Whether you need outdoor gear to celebrate the second half of summer, want to scoop up Prime Day deals, or you’re ready to dive into early Back to School sales, July has it all! Check out our guide to see what to...



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Google to pay US$90m in settlement with app developers

Malay Mail

NEW YORK, July 1 — Google will fund a US$90-million settlement to small app developers who had alleged the technology giant abused its market position, according to statements seen by AFP today.

The funds are expected to result in payments of US$200,000 or more to some developers among the 48,000 in a class action lawsuit, according to the plaintiffs' attorney, Hagens Berman.

The case centered on charges that Google violated antitrust laws with its Google Play app store, alleging the technology giant maintained a monopoly in the US market on its Android smartphone system that penalised developers.

The settlement will cover developers with annual Google Play earnings of US$2 million or less between 2016 and 2021.

In addition, Google agreed to allow developers to pay a 15 per cent service fee on the first US$1 million in annual revenues, down from the prior 30 per cent.

Other measures will highlight apps from independent developers and make it easier to use these alternatives within the Android ecosystem.

Wilson White, a Google vice president for government affairs, said he was pleased with the agreement.

"As the agreement notes, we remain confident in our arguments and case, but this settlement will avoid protracted and unnecessary litigation with developers, whom we see as vital partners in the Android ecosystem," White said.

Hagens Berman, which had secured a US$100-million settlement from Apple in 2020 in a similar case, hailed the agreement as an example of holding Big Tech to account.

"Today, nearly 48,000 hardworking app developers are receiving the just payment they deserve for their work product — something Google sought to profit from, hand over fist," said Steve Berman, co-founder of the firm. — AFP




Source: Malay Mail

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20% of Older People Believe This, and It Could Ruin Their Retirement

Young woman and older woman chatting on a couch.
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A large portion of baby boomers and Generation X — the two age cohorts currently approaching or entering retirement — share a mistaken belief that could wreck their golden years. About 20% of Generation Xers and 15% of baby boomers think a professional financial adviser would suggest withdrawing 10% to 15% a year from a portfolio during retirement, according to a recent survey of more than 2...



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Wall St begins second-half with losses on growth worries

7 Reasons You Should Not Buy Life Insurance

Happy older couple
stockfour / Shutterstock.com

Dropping life insurance coverage may seem risky, but there are times when it makes good financial sense. The main purpose of life insurance is to support dependents when you die. If others no longer rely on your income, the money you spend on premiums could be put to better use — perhaps spent on day-to-day living expenses or saved for retirement. If you keep a policy that you no longer need, you’...



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When Inflation Meets Stagnation and What to Do About It

Worried young couple
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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on NewRetirement. First, before reading this article, know that there are solutions to every economic problem – at both the personal and macro-economic levels. So, even as stagflation looms, it doesn’t mean that you’ll never be able to retire or run out of money if you do. But, being forewarned is being fair armed. And stagflation is a possible future...



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