May 25, 2017: Axiata Digital, the digital services arm of telecommunications corporation Axiata Group Berhad, has led a $23-million Series B round in Melbourne-based mobile advertising startup Unlockd.
The round also included follow-on investments from existing strategic and early-stage investors, and a new investor in the form of Australia-based Alium Capital Management.
According to Internet DealBook, a database tracking company investments, Unlockd’s Series B capital raise is this year’s second highest for an Australian technology company. Data compiled by Crunchbase indicates that the tech firm’s aggregate funding now amounts to $39 million across three rounds, following a $12 million Series A round in April 2016 and a $4 million seed round in April 2015.
Proceeds from this latest investment will fund Unlockd’s expansion into new markets and sectors and its operational growth globally.
As part of a strategic partnership with Axiata, the tech firm will have direct access to the former’s carrier businesses and local knowledge and key talent in the region, which will be overseen by Unlockd’s most recent hire, COO Aliza Knox.
Unlockd said in a statement that the move will accelerate its entry into Asia by leveraging Axiata’s carrier list, which has a presence across ten countries, including mobile operations in key markets of Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, India and Singapore.
“Axiata Digital’s strategic and financial support provides us with an expedited pathway into one of the fastest growing smartphone regions in the world. Being able to secure agreements with their operating companies to roll out in key markets sooner than previously planned also means we could raise less capital than we originally anticipated,” said Matt Berriman, CEO and co-founder of Unlockd.
The Asia Pacific is a key growth area for Unlockd, with GSMA estimating there are currently more than 2.5 billion unique mobile subscribers, with a forecast of 3.1 billion by 2020 and a penetration rate of 74 per cent. This strong growth will be concentrated in emerging markets such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, China, India and Vietnam.
The last few quarters have seen Unlockd enter markets through partners with firms such as Sprint Telecom subsidiary Boost Mobile, Tesco Mobile, Digicel Group and Etisalat, granting it exposure to the US, UK, Caribbean and the UAE.
Unlockd’s second product vertical, Unlockd Stream, launched in 2017 with MTV and provides an ad and content funded platform for premium subscription content providers. Mohd Khairil Abdullah, CEO of Axiata Digital, said, “Unlockd’s technology will bolster our continued leadership position in the market across our mobile business and help lower acquisition cost, increase ARPU, and minimise customer churn.”
“For our customers, Unlockd’s unique value exchange offer will reward them for viewing ads and content on their mobile devices. It will allow our customers to have more credit to stay in touch with friends, family, and their peers,” he added.
PETALING JAYA: Local funds and developers are turning to the Australian commercial property market to ride on the boom Down Under and cushion the earnings fallout from the depressed local property market.
The move by Malaysian investors were also due to property overhang, demand drop and moderating rental yields for commercial properties in the country.
They are said to be pouring in billions in Australia's property development and snapping up projects in the last two years. Investors from China are also riding on the Australian boom.
The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) recently acquired a 49% stake in Yarra Park City Pty Ltd (YPC), which owns the rights to a mixed-use development worth over RM9 billion in Melbourne for RM514 million.
According to a Malaysian Reserve report, OSK Property Holdings Bhd, a subsidiary of PJ Development Bhd, owns the remaining 51% interest in YPC. The company is expected to hold the preview for its Melbourne project soon.
The Melbourne Square development of a mixed-use community and retail centre would have a gross development value of RM9.4 billion, it added.
Property consulting firm Knight Frank Malaysia Managing Director Sarkunan Subramaniam said these are strategic overseas ventures to get better returns.
"Grade-A offices overseas, especially in Melbourne, provide better yields compared to similar offices in Malaysia," the Reserve quoted Sarkunan as saying. "It just makes sense for local companies to leverage on these gains while the properties there command a high asset value."
Colliers International Group Inc, in its "Metro Office Research & Forecast Report" for the first-half of 2017, said the effective rents in the key metro office markets of Sydney and Melbourne are "growing at an unprecedented rate".
"For some years now, the central business district (CBD) office markets of Sydney and Melbourne have been diverging from the rest of the country, creating an unprecedented story in both markets," the report said.
HANOI: It was billed as the world’s biggest trade deal, a feather in the cap of globalisation advocates that promised to re-write the rules for 21st century commerce.
But the Trans-Pacific Partnership was tossed into disarray in January after President Donald Trump pulled the US from the pact, branding the deal a “job killer”.
On Sunday the 11 other signatory nations vowed to revive the deal, leaving the door open for the return of the world’s biggest economy.
Here are some key questions about the pact and its prospects.
What is the TPP?
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is one of the most ambitious free trade pacts ever negotiated.
Initially, it brought together 12 Pacific Ocean economies — the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
Before the abrupt exit of the deal’s largest partner — the United States — the signatories accounted for a whopping 40 percent of the global economy.
Under former US president Barack Obama it was sold to American allies as a unique opportunity to seize the initiative on worldwide trade — and ensure China does not get to dictate global terms of commerce.
Supporters said it would scrap barriers to the free flow of goods, services and investment capital.
They also hailed the potential to ensure a level playing field for all firms, as well as protecting workers’ rights and the environment — breakthrough issues in emerging markets such as Vietnam.
Why did Trump junk it?
Scrapping the TPP was an oft-repeated Trump campaign promise, and the first major move on trade he took after taking office.
He called the deal a “rape” of American interests and blamed free trade pacts like the TPP on the loss of American jobs, though most experts agree automation is behind a decline in industrial work.
Trump trade officials have called for “fair” trade deals, vowing to plough efforts into bilateral trade pacts instead of multilateral deals, including with countries in Asia-Pacific.
So how can the deal survive?
Under the original terms of the TPP, the pact had to be ratified by six countries that account for a combined 85 percent of signatories’ GDP. With the US out of the deal, that is impossible to achieve.
But the remaining nations — the so-called TPP 11 — have options. They can change the clause outlining ratification rules to allow the deal to move ahead.
Yet some fear that tinkering with the terms of the pact after years of already gruelling negotiations, could re-open treacly issues between the countries.
– Can the US come back? –
Members have said the door remains open for the United States — and other countries like South Korea and Columbia which have expressed interest — to join.
While analysts say it is unlikely that Trump will return to the deal any time soon, the unpredictable leader has been known to reverse his position on previous pledges.
What’s in it for the TPP 11?
The TPP is called a “high quality” trade deal, meaning that it goes deeper than other free trade agreement in terms of terms of labour regulations, environmental rules, intellectual property protections and other requirements.
Without the TPP, there are no other “high quality” deals on the table for signatories.
Plus, even though the pact is seriously weakened without the huge US market, it does still allow smaller economies like Vietnam greater access to big economies such as Japan’s.
What does China think?
The TPP was seen as a mechanism to counter China’s economic clout.
And the world’s second largest economy is unlikely to welcome its revival.
But China also has its own trade pact — the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) — currently under negotiation.
That deal brings together the 10 Southeast Asian countries of ASEAN, as well as China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
Something of a mirror image to TPP, it does not include the US and is less ambitious on issues like employment and environmental protection.
Donald Trump has turned himself into a lame-dog president; for the time being at least, the United States is of no use to Australia or anyone else. The internal battles to unseat the usurper will occupy Washington politics for the next two years. And the US economy will continue to lag.
In the meantime, China will push to enhance what it regards as its natural sphere of influence: the South China Sea. But its ambitions extend further. It wants to dominate world trade and greater influence over international affairs. It is playing its cards carefully, but playing them nonetheless, particularly in Africa, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Duterte hosted and chaired the 30th ASEAN summit in Manila last month, the theme of which was a rules-based, people-oriented and centred ASEAN. In the chairman's statement, ASEAN leaders reaffirmed their commitment to peaceful settlement of disputes and "full respect for legal and diplomatic processes", including respect for international laws. However, apparently after pressure from China, the chairman dropped the affirmation of respect from the section on the South China Sea.
Existing guidelines for hotline communication were endorsed while a "code for unplanned encounters at sea" will soon become operational.
The activities of Islamic extremists remain a problem within ASEAN, in particular Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Weeks before ASEAN ministers were due to meet in Panglao on the island of Bohol, Abu Sayyaf militants attacked local police. To safeguard ministers, delegates and officials, the Philippines deployed 26,000 police and soldiers.
It is this security issue, together with tackling issues associated with poverty, that should be exercising the minds of Australian policymakers. Several months ago, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said returning Islamic State fighters from the Middle East, perhaps up to 600, would try to strengthen the militant Islamic presence in southern Philippines and, as part of the process, establish a "caliphate". The leader of Filipino terror group Abu Sayyaf recently declared himself an emir.
These militants will not enter the Philippines through airports. They will travel to the southern Philippine island of Mindanao by boat from Malaysia or Indonesia. Indonesia's immigration spokesman, Agung Sampurno, said recently that checkpoints at Miangas and Marore Island were unable to effectively screen seaborne movements between Sulawesi and Mindanao.
Bishop is right to be concerned and Australia's intelligence agencies have been working with their counterparts in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines to address the threat. However, more is required. Border protection is more than bullying and terrorising asylum seekers. The best way for Australia to protect its border is through regional cooperation and that should be done through joint naval patrols. Australia has taken part in such arrangements in the Gulf.
At present, Australia deploys vessels in the region for a variety of tasks, including naval exercises and showing the flag.
Some express squeamishness at the prospect of cooperating with Duterte in light of his poor human rights record. Any such relationship might not last long. He is said to have pancreatic cancer and, in light of that, to be grooming his daughter to succeed him. She is mayor of Davao City, Duturte's old powerbase.
To be even-handed, that squeamishness might extend to Malaysia and its corrupt political system, and to Indonesia as it buckles to Islamic extremism. As flawed as some of our neighbours may be, that should not override our national self-interest, nor allow us to overlook our own poor human rights record with respect to asylum seekers and corruption in our own institutions.
I propose a permanent Australian patrolling presence in the region, undertaken with the Indonesian, Malaysian, Filipino and Singaporean navies and rotating the home ports among those countries. Greater and more aggressive naval patrols should aim to deter the flow of arms and fighters between the targeted countries.
By engaging in regional maritime security, Australia would also signall a broader and deeper interest in the region, no bad thing in the absence of US leadership.
KUALA LUMPUR (Nikkei Markets) -- Malaysia's Sime Darby, the world's largest palm oil producer by acreage, Tuesday announced the sale of its vehicle distribution business in Australia and New Zealand, yet another step as the conglomerate restructures its sprawling operations.
The buyers, Inchcape Australia and Rick Armstrong Motor Group in New Zealand, will take over the business that distributes Peugeot, Citroen and DS vehicles in the two countries effective June 1. Apart from the brands under French car maker Groupe PSA, Sime Darby Motors also represents other names ranging from Nissan to Ferrari in the two markets.
Sime Darby said in a statement that the decision to divest the Australasian distribution businesses was reached after "careful consideration" and was in line with its strategy to "focus on the expansion of its retail car and commercial truck footprints on both sides of the Tasman."
Sime Darby Motors is involved in the retail, distribution and assembly businesses and has a presence in 10 countries across the Asia Pacific. The company represents 30 brands, ranging from luxury names such as BMW and Rolls-Royce to mass-market marques such as Hyundai.
Analysts said Tuesday's deal would allow Sime Darby to sharpen its focus in the competitive automotive business. The unit's profit before tax slumped 25% in the 2015 fiscal year that ended June 30 and rose less than 6% in the most recent fiscal year.
Sime Darby wants "a more focused business strategy that they are working on rather than be exposed to every part" of the automotive market, said CIMB Investment Bank Analyst Ivy Ng.
The contribution to Sime Darby from the PSA business in Australia and New Zealand is "very minimal," said Chye Wen Fei, an analyst at Hong Leong Investment Bank. "For a big entity like Sime Darby, it doesn't quite make sense to pay so much attention to a smaller one."
The Malaysian conglomerate is in the midst of restructuring its operations that range from plantations to healthcare. That could lead to the creation of three separate listed entities housing its plantation, property, and trading and logistics businesses.
Before announcing the restructuring in January, the company sold some industrial assets in Australia and properties in Singapore, as well as part of its stake in property developer Eastern & Oriental last year.
Sime Darby's mainstay plantation business accounted for more than a quarter of its total revenue of over $10 billion in the fiscal year 2016 while property development made up 7%. Those two businesses could be listed by the end of 2017 or in early 2018.
Shares of Sime Darby ended flat at 9.33 ringgit ($2.16) on Tuesday, in line with the benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI.
--Jason Ng and Alexander Winifred
--Nikkei Markets is a real-time financial news service for South East Asia's markets published by Nikkei NewsRise Asia Pte Ltd, a Nikkei and NewsRise joint venture company. Nikkei Markets provides wide companies coverage in the region, including the Nikkei's Asia300 companies.
SYDNEY: Australian newspaper publisher Fairfax Media Ltd on Monday said it has received a revised A$2.76 billion (US$2.04 billion) cash offer led by US private equity firm TPG Capital Management for all of the company.
The offer from TPG and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board (OTPP) values Fairfax at A$1.20 a share, and compares with a previous proposal to buy the company’s top mastheads, including The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian Financial Review, and its property listings unit Domain for A$0.95 a share.
That would have left investors with scrip exposure to the publisher’s radio division, regional and New Zealand titles, a stake in an online television streaming start-up and its debt. The TPG consortium valued those assets at A$0.25 to A$0.30 a share, but Evans & Partners analysts said that was “optimistic”.
The latest offer represents a 12% premium to Fairfax’s A$1.07 closing price on Friday.
The media group said it was reviewing the indicative proposal from TPG and OTPP, which is subject to conditions including due diligence access, a shareholder vote and foreign investment approvals.
“Fairfax shareholders do not need to take any action in response to the revised indicative proposal and the Fairfax board will update shareholders when it has been fully assessed,” the company said.
If accepted, the offer would end Fairfax’s much anticipated plan to unlock shareholder value by spinning off its lucrative property listings unit, Domain, the most valuable part of the business after a collapse of earnings at news mastheads.
A TPG spokesman was not available for immediate comment.
More than half of the businesses in Malaysia believe that the business environment will worsen in the next twelve months, according to a new business sentiment survey conducted by Monash University Malaysia and CPA Australia.
When recently unveiling the key findings from the Malaysian Business Sentiment Survey 2016/2017, Monash University's Professor Mahendhiran Nair, vice president (Research & Development) and Professor Pervaiz Ahmed, deputy head of School (Research), said these fears stemmed largely from a "volatile past year with dampened global demand, Brexit, protectionist policies under the Trump administration, as well as the US withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership."
However, the study also noted that despite a 'restrained business environment and in an election year, the spirit of the local business community remained optimistic with 58 percent confident or somewhat confident about their business prospects. This optimism is partly due to increased infrastructure investment and increased domestic consumption, boosted by the various corridor development programmes [including the Digital Economy drive] under the 11th Malaysia Plan and the 2017 Budget."
"The Survey looked at the challenges Malaysian businesses face, and the options they are considering to navigate the complex dynamics being played out in their immediate environments," said Prof Pervaiz.
The topmost challenge was the increasing cost of doing business, which has impacted the bottom-line of local firms, he said. The second major issue was the weakening Malaysian currency, which has severely impacted those firms dependent on imported goods for their production process.
Prof Nair explained that the study set out to probe the current opinions, voice and feelings of the country's business leaders. "The Malaysian Business Sentiment Survey helps measure confidence of local business leaders across key macro-economic areas and provides them a platform to voice their sentiments and estimations about the business environment in Malaysia, and its impact on their global competitiveness."
The Malaysian Business Sentiment Survey 2016/2017 consisted of three (3) phases: Phase 1 was a scoping and content analysis of information from press releases, media reports, and commentaries from stakeholders; Phase 2 involved face-to-face in-depth interviews with CEOS and senior managers; and Phase 3 was an online survey with 194 randomly selected CEOs and senior managers across a wide spectrum of industries.
Build global competitive advantage
"Events of the past year have been unprecedented and global markets have been extremely unstable," he added. "The survey has gauged the mood of the Malaysian business community and examined their apprehensions about today's volatile economy. Another objective of the survey was to enable policy-makers, industry bodies and other key stakeholders to adopt pro-active measures to improve the business environment and help local businesses build global competitive advantage."
Specific highlights from the survey include:
54 percent of businesses identified cost management as their prime strategic/investment priority over the next 12 months, followed by seeking new markets (48 percent), developing business relationships (34 percent), and new product development (30 percent) and marketing and branding activities (25 percent).
49 percent are of the view that there is a balance: both more opportunities and more threats now compared to 3 years ago.
More than one third of respondents (39 percent) informed that the government remains an important buyer of their products.
70 percent of the CEOs and senior managers responded that to stay competitive, the most important ability to cultivate is the ability to proactively manage the business using strategic foresight and thinking.
60 percent of the respondents reported that their sales priority over the next 12 months will be to concentrate on existing products/services, while at the same time explore new markets
CEOs and senior managers said that to be competitive, businesses needed to "embrace the digital economy and Industry 4.0; which will enable them to extend their reach for talent, resources, market intelligence, networks and markets." [Also see - Why Malaysian companies must expand into ASEAN's US$48 billion pie: MDEC exclusive]
The top digital technology identified by respondents was mobile technologies for customer engagement (63 percent), followed by the Internet of Things, and data mining and analysis tools (53 percent).
The respondents also said CEOs and senior managers also noted that it was important for universities to nurture talent, which would help firms to build innovative capacity, process improvement and product development.
They said that the top three primary focus areas of universities should be to enhance graduate employability (63 percent), to ensure that R&D initiatives meet the needs of industry (61 percent) and to develop training programs that are relevant and beneficial to the industry (59 percent). They also believed that "creative, highly articulate, and self-motivated graduates are important for enhancing the innovative capacity of firms in a competitive global economy."
Prof Nair added: "Monash Malaysia continues to work closely with businesses and industries. We recognise the importance of right-skilling graduates to improve their employability quotient and to enable them to succeed amidst the current uncertainties. We will continue to intensify the "quadruple-helix" produce graduates that can power the next wave of progress for Malaysia."
CANBERRA: Malaysia and Australia will share intelligence information to tackle immigration issues that are of mutual benefit, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
Ahmad Zahid, who is also Home Minister, said such sharing of information would enable both countries to respond speedily if there was a need to do so.
“We will share intelligence information on illegal immigrants in Australia who used Malaysia as a transit point. This information will be very useful for follow-up action,” he told Bernama here yesterday.
Earlier, he had paid a courtesy call on Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at Parliament House here.
While there, Ahmad Zahid also received courtesy calls from his Australian counterpart Barnaby Joyce; Australia’s Immigration and Border Security Minister, Peter Dutton; Jusice Minister Michael Keenan and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
Ahmad Zahid said Australia expressed its concern over illegal immigrants using Malaysia as a transit point before entering Australia.
“The second matter discussed was that we want to arrive at an action plan to resolve this problem at the source country, we do not want the country concerned to wash its hands off (in tackling the issue),” Ahmad Zahid said.
He said the third point of agreement in his meeting with the Australian leaders was the proposal to hold an international conference on immigrants in the effort to resolve the issue at the global level.
“UK (United Kingdom) had previously proposed the conference so that the countries involved can take part and resolve the problem,” he said.
He said Malaysia and Australia had agreed and supported the conference to be held in UK to find a more concrete solution to the issue.
On his meeting with the Australian prime minister, Ahmad Zahid said Turnbull also touched on deradicalisation, counter-terrorism and cross-border crimes.
Turnbull also expressed the need to share information on policies implemented by Malaysia, Ahmad Zahid said
Ahmad Zahid arrived here on Sunday night for a three-day working visit to further enhance the already close ties between Malaysia and Australia with focus on security, fighting terrorism and cross-border crimes.
At noon yesterday, he met Malaysian students studying in Canberra.
Today, Ahmad Zahid will leave for Sydney to meet the Governor of New South Wales, David Hurley.
He will also visit the Australian Border Force College there followed by a dinner with Malaysian students in Sydney before returning to Kuala Lumpur. — Bernama
PUTRAJAYA: Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi begins his working visit to Australia today, at the invitation of Australian Immigration and Border Protection Minister, Peter Dutton.
It is Zahid's first working visit to the nation since assuming office in July 2015.
In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said Zahid, whose visit ends on May 10, will be accompanied by Deputy Home Minister Datuk Masir Kujat and senior government officials from relevant ministries.
In Canberra, the Deputy Prime Minister is expected to pay a courtesy call on Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull and Minister for Justice, Michael Keenan.
Zahid will then move on to Sydney, where his itinerary includes paying a courtesy call on New South Wales Governor, David Hurley, visiting the Australian Border Force College, and meeting Malaysian students.
The working visit will focus on further strengthening bilateral relations on matters related to security, counter-terrorism, and transnational crimes.
Zahid will also exchange views with Australian leaders on regional and international issues of mutual interest.
In 2016, total trade between Malaysia and Australia amounted to US$10.2 billion (RM42.35 billion).
From Jan to Feb this year, total trade increased by 38 per cent to US$1.98 billion (RM8.84 billion) compared to the same period last year.
Malaysia’s investments in Australia stand at RM1.02 billion, while Australia’s investments in Malaysia amount to RM812.58 million for the period of Jan to Sep 2016.
MIRI: All courses offered by Curtin University in Perth, Australia and its international campuses in Malaysia and Singapore benefit from the input of industry experts in their development and delivery.
Curtin Malaysia in a statement said combining theory with practical that incorporate relevant industry placements resulted in industry-linked courses that take students beyond the classroom into the real working world.
Thus ensuring quality education and research relevant to industry needs and development are features looked for in the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU).
Curtin is ranked in the top two per cent of universities worldwide in the ARWU, and positioned 211th in the world and 10th in Australia in 2016.
At Curtin Malaysia, industry input is garnered through Industry Advisory Committees (IAC) comprising representatives of relevant industries at each of its faculties.
The campus’ Faculty of Engineering and Science recently held the first meeting of its Environmental Engineering IAC for the year to review and seek feedback on its Environmental Engineering programme.
It was attended by IAC members Ir Brian Chong Sin Hian who is senior director of Chemsain Konsultant; Dr Tie Yiu Liong, managing director of Ecosol Consultancy; Ir AK Woo, managing director of Master Jaya Environmental; Mohamed Nasir Wan Idrus, director of Bamboo Bio Composites; and Marina Michael, environmental manager of Sarawak Shell Berhad.
Also attending was Professor Ir Lau Hieng Ho, Dean of Curtin Malaysia’s Faculty of Engineering and Science; Environmental Engineering programme coordinator Dr John Lau Sie Yon and other members of the Environmental Engineering programme team.
During the meeting, Dr John Lau briefed the IAC on the latest development at the Faculty of Engineering and Science besides its Environmental Engineering programme.
According to Dr Lau, the Environmental Engineering programme team is honoured to engage in dialogue with the industry experts who gave pertinent feedback on aspects of the programme such as its curriculum, objectives and outcomes.
Such formal engagement enables more practical and solid industrial collaboration, the meetings opportunities for academics and industry
experts to discuss the latest development in education and industry.
After the meeting, the IAC members toured Curtin Malaysia’s new RM20 million Faculty of Engineering and Science building which houses modern laboratories and lecture theatres for shared delivery of classroom instruction and discussions between the Australian and Malaysian campuses via live video link.
Curtin’s Environmental Engineering programme commenced in 2015.
The course structure integrates fundamentals from three majors: Chemical Engineering, Civil and Construction Engineering and Environmental Sciences.
Its graduates will enjoy good employment prospects as the demand for environmental engineers is growing rapidly throughout the world.
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