Headlines:
  1. Foreign companies keen to acquire stake in Malaysia Airlines
  2. RAM expects local banks to be resilient against headwinds in 2019
  3. Confusion mounts as Thailand’s election results delayed
  4. China and India to be among top contributors to global adspend
  5. SOPA 2019 Journalism Awards Attract Over 800 Entries From Asia
Foreign companies keen to acquire stake in Malaysia Airlines Chairman of the Council of Eminent Persons Tun Daim Zainuddin said foreign companies, including from Europe, Asia and the Middle East, are keen to acquire a stake in Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB). He said they do not necessarily take over the whole company but may hold only part of the national carrier’s interest that is currently 100 per cent owned by Khazanah Nasional Bhd. RAM expects local banks to be resilient against headwinds in 2019 RAM Ratings Services Bhd has maintained a stable outlook for the local banking sector this year, reflecting the industry’s sturdy fundamentals. RAM’s co-head of Financial Institution Ratings, Wong Yin Ching said while there were lingering headwinds, the rating’s agency anticipates banks to be able to sustain their performance this year. “Among the key expectations for the sector includes light moderation in loan growth to five per cent, credit cost to inch up from a low base, capital buffers to remain sturdy and ample liquidity, although competition for deposits would still be keen,” she said in a statement today. She added that the five per cent projected loan growth took into account the forecast for a slight moderation in gross domestic product (GDP) growth and the latest findings of the RAM business confidence index. “The indices are at their lowest levels since inception two years ago, albeit still above the threshold that indicates positive sentiment.” She added that despite revenue pressure, the eight anchor banking groups still managed to lift their aggregate pre-tax profit, excluding exceptional or non-recurring items by a commendable six per cent in 2018 due to lower impairment charges and strong cost discipline. “The banks’ average pre-tax returns on asset (ROA) have remained stable at 1.4 per cent. Looking ahead, continued loan growth and ongoing cost control will mitigate the impact of margin compression and incremental credit costs. “While technology/digital spending will be stepped up, this will be done at a measured pace. As such, RAM expects banks’ pre-tax ROA to remain largely resilient in 2019, albeit with a mild downward bias,” Lee said. Confusion mounts as Thailand’s election results delayed The outcome of Thailand’s elections was still unclear today with no party taking a decisive lead. The elections are the first since the military took power in a coup in 2014, and are widely considered to be a contest between the pro-military bloc that wants junta leader Prayut Chan-o-cha to remain in power and pro-democracy forces fighting to restore democracy to the country. It appeared the pro-military party Palang Pracharat was neck and neck with the main opposition Pheu Thai Party, which is aligned with ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The Election Commission said with 95% of the vote counted, Pheu Thai won 137 out of 350 seats. The pro-military party Palang Pracharat took 97 seats. Parties are still waiting to hear how many party list lawmakers they will get — 150 are up for grabs in the lower house and they could prove decisive in who wins a majority. China and India to be among top contributors to global adspend China and India are expected to be the second and third largest contributors to global ad spend growth between 2018 and 2021, adding US$16 billion and US$5 billion respectively, according to estimates from media agency Zenith. The latest edition of Zenith’s Advertising Expenditure Forecasts also predicted that stronger than anticipated internet advertising will grow total global adspend by 4.7% in 2019. The number has been revised from a previous prediction of 4%, made in an earlier edition of the report in December 2018. Forecasts for 2020 and 2021 put the growth rate at 4.6% for both years as opposed to a previous estimate of 4,2% and 41%. Internet advertising is expected to hit US$329bn in 2021, accounting for 49% of all global adspend. The growth in internet advertising will be led by online video and social media at 13%, even as paid search and classifieds grow at the lower rate of 7%. Zenith’s head of forecasting and director of global intelligence Jonathan Barnard said: “Internet advertising will exceed a quarter of a trillion dollars for the first time this year. The speed of internet adspend growth continues to surprise us, as small businesses and digital challengers provoke established brands to up their game.” SOPA 2019 Journalism Awards Attract Over 800 Entries From Asia The Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA) today announced that media organisations across Asia have submitted more than eight hundred entries in English and Chinese for the SOPA 2019 Awards for Editorial Excellence. For the second year running SOPA award entries have topped eight hundred, reflecting how the awards are now widely recognised as a world-class benchmark for best practices in journalism in Asia Pacific. The finalists will be announced in early May. The SOPA 2019 Awards will see media compete in 17 categories including the SOPA Award for Public Service Journalism, Excellence in Business Reporting and Excellence in Feature Writing.