Boost for Bayan Lepas: Global biz hub for Penang


Hi-tech facility aims at rejuvenating economy in Bayan Lepas

 

An artist’s impression of the proposed GBS By The Sea project in Bayan Lepas.

Penang Development Corporation (PDC) general manager Datuk Rosli Jaafar said the RM200mil project dubbed ‘GBS By The Sea’ would be part of a rejuvenation exercise for the Bayan Lepas industrial area.Hi-tech facility aims at rejuvenating economy in Bayan Lepas

“The project, which will be located beside the Motorola factory, will also be used as a catalyst to rejuvenate the economy.

“Under the first phase, 2.7ha of space will be developed and will feature a nine-storey seafont building which will house the Multimedia Super Corridor Malaysia Cybercentre,” he said after announcing the project in Komtar on Tuesday.

Rosli added that there would be a multi-storey 2,500-bay car park complex, retail and F&B outlets, and also an integrated centre for IT and R&D activities.

“The futuristic hub will also have a central meeting place for people to meet up.

“It will also harness natural sunlight as lighting, making it an environment-friendly development.

“When completed in 2020, the project will create some 3,000 jobs,” he said.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who was present, said the project would provide higher value jobs in the manufacturing industry through expansion and diversification of the GBS business.

“Penang aims to be part of the Industry 4.0 Transformation, which revolves around big data analytics, e-commerce, crowdsourcing, cloud computing and the Internet of Things.

“GBS By The Sea is expected to attract many key international players into the state,” he said.

Lim added that according to a study by Outsourcing Malaysia, the country’s GBS sector is expected to see a compounded annual growth rate of 10% to 15% over the next three years.

Global biz hub for Penang 

 

\Part of the buildings to be built at the GBS centre.

PENANG has identified a 72.8ha site in Bayan Lepas to be turned into a Global Business Services (GBS) centre.

Penang Development Corporation (PDC) general manager Datuk Rosli Jaafar said the RM200mil project dubbed ‘GBS By The Sea’ would be part of a rejuvenation exercise for the Bayan Lepas industrial area.

“The project, which will be located beside the Motorola factory, will also be used as a catalyst to rejuvenate the economy.

“Under the first phase, 2.7ha of space will be developed and will feature a nine-storey seafont building which will house the Multimedia Super Corridor Malaysia Cybercentre,” he said after announcing the project in Komtar on Tuesday.

Rosli added that there would be a multi-storey 2,500-bay car park complex, retail and F&B outlets, and also an integrated centre for IT and R&D activities.

“The futuristic hub will also have a central meeting place for people to meet up.

“It will also harness natural sunlight as lighting, making it an environment-friendly development.

“When completed in 2020, the project will create some 3,000 jobs,” he said.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who was present, said the project would provide higher value jobs in the manufacturing industry through expansion and diversification of the GBS business.

“Penang aims to be part of the Industry 4.0 Transformation, which revolves around big data analytics, e-commerce, crowdsourcing, cloud computing and the Internet of Things.

“GBS By The Sea is expected to attract many key international players into the state,” he said.

Lim added that according to a study by Outsourcing Malaysia, the country’s GBS sector is expected to see a compounded annual growth rate of 10% to 15% over the next three years.

Also present were Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon, investPenang general manager Loo Lee Lian and other state exco members.

Penang homes priced beyond reach of most youths 

 

More than 90% of respondents surveyed hope to own property but only half believe that it is possible.

THE majority of youths in Penang have no choice but to rent due to high property prices.

Most (73.2%) are staying in a property owned by a family member or a relative and many (93.7%) are hoping to own a house within the next five years.

These are some of the findings of an opinion poll carried out by the state government on a sample group of 606 youths, aged 18 to 29.

Penang Institute senior analyst Yeong Pey Jung (pic) said an overwhelming 90.2% of respondents found it difficult to purchase property in Penang while 43.4% revealed that it was not difficult to rent a property here.

“In looking at the responses on perception towards property prices, 91.8% found prices in Penang to be considerably expensive while 69.3% are of the opinion that affordable housing in Penang is not affordable.

“If we look into the 24 to 29 age group, who have a higher purchasing power, 81.7% conclude that affordable housing is unaffordable. This is a phenomenon observed throughout Malaysia especially in urban areas,” she told a press conference on the outcome of the Penang youth survey in Komtar on Tuesday.

Yeong added that more than 90% of respondents hoped to own property but only half of them believe that it is possible.

“The telephone survey, which was conducted in February this year, was to find out how Penang youths feel towards social, economic and political concerns.”

The survey also showed that over 70% of youths involved in community projects were not interested in taking up leadership roles.

They also expressed a general disinterest in politics.

In terms of health, more than half of youths engaged in regular exercise.

About 56.4% found difficulty in gaining employment, a sentiment shared by their peers and immediate social circle.

Penang Youth and Sports, Women, Family and Community Development Committee chairman Chong Eng said the survey was an initiative towards the Penang Youth Development Blueprint.

“The blueprint will be inclusive and function as a guide to encourage social upward mobility and enhance the youths’ development socially, economically and politically.”

The next phase is to conduct a focus group discussion and in-depth interviews with all sectors of the youth community.

Sources: The Star/ANN



Related articles

Forum: Vital role for Penang in growing the GBS sector  http://www.thestar.com.my/metro/community/2016/10/01/forum-vital-role-for-penang-in-growing-the-gbs-sector/

Related posts:

Rejuvenating George Town, Penang

Penang has confirmed the illegal hill clearing cases reported by Penang Forum

The Death of the iPhone


 

When I first predicted the “death of the iPhone” in January 2016, most people just laughed.

But when Apple reported its first-ever decline in iPhone sales just three months later, many began to quiet down and listen.

Now, even Tim Cook is recognizing the slowdown, after posting a surprise sales decline in second-quarter earnings this week.

According to Apple’s own CEO:

“We’re seeing what we believe to be a pause in purchases on iPhone.”

Cook has his own theories, but he’s missing the bigger picture. Apple has failed to innovate, and it’s costing the company a fortune.

Many are banking on the iPhone 8, but the truth is even it won’t stand up to what’s coming next::

Simply put, the age of the iPhone is coming to an end…

And the age of augmented and virtual reality is just around the corner.

For investors, that means a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity you don’t want to miss.

 

Good Investing,
Stutman sig

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) needs strong finishing


Biggest seizure: A case that caught the attention of the nation was the seizure of cash, jewellery and other expensive items from the homes of two former top Sabah Water Department officials in October last year.

ONE need not go far to see how effective the Government can be when dealing with highly problematic issues involving people who blatantly do not comply with the rules.

After the National Higher Education Fund Corp (PTPTN) issued a warning to loan defaulters that they would be blacklisted and may not be able to travel abroad, the repayment of their loans increased. There is almost a 300% jump in withdrawals from the Employees Provident Fund’s (EPF) account for education purposes – rising from RM578mil in 2015 to RM1.48bil last year.

According to officials from the EPF, the bulk of the money withdrawn has been channelled toward the repayment of loans owed to PTPTN.

Clearly, the prospects of being blacklisted – a record that will remain forever – and the possibility of being stopped at the airport before leaving overseas for a holiday are reasons enough for them to repay their loans.

The lackadaisical attitude of those who have taken student loans is just another sign of apathy. The former students who are now young working adults know very well that they have an obligation to repay the loans.

However, they do not bother to do so until measures are put in place to hit them hard where it matters.

On a larger scale, corruption is a big problem in Malaysia. It is a major problem that has reached a state where most companies set aside a certain amount to “grease” key people to get jobs.

Everybody knows the danger of getting caught but the practice continues. Towards this end, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has, in recent months, been on overdrive to nab those suspected of corrupt activities.

But has the message that the MACC means business been drilled down?

In South Korea, former president Park Geun-hye was detained on April 1 ahead of her trial. Prosecutors said the allegations against her were grave and the other suspects in the case, including her confidante Choi Soon-sil and Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong, have already been arrested.

In that country, it’s clear that corruption will not be tolerated. Those being investigated will be put behind bars even before the trial starts.

In the last few months, a regular feature in newspapers is the string of high-profile personalities who have been arrested for allegations involving bribery or money laundering.

They include politicians, civil servants, heads of government-linked funds and businessmen. Those who solicit bribes and the parties that give the money or even facilitate bribery have been arrested and remanded.

Some of them have been charged before being let off on bail.

Pictures of the persons involved are all over the newspapers and social media. In some cases, names are mentioned.

The “shaming and naming” of the people hauled up and being investigated is damaging. It is the talk of the town – especially among the private-sector businessmen.

However, there are some reservations on whether the efforts by the MACC would pay off.

At the end of the day, what would matter is seeing how many get prosecuted successfully; how many are handed down custodial sentences.

And most importantly, the speed in which these cases are disposed of by the courts.

For now, most of these MACC cases are already being filed in court and some have been charged. But the trial proper is a process that is likely to take a long time.

And the danger is the momentum will slow down when there is no speedy end to the cases.

There is also the issue of managing perception when there are delays in the outcome.

For instance, two senior officials of the Federal Land development Authority (Felda) were charged with criminal breach of trust involving RM47.6mil for a sturgeon-breeding project in March this year. The offences were allegedly committed between January and July 2014. The hearing will probably start in a few months.

In the meantime, Felda continues to fight the battle to improve its perception on improving governance and returns on its investments.

The share price of Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd is a far cry from the valuations it fetched during its listing in 2012. The returns from the RM2bil that Felda has invested in Felda Investment Corp is nothing much to shout about.

One case that has caught the attention of the nation was the seizure of cash, jewellery and other expensive items from the homes of two former top Sabah Water Department officials in October last year.

According to reports, it took 30 MACC officers and 15 hours to count the cash of more than RM53mil that was seized.

The display of the stacks of bank notes seized from the homes is still an image that is popular on social media. The case, touted as the nation’s biggest corruption case involving RM61.4mil in cash and other assets, has been fixed for hearing in July and August this year. According to reports, some 200 witnesses will be called for the case.

When the case will be concluded is anyone’s guess. In the meantime, it leaves many wondering if the MACC would be successful in its efforts.

Corruption affects the country as a whole. It is estimated that there is a leakage of about 20% of the annual spending for projects and procurement. For instance, the Federal Government development expenditure for 2016 was about RM50bil and 20% is easily RM10bil.

Larger sums are budgeted for government agencies that are not part of the Federal Government balance sheet. This includes the likes of Mass Rapid Transit Corp Sdn Bhd that handles the rail infrastructure projects running into 10s of billions of ringgit. The government-linked companies are another set of entities with big budgets.

What the MACC needs now is a speedy end to such high-profile cases.

Whether the prosecution is successful or otherwise, a quick closure to such cases will help MACC instil public confidence in it. A strong finish to the investigations is much needed.

By M.Shanmugam The Star

Related posts:

  Sabah’s watergate scandal unfolds THE amount involved in Sabah’s watergate scandal is unbelievable. The Malaysian Anti-Corru…
Ministers may face conflict of interest, says Tunku Abdul Aziz: “If you have no power, you cannot abuse it. Civil servants hav…
https://youtu.be/M4urYR-7-8A   PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has launched an investigation into the …



Sitting in the lap of luxury: A Mercedes Benz belonging to one of the suspects    Five people, including two former

 

RM2bil recovered from audits The Government seldom receives dividends and whenever loans are given to these GLCs, they keep piling up&…



MACC deputy chief commissioner (prevention) Datuk Shamshun Baharin Mohd Jamil MACC reveals ‘worrying statistics’ KUALA LUMPUR…

 



International Anti-Corruption Day, Work with MACC to fight corruption, Malaysians urged

United against corruption for development, peace and security Aerial group photo of staff in Geneva simulating the Sustainable Developme…

https://youtu.be/01stOYgM9x0 It was a record haul by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission – RM114mil seized from two top officer…
Jabatan Air Negeri Sabah – http://malaysianlogo.blogspot.my/2014/06/jabatan-air-negeri-sabah-sabah.html KOTA KINABALU: Everywhere in Sab…

 

  Jabatan Air Negeri – Customer Service How the millions were stolen? 1. Contracts broken down to small packages of RM100,000 ea…
 
Water Corruption | SSWM http://www.sswm.info/content/water-corruption The Star Says: A crisis of integrity and a lesson to be learnt …

 

The Malaysian government can make further spending cuts if it reduces the size of its “bloated” civil service, an economist said. File pictu…

Malaysia world’s No.1 highest civil servants-to-population ratio! Its tenure of service legally vulnerable but notoriously difficult to dismiss!

Time to take fight against graft to the top, say group


Political parties should disclose all of their financing and expenditure, says Transparency International Malaysia.

“Political funding must be stated in the parties’ bank accounts and a properly audited account financial report must be published annually,” said its president Datuk Akhbar Satar.

“All ministers and top Govern­ment servants should also declare their assets to the Malay­sian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), and the chief commissioner should declare these to the Parliament,” he said.

Akhbar was commenting on the call by MACC for the Government to declare corruption and abuse of power as the country’s No. 1 enemy.

He said these declarations would be in line with the belief that “transparency and accountability begin at the top”.

“The public must also help MACC by reporting corrupt practices and cooperating in court,” he added.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar also supported MACC’s move.

“Such an honourable effort must be supported thoroughly,” he said. “The police always prioritise integrity and the war on corruption must be fought at all fronts.”

Asli Centre of Public Policy Studies chairman Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam said reforms in corruption laws were needed to ensure that MACC could “act without fear or favour”

“Our laws on corruption should be reviewed, revised and made up to date,” he said. “And follow best practices such as in countries like Denmark, Hong Kong and Singapore.”

The Government could set an example by making sure there was a cap on money politics, he added.

Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation senior vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said it was vital for the public to be proactive in helping MACC.

“MACC needs a free hand to take action in fighting corruption,” he said.

G25 member Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim said the best way to start would be to require all election candidates in the 14th general election to sign a pledge against corruption during the campaign.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Paul Low said the Government’s commitment to fight corruption was already there “but the journey to deal with the problem takes time”.

Source: Star/ANN By Razak Ahmad, Fatimah Zainal, Andmelanie Abrahamby

Related articles:

Declare corruption ‘public enemy No. 1’: MACC chief commissione    

 

Jamal goes to MACC with documents on Zuraida’s alleged wealth …

MACC: Twenty-four questioned over Mara Aussie property purchase …

Datuk Adam Rosly amassed so much wealth under scrutiny by corruption agency

Adam at the MACC office in Putrajaya today prior to his arrest by the anti-graft body. – BBX-Images Anti-graft investigators l…
  Sabah’s watergate scandal unfolds THE amount involved in Sabah’s watergate scandal is unbelievable. The Malaysian Anti-Corru…
Ministers may face conflict of interest, says Tunku Abdul Aziz: “If you have no power, you cannot abuse it. Civil servants hav…
https://youtu.be/M4urYR-7-8A   PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has launched an investigation into the …


Sitting in the lap of luxury: A Mercedes Benz belonging to one of the suspects    Five people, including two former

 

RM2bil recovered from audits The Government seldom receives dividends and whenever loans are given to these GLCs, they keep piling up&…



MACC deputy chief commissioner (prevention) Datuk Shamshun Baharin Mohd Jamil MACC reveals ‘worrying statistics’ KUALA LUMPUR…



International Anti-Corruption Day, Work with MACC to fight corruption, Malaysians urged

United against corruption for development, peace and security Aerial group photo of staff in Geneva simulating
the Sustainable Developme…

Good time to invest in property now


Better upside: (from left) Knight Frank Sdn Bhd international project marketing (residential) senior manager Dominic Heaton-Watson, Knight Frank Asia-Pacific research head Nicholas Holt, Sarkunan and capital markets executive director James Buckley at the event

KUALA LUMPUR: The slowdown in the local property market has bottomed out, with prices seen picking up later this year, according to property consultancy firm Knight Frank Sdn Bhd.

“We predict a stable rate in 2017 and we will possibly see better upside towards the end of the year or early next year,” Knight Frank managing director Sarkunan Subramaniam said.

“The market has had a few years of contraction and we feel that this year, what will clear up one of the major concerns of most investors is the political uncertainty,” he said at the launch of Knight Frank’s 2017 Wealth Report here yesterday.

According to the report, “political uncertainty” was among the top concerns of its respondents in Asia at 25%.

“We’re going to have elections possibly this year. Once they have cleared, there will be positive movement in the market and that’s why I feel now is a good time to buy property in Malaysia.

“Once the elections are out, the economy will generally start picking up and sentiments will improve. Capital will also start coming in,” he said.

According to the wealth report, potential fall in asset values was the highest concern among its Asian respondents at 30%, followed by rising taxes and tighter controls on capital movement at 28% and 27% respectively.

Going forward, Sarkunan said affordable homes would primarily drive the local property market.

“Affordable homes will still be a driver to an extent, but medium-to-high end properties will also pick up again. Also, when the mass rapid transit (MRT) lines come into the city, it will drive the commercial market there as well.

“We’ve had a lot of decentralisation push over the last 10 years and the MRT will bring office workers to the city.”

Sarkunan pointed out that locations with light rail transit (LRT) and MRT lines, such as Damansara Heights, have bucked the trend in terms of condominium values.

“Prices have actually increased compared with some of the other areas in Malaysia. Transport hubs or transport-orientated developments, such as Kota Damansara, have also seen improvements in prices.”

The Knight Frank 2017 Wealth Report tracks the value of luxury homes in 100 key locations worldwide, including 19 destinations from Asia Pacific.

According to the report, values rose globally by 1.4% on average last year, compared with 1.8% in 2015. Asia was the second best performing world region last year, with prices rising 5.1%.

Australasia was the strongest performing world region with prices rising 11.4% year-on-year.

Source: BY EUGENE MAHALINGAM The Star/ANN

Related articles:

Upside seen in property market

Shining landmark of prestige

Related posts:

Penang’s lively market

Here come the robots; your job is at risk


Here come the robots & they are going to take almost all of our jobs…

The new automation revolution is going to disrupt both industry and services, and developing countries need to rethink their development strategies.

A NEWS item caught my eye last week, that Uber has obtained permission in California to test two driverless cars, with human drivers inside to make corrections in case something goes wrong.

Presumably, if the tests go well, Uber will roll out a fleet of cars without drivers in that state. It is already doing that in other states in America.

In Malaysia, some cars can already do automatic parking. Is it a matter of time before Uber, taxis and personal vehicles will all be smart enough to bring us from A to B without our having to do anything ourselves?

But in this application of “artificial intelligence”, in which machines can have human cognitive functions built into them, what will happen to the taxi drivers? The owners of taxis and Uber may make more money but their drivers will most likely lose their jobs.

The driverless car is just one example of the technological revolution taking place that is going to drastically transform the world of work and living.

There is concern that the march of automation tied with digital technology will cause dislocation in many factories and offices, and eventually lead to mass unemployment.

This concern is becoming so pervasive that none other than Bill Gates recently proposed that companies using robots should have to pay taxes on the incomes attributed to the use of robotics, similar to the income tax that employees have to pay.

That proposal has caused an uproar, with mainstream economists like Lawrence Summers, a former United States treasury secretary, condemning it for putting brakes on technological advancement. One of them suggested that the first company to pay taxes for causing automation should be Microsoft.

However, the tax on robots idea is one response to growing fears that the automation revolution will cause uncontrollable disruption and increase the inequalities and job insecurities that have already spurred social and political upheaval in the West, leading to the anti-establishment votes for Brexit and Donald Trump.

Recent studies are showing that deepening use of automation will cause widespread disruption in many sectors and even whole economies. Worse, it is the developing countries that are estimated to lose the most, and this will exacerbate the already great global inequalities.

The risks of job automation to developing countries is estimated to range from 55 to 85%, according to a pioneering study in 2016 by Oxford University’s Martin School and Citi.

Major emerging economies will be at high risk, including China (77%) and India (69%). The risk for Malaysia is estimated at 65-70%. The developed OECD countries’ average risk is only 57%.

From the Oxford-Citi report, “The future is not what it used to be”, one gathers there are at least three reasons why the automation revolution will be particularly disruptive in developing countries.

First, there is “premature deindustrialisation” taking place as manufacturing is becoming less labour-intensive and many developing countries have reached the peak of their manufacturing jobs.

Second, recent developments in robotics and additive manufacturing will enable and could thus lead to relocation of foreign firms back to their home countries.

Seventy per cent of clients surveyed believe automation and 3D printing developments will encourage international companies to move their manufacturing close to home. China, Asean and Latin America have the most to lose from this relocation.

Thirdly, the impact of automation may be more disruptive for developing countries due to lower levels of consumer demand and limited social safety nets.

The report warns that developing countries may even have to rethink their overall development models as the old ones that were successful in generating growth in the past will not work anymore.

Instead of export-led manufacturing growth, developing countries will need to search for new growth models, said the report.

“Service-led growth constitutes one option, but many low-skill services are now becoming equally automatable.”

Another series of reports, by McKinsey Global Institute, found that 49% of present work activities can be automated with currently demonstrated technology, and this translates into US$15.8tril in wages and 1.1 billion jobs globally.

About 60% of all occupations could see 30% or more of their activities automated. But more reassuringly, an author of the report, James Manyika, says the changes will take decades.

Which jobs are most susceptible? The McKinsey study lists accommodations and food services as the most vulnerable sector in the US, followed by manufacturing and retail business.

In accommodations and food, 73% of activities workers perform can be automated, including preparing, cooking or serving food, cleaning food-preparation areas and collecting dirty dishes.

In manufacturing, 59% of all activities can be automated, including packaging, loading, welding and maintaining equipment.

For retailing, 53% of activities are automatable. They include stock management, maintaining sales records, gathering customer and product information, and accounting.

A technology specialist writer and consultant, Shelly Palmer, has also listed elite white-collar jobs that are at risk from robotic technologies.

These include middle managers, commodity salespeople, report writers, journalists, authors and announcers, accountants and bookkeepers, and doctors.

Certainly, the technological trend will improve productivity per worker that remains, and increase the profitability of companies that survive.

But there are adverse effects including loss of jobs and incomes for those who are replaced by the new technologies.

What can be done to slow down automation or at least to cope with its adverse effects?

The Bill Gates proposal to tax robots is one of the most radical. The tax could slow down the technological changes and the funds generated by the tax could be used to mitigate the social effects.

Other proposals, as expected, include training students and present employees to have the new skills needed to work in the new environment.

Overall, however, there is likely to be a significant net loss of employment, and the potential for social discontent is also going to be large.

As for the developing countries, there will have to be much thinking about the implications of the new technologies for their immediate and long-term economic prospects, and a major rethinking of economic and development strategies.

Global Trends by Martin Khor

Martin Khor (director@southcentre.org) is executive director of the South Centre. The views expressed here are entirely his own.
Related posts:


Call on the Government to downsize the country’s bloated civil service

Ministers may face conflict of interest,
says Tunku Abdul Aziz:  “If you have no power, you cannot abuse it.
Civil servants hav…

Fintech – disruptive technology 

China tops global fintech rankings

Rich Gen-Y kids making their own success


SINGAPORE: One of Rachel Lau’s strongest childhood memories is the smell of newspaper. Her father, driving her to school each day in Kuala Lumpur, would make his sleepy daughter open the paper, go through stock quotes and do mental math.

“He would be, like, How did KLK do today? OK, if it’s up four sen and I’ve got 89,000 shares, how much did I make?” Lau recalled. The daily ritual continued through her teenage years. Her father Lau Boon Ann built his fortune in real estate and by investing in companies like Top Glove Corp Bhd, which became the world’s biggest rubber-glove maker.

Some days, he would stand in front of an empty lot with his young daughter and challenge her to imagine a building there rather than watching the chickens running around.

Lau, now 31, is one of the three millennial co-founders of RHL Ventures, along with Raja Hamzah Abidin, 29, son of prominent Malaysian politician and businessman Datuk Seri Utama Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin and Lionel Leong, also 29, the son of property tycoon Tan Sri Leong Hoy Kum.

They set up RHL using the wealth of their families with a plan to attract outside capital and build the firm into South-East Asia’s leading independent investment group.

“We look at South-East Asia and there is no brand that stands out – there is no KKR, there is no Fidelity,” Lau said. “Eventually we want to be a fund house with multiple products. Venture capital is going to be our first step.”

RHL has backed two startups since its debut last year. One is Singapore-based Perx, which has morphed from a retail rewards app to provide corporate clients with data and analysis on consumer behaviour. Lau is a member of Perx’s board, whose chairman is Facebook Inc co-founder Eduardo Saverin.

In January, the firm invested an undisclosed amount in Sidestep, a Los Angeles-based startup that’s also backed by pop-music artists Beyonce and Adele. Sidestep is an app that allows fans to buy concert memorabilia online and either have it shipped to their home or collect it at the show without having to wait in line.

“RHL guys are really smart investors who are taking their family offices to a new play,” said Trevor Thomas who co-founded Cross Culture Ventures – a backer of Sidestep, together with former Lady Gaga manager Troy Carter. “What attracted the founders of Sidestep to RHL was their deep network in South-East Asia.”

A lot of startup founders in the United States want to access the Asian market, said Thomas, but they often overlook the huge South-East Asian markets and only focus on China. “Rachel and the team did a great job of explaining the value of that vision and providing really great access to early-stage US companies,” he said.

In South-East Asia, RHL has positioned itself between early-stage venture capitalists and large institutional investors such as Temasek Holdings Pte. Hamzah said they want to fill a gap in the region for the subsequent rounds of funding – series B, C and D. “We want to play in that space because you get to cherry pick,” he said.

RHL’s strategy is to take a chunk of equity and a board seat in a startup that has earned its stripes operationally for at least a year, and see the company through to an initial public offering.

Summer camp

RHL’s partners represent a new generation of wealthy Asians who are breaking away from the traditional family business to make their own mark. They include billionaire palm-oil tycoon Kuok Khoon Hong’s son Kuok Meng Ru, whose BandLab Technologies is building a music business.

RHL’s story begins in 2003 at a summer camp in Melbourne. During a month of activities such as horse riding and playing the stock market, Lau struck up a friendship with Hamzah, unaware that their parents knew each other well.

Their paths crossed again in London, Sydney, New York and Hong Kong as they went to college and forged careers in finance – Lau at NN Investment Partners and Heitman Investment Management, where she currently helps manage a US$4bil equity fund; and Hamzah at Goldman Sachs Asset Management and Guoco Management Co. Together with their mutual childhood friend Leong, the trio would joke about all returning to Malaysia one day to start a business together.

That day came in 2015 when Hamzah called up Lau in Hong Kong and said: “Yo! I’ve moved back. When are you coming back? You haven’t lied to me for 15 years, have you?”

They decided their common trait was investing.

Hamzah shares Lau’s passion for spotting mispriced assets by analysing valuations. Lau says she trawls through 100-page prospectuses for fun and values strong free cash flow – the cash a company generates from its operations after capital expenditures. Leong helped structure debt products at Hong Leong Investment Bank before joining his family’s real-estate business to learn about allocating capital to strategic projects.

In February 2016, they started RHL Ventures – an acronym for Rachel, Hamzah, Lionel – with their own money. When their families found out about the plan, they were eager to jump in, said Lau. Now they aim to raise US$100mil more from outside investors.

The partners have roped in their family and hedge-fund experts as advisers. “We recognise that we are young and still learning,” Lau said. “There is no point pretending otherwise.”

Leong’s father runs Mah Sing Group, Malaysia’s largest non-government-linked property developer. Hamzah’s father, chairman of mechanical and electrical business Rasma Corp, is a former Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Minister. Top Glove chairman Tan Sri Lim Wee Chai is also an adviser, in place of Lau’s father, who died in 2008.

The other two advisers are Marlon Sanchez, Deutsche Bank’s head of global prime finance distribution in Asia-Pacific, and Francesco Barrai, senior vice-president at DE Shaw, a hedge fund with more than US$40bil in investment capital.

RHL added a fourth partner last month, John Ng Pangilinan, a grandson of billionaire property tycoon Ng Teng Fong, who built Far East Organisation Pte and Sino Group.

Ng, 37, has founded some 10 ventures, including Makan Bus, a service that allows tourists to explore off-the-beaten-track eateries in Singapore.

As well as their family fortunes, the four partners bring experience of upbringings in dynasties that valued hard work, tradition and dedication.

Ng recalls his grandfather, Singapore’s richest man when he died in 2010, would always visit a property he was interested in buying with his wife.

After driving around the area, they would sit on a bench and observe it from a distance. Then they would return to the same spot after dark.

“He said to us, ‘What you see during the day can look very different at night,’” Ng said.

Hamzah, whose great-grandfather Mustapha Albakri was the first chairman of Malaysia’s Election Commission, remembers his father’s lessons in frugality – one time in London he refused to buy a £2 (US$2.50) umbrella when it started raining as they had plenty of umbrellas at home.

Leong, scion of Mah Sing Group, grew up listening to tales of how his family business overcame tough times by consolidating and reinventing itself from its roots as a plastic trader. “It made me realise that we have to be focused,” he said.

“So with every deal we do, we have to put in that same energy and tenacity.”

Lau was a competitive gymnast as a child but quit the sport when she failed to win gold at a championship event.

“It’s one thing I regret. In hindsight, I don’t think I should have given up,” said Lau. “The ultimate champion is the person who doesn’t give up.”

One old habit however remains. When Lau picks up a newspaper, she goes straight to the business section. “It’s still the only thing I read,” she said. – Bloomberg/The Star by Yoolim Yee

Related stories:

Fostering innovation: Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah (centre) witnessing the ceremony for the establishment of the Islamic venture capital fund between Jamaludin (2nd from left) and Amir. Looking on are Mavcap chairman Abdul Rahim Hamid (left) and Elixir Capital adviser Tan Sri Datuk Dr Abdul Samad Alias.

Mavcap aims to set up RM2bil investment funds

Venture capitalists invest US$56b in start-ups
Chua: ‘The Government recognises the important role of the VC industry as a source of financing to emerging high-growth companiesMalaysian venture capital attracts RM7.2bil in 2015
Malaysia Venture and Gobi to focus on S-E Asia with new fund
Signs of bubble in mobile Internet start-ups



Related posts:
Lofty targets: (From left) Sin Chew Media Corporation’s Eugene Wong, co-founder and chairman Dr Wong Jeh Shyan and Yong speaking to
t…

Venture scheme accelerates growth of start-ups 

%d bloggers like this: