Tuesday, August 11, 2009

On A Clear Day, I Can See Forever

My blog has mostly been about a lot of bashing and flaming, in particular when major institutions do not execute or plan well. A diversion for now, which I hope will be more frequent in the future, are two major developments worth noting:


KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 11 — CME Group Inc, the world’s largest derivatives exchange, will develop a US dollar crude palm oil (CPO) futures contract using settlement prices of Malaysia’s ringgit contracts for trading on CME Globex. CME will work with stock exchange operator Bursa Malaysia to offer the cash-settled futures contract in the United States aimed at globalising the Malaysian CPO futures market, a statement from the two companies said.

The two parties will also explore trade matching services, product licensing and minor cross-equity investments in a partnership still subject to regulatory approval. The Chicago-based exchange operator said the proposed partnership will increase its presence in Asia and expand its transaction processing business opportunities. Specific terms of the partnership will be announced later, the two exchanges said in a statement. Bursa has introduced a dollar-based palm oil contract. — Reuters

Comments: The FUPO was a start and fizzled just as many had expected (including this blog), but looking further ahead, the instrument was needed as a negotiating point to get CME to launch a similar US-dollar based contract as well. Getting it on CME is no guarantee of success, but will be the best platform for getting things right. Volume and liquidity will need to start on CME side before getting similar activity on FUPO during Malaysian trading time. It has a decent chance for success now as being on CME would at least lure the arbitrageurs. The fact that there is a corresponding ringgit based contract makes for good arb opportunity. Volume begats volume, soon I hope to see FUPO trading just as active as the ringgit based contract. The major local palm oil players have a role to play (which they haven't been doing so far) - all have been sitting back pooh-poohing the FUPO and just putting through contracts through the ringgit side. You as the major CPO players have a big role to play, you have to lead, try funneling 25% of all hedging / selling activity through FUPO because in the end its you fuckers who will benefit. Having a USD contract for futures will negate a lot of currency hedging required as you people still borrow extensively in USD. You cannot just sit back and say to Bursa "let's see what you can do". You know very well you will be the major players in any CPO based contracts - unless you think this is not going to help shore up your business strategy and options (which means you are plainly stupid to think so when there is a government body helping you indirectly to better sell, better hedge and better market your product).


KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 11 — Malaysia’s central bank has directed a sweeping overhaul in the board of directors of the country’s largest banking group Maybank, in an unprecedented government censure on a board of a financial institution. The little-publicised revamp followed government displeasure at the controversial acquisition of an Indonesian lender by Malayan Banking (Maybank) last year, officials say. Bank Internasional Indonesia (BII) was bought from a consortium led by Singapore’s Temasek Holdings at a price that was deemed too high.

Prime Minister Najib Razak, who directed Bank Negara to review the transaction, has endorsed the central bank’s decision calling for a Maybank board revamp, the government officials say.

“The decision was also made that the board revamp will be carried out in stages and directors who are retiring won’t be re-elected to the board,” said a senior government official who was involved in top-level discussions on Maybank’s Indonesian venture.

Maybank’s main shareholders are national equity fund Permodalan Nasional and pension fund Employees Provident Fund. Bank Negara declined comment for this article, citing its policy of not discussing issues involving individual financial institutions. Maybank executives, including its chief executive officer Abdul Wahid Omar, also declined repeated requests for comment for this article. But the bank did announce the retirement of two directors and the appointment of three new members mid-last month. Between end-October last year, when the acquisition of BII was completed, and this March, three directors have resigned.

“This is part of the reforms that the PM is pushing for and it will raise the sense of greater accountability in the boards of government-linked companies,” said a senior adviser to Najib who is familiar with the central bank’s decision on Maybank.

In March last year, Maybank entered into an agreement to buy a 55 per cent interest in BII from Sorak Financial Holdings, which is majority-owned by Singapore’s Temasek Holdings. The Malaysian bank agreed to pay US$1.5 billion (RM5.3 billion) for the stake and then make a tender offer for the remaining 44 per cent for roughly US$1.2 billion. But the global financial meltdown raised questions over the health of banks in general and reignited criticisms that Maybank was paying too high a price for BII. Maybank’s position was further undermined when Indonesia introduced changes to its corporate takeover rules, which called on the Malaysian financial institution to sell down 20 per cent of its holdings in BII within two years of its takeover.

Bankers close to Maybank had argued that the disposal was surely to lead to massive losses. Faced with the prospect that the deal could adversely hit Maybank and the Malaysian banking system, Bank Negara had revoked its approval for the BII acquisition. The approval was later reinstated. The deal was finalised after the Temasek-led consortium lowered the purchase price for the transaction by US$220.5 million for the 55 per cent interest in BII. In Bank Negara’s review, which was completed in April this year, it concluded that Maybank’s purchase price for BII was too expensive. The central bank also concluded that the Malaysian financial institution did not put in place adequate measures to protect itself in the event that the deal encountered problems, the government officials said. — The Straits Times

Views: The article is so succinct and clear, I don't really have to add anything. Interested readers can search this blog for my previous postings on Maybank and BII.

p/s photos: Lee Ji Ah

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