7 October 2019: Exchange 106 is SEA’s tallest building; Khazanah not selling PLUS

Exchange 106 dethrones Twin Towers as Malaysia’s tallest building
South-east Asia’s tallest building, standing at 492m, is now ready for occupation. With its completion, the Exchange 106 skyscraper has officially dethroned the Petronas Twin Towers, at 452m, as the tallest in Malaysia. The new tower also dethroned the region’s previous champion, Vietnam’s completed Landmark 81 project, which is 469.5m tall. The Exchange 106 office block is located in the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) and is owned by Indonesian developer Mulia Property Development, while TRX is owned by the Ministry of Finance. But Exchange 106 is expected to soon lose its bragging rights as the tallest because not far from where it stands in Kuala Lumpur, builders are busy completing the 500m high Merdeka PNB 118. It is being developed by Malaysia’s national equity fund Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) and is expected to be ready by next year. (The Star Online)

Khazanah has no intention to sell PLUS, says MD
Khazanah Nasional Bhd, the majority shareholder of PLUS Malaysia Bhd, has affirmed that it is not going to sell its strategic asset to any party. Managing director Datuk Shahril Riza Ridzuan said the group had rejected all takeover offers it received from local and foreign private entities for the country’s largest highway operator so far. He added that these parties were also offering to buy PLUS at a much lower price than its real value. Khazanah owns 51% interest in PLUS while the remaining is owned by EPF, following a takeover exercise in 2011 with a transaction value of RM32 billion. “If PLUS is making profits, it goes back to the government through Khazanah, or to the Malaysians via EPF,” he said. (The Edge Markets)

PEPS: Remove 5% RPGT for property disposal from 6th year
The Association of Valuers, Property Managers, Estate Agents and Property Consultants in the Private Sector Malaysia (PEPS) is urging the government to review the current Real Estate Property Gains Tax (RPGT), so it can have a positive impact towards stimulating the country’s housing market. In its Budget 2020 wish list, the association said property ownership from the 6th year onwards should no longer be deemed as speculative investment, hence the 5% RPGT on such property ownership among individual Malaysians or permanent residents should be withdrawn. (The Edge)

Bank Islam Malaysia expects an expansionary Budget 2020
Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd (BIMB) expects Budget 2020 to be an expansionary and strategised towards boosting economic growth while continuing capacity building efforts, particularly in important sectors. The sectors include electrical and electronic, machinery and equipment, chemical and chemical products, aerospace, medical devices and tourism, said BIMB chief executive officer, Mohd Muazzam Mohamed. However, he noted that strategising an expansionary budget is a challenging task, given the current global economic uncertainties such as the protracted US-China trade war, the “no-deal” Brexit issue and other geopolitical tensions. (Malay Mail)

98-day maternity leave proposed
The Human Resources Ministry is proposing an increase in the number of maternity leave days from 60 to 98 for the private sector. “Employers are to bear the cost of maternity allowance for 19 days while the remaining 19 days are unpaid leave, ” the ministry suggested. At present, employers are only “encouraged” to comply with a Budget 2018 announcement to raise the maternity leave for the private sector to 90 days. In the public service, women are entitled to 90 days of maternity leave. “In addition, it is proposed that employers cannot terminate a pregnant employee unless employers can prove the termination is not because of pregnancy, ” it said. According to the ministry, paternity leave of three days will also be introduced in the proposed amendments to the Employment Act. Currently, fathers in the private sector are not legally entitled to any paternity leave, while fathers in the public sector are given seven days of paid paternity leave. (The Star Online)

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