Archive for July 2015

Impact of Indonesia’s new export tax neutral: CIMB

KUALA LUMPUR: CIMB Investment Bank is neutral on the impact of the new Indonesian export tax on the earnings of local planters as at the current price level of crude palm oil (CPO), the landings will not be significant.

"We keep to our neutral rating on the sector and prefer Genting Plantations Bhd and First Resources Ltd for their exposure to the sector," said CIMB senior analyst Ivy Ng in her latest note to investors.

"Our analysis revealed that the new export tax is lower than the old export tax, mainly to reflect the new export levy on palm products that range from US$10-US$50 per tonne," she said.

Indonesia had, two days ago, issued a regulation changed the way export taxes are calculated for crude palm oil and other palm products.

The taxable bands are now expressed in US dollars rather than a percentage of the price.

"The tax revision is intended to help offset the costs exporters must pay alongside the new US$50 export levy that came into effect this month. This is to make it simpler," said Indonesia Finance Ministry head of the fiscal policy Suahasil Nazara.

Under the old system, CPO exports were subject to an escalating tax rate of between 7.5 per cent and 22.5 per cent, depending on how high prices went above US$750 per tonne.

Now, when palm oil prices exceed US$750, CPO exports are subject to a dollar tax rate running from US$3 to US$200 per tonne, as well as the US$50 levy on CPO.

This new export tax rate, is backdated to take effect from 16 July 2015 and this latest revision by Indonesia suggests that the government has lowered the export tax value," said Ng.

"We compare the new export tax rate combined with the recently introduced palm oil export levy against the previous export tax, and found that the effective tax value on exports paid by planters on CPO products, when the CPO price is below US$750 per tonne, is higher under the new tax structure on palm oil exports compared to the old export tax structure," she said.

"However, there are some export tax savings, when the CPO price exceeds US$750 per tonne," she added. Ng is keeping her 'Neutral' rating on the sector due to the unexciting near-term CPO price prospects.

Palm oil vitamin E set to be a big earner

KUALA LUMPUR: Vitamin E, the most valuable product along the palm oil supply chain, is set to be a big foreign revenue earner for Malaysia, said Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB).

Scientific studies show that tocotrienols can help lower the risk of stroke and possess anti-aging properties, said MPOB product development and advisory services director Rosidah Radzian.

Tocotrienols are a naturally occurring vitamin E nutrient in palm oil, Rosidah told reporters after a seminar titled 'Commercialising Downstream Business in Palm Food & Health' organised by Performance Management & Delivery Unit (PEMANDU) of Prime Minister's Department, held here yesterday.

Also present was Universiti Sains Malaysia professor Dr Yuen Kah Hay. He noted clinical studies have proven brain cells treated with tocotrienols were more likely to survive in the event of a stroke.

“If a person takes palm oil vitamin E as a supplement, it can prevent his brain cells from dying in the event of a stroke, and stimulate the reconstruction of blood vessels after,” said Yuen. 

Stroke is the number three killer in Malaysia after heart disease and cancer. Tocotrienols in palm oil can improve blood flow and boost cell regeneration. This discovery can make a difference to millions affected by stroke.

Last year, MPOB's Rosidah said the country exported 14,400kg of palm oil vitamin E, mainly to Europe, the US, Canada and Japan. A kilogramme of palm oil vitamin E sells for around US$400. 

"Although Malaysia is the biggest tocotrienol producer and exporter in the world, we need to invest more in scientific studies to give more evidence of the health benefits of palm oil vitamins A and E," said PEMANDU director of palm oil and rubber sectors Ku Kok Peng.

"So far, the government had extended some RM145.75 million in the last five years to study and commercialise nutritional and anti-ageing benefits of palm oil phytonutrients," he said.

Palm oil, packed with phytonutrients like carotene, tocotrienol, lycopene, co-enzyme Q10, and Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, can meet the 'beauty from within' trend in the multi-billion-ringgit business of health supplements and skincare products.

In the export market, palm oil vitamin E are mainly used in the health supplement and cosmetics, said KL-Kepong Oleo business development and planning director Lau Kwee Ying. 

Lau highlighted tocotrienol-enriched moisturiser are gaining popularity because human trials show tocotrienols very effective at protecting the skin from the damaging effects of over-exposure to ultraviolet (UV) sunrays.

When one walks out into the sun, skin cells exposed to UV-rays generate huge amount of superoxide radicals in our body, causing serious damage to surrounding cells. Pro-longed and extensive cell damage surface as wrinkles on the skin.

As more clinical studies are published, cosmetics giants all over the world are becoming more convinced to use tocotrienols in their lotion and sun blocs to slow down sun damage and reduce formation of freckles on our skin.

To raise awareness on the benefits of tocotrienols, the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, had since 2009, initiated the Palm International Nutra-Cosmeceutical Conference (PINC). This year, some 200 health and wellness professionals is set to gather at the two-day industry meet here next week.

Doctors and pharmacists can do a good job in advising their patients on palm oil vitamin E since they are seen as opinion leaders in the health field. Among key exhibitors at PINC is Davos Life Science, the world's largest palm oil vitamin E producer, capable of churning out 100,000kg per year. 

Davos Life Science, a unit of Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd, was previously operating in Singapore in a smaller plant. In 2012, it invested RM65 million in the next-generation nutraceutical plant in Westport, Klang.

Danone gives up Dumex China for larger Mengniu stake

This is written by Daryl Loo and Annie Lee of Bloomberg

Beijing: Danone plans to sell the Dumex Chinese infant formula brand to a unit of China Mengniu Dairy Co. amid a downturn in demand for locally-made baby-food in that market.

Danone has agreed to sell Dumex to Yashili International Holdings Ltd., and will use the proceeds from the sale to take up more shares in Mengniu, a state-linked milk producer, the two Chinese companies said in a combined statement yesterday. 

The Paris-based food company separately said it took an impairment charge of 398 million euros (US$437 million) as it revised Dumex’s sales prospects lower.

The infant formula industry “is not a very attractive business to be in right now,” said Robin Yuen, an analyst at RHB OSK Securities Hong Kong Ltd. “It is not doing well and there’s too much competition. Mengniu can run the business better than Danone can in China, due to their distribution network.”

The deal would allow Danone to tap into a company whose revenue almost doubled in the past five years. It would also turn Mengniu into one of China’s largest baby milk powder sellers, in a market that Euromonitor forecast will be worth 122.1 billion yuan (or US$20 billion) in 2015. 

Danone expects to boost its 9.9 per cent stake in Mengniu by about 2 percentage points, chief financial officer Cecile Cabanis said in a telephone call with reporters from Paris.

Chinese consumers are increasingly buying foreign-made infant formula from online sites amid concern about the safety of locally-produced baby food after past food scares. Demand for foreign-made formula from China contributed to a double-digit percentage increase in Danone’s sales in Europe, the company said yesterday.

Danone, the world’s biggest yogurt maker, also said first-half adjusted operating profit rose 17 per cent, meeting analysts’ estimates, as second-quarter like-for-like sales gained 4.6 per cent, exceeding the 4.3 per cent average estimate.

Shares of Danone fell 0.7 per cent to 61.74 euros at 9:04am in Paris. Yashili shares rose 2.6 per cent to HK$2.33 in Hong Kong trading, while Mengniu climbed 0.3 per cent.

China’s infant milk formula industry “has long passed its prime moment when brands could make good profits easily,” and industry consolidation is expected, Morgan Stanley analysts led by Dustin Wei wrote in a July 15 report.

China’s 2008 to 2014 “mini baby boom” has ended because of lower numbers of women of childbearing age, and the Chinese’s decreasing or delayed willingness to have children despite the government’s easing of its one-child policy. 

The fertility rate rose to 1.67 in 2013 from 1.63 in 2008 per Chinese woman, according to the latest available World Bank data.

Yashili and Beingmate Baby and Child Food Co. are expected to be market consolidators, even as e-commerce emerges as a sales channel allowing strong brands to win share, Morgan Stanley analysts wrote. They estimate a 6-8 per cent growth in the industry this year before dropping to 2-4 per cent in 2017-2018.

Danone had a 8.1 per cent market share in 2014, behind Nestle SA’s 13.4 per cent and Mead Johnson Nutrition Co.’s 10.1 per cent, according to Euromonitor. Mengniu is ranked eighth with 4.1 per cent.

Guangzhou, China-based Biostime International Holdings Inc. said Thursday first-half profit will probably plunge 36 per cent as it discounted older versions of infant formula to make way for new products.

This latest move is a follow through of a shift in strategy for Danone, giving up attempts to go it alone with Dumex in the world’s most populous country after a 2013 food scare hit sales and dented group profits.

In October 2014, Danone bought a 25 per cent in Yashili, after agreeing to pay HK$4.39 billion to Mengniu. As a result of the sale, Mengniu's grip on Yashili was pared down from 68 per cent to 51 per cent.

Mengniu is controlled by state-owned Cofco Corp, China’s largest food company. In addition to infant formula, it produces yoghurt, liquid milk and ice cream. Two months ago, Mengniu had invited investment banks to submit proposals for a possible group restructuring.

Danone last year paid 486 million euros to raise its stake in Mengniu to 9.9 per cent from 4 per cent through a joint venture with the parent called Cofco Dairy Investments. The French company’s latest deal to boost its Mengniu stake to 12 per cent will also be through this joint venture, according to yesterday’s statement.

Bank of China keen to fund mega-projects​

KUALA LUMPUR: BANK of China (Malaysia) Bhd is keen to finance or be part of the syndicated financiers for infrastructural development projects such as the RM27 billion Penang Integrated Transport Masterplan, RM23 billion MRT Line 2 and the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high speed rail, says its chief executive officer Wang Hongwei.

"Like other commercial banks, we're here to support Malaysia's economic development," he told Business Times in an interview here, recently. 

As part of its commitment for China’s 'One Belt, One Road' initiative, Wang said extending loans for port development and logistic industry is also a priority.

"We've had several meetings with Beibu Gulf Holding (Hong Kong) Co. Ltd’s senior management to discuss financing the Kuantan port development project in Malaysia, including syndicated financing predicated on its track record in managing four ports in southern China, namely Fangchenggang Port, Qinzhou Port, Tieshan Port and Beihai Port."

In Malaysia, Beibu has a 38 per cent stake in a consortium that received a 30-year concession to operate and develop Kuantan Port with IJM Corp Bhd. This port is poised to serve as a catalyst for the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park. 

The bank has extended loans totalling RM1.4 billion to Malaysia's manufacturing and agricultural sectors. Of that amount, RM300 million worth of loans were dished out to the palm oil and rubber sectors.

"We firmly support the development of the entire supply chain from plantation to processing, trading and export of value-added agricultural products," he said.

Meanwhile, Wang said Malaysia’s ‘Halal’ branding is an attractive aspect for foreign direct investment from China. "Chinese Muslim communities are expected to be another large investors’ group, capitalising on the well-acceptance of certification by Malaysia’s Halal authorities," he said.

These investors are able to reap incentives from Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA), the official partner with Bank of China in Kuala Lumpur on reciprocal referral.

Upon receipt of halal certification, these packaged foodstuff and snacks can be exported back to China to enjoy a premium in pricing. At the same time, these halal goods can gain good acceptance in Asia, Middle East and Africa, Wang noted.

Bank of China has a 101 year history in Malaysia. From 1939 to 1959, it had branches in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Ipoh, Seremban, and Batu Pahat. Today it has seven branches in Kuala Lumpur, Muar, Penang, Klang, Johor Bahru, Puchong and Kuching.

Wang noted that the Kuala Lumpur and Kuching bank branches also act as Chinese Visa Application centres for the China Embassy in Malaysia.

He said Bank of China is aiming for more trade financing fees as trade flows in southeast Asia is set to rise with the launch of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) at the end of 2015.

The AEC seeks to integrate the diverse economies of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Chinese Muslims Celebrate Eid in Beijing

BEIJING, July 17 (Xinhua) -- Millions of Muslims across China began celebrating Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, on Friday.

The start of the Eid al-Fitr varies based on the observation of the new moon by local religious authorities. Northwest China's Qinghai and Gansu provinces started celebrating the festival on Friday while the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region will mark it on Saturday.

"It is auspicious that the Eid al-Fitr falls on the same day as Jumu'ah (Day of Assembly) when everybody goes to the mosque for Friday prayers," said Ma Yun, a Hui minority and head of the Dongguan mosque administration committee in Xining, capital of Qinghai Province.

"It was not until 9pm on Thursday we finally decided that Eid al-Fitr would fall on Friday this year," said Ma, adding that it was coincidence that Malaysian Muslims mark the festival on the same day.

Some 300,000 Muslims, most of whom are ethnic Hui, visited the Dongguan Mosque on Friday. Some came as early as 3am to reserve a place in the prayer hall.

Ma Jun, a snack shop owner, wearing a pristine robe and white hat, prayed in a queue of people that stretches as far as 5km outside the mosque, with the voices of Imams coming from loudspeakers. The Arabic prayer is first, followed by a Chinese version.

A middle-aged woman is distributing cash to children at a crossroads outside the mosque. Within half an hour, 600 renminbi (or US$98) was handed out to 600 children. "Whether they are ethnic Han or Tibetan, I just want them to be happy," said the woman.

In neighboring Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, where more than half of the 22 million population are Muslims, business is flourishing due to the celebrations.

Malik Nurlan, a young Kazakh man, suffered pain in his arm after a whole day of chopping meat. "So many people are buying beef and mutton!" said Nurlan, who sold 11 sheep and two cows in a single day.

With about 20 million Muslims in China, the event is also celebrated in other provinces or cities such as Gansu, Ningxia and Beijing.

Thousands of Muslims went to Niujie Mosque in downtown Beijing on Friday afternoon. Tens of thousands more will come on Saturday when Eid al-Fitr formally falls in the capital, said Chang Chongyu, head of the mosque administration office.

In Ningxia, where most of the Hui minority lives, a five-day holiday will begin on Saturday. Highways and most scenic spots will be free of charge during the holiday.

"I will have a family get-together in the first two days and spend the other days sightseeing with my kids," said Yang Li, who works in a government department in the regional capital of Yinchuan.

For Ma Jinliang, a cycling enthusiast in Ningxia, this year's end of Ramadan is quite special. "It is remarkable that the final of the 14th Tour of Qinghai Lake Cycling Race coincides with Eid al-Fitr, which falls on Saturday in Ningxia," said Ma, who will watch the race in Zhongwei City.

The 2,940km race, the top cycling competition in China with a total prize of US$1 million, traverses Qinghai, Gansu and Ningxia, where the majority of China's Muslims live. It will end on Saturday in Yinchuan.

"Feeding ourselves is not a problem for us any more," said Ma, who cycles in the suburbs every weekend. "We focus more on improving quality of life with more people joining sports clubs or going to the gym."

Ye Jianguo, 80, a villager from Maying Township in neighboring Qinghai Province, is impressed by the changes to the Eid al-Fitr celebrations in recent years.

"Before 1980, most of us were struggling in poverty," said Ye, who had to cut a piece of brick tea into four parts in order to present them as gifts when visiting relatives and friends.

In the 1980s, Ye only need to cut the tea into two parts as crop output improved. In the 1990s, families not only had enough brick tea, but also could afford to buy tea with crystal sugar and longan, he said.

Sanzi, a popular snack among Chinese muslims, is made of wheat-flour dough and pulled into thin noodles and skilfully deep-fried in heat stable palm cooking oil.
For this year's celebration, Ye bought a sheep, eight chickens, 25kg of palm oil to cook fried snacks and a full table of milk and drinks. "Five bags of flour are consumed in my shop every day and I have a daily net profit of more than 300 renminbi (or US$49)," said Ye, who runs a bread shop in the town.

In Kashgar, the westernmost city of China where sporadic terrorist attacks have dampened tourism, Memtimin Haji hopes for more visitors.

After attending Jumu'ah prayers at the Etgal Mosque on Friday afternoon, he rushed back to his souvenir shop close by. "Business is a bit better on Friday when people gather at the mosque for prayers," he said.

Better trading flexibility with China

KUALA LUMPUR: Since Malaysia is appointed a trading hub for China’s currency, businesses here have greater flexibility to trade with China, said Bank of China (Malaysia) Bhd chief executive officer Wang Hongwei.

As long as the US dollar remains the trade currency of choice, many transactions will continue to require a three way conversion, from the ringgit to the US dollar to renminbi with a loss of basis points at each conversion.

“There’s savings to be reaped from direct conversion between the ringgit and renminbi. 

Businesses in Malaysia can now open bank accounts in renminbi and trade directly,” Wang told Business Times in an interview.

Currently, companies in Malaysia buying from and selling to China have to convert the funds used to finance those deals into an intermediary – usually US dollar – an extra step that adds costs.

For businesses in China, receiving payment in renminbi will become cheaper and easier, and the ability to negotiate better settlement terms will reduce operating costs. Similarly, businesses taking in imports from China are wondering if savings from direct conversion between the ringgit and renminbi could be passed on to consumers here in cheaper prices.

Conversely, Malaysian exporters shipping their products into China want to be able to sell at better valuation when quoted in Renminbi. 

Despite the advantages offered by direct transactions with the renminbi, years of familiarity dealing with the US dollar are not likely to be replaced overnight. Many businesses seemed to prefer the certainty of the familiar over the promises of the new. 

Also, there is lack of awareness that changing to renminbi can be a source of competitive advantage, or that their ability to negotiate discounts and settlement terms may reduce operating costs – with flow-on effects to working capital management.

Wang noted that many customers do not seem to be aware of discounts they can negotiate if they are prepared to invoice and settle in renminbi. “Both Malaysian and Chinese corporates appear to be waiting for the other to initiate a change to invoicing in bilateral trade,” he said.  

According to Bank Negara Malaysia, only 1.3 per cent of China-Malaysia bilateral trade in 2014 were invoiced and settled in renminbi. Given that less than 2 per cent of Malaysian companies transact in Renminbi, compared with a global average of 22 per cent, there is real scope for growth, especially when China is Malaysia’s biggest trading partner.

According to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT), the renminbi overtook the euro in 2013 as the world’s second-most used in trade finance and is now the fifth most-popular for global payments.

SWIFT connects more than 9,700 banking organisations, securities institutions and corporate customers in 209 countries. 

Renminbi clearing houses outside China are seen as a major tool in promoting internationalisation of the Chinese currency. The first global settlement hub was created in Hong Kong in 2003. Todate, China has authorised 15 overseas renminbi clearing houses.

In April 2015, China's central bank People's Bank of China appointed Malaysia as the second Asean nation to host a renminbi clearing house, after Singapore. Commercial entity Bank of China in Kuala Lumpur was the chosen one.

This arrangement is backed by 180 billion renminbi currency swap between People's Bank of China and Bank Negara Malaysia until 2018. This essentially means Bank Negara Malaysia will step in to backstop any deals, if credit dried up during a crisis. 

The original currency swap arrangement between China and Malaysia was established in 2009 with just 80 billion renminbi. It was enlarged to 180 billion renminbi in 2012 and renewed for three years to 2015. Recently, both governments extended it for a further three years to 2018.

The renminbi is now the first foreign currency to be included in the Malaysian clearing system via Bank Negara's subsidiary Malaysian Electronic Clearing Corp Sdn Bhd (MyClear). Bank of China in Kuala Lumpur is working with MyClear in settling renminbi via the Real-time Electronic Transfer of Funds and Securities System (Rentas).

In 2010, Bursa Malaysia Derivatives’ clearing house began accepting renmimbi as margin collateral for palm oil trading, a move that signifies China’s importance to Malaysian derivatives market. Two years later, Bursa Malaysia Derivatives’ clearing house appointed Bank of China in Kuala Lumpur as an official member to settle such trades.

By having a renminbi clearing house in Kuala Lumpur, banks in Malaysia will have direct access to onshore renminbi markets in China without having to route their transactions through a mainland lender.

Todate, Wang said Bank of China in Kuala Lumpur already captured almost 70 per cent of renminbi clearing because it is linked with 26 other commercial banks here. In achieving its Beijing headquarters' aspiration for it to be "an Asean player", it had also attracted financial institutions from Vietnam and Singapore to set up renminbi clearing accounts.

Dr. Jonny Bowden asks Chef Gerard Viverito to bust cooking oil myths

Hey! everybody, It's Dr Johnny Bowden and I'm sitting here with my friend Chef Gerard Viverito, one of my favourite chefs in the world.

Today we're going to bust some myths about cooking oils. I really love a chance to talk to a chef about this because usually we approach this stuff, in terms of nutrition, which oils are good and which ones are bad.

It's really interesting to talk to you to find out which ones are good for cooking, good for frying, good for sautéing and which ones we should use to drizzle.

So, I really want to get into the myths about cooking oils ... which ones are good, which ones are bad. I've lined all these oils up here and I want your take on them. And I'll give my take on them.

The reason I hate these stuff is that these soft oils are not only highly processed. There is nothing that possibly remains in there that could possibly be useful to the human body.

It is very high in Omega 6 fats. Now, Omega 6 fats are not necessarily bad by themselves. The problem is when we eat too many Omega 6 fats and not enough Omega 3 fats. We set ourselves up for inflammation. That is the tri-factor of inflammatory response ... high Omega 6, low Omega 3. This stuff is in just about in every processed food in the world. It's just cheap, junky vegetable oil, it's not good for us.

Sadly, the largest segment of the dining industry tends to be the quick-service casual and the fast foods .. and these are what is being used.

Palm oil used to be more of a specialty oil in this country. But worldwide, if I'm not mistaken right now, it is the largest consumed oil on the planet. You know, most people were very ego-centric. 

As Americans, we think about corn being subsidised .. you know, Nebraska and the whole Midwest is all centred on corn and that is all we look at. We don't realise soy bean oil and palm oil are the two biggest players on the planet.

That red comes from all the carotenoids, the vitamin A. It's a lovely oil. You can go so high on the heat factor.

As a chef, I look at these as a smoke-point. You know, I like to cook as quickly into the pan and out of the pan possible. How fast can I get it on the grill and off the grill? And I use really high heat. I want to sear in the flavours. I want to lock in the nutrients. I don't want to dry out my food. Excellent choice for it!

Well, this is one of the reasons that drives me absolutely nuts. We made the switch from some of the saturated fats to canola oil, which does not stand up to high heat well at all. When it is processed with high heat, the way it is in almost all fastfood restaurants. They use it over and over, they re-heat and re-heat. It forms carcinogenic compounds and trans fat. 

These are the worst oil to use for frying. The best oils are the saturated fats like the coconut oil and palm oil because they stand up beautifully to heat. They don't form any really negative compounds that are bad for our bodies.

We're talking about oils that have been used in Old World Europe, Asia, Southeast Asia and Africa. 

Well, I guess, we should mention. All corn in United States is not organic. It's GMO. I know a lot of people are concerned. I think, rightfully so, about the source of foods that are GMO like soy beans and corn. As far as I'm concerned, we don't need these stuff. And we can do a very good job of cooking and flavouring with some of these healthier oils on this side.

It's kind of like an uphill battle to re-educate the public. We demonise these fats ... palm oil and coconut oil. We demonise them for so long that people naturally think this is what clogs our arteries. It's just not true, folks. It's not true at all. 

Well, we're a nation that loves to latch on to fear. All it takes is one person with the loudest, the most well-paid spokesperson, screaming from a tall building that, you know, you're going to die from eating this or that. 

That's what we latch onto. To educate yourself is hard. Getting an education is hard. People don't want to study, people don't want to go to school.

A little bit of education goes a long way. It'll make your food taste better, it'll make your dishes looks better. Everything will be brighter, you'll feel healthier. And it's better for you. Glad that we busted some of the myths having to do with oils. 

Dimples should be in your cheeks, not your thighs

Everyone has layers of fat under the skin. So, even thin people can have cellulite. Some people go to beauty salons for herbal body wraps to even out the appearance of cellulite.

Appearing on KTTV’s Good Day Los Angeles, Hollywood beauty and nutraceutical expert Scott-Vincent Borba revealed his cellulite-reducing recipe made with palm oil from Malaysia. 

By combining palm oil with a little cayenne pepper, Crisco and collagen capsules, Borba created a do-it-yourself cream out of ingredients found in many of our kitchen. 

Once it's blended, Borba tells you to spread this 'edible moisturising cream' on your cellulite skin area and wrap with cling film for a good 10-minute soak-in.

Borba, who has worked with Hollywood beauties like Mila Kunis, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Nancy O’Dell and Ashley Green, believes in leveraging common, all-natural ingredients – both inside and outside – for stunning results.

Borba uses natural ingredients for everything from age-reversing foods to fabulous home-made facials. He loves to convert his celebrity clients into “beauty foodies” and to share these same trade secrets with the public. 

It all starts with nutrition. “By maintaining a good diet, it helps balance our hormones and give our body the nutrients it needs to fight stress and power itself,” he says.

In addition to using Malaysian palm oil as a powerful beauty enhancer, for example, he recommends cooking with it:-

1. Palm oil is harvested from the oil palm, the world's most land efficient oil crop.
2. Palm oil is all natural and do not contain the deadly trans-fat.
3. Palm oil is good for our brain and heart health.
4. Palm oil remains stable in high heat stir-fry dishes, unlike olive oil.
5. Palm oil vitamin E protects our skin from oxidative stress.

For off the shelves toiletries, Borba noted palm-based oleochemicals are a favoured ingredient in hair and skin products because it helps to preserve our body’s natural oils. 

Palm oil's abundant vitamin E tocotrienols are powerful antioxidants. 

Researchers believe palm tocotrienols help protect our skin against UV damage and premature aging. 

It’s almost like having sunscreen from the inside out. 

This is why palm tocotrienols are increasingly formulated into anti-aging lotions, skin foundations, shampoos and soaps.

Institutional investors form lobby group

KUALA LUMPUR: Sovereign wealth, pension, pilgrimage and trusts funds such as Khazanah Nasional Bhd, the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (KWAP), Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB), Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT) and Lembaga Tabung Haji, have teamed up to champion corporate governance and shareholder activism.

These "big boys,” which are usually substantial shareholders in companies listed on Bursa Malaysia, established the Institutional Investor Council Malaysia (IICM), with RM100,000 start up administrative fund extended by the Securities Commission.

This is a follow up of the Malaysian Code for Institutional Investors (Code) requiring institutional investors to promote good governance in the companies they place their trust in.

The Code encourages the institutional investors to disclose their stewardship responsibilities, monitor their investee companies, regularly engage with decision makers of investee companies, adopt a robust policy on managing conflicts of interests, incorporate good governance and sustained investment considerations and publish their voting policy. 

KWAP chief executive officer Wan Kamaruzaman Wan Ahmad was appointed chairman of this newly set up IICM. 

Deputy Finance Minister Ahmad Maslan announced in Parliament yesterday Bank Negara Malaysia’s representative is no longer part of the Retirement Fund Incorporated’s (KWAP) investment panel as proposed in the amendment of the KWAP Act 2007.

In response to this good governance development, Wan Kamaruzaman confirmed Bank Negara Malaysia's representative is still part of KWAP’s board of directors, just not in the investment panel. 

"The management of the pension fund, investment and information of retirees being kept confidential has also been clearly stated in the recent law amendment," he said. KWAP manages a pension fund for 711,000 government retirees amounting to RM115 billion. 

Minority Shareholder Watchdog Group (MSWG)  chief executive officer Rita Benoy Bushon, who is also council member of IICM, is the secretariat head.

Wan Kamaruzaman noted IICM is made up of 15 committee members and decisions are voted by majority. "We are all equal in this council, there is no veto power entrusted to any committee member. The quorum is set at five committee members."

Apart from KWAP and MSWG, other council members include Employees Provident Fund deputy chief executive officer (Investment) Mohamad Nasir Ab Latif, Permodalan Nasional Bhd chief strategy officer Datin Paduka Kartini Abdul Manaf, Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera deputy chief executive Datuk Zakaria Sharif, Federation of Investment Managers Malaysia chief executive officer Nazaruddin Othman, Lembaga Tabung Haji group deputy managing director Datuk Johan Abdullah, Life Insurance Association of Malaysia president Toi See Jong, Malaysian Takaful Association deputy chairman Muhammad Fikri Mohamad Rawi and Private Pension Administrator chief executive officer Datuk Steve Ong.

The private sector is represented by Gerald Ambrose, chief executive of Aberdeen Islamic Asset Management Sdn Bhd and Dr Hans-Christoph Hirt, director of Hermes Investment Management/ Hermes Equity Ownership Services.

Bye Bye trans fats ... Hello palm oil!

Nutritionist Lisa Lynn used to struggle with her weight. She tried every diet and worked out for hours but still couldn’t drop the pounds. So, she started researching ways to boost a slow and sluggish metabolism. 

She realised that good nutrition and exercise help get the look she wanted as well as promote overall wellness. She told Baltimore’s CBS news viewers that eating healthier is simple as making a few food swaps. For example saying goodbye to trans fats and hello to Malaysian palm oil.

When she was out for breakfast before going into the TV studio, she saw a family using buttery spread made with partially hydrogenated oils. This contains harmful trans fats. 

"We need to get rid of this stuff! It’s killing our country. Swap it out with a healthier spread made with palm oil. This is nature’s gift to us," Lisa said.

She explained that palm oil is all natural and do not contain any of the artificial trans fat. Palm oil is also rich in vitamin E which supports brain health. It also helps guard against stroke damage. 

"I love to mix palm oil into my family’s brown rice or drizzle it across some baked tilapia," Lisa said.

She brought an artery model to the set to demonstrate how trans fat impacts our health. "Trans fat raises your ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and lowers your ‘good’ cholesterol. This increases your risk of heart disease and stroke," she said.

LDL is the material that helps form the cholesterol plaques which may clog our arteries. She suggested families start encouraging healthy food choices early in life. Poor lifestyle choices in childhood can actually lead to a lifetime of health concerns. 

"My suggestion is to throw out any trans fats-containing foods in your home. Read labels for healthier options, such as the all natural Malaysian palm oil," she said.

Mercedes Benz U-turn on B10

KUALA LUMPUR: Mercedes-Benz Malaysia (MBM), having earlier raised concerns that its diesel makes will not be able to use B10 biodiesel, has now made an about turn.

In a statement yesterday, MBM declared Malaysia's B10 biodiesel full compatibility is strictly confined to cars that are officially distributed by itself and it cannot say for sure for parallel imported Mercerdes Benz.

MBM president and chief executive Roland Folger said: After initially stating that the B10 biodiesel blend required further consideration, we are now pleased to inform our customers that the B10 biodesel is suitable for all diesel vehicles sold by Mercedes-Benz Malaysia.”

Folger explained that the company has carefully evaluated the influence of B10 biodiesel in their current diesel vehicles and found that the cars ran smoothly and safely without showing premature component wear. 

The service interval for diesel models is also kept at 12,000 km. 

"That said, the B10 biodiesel compatibility is only for Mercedes-Benz passenger cars, whereas the Fuso truck range remains incompatible," he added.

Last month, Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas announced raising the biodiesel mandate from B7 to B10 in October 2015.

The B10 biodiesel blend is made up of 10 per cent palm methyl ester and 90 per cent petroleum diesel. Production of the biodiesel will see an increase in domestic consumption of palm oil to a million tonnes annually.

Following the government's announcement to raise biodiesel mandate, BMW Group Malaysia protested and said its tests worldwide have found “technical challenges” running the B10 biodiesel blend in engines. 

In response, the Malaysia Palm Oil Council (MPOC) chief executive officer Tan Sri Yusof Basiron issued a couple of tweets. 

The first tweet stated "Not aware of BMW conducting palm biodiesel trials on cars in Malaysia. Their statement on B10 as not suitable may not be backed by science."

And his second tweet stated "BMW Malaysia need to show the results of their trials on using palm biodiesel on cars in Malaysia. Trials using other oils are not relevant."

Despite palm oil industry leader (MPOC) questioning BMW Malaysia's motive in protesting against Malaysia's national agenda of B10, other carmakers like Toyota and Isuzu went on to echo the same sentiment as BMW Malaysia.

Volkswagen Group Malaysia even claimed that running B10 on its diesel engines will have adverse effects as well as void the warranty. Mercedes-Benz urged the Malaysian government to reconsider implementation of the B10 biodiesel policy. 

In a separate interview with Business Times, Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd group president and chief executive Datuk Mohd Emir Mavani Abdullah pledge full support to MPOC.

"We ourselves at FGV have been using B30, which is of a higher biodiesel blend, in our fleet of 100 Volvo trucks for six months. So far, there are no engine problems. We fully support MPOC statements and the government's policy in raising the biodiesel blend to B10 from October 2015," Emir said.