Months after its global rollout, Netflix Inc is facing problems in several major Asian markets as it struggles to provide enough strong content to attract consumers amid tough local competition, and also faces many regulatory hurdles, underlining concerns about disappointing subscriber numbers reported this week. When it launched in Indonesia in January, Netflix ran afoul of the film censorship board for carrying content deemed inappropriately violent or sexual. The communications ministry also demanded that Netflix set up a local office and pay Indonesian taxes. State telecoms company Telkom will continue blocking Netflix until it adheres to regulations. Netflix is still available in Indonesia via Wifi connections and other carriers. In Asia, competition is intensifying from local streaming sites as well as global providers such as Amazon, Hulu, HBO and BBC iPlayer.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) have obtained documents and items from several broking firms and trading representatives as part of an investigation into possible breaches of the Securities and Futures Act. According to Bloomberg, DBS Vickers, Maybank Kim Eng, OCBC Sec and Phillip Sec are raided.
A new attendance system at Singapore Polytechnic (SP) has drawn mixed reactions, with an online petition asking for the system to be reviewed garnering about 700 signatures. To mark their attendance, students have to key in a code that will be displayed in class into an app on their phones or on a website, using the school’s Wi-Fi network. If they fail to do so in 15 minutes, they will be marked as absent. But SP students have expressed concerns that the system might have glitches, and might not reflect their attendance even if they made it to classes within the stipulated time. Some also say they were penalised when they forgot to mark their attendance even when they had turned up. At Nanyang Poly, students tap their student cards on a card reader to sign their attendance, or do so manually. Lecturers at the other three polytechnics take students’ attendance manually and record them electronically. They said most students meet the minimum attendance rate of 80-85%.
Arrested businessman Samadikun Hartono, who had been on the run for 13 years since his conviction for embezzling government bailout money, will be interrogated and serve his prison term. The 68-year-old arrived at Halim Perdana Kusuma Airport in Jakarta was arrested in Shanghai by Chinese authorities. He was found guilty to embezzle Rp2.5trillion ($190m) in bailout money received by the now-defunct Bank Modern from the notorious Bank Indonesia Liquidity Assistance (BLBI) fund during the Asian financial crisis of 1998. He was to 4 years in prison and Rp169bn fine in 2003. Samadikun’s family controls the Modern Group, a diversified business conglomerate that controls various businesses, ranging from property, photographic equipment to retail outlets.
Bank Indonesia (BI) agreed to hold the BI Rate at 6.75% during its 20-21 April meeting, and maintained deposit and lending rates at 4.75% and 7.25% respectively. The BI Rate is equivalent to the 12-month monetary operations instrument. In line with the plan to reformulate its policy rate, as announced on 15 Apr 16, BI also maintained the BI 7-Day (reverse) repo rate at 5.5%.
Bridgestone Astra Indonesia (BAI), the JV between Astra Otoparts (49%) and Bridgestone Japan Corporation (51%), will commence operation this year. BAI will produce anti vibration components for four wheels. AUTO has allocated capex of Rp1.7t this year.
Overall rents in Singapore are down in past two years; vacancy rates hit 10-year peak at end of last year. New condominiums used to enjoy pretty firm rental demand but those days have gone. At the 862-unit Eight Riversuites in Whampoa East, one of the larger condominiums being completed this year, interest is weaker than in the past. Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) flash estimates for the first quarter are expected to show that rents have continued to slide. Savills Singapore research head reckons they could have fallen about 1.5 per cent in the first quarter from last year and may be down about 6 per cent this year. Rental decline has already gathered pace, with rents falling 3 per cent in 2014 and 4.6 per cent last year. About 32,732 private homes are expected to be completed this year and in 2017, about 10 per cent of current stock.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is asking a few financial institutions to co-operate in its probe into possible money-laundering and other offences, some of which may involve beleaguered Malaysian state investment company 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB). At the same time, it is also reaching out to authorities in other jurisdictions to investigate the nature of certain cross-border flows of funds. MAS “has been conducting a thorough review of various transactions as well as fund flows through our banking system” as part of its investigations into possible money-laundering and other offences here.
NIM reached 5.63% as of Jan 16, which is the highest since 2012. Among the various banking categories, the foreign-owned banks recorded the highest increase in NIM ratio by 190bp to 4.08% from 2.18% in Jan 15. State-owned banks also recorded a significant increase of 107bp to 6.35% in Jan 16 compared with 5.28% in Jan 15.