Friday 20 December 2013

DBKL Assessment - Facts, Fallacies and The Bottomline

Ever since Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL) announced the higher assessment value, many commentaries have been made and some appear to be intentionally deceitful. I have also written fairly extensively on why it is not justified. 

With DBKL having just announced a reduced assessment RATE, and sticking to higher assessment VALUE previously decided, what is the bottomline effect for you? In other words, how much more do you pay in actual assessment TAX? 

I hope this article will help provide further clarity for you. 

A. DBKL's total expenditure and revenue 
2013 Budget figures*
Total Revenue        RM1,690.00 mil
Total Expenditure  RM2,190.00 mil
- Operational         RM1,406.00 mil
- Development      RM  782.55 mil 
Source : DBKL Budget Speech 2013

B.   Total Assessment Tax Collections (Before and After Revision)

The estimated revised assessment tax collections amount to RM1,430 mil compared to RM880mil currently.  This represents an increase of 62.5% or RM550mil more. DBKL should disclose the exact figures, but we believe our estimations are reasonable.

C.   The Assessment Rate
Revised Assessment Rate
Property Type
Within 36 miles radius
% of reduction
Service Apartment
Low cost flat
Vacant commercial land
Vacant residential land
Kampung Baru, Kampung
Sungai Penchala & Kampung

Melayu Segambut Dalam

What is the basis for the different percentage of reduction of the assessment rate for the various property types and locations? If the intention is social inclusion to assist the lower income group, it would have been easier to give a further discount to the assessment rate base on income reported on tax returns. A billionaire who lives in a designated area with low assessment rate pays low assessment tax even if he has a palatial home. 

D.   How does the new assessment rules affect you?

Whether you pay more or less depends on the relative changes to your assessment value and your assessment rate, as per the formula above.  In general, most people will pay a higher assessment tax as the rise in assessment value is greater than the fall in assessment rate.
With DBKL getting RM500m to RM600m more, who pays?
Is this pain fairly spread out? 

E.   Illustrations of the above and its effect based on 3 scenarios on a residential property

F.    Conclusion
To address the unhappiness of Kuala Lumpur residents, we hope DBKL will provide further clarity and transparency on the following questions :-
a)    How much more assessment tax revenue will DBKL get after the revised assessment value and rates?  How will this additional collections, which we estimate at over RM500 million, be spent? Tax payers have the right to demand accountability and responsibility. As I have written in previous articles on this issue, DBKL is already spending more than other municipalities per person.
b)    What is the basis of computing assessment value? I know it is rental income (implied or actual) but what are the reliable sources of information or database used? DBKL should make the entire list of assessment values for all properties in KL available on the Internet. This will allow every resident the ability to check their assessment value against all others, in the interest of fairness and transparency. 
c)    A failure to be transparent would likely give the impression of possible biases in the way assessment values are determined, leading some residents to feel they are being penalized for choices they previously made.

Saturday 14 December 2013

Where is Malaysia's Mandela?

As Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is laid to rest and the world has paid its tributes, we ask the obvious question, where is Malaysia’s Mandela?

Mandela has been described by other leaders as a giant of history who moved a nation towards justice and a light of the world. Madiba not only led but also made sacrifices.

Words such as freedom, courage, reconciliation, forgiveness, inspiration, grace and compassion are closely associated with him.

President Barack Obama made the following observation in his speech: “Emerging from prison, he would hold his country together when it threatened to break apart. He would erect a constitutional order to preserve freedom for future generations, a commitment to democracy and rule of law ratified not only by his election, but by his willingness to step down from power.” 

Mandela was no saint, as he himself admitted. “I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”

But he was willing to make sacrifices and had the courage to do what was right. He lived by his idealism, taking risks through the power of action. 

It is worth noting a few examples of his sacrifices, simplicity and courage.

Offered a release from prison in February 1985 if he rejected violence, he spurned the offer stating: “Only free men can negotiate.” He had the courage to safeguard the jobs of white civil servants, although this concession brought him fierce internal criticism. He was also chastised for granting amnesty to 3,500 members of the then hated police force.

Elected president in 1994, Mandela allowed F W de Klerk to retain the presidential residence and instead settled into a nearby Westbrooke manor. And he lived a simple life, donating a third of his 552,000 rand annual income to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and made his own bed, even as president.

Malaysia needs a Mandela. Perhaps, there never will be one. 

But will there be leaders of the country who are able and willing to make his life’s work their own? Will we have such leaders who lead by sacrifice, courage, inspiration, grace, justice and moral authority? Who will lead us to greater freedom, and social and economic inclusion? Who will unify us racially, religiously and culturally? 

Our nation is deeply polarised, whether by politics, race, religion or income. The urban-rural divide is not just about income but also race and politics. Households are cash poor, running up high levels of debt. The cost of living is rising as the increase in income falls behind real inflation rates, and made worse by the weakening of our ringgit. Besides having to pay one of the highest car prices in the world, the removal of various subsidies and the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax in 2015 will compound the misery of the lower and middle-income groups. 

Meanwhile, the stock market and property prices are at an all-time high. We see capital outflows by the rich. The economy is increasingly in the stranglehold of fewer and fewer people. The top 1% has more income than the entire bottom 40%. Monopolistic and rent-seeking behaviour continues and, indeed, is perpetuated by the establishment. The anti-monopolistic law is toothless. We have leaders of people openly flaunting their power and authority, comforted by the knowledge that their abuses will not be brought to accountability. 

Bigots openly cast racial aspersions and perform offensive acts, knowing they are immune from prosecution. The same bigots and their supporters at the same time threaten others when opposing views are expressed. Moderation is seen as being liberal-minded. And all liberal views should be banned, as expressed by some delegates at a political convention of the dominant political party recently. 

Surely, now more than ever, we should pray for a Mandela?

To quote Madiba, the greatest moral leader of our time: “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” 

Friday 13 December 2013

Heads or Tails, you lose

Asiasons Capital Ltd’s proposal to acquire a 20% stake in Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations (Black Elk) from US-based hedge fund Platinum Partners Value Arbitrage (PPVA) is a one way bet to lose money for the Company. 

The Deal
The unaudited 30 September 2013 accounts for Black Elk shows a negative shareholder value of US$104.6 million with cumulative losses of US$86.7 million for FY2013. The Company is also faced with the prospect of defaulting on US$149 million in secured notes by end December. Large investments are also required to increase operating capacities. Whichever way you look at it, it is a black hole that will need a lot more cash. And shareholders of Asiasons will end up carrying this load.

Additionally, the acquisition will result in heavy dilution to existing shareholders. Based on its 2012 Annual Report, Asiasons had 973,213,529 shares outstanding. On top of a US$45 million promissory note to be issued to PPVA by Asiasons, the proposed deal will also see a staggering 494,230,769 shares issued at $0.13 to purchase 20% of PPVA’s stake in Black Elk. 

This values Black Elk at US$482 million. Black Elk has never made any money, with negative US$104.6 million in shareholder value. As such, Asiasons is valuing Black Elk with a goodwill of US$587 million. Not bad for PPVA that bought an 84.3% stake in this company for US$100 million. It also allows PPVA to now recognise a revaluation gain of US$210 million. A brilliant move to achieve an abnormal performance for an investment that has not done well.

A further 46.5 million shares will be issued as an ‘arranger fee’ to Jett Capital Advisors LLC (Jett Capital) if issued at $0.13. The new shares issued will be equivalent to 56% of the current outstanding shares. Post-acquisition, PPVA and Jett Capital will own a combined 35.7% of the enlarged share base. Furthermore, the theoretical ex-issuance share price will be approximately $0.09 due to the influx of new shares.

We think this deal will likely not close. It is conditioned on the Securities Industry Council waiving PPVA from complying with Rule 14 of the Singapore Code of Takeovers and Mergers, which relates to mandatory takeover offers for a company. 

Further, it will be surprising for SGX to approve the listing of the new shares to be issued to PPVA considering the heavy dilution and the poor quality of the assets to be acquired.

Asiasons currently has net assets of $235.6 million or $0.24 per share. Of this, $121.3 million is in ‘financial assets’. However, the collapse in the value of its holdings in LionGold Corp Ltd results in an unrealised loss of $106 million or $0.11 per share. Adjusted NAV is therefore $0.13 per share, and likely to fall further given its equity portfolio. 

The current stock price is $0.144, up from $0.123 before the news announcement. If the deal fails, the stock price should fall to a discount to adjusted NAV. If the deal succeeds, existing shareholders of Asiasons get heavily diluted in exchange for an asset that will continue to bleed.

Updates on Mont'Kiara Traffic Congestion

The following was the conclusion of the Community Dialogue on Mont’Kiara traffic congestion which was held on Tue, 10 December 2013 at Mont’Kiara Meridin.  Some of them were agreed with Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL) and/or Ireka, the developer of 1 Mont’Kiara mall.

Immediate :
  1. Traffic light at Jalan Kiara in front of 1 Mont’Kiara to be switched off and instead be manned. (Ireka agreed)
  2. DBKL will strengthen enforcement of illegal car parking all along Jalan Kiara (DBKL agreed)
Near Term :
  1. Create a left turn into 1 Mont’Kiara just before the police station (DBKL agreed)
  2. Introduce a left turn into Plaza Mont’Kiara by creating a third lane from traffic light junction. (subject to further study)
  3. Look into solutions on the traffic congestion at Mont'Kiara International School (MKIS) as huge volume of cars dropping-off / picking up children to / from the school
Mid Term :
  1. Complete Jalan Kiara 4 as a 2-lane road by working with landowners (DBKL agreed) 
  2. Look into a solution at the intersection of Jalan Kiara and Jalan Duta Kiara, in front of Mont’Kiara Meridin, in anticipation of Jalan Segambut Dalam connection to Jalan Duta Kiara (subject to further study)  
  3. Create another direct access into 1 Mont’Kiara via Sprint Highway.  Create a direct exit from 1 Mont’Kiara into Sprint Highway, with the removal of traffic light in front of 1 Mont’Kiara, ie no right turn when exiting 1 Mont’Kiara into Jalan Kiara.  (subject to further study)  
  4. No exit from Sprint Highway into Hartamas roundabout. Exit at the Bukit Kiara/Science centre roundabout instead. (subject to further study)

Longer term :
  1. UEMSunrise to connect its existing shuttle service in Mont’Kiara to the MRT station at Phileo Damansara. (subject to UEMSunrise’s agreement)  
  2. Connect Jalan Kiara and Jalan Kiara 4 through the connecting roads at Arcoris and next to Mont’Kiara International School (MKIS). (subject to further study) 
  3. Complete upgrading of Jalan Kiara 4 into 6-lane arterial road (subject to the developments on the adjacent lands)
A committee is proposed to follow up on the progress and implementation of the above proposals.  The committee members are :-
  1. Tong Kooi Ong of 11 Mont'Kiara
  2. Mr. Lum Weng Loy of The Residence
  3. Dato' Maznah of The Residence
  4. Mr Ong Chou Wen of Mont'Kiara Bayu
  5. Mr David Lee of 10 Mont'Kiara
We are open to more members.  The roles of the committee are :-
- Work with professional traffic consultants
- Facilitate the execution of the proposed solutions
- Raise funding to conduct traffic studies etc
- Solicit ideas/comments from residents and communicate with residents