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Labuan Fisheries Dept’s second incubator begins operations

LABUAN, March 6 — The Fisheries Department today officially began operating its Centre of Excellence for training potential seafood entrepreneurs.

The fisheries entrepreneur incubator costing RM181,160 was built in July 2019 and completed in October 2019, according to Labuan Fisheries director Faizal Ibrahim Suhaili.

He said it is the department’s second incubator.

“The objective of building the incubators is to assist budding entrepreneurs particularly in Labuan to thrive in the seafood industry,” he said.

The entrepreneurs are trained at the facility, which is also equipped with the necessary machines for them to churn out their products. They are also provided space at the premises to sell the seafood-based items.

The centre, located in the vicinity of the fisheries office in Jalan Patau-Patau near here, was opened by Fisheries deputy director-general (Management), Datuk Dr Bah Piyan Tan.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

StoreHub launches new regional HQ, partners Facebook Malaysia

PETALING JAYA, March 6 — Technology innovator StoreHub Sdn Bhd has officially launched a 27,000 sq ft new regional headquarters, namely StoreHub Stadium, to power its continued development of purpose-driven commercial solutions that have already helped more than 14,000 businesses across Southeast Asia.

Chief executive officer and co-founder Fong Wai Hong said StoreHub Stadium, a flexible and functional space, is part of the company’s commitment to invest in Malaysia and accelerate the country’s digital transformation.

“The space is expected to eventually house up to 500 members of the company’s local and international teams,” he told reporters after the launch of StoreHub Stadium at KYM Tower, Mutiara Damansara here today.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Abracadabra! Zynga announces soft launch of Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells

KUALA LUMPUR, March 6 — Zynga Inc, a global leader in interactive entertainment has announced the soft launch of Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells in select markets.

According to a statement, the game weaves innovative match-3 puzzle gameplay with the iconic characters, narrative, settings, spell-casting and magical mischief of the Wizarding World.

In the game, players create their own persona and experience the excitement and mysteries of the Wizarding World in an enchanting new way.

Unlocking Wizarding World elements, including new spells and brewing potions as they progress, players will encounter the most iconic moments and memorable faces from the original Harry Potter films.

Utilising magic abilities and objects to prevail, players will face matching puzzles populated with Chocolate Frogs and other obstacles as they ‘swish and flick’ through fanciful levels.

From Daily Events to interactive puzzles, players will earn XP to gain new magical abilities and rewards, level up their skills and spells, as well as customise their unique, in-game personas.

Players will also have the option to form clubs and join forces with other fans to socialise, participate in special in-game cooperative activities and experience the camaraderie of the Wizarding World.

Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells is officially licensed from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and published under the Portkey Games label.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Homegrown ice-cream shop chain Frozen to open six more outlets this year

KUALA LUMPUR, March 6 — Local ice-cream shop chain Frozen plans to open six more outlets in the Klang Valley by the end of this year, said founder and director William Ng.

The chain, which offers local flavours such as Musang King, Milo Dinosaur and “pulut hitam” (black glutinous rice), currently has four outlets, with the first opened in Bangsar in July 2018, he said.

“We also plan to open outlets outside the Klang Valley but not in the near future,” he told Bernama before the launching ceremony of Yakult ice-cream here today.

Ng said the Yakult ice-cream’ was produced in collaboration with Yakult (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd. There are two flavours: Yakult Ace, which is based on the original Yakult flavour and Flu Buster, which combines Yakult, blueberries and vitamin C.

Meanwhile, Yakult (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd deputy manager (public relations) Chong Li Yi said the company was approached by Frozen owner Frozen Artisans Sdn Bhd for a collaboration to produce a healthy menu for Malaysians.

“Actually, this is our first collaboration with an ice-cream outlet. Of course, we were a bit concerned initially if the taste would change (when turned into an ice-cream), but we were really surprised that it didn’t. They only changed it from liquid form to ice-cream.

“Yakult being a probiotic drink, we always advise people to take it daily. So drinking Yakult is one method and now another method is by eating the ice-cream,” she said.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Sabin-NIAID partnership strengthens Ebola Sudan, Marburg vaccine programmes

KUALA LUMPUR, March 6 — The Sabin Vaccine Institute (Sabin) has partnered with the Vaccine Research Center (VRC), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to manufacture prototype ChAd3 vectored Ebola Sudan and Marburg vaccines.

The vaccines will be used for further clinical evaluation and outbreak preparedness and to potentially protect military, first responders, health care and laboratory workers and other at-risk populations.

According to a statement, Sabin will receive US$5.3 million to manufacture Ebola Sudan and Marburg vaccines for the VRC. (US$1 = RM4.17)

Under an existing Research Collaboration Agreement with NIAID VRC, Sabin plans to continue the development of two individual vaccines against Ebola Sudan and Marburg viruses, building on VRC’s work to date.

In September, Sabin announced an initial award of US$20.5 million with options for an additional US$107 million from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to further support the two vaccine development programmes.

The BARDA contract followed an August agreement between Sabin and GSK, under which Sabin exclusively licensed the technology for candidate vaccines against Ebola Zaire, Ebola Sudan and Marburg viruses and acquired certain patent rights specific to these vaccines.

Sabin is a leading advocate for expanding vaccine access and uptake globally, advancing vaccine research and development, and amplifying vaccine knowledge and innovation. More details at www.sabin.org.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Steering Committee endorses phase 1 of DFI merger

KUALA LUMPUR, March 6 — The Steering Committee chaired by the Ministry of Finance has endorsed the institutional structure for phase one of the Development Financial Institutions (DFI) merger involving Danajamin Nasional Bhd (Danajamin) and Bank Pembangunan Malaysia Bhd (BPMB).

Under the proposed structure, Danajamin will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of BPMB.

BPMB said it is currently conducting the necessary due diligence process, with the target operational effective date for phase one completion by the fourth quarter of this year, subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals.

“Both BPMB and Danajamin are reviewing our business strategies to expand our scope of business in providing a wider range of products and services, and a greater value proposition to customers,” it said in a statement today.

In December 2019, Bank Negara Malaysia gave its approval to BPMB and Danajamin to commence negotiations for the first phase of the government’s proposed plan to merge the country’s DFIs in an effort to strengthen the DFI ecosystem.

This followed a proposal by the government in Budget 2020 that BPMB, Danajamin, Export-Import Bank of Malaysia Bhd (EXIM Bank) and SME Bank be restructured and merged to strengthen the DFI eco-system.

The restructuring plan will be implemented in two phases — the first phase involves the merger of BPMB with Danajamin, while in the second phase EXIM Bank and SME Bank will be merged into the earlier merged entity.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Prolonged COVID-19 to cause economic fallout in Asia-Pacific: S&P

KUALA LUMPUR, March 6 – The wider and prolonged global spread of COVID-19 will cause an economic fallout in the Asia-Pacific region, according to S&P Global Ratings.

In its economic note today, it said it expects an approximately 4.0 per cent growth in 2020 and a US$211 billion income loss across the region from the coronavirus outbreak, with the losses distributed across households, firms, banks and governments.

“Our U-shaped recovery has been pushed back to later in 2020 due to a harder hit to China’s economy in the first quarter, viral transmission outside China, and tighter financial conditions.

“We forecast China to grow by 4.8 per cent in 2020 with a plausible downside scenario of below 3.0 per cent. Other economies including Australia, Japan and Korea will flirt with recession as growth falls well below trend,” it said.

S&P sees the risks as being on the downside, and that duration matters more than initial impact in light of the non-linear risks from virus transmission and financial conditions that emerging markets face.

“Asia-Pacific’s outlook has darkened due to the global spread of the coronavirus. This will exert domestic supply-and-demand shocks in Japan and Korea.

“We also reflect a harder first-quarter hit to China’s economy than we had anticipated. The final consideration is the tightening of global financial conditions that will amplify these economic shocks. We factor in global policy easing, but this will only cushion the blow,” it said.

It also said while the rest of Asia Pacific besides China would be on the recession borderline, the hardest-hit economies remain Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, where people flows are large.

“In all of these economies, tourism is a large share of gross domestic product (GDP) of almost 10 per cent on average and tourists from China account for a large share of visitors.

“Supply-chain exposures in the electronics and auto industries are also high. It is no surprise that here we also see the most robust fiscal policy response, especially transfers and subsidies to households and affected sectors.

“These measures will likely cushion the blow but they may be less effective than normal and will not prevent a recession,” said S&P.

Meanwhile, the investment house also noted that emerging markets such as Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and India appear, at face value, somewhat insulated.

“Exposure to China varies but the dependence on large people flows and supply chains is quite low. One unique channel for emerging markets is foreign direct investment from China, Japan and Korea, which is likely to slow given disruptions in these economies.

“Reported infections are, for the most part, low. For now, this explains why we have not cut growth forecasts by more,” it added

Source: BERNAMA News Agency