(Corrects Excelcomindo item to make clear profit fell, not rose)
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Here are news stories that may affect the Malaysian stock market on Thursday.
Malaysia’s top lender, Malayan Banking Bhd (MBBM.KL), reported a 7.7 percent drop in quarterly profit on Wednesday, due to slower growth in non-interest income.
But rising costs and margins squeezed by competitors will remain a worry, Maybank, the country’s third-most valuable listed company, said in a statement.
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- U.S. fund manager Franklin Templeton, fresh from buying into a Vietnamese investment firm, said on Wednesday it wanted to expand into Malaysia next to round out its operations in the region.
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- Malaysian annual inflation stood at 2.3 percent in January, easing slightly from a 10-month high, after transport prices rose at a slower pace, official data showed on Wednesday.
The increase in consumer prices was just shy of the 2.4 percent rise forecast by economists. Inflation had stood at 2.4 percent in December, which was the highest since a 3.1 percent increase in February.
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- Indonesia’s third-largest mobile phone operator, PT Excelcomindo Pratama Tbk (EXCL.JK), said on Wednesday its 2007 net profit dropped 61.5 percent due to withholding tax and foreign exchange losses.
Excelcom is controlled by Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TLMM.KL).
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- Malaysia’s state power utility, Tenaga Nasional (TENA.KL), has awarded a 1 billion ringgit ($310 million) power-plant project to China National Electric Equipment Corp (CNEEC), Tenaga said on Wednesday.
State-owned CNEEC won the bidding to build a 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Malaysia’s eastern state of Sabah on Borneo island, Tenaga said in a statement.
Chipmaker Unisem (M) Bhd (UNSM.KL) posted a 161 percent rise in net profit for the fourth quarter to Dec. 31, 2007 from a year ago due to higher sales, increased capacity utilisation, the company said.
Mentiga Corp (MENT.KL) has awarded a mining contract to a mining operating firm, Edubest Resources Sdn Bhd, to mine iron ore at its concession areas in the central state of Pahang, Mentiga said in a statement to the stock exchange.
It said Edubest is part of Hong Kong-based Prosperity Group.
“The venture would have a positive financial impact on Mentiga in the next financial year and would enable Mentiga to clear their old debts,” it said.
MALAYSIA‘S MAYBANK IN TALKS FOR SE ASIA BANK -PAPER
Malaysia’s largest lender, Malayan Banking Bhd (MBBM.KL), is in talks to buy an offshore commercial bank in Southeast Asia, possibly in Indonesia, the Business Times said on Thursday.
Reporting by Liau Y-Sing and Mark Bendeich