Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Rolf’s Thoughts: Keppel (the son), Hoping for Temasek (the father) 's Partial Offer?

Keppel posted quarterly loss of a staggering SGD 697 million. This is mainly due to impairments of SGD 919 million from O&M segment.

Excluding impairments, the company still reported quarterly net profit of SGD 222 million, boosted by other segment of the business such as property, infrastructure and investments.

Last year Temasek proposed offer of SGD7.35 a share (including SGD0.15 dividend declared after the proposal date) of SGD4 billion to raise stake to 51 percent.

This partial offer has a condition called Material Adverse Change (MAC) clause, stating that Keppel profit after tax must not fall more than 20% or below SGD557 million over the combined of four quarters from 3Q2019.

Keppel current cumulative PAT until End Jun2020 is minus SGD165 million. This mean that to meet this condition, 3Q 2020 result must be at least SGD887 million. This is highly unlikely considering Keppel past years average quarterly profit hovered around SGD200 million.

This means that Keppel will not meet the MAC clause and Temasek can either:
·       cancel its offer?
·       waived off the clause?
·       Re-offer a lower price?
·       Or?


Will Temasek offer of SGD7.35 a share goes on?

The decision will be made known by end of August?

Share price of Keppel is SGD5.18 (at time of writing) with a P/BV of 0.9. During early 2016 oil crisis, Keppel PB dropped to 0.82 or SGD4.88. Covid March low is SGD4.82.


In my opinion, Temasek will continue with the offer amid a lower price. I may be wrong! Just my feel.

Eventually, I feel that Temasek will want to repeat the proposal for Sembcorp to Keppel, i.e. to de-merge O&M businesses.

Question is when?

I always picture that Temasek is liken to be our “Father” and SG Government is like our “Grand Father”!

Anyway, Temasek will always have or want control over the main companies in Singapore which forms the pillars of the country’s business. For e.g. Temasek has major shares in Financial institution (DBS), Transport (Comfort Delgro, SBS, SIA, SATS), Tele-communication (Singtel, Starhub, M1), Media (SPH), Properties (Capitaland, Ascendas, Mapletree) Technology (ST), O&M, Infrastructure (Keppel and Sembcorp) etc.

And then in bad times, Temasek will always come to the rescue of his son, just like Singapore government coming to rescue of Singaporeans during the Covid crisis. Sounds good huh… Blessed huh…

Good? (or maybe Bad?)

There is always someone to depend on, be it Singaporeans depending on the country, or major important businesses in Singapore depending on Temasek. In the short term, it seems great to have someone always protecting you behind the scene.

In the long run, or perhaps one day, what if the Father or the Grandfather will not be around, or they themselves also become weak. Then how…?

Sometimes I felt that we Singaporeans are like under-aged kids that will never grow and never be independent. We are always under our Grandfather or Father’s safety shelter net. No matter how old the child is, he/she will always be under the father’s monitoring and supervision at all times.

The child will never be able to go on his/her own adventure to seek for what he/she really want. Creativity and independence and survivor of the fittest seems a distant reality. Comfort zone sets in. The child rarely dares to voice out his/her own opinion, since the father’s opinion always overwrites his/hers.

The child’s role is just to be obedient and please the father. Failure is deemed incompetent, while elsewhere, failure is the opportunity to learn and grow.

The Grandfather or father will be forever be controlled in the child’s financial well-being. The child will always depend on the father for direction, guidance and advices. He/she will always be deemed incapable of looking after himself/herself and always seem incompetent of making informed decisions for his/her own well-being.

When child gets into trouble, the father will always come to the rescue!

Within the country, the child will think highly about himself/herself. But in the real outside world, he/she will be lost in the jungle, if, without his/her “Grandfather” or “Father” ‘s safety shelter net.

Ok … maybe I am over-exaggerating…

Bad (but maybe Good?)

In the past, I use to be very upset about my family being so poor, seeing my friend having their own bed and their own room, while all of us sleep on the floor and we do not even have a proper table to do my homework. Luckily we always have good neighbours and relatives who will support us for our school textbooks and uniforms, and our Chinese New Year new clothes. 

We were without a HDB of own, as we stayed in no-living-room rental flat followed by one bedroom rental flat. My mum always have financial difficulties even to buy food from market as our household income is less than SGD800 even until late 1990s. Minus the gambling advance pay from boss, my Dad was only left with SGD500-600 a month. Yes, no CPF at all. 

I am always out in the streets and like to stay whole night up in a "mess-room" playing snooker and street fighters or sleep over at friend's house. 

Looking back now, it does seem to be a blessing in disguise. And that is really how I learn to be street smart. On the flip side, it can also mean ending up in jail, like many of childhood friends.

As a Father myself

I will never want my children to follow my childhood footsteps. At the same time, I will be careful not to let them be over-dependent on me. I wouldn't want to control their life forever. I will want them to be creative, be themselves and speak up for what they believe in. However, I will make sure that when they are young, they will be properly guided by the good fundamental principles of life. 

When you learn from mistakes and become stronger, it is great. But as children at younger age, there is also possibility that they are learning the wrong things and take the wrong path and never recover again!

I come out with the "Door Analogy". 

Sometimes your child will only see one door which is straight ahead and walk through it. They may fall right through into the shit hole! As parents, I will tell them to look broader and let them understand that there are actually two more doors beside the one they had seen. Which one to choose is up to them, but at least, we widen their perspective! If they still decide to take the shit hole door, then they must be responsible for their action.  

Sunday, 2 August 2020

Amazon, NOT Just An E-Commerce Company. Growth is Boundary-less?

Tech giants like Apple, Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook have all reported quarterly figures end last week and there is a big Tech rally due to the higher than expected earnings.

Amazon reported net income USD5.2B, compared to USD2.6B in the last quarter. This is on the back of 40% revenue increase to USD88.9B compare to last quarter. Operational CashFlow increased 42% to USD51.2B for the ttm compared to USD36.0B ended June 30, 2019.

At the time of writing this post, Amazon is the second largest company in the world by market capitalization (i.e. USD1.58T) behind Apple (i.e. USD1.84T). For more about Amazon’s financials, refer to Yahoo finance here.

In this article, I am not going to focus on the financial analysis of Amazon, but instead tell you more about Amazon’s business aside from E-commerce. Frankly, if we are to go in depth into all of Amazon’s businesses, it will be an extremely long article. Therefore, in this article I will try to optimise writings (to below 2500 words) and yet cover most of Amazon’s businesses.  

Disclaimer: Most of the information reported here is gathered from Amazon’s annual reports, websites, Wikipedia, news articles such as Yahoo News, CNBC news, Forbes news etc. The author cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information contained herein the blog and its contents. You should independently research and verify, any information that you find on this website.


Recently, I have asked many people about how much they know about the business of Amazon? Most answered that it is an E-commerce company. When I asked further, what else? The answers will be Errr….logistics? What else? Then there is a silence…

Amazon is founded in 1994, 5 July by Jeff Bezos, and named after the largest river of the world. The logo, “a” arrow to “z” means that the company wanted to cover everything from A to Z. Amazon started as an online book seller. Most people will also remember Kindle E-book.

Today, it has the world's largest online marketplace, AI assistant provider, live-streaming platform and cloud computing platform as measured by revenue and market capitalisation.

Products and Services
·    Customer offerings via website:  Mobile apps, Alexa, devices, streaming and physical shops.
·     Manufacture and sell electronic products: Kindle, Fire Table, Fire TV, Echo, Ring
·    Produce Media Content: Amazon Prime: a membership program with free shipping, unlimited access to thousands of movies, TV, etc
·     Offers sellers to sell in Amazon platform with fees.
·     Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers global computing, storage, database etc
·     Content creator : Kindle Direct Publishing, allows author, musicians, film-makers, skills, app developers to create, publish and sell.
·     Acquisition: Ring, Twitch, Whole Foods Market, and IMDb etc


AWS is one of the unstoppable growth businesses of Amazon. It is just so powerful and will create an incredible big impact to how business is conducted in the world in the future.

AWS has the largest public cloud infrastructure platform, comprising 41.5% of application workloads in the public cloud. Microsoft Azure follows behind with 29.4% of the installed base, measured by application workloads. Google Cloud Platform trails with 3.0% of application workloads followed by IBM SoftLayer 2.6%, Rackspace 2.9%, and a long tail of providers that comprise another 20.7% of the market. The scope of long tail provider usage is surprising and may indicate the market is still at an early stage of maturity.

You might not know, but Netflix is the top client of AWS. According to Amazon, Netflix uses more than 100,000 server instances on AWS for nearly all its computing and storage needs, including databases, analytics, recommendation engines, video transcoding, and more—hundreds of functions that in total use more than 100,000 server instances on AWS.

According to Intricately, the top ten AWS users based on EC2 monthly spend are: Netflix: $19 million, Twitch: $15 million, LinkedIn: $13 million, Facebook: $11 million, Turner Broadcasting: $10 million, BBC: $9 million.

The All AWS Case Studies is the best place to get some idea as to who its big customers are. Below are partial list of AWS’s customers.
Adobe Systems, Airbnb, Alcatel-Lucent, Aon, Autodesk, BMW, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Canon,  Capital One, Comcast, Docker, Disney, Expedia, GE, Hearst Corporation, Hitachi, HTC, Intuit, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg Company -SAP ERP Migration, Lafarge, Lyft, NASA, Netflix, News Corp, Nokia, Nordstrom, Novartis, NTT Docomo, Pfizer, Philips, Pitney Bowes, Qantas, Qlik, Ricoh Company, Ltd., Samsung, SAP, Schneider Electric, Scholastic, Siemens, Slack, Spotify, Tata Motors, The Kellogg Company, Time Inc., Unilever, Vodafone, Xiaomi, Yelp, Zillow, Zynga, etc


Amazon also owned or leased data centres.

Source: Wikipedia AWS: As of 2019, AWS operates in 22 geographical "regions": 7 in North America, 1 in South America, 6 in Europe, 1 in the Middle-East, 1 in Africa and 8 in Asia Pacific. Each region is wholly contained within a single country and all of its data and services stay within the designated region. Each region has multiple "Availability Zones",  which consist of one or more discrete data centers, each with redundant power, networking and connectivity, housed in separate facilities. As of Dec 2014, AWS operated ~1.4 million servers across 28 availability zones.

Source: Annual Report 2019 Amazon: AWS is also inherently more efficient than the traditional in-house data center, using a more efficient evaporative cooling in certain data centers instead of traditional air conditioning. A study by 451 Research found that AWS’s infrastructure is 3.6 times more energy efficient than the median U.S. enterprise data center surveyed.


Transport and Logisitics, Warehousing - Amazon Maritime, Inc. holds a license to operate as a non-vessel-owning common carrier (NVOCC), which enables the company to manage its own shipments from China into the United States.

Amazon is also building out its logistics in trucking and air freight to potentially compete with UPS and FedEx. By 2021, Amazon Air (airplane logistics) will have at least 70 cargo aircraft operating out of over 20 air gateways in the United States. This is bigger than many national airlines of developing countries.

Prime Air which is Amazon drone delivery services will also be soon become operational. Amazon also runs more than 60,000 of its own delivery trucks, not to count the more than 100,000 on order. In a Forbes report Sep last year, Amazon now delivers 60 percent of its own packages through its own drivers.

Across the globe, Amazon also own or lease warehouses called fulfilment centres with high technology robotics (i.e. Amazon Robotics), and automation technology. From its website, it states that it has more than 175 operating fulfilment centres and more than 150 million sqft of space.

Supermarket - Whole Foods Market, a physical retailer acquired in 2017 for USD13.4B. It is an American supermarket chain exclusively featuring foods without artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, sweeteners, and hydrogenated fats.

Media – TV, Music Radios - Amazon Studios is a film and television studio. Prime Video: Amazon distributes downloads and streaming of video, music, and audiobooks through its Prime Video, Amazon Music, Twitch, and Audible subsidiaries. Audible.com sells digital audiobooks, radio and TV programs and audio versions of magazines and newspapers. Brilliance Audio, an audiobook publisher founded in 1984 was purchased by Amazon in 2007 for an undisclosed amount.

Healthcare - Health Navigator develops APIs (application program interface)  for online health services. It forms part of Amazon Care, which is the company's employee healthcare service. In 2018, Amazon acquired PillPack, an online pharmacy, for $750 million. PillPack has an in-network pharmacy with all major pharmacy benefit managers, including CVS Caremark, Express Scripts, Optum Rx, Prime Therapeutics, Humana Pharmacy Solutions, Cigna, Aetna, MedImpact, EnvisionRx, and CastiaRX. It is estimated that U.S. prescription sales totaled $476.2 billion in 2018.

Alexa (virtual AI assistant) health team built an experience that lets U.S. customers check their risk level for COVID-19 at home. Customers can ask, “Alexa, what do I do if I think I have COVID-19?” or “Alexa, what do I do if I think I have coronavirus?” Alexa then asks a series of questions about the person’s symptoms and possible exposure. Based on those responses, Alexa then provides CDC-sourced guidance. Amazon also have similar health service in Japan. The UK government awarded Amazon a contract that gives the company free access to information about healthcare published by the UK's National Health Service, so that Alexa can answer medical questions.

Aside from Medical, Alexa is also used in speakers, music playback, making to-do lists, set alarms, streaming podcasts, play audiobooks, provide weather and traffic info, and other real-time news. Alexa can also control several smart devices using home automation system. As of November 2018, Amazon had more than 10,000 employees working on Alexa and related products. In January 2019, Amazon's devices team announced that they had sold over 100 million Alexa-enabled devices.

Education - Academic institutions around the world are transitioning from in-person to virtual classrooms and are running on AWS to help ensure continuity of learning. And governments are leveraging AWS as a secure platform to build out new capabilities in their efforts to end this pandemic.

E-Books - Shelfari - a social cataloging website for books that allows users to build virtual bookshelves of the titles which they owned or had read and they could rate, review, tag and discuss their books. Goodreads, founded in Dec 2006 allows individuals to freely search it’s database of books, annotations, and reviews. CreateSpace offers self-publishing services for independent content creators, publishers, film studios, and music labels, became a subsidiary in 2009.


E-Comics - ComiXology, a cloud-based digital comics platform with over 200 million comic downloads as of September 2013. Amazon bought the company in April 2014.

Gaming - Twitch is a live streaming platform for video, primarily oriented towards video gaming content. In August 2014, Twitch was acquired by Amazon for $970 million. Through Twitch, Amazon also owns Curse, Inc., an operator of video gaming communities and a provider of VoIP services for gaming. Since the acquisition, Twitch began to sell games directly through the platform, and began offering special features for Amazon Prime subscribers.

Consumer Electronics - Amazon produces consumer electronics including Kindle e-readers, Fire tablets, Fire TV, and Echo devices. Lab126, developers of integrated consumer electronics such as the Kindle, became a subsidiary in 2004. Annapurna Labs - In January 2015, Amazon Web Services acquired Annapurna Labs, an Israel-based microelectronics company reputedly for US$350–370M. Eero - manufactures mesh-capable routers. The company was founded in 2015 and is based in San Francisco. Amazon announced it would buy Eero in 2019.

Automation – Ring Inc is a home automation company founded by Jamie Siminoff in 2013. It is primarily known for its WiFi powered smart doorbells, but manufactures other devices such as security cameras. Amazon bought Ring for US$1 billion in 2018.

Robots - Amazon Robotics, formerly Kiva Systems, is a company that manufactures mobile robotic fulfilment systems. Its automated storage and retrieval systems were previously used by companies including: The Gap, Walgreens, Staples, Gilt Groupe, Office Depot, Crate & Barrel, and Saks 5th Avenue. After those contracts ran out, Amazon did not renew them and Kiva's assets now work only for Amazon's warehouse.

Satellites - Kuiper Systems. Amazon announced in April 2019 that they would fund and deploy a large broadband satellite internet constellation called "Project Kuiper". It is expected to take up to a decade to fully deploy all 3,236 satellites planned for the full constellation in order to provide internet to "tens of millions of people who lack basic access to broadband internet. "Amazon has not announced if they intend to sell broadband service directly to consumers, but they will "offer broadband service through partnerships with other companies."

R & D - A9.coma company focused on researching and building innovative technology, since 2003.


From Annual Report,



Based on 2019 Annual report, North Americas’ business comprise of USD170B out of company total revenue of 280B i.e. 60%. 

International’s net sales is only 27% of the overall business net sales. Hence,  there is big room to grow, especially in India where online sales only account for 1.6% of the total country’s retail sales. Retail sales in China is 15% and globally is 14%.

AWS’s sales still only comprises of 13% of the business. After Covid crisis, the importance of online or digital services is unquestionable. Cloud usage all over the world will only see far-reaching increase in future.

Of course, like any other business, there are also risks. Aside from many competition catching up, the laws of countries may change affecting adversely Amazon’s businesses. For example, Tax changes, data collected by the company under close regulator surveillance, EU anti-trust charges etc can adversely affect Amazon’s businesses. There is also possibility that acquisition is not integrated properly. 

Still, in my opinion, Amazon’s growth has no boundary. And the company is constantly innovating and spend a whole lot of its earnings on R&D. The “Day One” manifesto (refer here 1998 letter to shareholder) means that Amazon will always act like a startup. To act like a startup, Bezos requires Amazon employees to do these four things:

·       Be obsessed with the customer
·       Focus on results over process
·       Make high quality decisions quickly
·       Embrace external trends quickly

Furthermore, Bezos believes that "Day Two" is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day One at Amazon." 

Below is a video of Amazon city of the future.

Saturday, 1 August 2020

My Wife Found a New Job – The Applications, Interviews, And The Decision! (Part 2)

Earlier articles:

My Wife Found a Better Job in Less than 2 Months - With My Advices! (Part 1). Her ex-Company Asked Her to Take 50% Paycut!


My wife sent a total of 15 applications via Linkedin. Most applications bring her to company websites of hiring companies. I told her NOT to MASS SEND her applications. Be focus on the relevance of her experiences to suit the company’s job description.

Also, it is better to apply for bigger and more profitable companies that can tide through the crisis. I will help her to analyse the company by looking at their websites or annual reports if available.

The sector is also important. Go for Tech, Financial Services or Real Estate. I feel that these are the sectors that have greater growth capacity. She is lucky in a sense, that her role in her previous company is able to transit across multiple industry, which helps.


She attended 3 companies’ interviews. 
I told her not to spend too much time keep attending interviews. Focus on 3 or 4 companies, then shortlist 2 to decide.


The first interview was a local Tech Start up with less than 50 people. While it is a pretty new, it is backed by a financially strong investor. Because it is a smaller company, the interview was very informal (perhaps tech culture). Interview went well, and hiring manager is nice too. The only thing is he/she kept asking my wife to manage her expectation in terms of pay and benefits, stressing that they are still a small company and it is very difficult to compare to her previous MNC company.

My wife is eager because this is her first interview, despite a potential more than 25 to 30% pay cut. I told her to continue looking, and not settle for this first interview, because financial survival is still a concern for the company.


Company B is her first application and interview was set up two weeks later. This is a Global Financial Service Provider who is the market leader in their sector. The role is 90 percent or more, relevant to her current job.

During the interview, she met with the hiring manager (a Director) and another Director. The interview went really well.  The hiring companies totally understand why she has to leave her current company and love the fact that her experience is very relevant to the position they are looking for.

After the meeting, the hiring manager expresses that he/she really like my wife to join him/her. Nonetheless, the company cannot confirm the offer within a short time, as it is company policy to meet with more candidates, before deciding. Further to that, the shortlisted candidates will require to be met and approved by the top boss. The hiring manager asked my wife not to confirm with other company and in a way give them the right of first refusal.


This is the company she accepted the offer. Refer to Part 1.

My Wife Found a Better Job in Less than 2 Months - With My Advices! (Part 1). Her ex-Company Asked Her to Take 50% Paycut!

This was one of her last applications sent. Within short time, HR personnel contacted her. The HR is very friendly. Interview with the hiring manager who is in another country was arranged within the same week as well. The salary budget the company has was also more than 10 percent higher than her current pay.

The meeting went exceptionally well. The hiring manager was extremely open and mentioned that my wife is by far, the most suitable candidate, and that they will not meet any other more candidate anymore, and will put up a proposal offer to her subject to approval by hiring’s manager’s superior.

The meeting with the hiring manager’s superior was set up within another few working days. The meeting was relatively ok, not too bad, but not as good, as my wife wanted compared to the last one.

While still recovering from the decent interview with the top boss, and with a bit dejection, the good news came a few work days later. The HR personnel called to confirm their interest telling my wife that an email offer will be sent to her the following Monday.


My wife faced a dilemma between Company B and C! She asked for my advices.

She preferred Company B, because Hiring manager is Singaporean and seems super nice. The environment is mainly local Singaporean colleagues, and very slim chance of being retrenched (as told), and the job is only local market, diminishing the need to travel.

However, I prefers Company C. This is because, it is more cosmopolitan which my wife is used to, and she excelled in it previously. Her boss is young and creative type, and easy-going, based overseas. The remuneration budget is higher without even negotiation, while Company B keeps telling her to manage her pay expectation, despite liking her.

Company C’s role is newer for my wife with 50 percent relevance, meaning, still a lot to learn, which I think is better. It is a more creative role with very little boundaries and it seems fun also, to be able to meet with clients together with the sales personnel. Quite the opposite, Company B’s role is almost 90 to 100 percent similar to her last job. It is a lot of tedious work, and frankly I prefer she not to come back home 2-3am again, like her previous job.

Anyway, we prayed for God’s guidance.

Meeting with Company B top Boss
During this time when Company C had signalled their offer, Company B called to arrange meeting with their top boss at the end of the week. My wife actually told them she is going to receive an offer coming Monday from Company C. The HR quickly arranged her interview to be on Monday. We appreciated her effort.

In the interview, Company B top boss was late. We reckon he/she is a Singaporean due to accent and the following statement, that left a very deep impression for me.  

“In this job, you have to work long hours, and you have to “Bao-Ga-Liao” everything, are you ok with it?” – by Company B top boss.
-        “Bao-Ga-Liao” means “to do everything” yourself in Hokkien.  

After the interview (Monday), the HR manager told my wife they will make the offer by Friday.


Both companies B and C are global market leader in their field with at least more than USD1 Billion profits. B in digital and financial while C in digital and real estate. Both companies hire thousands locally. B is more local culture, while C is more cosmopolitan. B is only dealing with local market, while C is a regional role including the need to speak Mandarin, since my wife’s bosses both cannot speak Mandarin. B is 90 percent relevant to her previous job that is very tedious, while C is a very new product here in this region with lots of creativity needed. 
B is nearer to our house, with C another 15 mins more. 

Company C adhere to their promise
On Monday, the HR from Company C kept her promise and sent the email offer. Although it comes late Monday night, but the HR already messaged my wife earlier explaining that she still need to sort out a few approvals, and she is travelling for that day, and asked for her understanding. This is a nice courteous gesture.

The salary was higher than expected. Wow….!!! 

Company C’s HR also told my wife that she has helped to fight for a higher than expected salary! We were touched by the sincerity of just an HR executive. It speaks a lot about the company.

Company B did not adhere to their promise
On the contrary, Company B offer did not come by Friday as they have promised. And also without any message why it did not come as promise.  On top of not honouring their promise, I personally is also very disgusted by the lateness of the top boss, and the “Bao-Ga-Liao” statement liken to the Singaporean squeeze Singaporean culture. I also felt that they are a bit stingy.

Also, the whole interviewing to confirmation process takes so long, a typical of corporate bureaucracy. This is despite the hiring manager expresses firm interest and ask my wife to give them Rights of First Refusal of hiring. Eventually, I feel that the Top boss is overwriting hiring manager’s decision, hence the delay in choice.

Easy Choice – Company C
This breaking of promise, and overwriting hiring manager’s decision is super bad in my opinion.

Company C took within 3 weeks to confirm offer and within less than 4 weeks to have the contract sign. Company B, in their 7-8 weeks still cannot confirm their choice.

Furthermore, the official contract by Company C was attached with Company’s handbook for my wife to give her comments. This is unusually good, as most company will only show you the company’s handbook after you start work.

Not to say, the salary of Company B is more than 30 percent lower than Company C!

The choice is easy for us though. Thank God.