Malaysia’s tech companies to benefit from US-China trade row | Digital Asia

Digital Asia News Update

China has become increasingly important to Malaysian equipment suppliers buyers for capital equipment for semiconductors as well as by the EMS players in China. — Reuters photo

KUCHING: Malaysian involved in the development of tech components are set to from the current US-China tensions as China looks to cutting its trade tariffs to cushion the impact from the on-going row with the US, analysts observed.

In a report, the research arm of Maybank Investment Bank Bhd (Maybank IB Research) noted that China's Cabinet, chaired by Premier Li Keqiang, has proposed a tariff cut on a range of big-ticket imports (covering 1,585 products) as it braces for the impact from the on-going trade war with the US.

It pointed out that this tariff reduction includes machinery, textile, and construction materials and it could save companies and consumers circa US$8.7 billion.

While the detailed list is not available yet, the research team opined: “From the onset, we view this as potential positive for the local tech equipment players, led by ViTrox Corporation Bhd (in terms of revenue exposure to China), as this tariff cut (depending on the details) could lift the appeal for Malaysia as a source for tech capital equipment.”

It further highlighted that based on the recent corporate results reporting results, China has become increasingly important to Malaysian tech equipment suppliers buyers for capital equipment for semiconductors as well as by the EMS players in China.

“Players such as ViTrox, Pentamaster Corporation Bhd (Pentamaster), MMS Ventures Bhd (MMSV) and Mi Equipment Holdings Bhd (Mi) saw significant growth in sales to China, illustrating their core competencies in the tech space for their respective technology (for inspection and test equipment).

“The tariff cut announced by China on Wednesday night signals that China is persistent about its ‘Made in China 2025' plans, in our view, of which semiconductor components is one of the key areas targeted,” Maybank IB Research commented.

Aside from that, the trade tensions between US and China also open up the possibility of further mergers and acquisitions (M&As).

“Recently, we have seen a takeover offer on a listed OSAT player in Malaysia by Chinese and Malaysian offerors and we do not rule out similar M&A or investment activities, especially in the tech equipment space which will support China's self-sufficiency for semiconductor components to meet its ‘Made in China 2025' plans.

“Our checks with the Malaysian equipment suppliers also reveal strong intention for M&A activities considering their robust cash generation and cash war chest,” the research team said.

While the market has yet to price in M&As or investment potentials from China into Malaysia's technology supply chain, Maybank IB Research is still positive on the local tech names.

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