1.Who are the issuers in the Malaysian bond market?

The main issuers of public debt are the Government of Malaysia, the central bank (Bank Negara Malaysia), and quasi government institutions (Khazanah, Danamodal and Danaharta).
Corporate bond and sukuk and asset-backed securities are issued by the National Mortgage Corporation (Cagamas Berhad), financial institutions and non-financial corporations.

Bond issuers have an option to issue bonds under the conventional or Islamic principles.

2.What is the difference between Islamic bonds and conventional bonds?

Islamic bonds are similar to conventional bonds in Malaysia. They always have fix term maturity, can bear a coupon, and trade on the normal yield price relationship. For conventional investors, the structuring of the bonds by the issuer is immaterial. The difference lies only in the way the issuer structures the bonds.
An Islamic bonds is structured such that the issuance is not an exchange of paper for money consideration with the imposition of an interest as per conventional. It is based on an exchange of approved asset for some financial consideration that allows the investors to earn profits from the transactions. Approval of the assets and the contract of exchange would be based on Shariah (Islamic law) principles, which is necessary to meet the Islamic requirement.

The various type of Islamic-based structures used for the creation of Islamic bonds are sale and purchase of an asset based on deferred payment, leasing of specific assets or participation in joint-venture businesses.

3.Who are the investors in the Malaysian bond market?
 The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) is a major investor in the Malaysian bond market. Other main players include pension funds, unit trusts, insurance companies, asset management companies, discount houses and commercial banks.
4.Other key market participants?
 The Bank Negara Malaysia's (BNM) list of key market participants includes securities companies and principal dealers. These intermediaries are involved in the issuance, sale and trading of debt securities in the primary and secondary markets. In October 2005, BNM allowed commercial banks, finance companies, merchant banks and discount houses to short sell Malaysian Government Securities.
5.How many bond pricing agencies in Malaysia?
 In January 2006, the Securities Commission issued guidelines for the introduction of bond pricing agencies (BPA). BPA's objective is to provide daily fair value prices of all MYR-denominated bonds traded in the over-the-counter market. Currently, Bondweb Malaysia is the only registered BPA.
6.Are the bonds rated?
 Malaysia is rated by the global rating agencies for its long-term foreign currency as follows:

S&P A- (Oct 03)
Moody's A3 (Dec 04)
Fitch A- (Nov 05)

Corporate bond ratings are mandatory. Government and government guaranteed debt are exempted for the domestic bond issuance. There are two private credit rating agencies in Malaysia, which are Rating Agency Malaysia Bhd (RAM) and Malaysian Rating Corporation Bhd (MARC).
7.What are the exchanges and trading platforms involved in the bond market?

Fully Automated System for Issuing/Tendering (FAST) enables electronic submission and processing of tenders for scripless securities and short-term corporate bond and sukuk in the primary market.

Bursa Malaysia (previously known as the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange) is responsible in listing corporate bond and sukuk by overseeing all trading transactions through the System on Computerised Order Routing and Execution (SCORE) and WinSCORE trading systems.

The Electronic Trading Platform (ETP) run by BNM facilitates over-the-counter trading transactions. ETP is a centralised database on Malaysian debt securities that is integrated with Fully Automated System for Issuing/Tendering (FAST). ETP provides information on terms of issue, real-time prices, details of trades done, and supplies relevant news on debt securities issued by both the government and the private sector.

For the derivatives market, the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Bhd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bursa Malaysia, operates a futures market for Malaysian Government Securities and the Kuala Lumpur Interbank Offered Rate (KLIBOR).

The Labuan International Financial Exchange (LFX) also lists and trades bonds. LFX is an offshore financial exchange based in Labuan that is the international offshore financial centre for Malaysia. It offers complete services from the submission of application to approval, listing, trading and settlement of the instruments listed. LFX is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bursa Malaysia.

8.Is the income derived from the investment subject to withholding tax?
 Interest income from bonds or securities issued by a specified list of issuers is tax exempt.
9.Is investor's right protected when the debtor is unable to pay its debt?

Bondholder rights are protected under the Companies Act 1965 and Securities Industry Act 1993.

Under the Companies Act, creditors, including bondholders, can file a winding-up petition for a company when the debtor is unable to pay its debts. When a winding-up order is made, the court appoints a liquidator who oversees the liquidation process.

Foreign creditors have the same rights as local creditors under Malaysian laws.

Under the Securities Industry Act (SIA), all bond issuers are required to enter into a trust deed with an appointed trustee. The trust deed contains bond provisions, covenants, and other requirements set by the Securities Commission (SC). The trustee's role is to safeguard the interests of the bondholders as set out in the trust deed and in the SIA.

Bond documents (e.g., prospectus, term sheets) also contain covenants and relevant default clauses specific to the bond issue that provide additional protection to bondholders. The SC's site provides copies of term sheets and/or principal terms and conditions of bond issuances.
10.What is reference rate for the pricing of the domestic issuance?
 Most banks use the Kuala Lumpur Interbank Offered Rate (KLIBOR) as a benchmark for pricing loans to corporate bodies as well as for the pricing of other money market instruments. The daily average of Islamic interbank rates known as Kuala Lumpur Islamic Reference Rates (KLIRR) is also available for Islamic instruments' reference.
11.Can investors short sell their securities?

Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) issued guidelines in October 2005 on the short selling of securities in Malaysia's money market. Previously, short selling was limited to primary dealers. With the new regulations, commercial banks, finance companies, merchant banks and discount houses that are interbank players, and universal brokers as approved by the Securities Commission to undertake short selling transaction are now included as eligible participants.

The BNM still does not allow retail investors to short sell government securities. Only interbank players licensed under the Banking and Financial Institutions Act (BAFIA) 1989 and universal brokers as approved by the Securities Commission are allowed to do a short selling transaction.

Eligible securities for short selling includes any specific issue of Malaysian Government Securities with an outstanding nominal amount of at least RM2.0 billion and remaining tenure to maturity of 10.5 years or less, at the time when the short selling position is created. Participants can transact for their own account only. Other types of government debt securities and financial instruments such as equities are still not allowed to be sold short in the Malaysian capital market.

Last Updated : 29/01/2013 14:53 PM