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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

IBM Scalable Quantum Computing

IBM Paves The Way Towards Scalable Quantum Computing

Alex Knapp, Forbes Staff

Three superconducting qubits. (Credit: IBM Research)

IBM has announced today that it’s achieved a breakthrough in its work to develop scalable quantum computing by developing a superconducting qubit made from microfabricated silicon that maintains coherence long enough for practical computation.

And now that I’ve thrown a ton of information at you in one tiny sentence, let’s break it all down. I had a chance to talk with IBM scientist Matthias Steffen about this new technology, and he broke it down for me. Let’s start with the qubit. Classical computing, as you probably know, is based on the bit. A bit can exist in one of two possible states, which are typically referred to as “0″ or “1″. A qubit is the equivalent of a bit for quantum computing. It can be in three possible states – “0″ or “1″ or both. The “both” state is known as the superposition. Now, the difference may seem subtle, but mathematically, it’s huge. A few hundred qubits can contain more classical bits of information than the the universe has atoms.

IBM Shrinks Computer Memory Into Only Twelve Atoms

What makes quantum computing challenging is the problem of decoherence. When a qubit is moved from the 0 state to either 1 or the superposition, it will decohere to state 0 due to interference from other parts of the computer. In order for quantum computing to be scalable and practical, the qubits have to be coherent for a long enough time that error-correction techniques can be employed to make sure that the decoherence doesn’t prevent accurate computation.

“In 1999, coherence times were about 1 nanosecond,” Steffen told me. “Last year, coherence times were achieved for as long as 1 to 4 microseconds. With these new techniques, we’ve achieved coherence times of 10 to 100 microseconds. We need to improve that by a factor of 10 to 100 before we’re at the threshold we want to be. But considering that in the past ten years we’ve increased coherence times by a factor of 10,000, I’m not scared.”

Alex Knapp Forbes Staff
 MIT's Scott Aaronson Explains Quantum Computing

The IBM team has taken two approaches to quantum computing, both of which factor into the breakthroughs announced here. The first approach is building a 3-D qubit made from superconducting, microfabricated silicon. Steffen notes that the benefit of using silicon for these qubits is that the manufacturing equipment and know-how already exists – new techniques don’t have to be developed. 3-D qubits were pioneered by the Schoelkopf Lab at Yale, and Steffen expressed his admiration for that work. Building on the Yale techniques, the IBM team was able to maintain coherence for 95 microseconds. (“But you could round that to 100 for the piece if you want,” Steffen joked.)

How To Make A Cheaper Quantum Computer

 The second approach involved a traditional 2-D qubit, which IBM’s scientists used to build a “Controlled NOT gate” or CNOT gate, which is a building block of quantum computing. A CNOT gate connects two qubits such that the second qubit will change state if the first qubit changes its state to 1. For example, if qubit A’s state is changed from 0 to 1, and qubit B’s state is 1, it will flip to state 0. But if qubit A’s state is changed from 1 to 0, qubit B is unaffected. That seems simple enough, but when you scale multiple logic gates like this together, you have a very real basis for computation. The CNOT gates were able to maintain coherence times of 10 microseconds, which is long enough to show a 95% accuracy rate. The previous accuracy record for CNOT gates was 81% accuracy, so this is a huge step.  Of course, Steffen was quick to note that there’s still a ways to go before this can be implemented as a computing solution. That makes common sense, since 95% is accurate, but in the long run you need the accuracy to be as close to 100% as possible.
The Inner Workings of a Quantum von Neumann Computer

Given the rapid progress that IBM has made, scalable quantum computing is starting to look like a real possibility. As error-correction protocols improve and coherence times lengthen, accurate quantum computing becomes a real possibility. But don’t expect to have a quantum smartphone anytime soon using this technique. In order to get the results the IBM team has seen in either the 2-D or 3-D configuration, the qubits have to be cooled down to less than a degree above absolute zero.

“There’s a growing sense that a quantum computer can’t be a laptop or desktop,” said Steffen. “Quantum computers may well just being housed in a large building somewhere. It’s not going to be something that’s very portable.  In terms of application, I don’t think that’s a huge detriment because they’ll be able to solve problems so much faster than traditional computers.”

The next steps for the team is to improve coherence and error-correction protocols to the point where the accuracy is over 99.9%. That means they’ll have achieved a “logical qubit” – one that, for practical purposes, doesn’t experience decoherence. From that point, the next step is to develop a quantum computing architecture. IBM is considering some possibilities here, including developing some quantum memory architechture. But what encourages Steffen in these endeavors is that these are questions of engineering, not of theory.

“We are very excited about how the quantum computing field has progressed over the past ten years,” he told me. “Our team has grown significantly over past 3 years, and I look forward to seeing that team continue to grow and take quantum computing to the next level.”

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

HSBC makes £13.8bn profits

HSBC sign HSBC's annual profits rose 15% to £13.8bn ($21.9bn) in what it called a year of "major progress".

The bank said that 2011 was a year of major progress for HSBC

The bank is the biggest in Europe and makes about 90% of its profits outside the UK.

HSBC's UK profits were 17.2% higher than last year at £1.5bn.

The bank singled out its "strong performance" in faster-growing markets, with revenue up 12% in Asia and Latin America, as well as in the Middle East and North Africa.

It said these regions now accounted for 49% of group revenue. It also said 2011 was a record for commercial banking.

Profit before tax in that division was up 31% at almost £5bn.

Also helping the headline profit figure was a rise of £2.5bn in the value of its debt.

The investment banking division fared less well. Profits there fell 24% to £15bn as a result of the eurozone crisis.

UK banking
The UK division met its Project Merlin lending targets, set by the government.

It lent £49.4bn to businesses, well above its target of £38.8bn, with £11.9bn going to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

HSBC also increased mortgage lending by 12% to £13.2bn and expects to increase that to £15bn this year, with £3bn earmarked for first-time buyers.

Like other UK banks, HSBC has faced claims over mis-sold payment protection insurance - policies which were sold to maintain loan repayments in the event of illness or redundancy.

But in many cases, the insurance was sold to those who were not appropriate customers for the product.
The bank said it was "truly sorry" to those adversely affected by "our failings".

Lloyds Bank last week took back £2m in bonuses from senior executives, and HSBC said it, too, had exercised "clawback".

HSBC's total bonus pool for the year to 31 December was £2.64bn.

Top earners
The group chief executive, Stuart Gulliver, received a total pay award of £7.2m, made up of a £1.2m salary, a £2.2m bonus and long-term incentives of £3.75m, which is in shares and cannot be sold until he retires or leaves the bank.

Mr Gulliver was not the top earner this year, however. Another senior bank employee, who has not been named, will receive £8m in total.

More than 200 key employees in the UK earned a total of £53m.

The size of the remuneration was seen as inappropriate by some, partly because the bank is currently in the process of cutting 30,000 jobs worldwide as part of wide-ranging cost-cutting measures designed to save up to £2.2bn by 2013.

David Fleming, national officer at the union Unite, said: "How can Stuart Gulliver have a clear conscience over his reward package of £7.2m while thousands of staff face uncertainty about their jobs?"

The bank's chairman, Douglas Flint, who will receive £3.4m for 2011, said he accepted that "a few people" were paid "extraordinarily well" but insisted the bank needed to attract and retain the best staff.

HSBC is the currently the most profitable Western bank, with its nearest rival, JP Morgan, reporting a profit of £12bn.

It operates in 80 countries and employs 288,000 people, 50,000 in the UK.

Mr Gulliver said: "2011 was a year of major progress for HSBC. We gained traction in our strategy designed to simplify the structure and improve the management and control of the group.

"I am pleased with our progress, but there is a lot more to do and we remain focused on delivering our targets."

Related posts:

What is a banker really worth?
RBS, biggest British stated-owned bank losses of £3.5bn !
Lloyds, Britain’s biggest mortgage lender plunges to £3.5bn loss for 2011

Malaysia's looming General Election 2012

Key trends in the looming GE13


Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is slated to win the next general election, with the margin depending on how both sides of the political divide appeal to and win over the 1.9 million new voters.

I HAVE spent the past three weeks almost exclusively in Malaysia – travelling and listening to people. A lot of this time has inevitably been spent with fellow writers and editors.

In fact, journalists prefer talking to other journalists so there’s always a danger that we’re living in a bubble — something that we often accuse politicians of doing!

At the same time, and as explained by Malaysian Insider’s Jahabar Sadiq: “We were caught napping in 2008. Ever since, we’ve been over-compensating.”

So bearing in mind our collective fear of being wrong, here – for what it’s worth – are the key trends I’ve identified that will feature in the next general election (GE).

> The delayed pendulum: Ma­lay­sian GEs have tended to follow a pendulum-like movement, with swings to and from Barisan National (BN) in alternate polls.

However, in 2012/3 there will be a subsidiary trend at work in Sabah, Sarawak and Johor (dubbed BN’s “Fixed Deposit”) if there is a shift of Chinese support while the rest of the peninsula reverts to form.

> The democracy wave from Singapore: The vote in southern Johor will be impacted by the many Malaysians who live and work in the city-state.

Having observed the republic’s two nation-wide polls (parliamentary and presidential) in 2011 and witnessed the extent to which the PAP government subsequently reversed unpopular housing, healthcare and immigration policies, Johoreans will have learnt the value of tactical voting in order to engineer policy shifts.

> Sabah: West Malaysian/Umno leaders continue to underestimate the importance of the Royal Commission of Inquiry on Illegal Immigrants for Sabahans (especially the KadazanDusun and Murut communities).

> The Prime Minister’s two key performance indicators (KPIs): Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is slated to win the next GE.

However, victory is only the first of his KPIs.

The second is that he must surpass his predecessor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s 2008 showing (140 seats).

Indeed, the rationale behind Najib’s rise to the premiership was his unspoken promise of returning Umno (and BN) to its earlier glory. Failure to achieve this will lead to a reassessment of his leadership.

> Najib’s presidential style campaign: It has boosted the premier’s approval ratings. Given the fact that Malaysia has adopted the Westminster system, the PM’s popularity has not translated into greater support for Umno (or BN), leaving many potential candidates to struggle.

As such, there is no guarantee that Najib’s personal popularity will strengthen BN in the 13th GE.

> Newly-registered voters: Esti­mated at some 1.9 million, both sides are scratching their heads as to how to appeal to and win over this disparate and largely disinterested mass of voters.

There appears to be little party loyalty and commitment among this group. Their support may well depend on a last-minute and/or unexpected political “black swan-type” event triggering a sudden and massive swing in either coalition’s favour.

> Indian community: The community is no longer virulently anti-Barisan. While Malaysian Indians are by no means “grateful”, the Hindraf-connected anger has dissipated with the departure of MIC honcho Datuk Seri Samy Vellu and Datuk Seri G. Palanivel’s low-key leadership.

The Indian vote will help BN in countless marginal seats.

> NFC – “Istana” Mat Deros for 2012: In 2008 we had Umno’s Port Klang Assemblyman, the late Zakaria Mat Deros, and his infamous “Istana” built on allegedly illegally-acquired land.

In 2012/13 we have the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) scandal, which continues to unfold.

The NFC has been very damaging in rural Malay and Indian communities where voters are most familiar with the economics of cattle-rearing.

> Changing face of domestic politics: Malaysian politics is shifting. This will be the last GE for “institutional” players, the Umno warlords who refuse to court public opinion.

Most of these political dinosaurs can’t be bothered to engage with the public, debate and/or win support from the media.

Indeed, party hacks – from both BN and Pakatan – will become increasingly unpopular and loathed.

They have no future and will be replaced by those who can think, talk and argue in public such as Saifuddin Abdullah, Zambry Abdul Kadir and Shabery Cheek.

Emotional intelligence and humility will also be important. The absence of these two qualities will lead to the premature political demise of certain candidates.

> Kedah: Pakatan extols its successes in Penang and Selangor. However, the coalition is strangely silent about the Kedah government’s less than sterling record of administration.

> Public trust in the Government: Widespread cynicism and distrust will force the Government to shelve many policy and business initiatives.

BN’s ability to command public support without extensive consultation and stakeholder engagement has evaporated.

Put all this together and what do you get? A very, very interesting 2012/13 indeed.

Related posts:
Malaysian Politics: Chua-Lim Debate Sets New Standard
AS will dominate if Pakatan gains power in Malaysia's sarong politics!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Poser over Penang Bayan Mutiara deal

Bayan Mutiara is a prime land
Bayan Mutiara is a prime land, given its proximity to the Bayan Lepas free trade zones, the international airport and also the second Penang Bridge.

Comment by KHOO KAY PENG

There are still several questions left unanswered by the Penang government over the sale of the prime property.

SEVERAL Penang-based analysts and local community leaders have questioned the Penang government for selling a 41.5ha plot of prime state land to a private developer, Ivory Properties Group Berhad, for RM1.07bil.

Their concern is understandable due to scarce availability of state-owned land on the island which may hinder the ability of the state government to drive a balanced development and ensure it does not drive out the lower middle-income group from the area.

Most private property projects on the island are focused primarily on premium and luxury property which have driven up prices beyond the reach of most Penangites. There is worry that the sale of the state-owned Bayan Mutiara land to a private developer may end up in a similar fate.

Apart from escalating property prices, there is a concern that the land may have been sold below the prevailing market value. The state government had explained that the current selling price was above market value at the time of transaction.

However, it does not explain if it is usual to allow the purchaser a period of five years to settle the full payment. Did the transacted price factor in any interest payment accrued by the five-year payment period?

The opportunity cost derived from a potential increase in land premium over the next five years should be included to ensure that it is a fair deal.

Accusations and allegations of a lack of transparency in the tender process should be comprehensively addressed by the state government. Critics had alleged that the sale was done through direct negotiations between the state government and the purchaser.

Without justifying the five-year payment period, these allegations will create doubt over the much ac­­claimed transparency and ac­­count­ability of the state government.

Moreover, the allegations are peppered by talk that a bidder who is prepared to make a full payment for the purchase was not selected during the tender process.

Some analysts have questioned how can the sale benefit the people? They wonder why the development of Bayan Mutiara cannot be taken up by the Penang Development Corporation (PDC) which has the capacity and experience to handle people-centric development projects such as the Penang Free Trade Zones, housing estates, Komtar and others.

Regrettably, the issue of public accountability and good governance has been grossly politicised by certain parties. Politicians have gone to the extent of throwing down the gauntlet of challenging each other to resign over false allegations related to the land sale. We expect such showmanship from politicians but we deserve straight and accurate answers from them.

Politicising this issue is going to deprive many concerned stakeholders a chance to ask relevant and legitimate questions about the decision to sell the land to a private developer.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had described allegations of wrongdoing over the tender award for the Bayan Mutiara mixed deve­lopment project by PDC as “a pack of lies”.

While some of these allegations may be malicious, it is pertinent for Lim’s administration to identify legitimate concerns over the sale. He should acknowledge that the state government controls less than 5% of total land size on the island and this calls for a prudent and strategic management of state-owned prime land.

Hence, it is best for his administration to address these issues immediately in order to convince the people of Penang that it has taken the best interests of the people into consideration before agreeing to the sale. Major issues include:

> What was the rationale to allow a five-year payment period to the purchaser? It gives an impression that the purchaser may not have secured financing for the purchase.

> Is it true there was another bidder who was prepared to pay an upfront full payment for the asking price?

> Did the transacted price factor in any interest charges or projected land price appreciation over the next five years?

> Is there any restriction or precondition between the state government and the purchaser to discourage any sub-sales? If the purchaser were to divide and resell some parcels of the land to other developers at a higher premium, it may further drive up property prices on the island. If such sales were allowed, is the state government entitled to a share of the higher premium?

> It is understood that the government would like to use the proceeds from Bayan Mutiara land to finance its low-cost housing scheme in Batu Kawan. While the low-cost housing scheme is welcomed and encouraged, the state government needs to justify if the sale of Bayan Mutiara land is the best option to help finance the project.

> Lim said part of the RM500mil financing for the housing scheme came from the state coffers. If this is the case, what is stopping the state from raising money through external sources to fund the entire project and carefully weigh all options to optimise the use of the Bayan Mutiara prime land bank?

Bayan Mutiara is no longer about selling above the current market value but the use of scarce prime land on the island for the purpose of socio-economic transformation. Ownership of prime land is very crucial for the state government to drive the state’s economy.

We do not want a repeat of high premium-reclaimed lands being sold to private developers who in turn inflate property prices in Penang and raked in billions in profit at the expense of the people.

Bayan Mutiara could be what the state government needs to help transform the landscape of Penang and create new attractions to boost its attractiveness as a tourism and cultural destination and a services hub.

Time will judge if the current state government has made the right decision on Bayan Mutiara and if the proposed plan is not going to turn out to be just another expensive commercial project by a private property developer.

> Khoo Kay Peng is an independent policy analyst and a management consultant. He was born and raised in Penang. Khoo can be contacted at

Malaysians protest against rare earth refinery, Lynas

Opponents of plant, which will process radioactive ore from Australia, say it poses health and environmental risks

Malaysia protest
Protesters say the rare earth plant being built in eastern Malaysia poses a hazard from radioactive waste. Photograph: Bazuki Muhammad/Reuters

About 3,000 Malaysians have staged a protest against a refinery for rare earth elements being built by the Australian mining company Lynas over fears of radioactive contamination.

It was the largest rally so far against the £146m plant in eastern Malaysia, and could pose a headache for the government with national elections widely expected this year.

Authorities recently granted Lynas a licence to operate the rare earth plant in Pahang state, the first outside China in years, and it has been the subject of heated protests over health and environmental risks posed by potential leaks of radioactive waste.

Lynas says its plant, which will refine radioactive ore from Australia, has state-of-the-art pollution controls and plans to start operations by June.

Protesters, including opposition MPs, pledged on Sunday to put pressure on the government to scrap the project. Many wore green T-shirts with the words "Stop Lynas" and some shouted "Destroy Lynas" during the two-hour rally in the Pahang state capital, Kuantan.

The opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, said his alliance would seek an emergency motion in parliament to urge the government to cancel the project. He also pledged that the opposition would scrap the plant if it won national polls expected by June.

"We don't want [this project] to sacrifice our culture and the safety of the children," he told the crowd.

Lynas says its refinery could meet nearly a third of world demand for rare earths, excluding China. It also may curtail China's stranglehold on the global supply of 17 rare earths essential for making hi-tech goods, including flat-screen TVs, mobile phones, hybrid cars and weapons.

Malaysian activists and Pahang residents have sought a court order to halt the Lynas plant.

An International Atomic Energy Agency team, which assessed the Lynas project last year, found it lacked a comprehensive long-term waste management programme and a plan to dismantle the plant once it is no longer operating.

Malaysia's last rare earth refinery, operated by Mitsubishi of Japan, in northern Perak state, was closed in 1992 after protests and claims that it caused birth defects and leukaemia among residents. It is one of Asia's largest radioactive waste cleanup sites.

The rise of social enterprises in Malaysia


Although still at an early stage, they can make a difference in addressing social issues

PROFIT with a conscience - that could well be the mantra for a new kind of business taking root here called the social enterprise.

Although there is no one definition, social enterprises are generally understood to be businesses that exist primarily to fulfil social goals, which could be anything from reducing poverty, creating jobs for the disadvantaged, to educating children in rural areas.

According to Leaderonomics chief executive officer Roshan Thiran, a social enterprise bridges the gap between a traditional non-profit organisation and for-profit corporation (see chart).

In fact, he points out, all businesses start out with some kind of social mission in mind, like how Google was premised on organising information on the Internet, and Ford on making cars that were affordable to the masses.

To accomplish its social objectives, a social enterprise has to find ways to generate income by providing a product or service, and the resulting profits are funnelled back into a specific cause.

Unlike a non-governmental organisation or charity, social enterprises do not rely on donations, but they may seek grants, equity, or loans to support their capital needs.

Kal Joffres, chief operating officer of the Tandem Fund, says that in any case, “there isn't enough free or donor money to go around to fix the problems we have today”. Tandem Fund is a not-for-profit venture fund that invests in social enterprises in Malaysia.

It can be hard to change the mindset of existing leaders, but what we can do is create leaders from the youth. - ROSHAN THIRAN
Social enterprises are still at a very early stage, but they could be very transformative for a lot of the problems we face,” he contends.

Due to their non-traditional structure, social enterprises tend to take innovative approaches around their business model.

In the case of Leaderonomics, which got its seed funding from Star Publications (M) Bhd, The Star's parent shareholder, a part of the proceeds from its training and human resources consultancy work done for corporates is reinvested into its youth leadership-building activities.

For example, the company organises regular leadership camps for young people where half of the spots are reserved for orphans and underprivileged children.

In addition, it opened a youth community centre for “kids-at-risk” called DropZone in Petaling Jaya and is piloting a leadership club for secondary schools.

Leaderonomics' main aim, Roshan says, is to build leaders from the grassroots. “It can be hard to change the mindset of existing leaders, but what we can do is create leaders from the youth. If we are successful in changing their value system into one that is authentic and based on integrity, we have a shot in 20 years to see many leaders in the country emerge from this group,” he says.

To supplement its core mission, it offers a range of consultancy services, such as its talent accelerator programme for those identified as an organisation's “top talent”, and it counts companies like Malakoff, RHB Bank, and Sime Darby among its blue-chip clients.

“Social” returns

In the 1980s, General Electric boss and maverick management guru Jack Welch introduced the idea of “shareholder value” which dictated that a company is duty-bound, above all else, to maximise returns on investment (ROI) for its shareholders, increase its share price, grow its market capitalisation and so on.

Turning this concept on its head, social enterprises measure themselves against a different set of criteria, using terms like social ROI, and the triple bottomline, referring to people, planet, profit.

I think paying taxes makes us more powerful. We are on the same footing as any other business. - DR REZA AZMI 

“Things like marketing and branding, they are not real. But if you can create lasting social value, I think the community will (continue to) give back,” Roshan quips.

Most social enterprises, it would seem, have one thing in common: they were motivated by a problem.

Online crafts retailer Elevyn - whose name was derived from the phrase “the eleventh hour” - started out this way.

One of its founders, Puah Sze Ning, was volunteering with the orang asal in Sabah as part of efforts to document land rights issues and the displacement of local communities when she was asked by one of the women if she could help them sell their handmade crafts in Kuala Lumpur.

“They were really poor - some are single mothers, some are elderly. And they have no other source of income,” explains Mike Tee, co-founder of Elevyn with Devan Singaram.

“Even when they make it, they can't really sell it as Sabah has a very limited market. Sze Ning was quite stumped, she had just finished university at the time. So she came back and felt really helpless.

“During one of our meet-ups, she told us this story. Since we're (Tee and Devan) both software developers, we thought about setting up a website that would connect producers to customers.”

The term “orang asal” refers to all indigenous people throughout Malaysia, while “orang asli” refers to those in the peninsula, Tee says. The website,, sells a variety of fair trade items, and it is worth noting that beside each product display is a box that shows exactly what percentage of its sales price goes to the maker, designer, reseller and for materials.

They were really poor - some are single mothers, some are elderly. And they have no other source of income. - MIKE TEE
“We started with a group in Kudat, Sabah, then expanded to the peninsula with a couple of orang asli groups. Recently, we started working with Burmese refugees based in Kuala Lumpur. People have described us an ebay for the poor,” Tee chuckles.

To get on their feet, the team applied for and won a RM150,000 grant from the Multimedia Development Corp (MDEC) in 2008. At the time, MDEC gave out pre-seed funding to start-ups with technology businesses.

On Elevyn's business model, Tee points out that some 70% to 80% of the sales price goes back to the producers of the goods, and the team receives a 5% cut after deducting PayPal transactions.

“We make very little money from this. That's why for this model to work, we need scale,” he says. A percentage of the profit is also apportioned for a particular cause like school books, for instance.

Currently, Elevyn either sells individual products to visitors at its website or bulk orders directly to corporate clients. They have yet to sell to gift retailers, but Tee says this might be a possibility in the future.

However, several operational hurdles stand in its way. First, the products must address market needs. “Sometimes we tell our producers to make a product this way or that to suit the market, but what they are making could have been passed down from their ancestors, and we certainly don't want to disrupt that,” Tee explains.

Second, constant supply is difficult to ensure, since most of the orang asal depend on the rattan and other raw materials that grow near their homes, which, in turn, may be determined by the seasons.

Profitable venture?

A rented home in Sri Hartamas serves as an office for Wild Asia, a social enterprise that advises clients on environmental and social policies and practices.

“We have been profitable since we started,” exclaims Dr Reza Azmi, Wild Asia founder and director.

“We are service-based, and so did not require a lot of capital,” he says of the enterprise that started out as an online platform for information exchange on nature-related issues.

Some of Wild Asia's services include sustainability assessments to help plantation companies comply with standards set by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, as well as developing their environmental and social management systems.

Social enterprises are still at a very early stage, but they could be very transformative for a lot of the problems we face. - KAL JOFFRES 
This social enterprise got off the ground some 10 years ago with RM10,000 in seed capital from a few individuals, including Reza. Wild Asia, which he says has close to RM1mil in paid-up capital now, is based on a model whereby 65% of its profit goes to its cash reserves as well as to invest in responsible tourism initiatives, such as the Okologie dive and study centre at the Batu-Batu Resort in Mersing, Johor.

A further 25% of its profit is shared among staff and associates as a bonus, while the balance 10% is split between Wild Asia's shareholders.

Reza, who studied biology in the United Kingdom, says he found his calling in conservation work during a gap year from university. “I wanted to be a professional beach bum,” he jokes.

Having done this for a number of years, he observes that there has been growing concern among businesses to preserve the natural world. “Banks and investment houses are starting to take notice. They might refrain, for example, from putting their money in or lending money to companies that deal with converted forests.

“We are one of the groups they hire to verify these things. But its the foreign banks that have specific policies on this,” Reza explains.

Even so, profitability remains a key concern for social enterprises. According to Tandem Fund's Joffres, start-ups break even in about three to five years, but social enterprises can take up to eight years.

“It takes them (social enterprises) longer to grow the market, and they often take smaller margins and do community-building activities at the same time,” he quips. Compounding this is the issue of funding, which can be hard to come by for social enterprises.

The tax question

Another issue that could curtail the growth of social enterprises is the lack incentives and tax breaks. They can currently only register as private limited companies and are taxed as such, since they derive an income from business activities.

Tee says Elevyn is taxed on a percentage of its profits, though not if the company is loss-making. To make things easier for social enterprises, the Social Enterprise Alliance, where Joffres is a committee member, is pushing for more policy recognition for the sector.

For starters, it is hoping to make amendments to the tax policies to make it legal for charitable trusts or foundations to give money to social enterprises.

Foundations cannot provide monetary support to social enterprises under the present tax regime as it would be viewed as an investment by the Inland Revenue Board (IRB), Joffres stresses.

Deloitte Malaysia country tax leader Yee Wing Peng tells StarBizWeek via email that while the Government does provide for tax exemptions on income received under the Income Tax Act 1967, this is for approved charitable organisations.

“A limited liability company or Sdn Bhd is not included because it is formed with a profit-seeking motive and the profits generated can be returned to shareholders in the form of dividends. There is no restriction to prevent the company from distributing profits to the shareholders instead of using the profits solely for charitable purposes.

“I advise the social enterprises to use a legal form that is acceptable to the IRB as this would encourage more donors to contribute due to the availability of tax deduction and with the income exempt from tax, more funds can be channelled for charitable causes.

“If the initiator has to use a Sdn Bhd set-up due to compelling business needs, attempts may be made to the higher authority i.e. the Finance Minister to consider exemptions. Putting in place covenants to ensure that the profits made by the Sdn Bhd can only be used for the intended charitable purposes may help,” Yee explains.

Nonetheless, Wild Asia's Reza argues that social enterprises “don't need handouts to survive”. “I think paying taxes makes us more powerful. We are on the same footing as any other business. You are a business entity just like any other,” he says.

More than money

A key question moving forward for social enterprises will be how sustainable they can be, and what kind of impact they can deliver. That will depend on, among others, how quickly they can adjust their business models to respond to market forces.

Asked about Wild Asia's impact, Reza says it has been the cultural shift within organisations in their treatment of the environment. He cites the example of a major government-linked corporation they had consulted that now has its own 20-man team to do the job internally.

He also notes that Wild Asia is beginning to attract interest from disillusioned corporate dropouts wanting to join his team and do something with a purpose other than financial gain.

According to Tee of Elevyn, the impact of a social enterprise need not be purely financial either. “You can't fix a problem just by putting money into it,” he says.

“There was recently an order that came in from Japan and Spain. We told them (the producers) to ship it to these addresses and the women were very surprised, because to them these countries are a world apart, and yet they had an interest in their products.

“The impact is not just in terms of money, but also the pride that what they're making has value.”

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The rise of the adolescent CEOs

The rise of the adolescent CEOs

Many of today's young entrepreneurs are not old enough to drink or drive, but nothing is stopping them from making millions with their online ventures.


Tim Chae poses for a photo in a conference room where he attends '500 Startups,' a crash course for young companies run by a funding firm of the same name, in Mountain View February 16, 2012. Chae, 20, a Babson College dropout, has raised a small amount of capital for his company, Post Rocket, is seeking more and is hoping the upcoming Facebook IPO will help investors look more kindly on all young entrepreneurs. Photo taken February 16, 2012.  REUTERS-Robert Galbraith
Minomonsters Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Josh Buckley, who turns 20 on February 21, poses for a photograph at his company at The Mint in San Francisco February 17, 2012. Buckley sold a previous company for a low six figures when he was still in high school in Maidstone, England, and his current company is backed by big-name venture-capital firms.        REUTERS-Robert Galbraith
Sahil Lavingia, 19, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Gumroad, an online payments company he started, sits in front of computers at his home which doubles as his office in the SOMA neighborhood of San Francisco February 17, 2012. Lavingia, who was born in New York and grew up in places like London, Hong Kong and Singapore, dropped out of the University of Southern California to work at online bulletin board company Pinterest. He also developed the app for the iPhone.  REUTERS-Robert Galbraith
 Sahil Lavingia, 19, chief executive officer (CEO) of Gumroad, an online payments company he started, works in his home which doubles as his office in the SOMA neighborhood of San Francisco February 17, 2012. Lavingia, who was born in New York and grew up in places like London, Hong Kong and Singapore, dropped out of the University of Southern California to work at online bulletin board company Pinterest. He also developed the app for the iPhone.   REUTERS-Robert Galbraith

(Reuters) - Josh Buckley, chief executive of an online gaming start-up, is looking forward to next month's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, particularly for the parties and the accompanying schmoozing with industry A-listers.

There's one problem: Buckley, who will turn 20 this week on February 22, may be turned away from many of the parties because he is not old enough to drink. His fake ID was recently confiscated, and the two new ones he ordered from a company in China have not yet arrived.

Such are the dilemmas facing the ever-younger entrepreneurs that Silicon Valley investors are backing these days. While little data on the phenomenon exists, venture capitalists say they are funding more chief executives under age 21 than ever before.

"At a certain point, they can't get much younger or we're going to be invested in preschool," quipped Marc Andreessen, whose venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz is one of several that backs Buckley's company, MinoMonsters.

Andreessen and other venture capitalists say the entrepreneurs they fund at 18 or 19 typically have been prepping for years -- learning computer code, taking on ambitious freelance projects and educating themselves on the Internet.

Some are self-consciously molding themselves in the image of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, 27, who created computer games as a child and was taking a graduate-level computer course by his early teens.

Internet businesses that target consumers make a sweet spot for the baby-faced, because online companies often require relatively little capital. A semiconductor start-up might require $10 million to $20 million in the early stages, noted Joe Kraus of Google Ventures, and that would be tough even for the most talented youngster.

"If I'm going to write that big a check, I'm going to invest in people who've done it before," he said. "But if you look at it as, 'Hey, I'm going to raise $500,000,' there's a lot of ways to raise that."

Kraus helped back Airy Labs, an educational social-gaming company run by 20-year-old Andrew Hsu that raised $1.5 million. Hsu is now learning the same hard lessons as many of his elders: the company recently laid off staff and is looking to rent out some of its office space in Palo Alto, California. Hsu said the company is taking a different direction and focusing on a line of new products in math, language arts and science.

Kraus said his biggest hiccups with young entrepreneurs are the business references they don't understand because they are too young to be aware of them.

Andreessen says more than one young entrepreneur has asked him: "What did Netscape do again?" Andreessen co-founded Netscape, which developed the first commercial Web browser and helped launch the Internet era, shortly after graduating from college in 1993.

"I was 9 years old" during the first Internet boom, says Brian Wong, 20, who runs reward-network Kiip. He has had his fill of stories about companies that tanked amid the dot-com bust of 2000. The first time he heard the name Webvan, a legendary dot-com failure, "I had to look it up," he recalled.

Wong has raised more than $4 million from Hummer Winblad Venture Partners and others.

He believes his age helps him and other youthful entrepreneurs. "You're expected to be limitless," he said. "Kind of destructive."

While the freewheeling ways of youth may be a positive for venture capitalists, they are less appreciated by landlords. Tim Chae, the 20-year-old chief executive and co-founder of social-media marketing company PostRocket, said his age and lack of credit created problems when he moved to San Francisco last year and needed an apartment. Finally, his father had to drive the 88 miles from Sacramento to co-sign a lease.

Chae, a Babson College dropout, now lives in nearby Mountain View and attends 500 Startups, a crash course for young companies run by a venture firm of the same name. He has raised a small amount of capital and hopes the upcoming Facebook IPO will help investors look more kindly on young entrepreneurs. "Thank God for Zuckerberg," he says.

Zuckerberg, who left Harvard after two years, is helping recast the notion of dropping out of college. Peter Thiel, an early investor in Facebook and a co-founder of PayPal, is encouraging others to try that path through two-year fellowships for students who take a break from school, move to San Francisco and pursue their entrepreneurial aspirations.

That's what 17-year-old Laura Deming did when she won a fellowship based on her goal of finding and funding anti-aging technologies and left the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Because she is not yet 18, she finds herself faxing documents such as non-disclosure agreements to her dad back in Boston to co-sign.

Other young entrepreneurs have trouble negotiating the highways and byways of Silicon Valley quite literally. Sahil Lavingia, 19, recalls a day last summer when he had several meetings scheduled on Sand Hill Road -- home to many of the nation's leading venture-capital firms -- and no car to get there. The journey of just a few miles took hours by the time Lavingia rode a local train a couple of stops, caught a bus to Stanford University and then hopped a shuttle bus to the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, which is on Sand Hill Road.

Another time, dreading the combination of a hot day and a sweaty walk around Palo Alto, he pulled on a pair of shorts, even though he was heading to a meeting with blue-chip VC Accel Partners. The outfit -- casual even by laid-back Silicon Valley standards -- didn't stop Accel from investing. Lavingia, an alumnus of hot online bulletin-board company Pinterest, raised $1.1 million for his payments start-up, Gumroad.

Buckley also ran into problems getting himself to Sand Hill Road. One night he stayed up until 3 a.m. and slept too late to get to a scheduled meeting with a venture-capital firm. "It didn't go down too well," he said, adding that his profuse apologies and requests to reschedule were met with a curt "no thank you."

Not to worry. Buckley, who had already sold a company while in high school for a sum he says was in the low six figures, raised more than $1 million from Andreessen Horowitz and others.

At the time of the missed meeting, he was attending Y Combinator, a three-month program for start-ups. In a nod to the boy wizard of book and movie fame, Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham has called Buckley "the Harry Potter of startups," but said he was not the youngest to win admission to the program.

That honor goes to John Collison, now co-founder of payment company Stripe, who was admitted at age 16, but did not go through the program, Graham says. Instead, he and his then-19-year-old brother merged their company with another, Auctomatic, and sold it to a Canadian company for $5 million in cash and stock.

Most of the young entrepreneurs say their interest lies in building rather than selling their companies. Buckley had to say as much in response to inquiries he said received recently from Facebook about a possible sale. His determination not to sell stems from advice he received from a successful executive he met last year at Y Combinator: Mark Zuckerberg.

(Reporting By Sarah McBride. Editing by Jonathan Weber and Maureen Bavdek)

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

PAS will dominate if Pakatan gains power in Malaysia's sarong politics!

Most MBs will be from PAS if Pakatan gains power, says Chua


KUALA LUMPUR: The majority of Mentris Besar will be from PAS if Pakatan Rakyat takes state power in the coming general election, MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said.

The Prime Minister would also be from PAS if Pakatan were to take federal power, he added.

Dr Chua said the coming general election was a do-or-die battle for Barisan Nasional and Pakatan, not just MCA.

Given due recogniti on: Boon Kim Lian receiving an award from Dr Chua while his deputy Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai looks on during the ceremony Saturday. 

“There is no room for complacency because Pakatan will do anything to gain control of the country after making some inroads in the last election.

“Pakatan now is very organised and has the resources to take control,” he said at the MCA long service medal presentation ceremony here last night.

Dr Chua said MCA's number one enemy would still be DAP in the elections.

He also stressed the need to expose the party's tactics, so people would not be conned.

”Unlike previous elections, a vote for DAP is a vote for PAS and PKR,” he added.

Dr Chua said Pakatan was only keen to gain power and had no concrete plan for the people or the country's development.

For example, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng had not been able to reply when asked on Pakatan's socio-economic development model for the country.

“All he (Lim Guan Eng) said was money, money, money, and money makes money,” Dr Chua said on the high-profile debate between him and Lim last Saturday.

Apart from exposing DAP's ploy, Dr Chua said MCA must continue to stay united and work hard to face the next election.

He said the party must also adopt a high profile apart from serving the people well.

“I dare say no party can beat us in terms of service to the people since the party's inception 63 years ago,” he said.

Dr Chua said this was one of the reasons MCA was giving out long service medals starting this year.

Meanwhile, MCA secretary-general Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha said the party's never-say-die attitude, as reflected in its continued service to the people after its dismal performance in the last general election, was commendable.

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Judges, Throw the book at Hoslan!


By not taking action against him, the judges have sent a wrong message to Malaysians.

IT’S incredible that an imam who threw his slippers at judges was not cited for contempt of court on the spot. If we talk about respecting and upholding the law, the judges should have just thrown the book at him, so to speak. 

The imam, Tuan Haji Hoslan Haji Hussain, got himself in the limelight last week when he lost control after his application for the Federal Court in Putrajaya to hear his appeal was rejected. He said he was frustrated when documents he had tendered were rejected as they were not sent within the stipulated time.

Hoslan’s problem started when he was removed as the imam of Masjid Al-Rahimah in Kampung Pandan in 2008. Then, in June last year, the Federal Territory Religious Council obtained a court order forcing him to vacate the imam’s quarters where he had been staying for a decade with his seven children.

The FT Religious Council obviously had a disciplinary problem with this former al-Arqam follower but Hoslan, in turn, claimed he had tendered documents alleging irregularities in handling mosque funds.

When the panel of judges heard this case on Wednesday, Hoslan threw a slipper, followed by the other one, at the judges. He then threw his ihram (a piece of white cloth) on the floor and performed the sunat prayer. His actions caused more than a stir.

Police later escorted him out of the court and he was told the judges had decided not to take action against him.

There was only one reporter who witnessed the incident and the judges sought his cooperation not to publish it. So, if not for the online news portal The Malaysian Insider, we would all have missed this unprecedented incident.

Calls by the other media to the offices of the registrar and judges were not returned when they tried to follow up on the report the following day. Only Hoslan seemed to enjoy the attention he was getting from the media.

The three-member panel of judges comprised Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinuddin, who is Chief Judge of Malaya, Datuk Suriyadi Halim Omar and Datin Paduka Zaleha Zahari.

Obviously, the judges have shown compassion, tolerance and liberalism by not wanting to punish the guy. But in doing so, they have sent a wrong message to Malaysians.

They could at least have reprimanded him instead of pretending the incident did not happen and hoping that the media would not become aware of it.

It’s as good as telling us that it was okay for Hoslan to throw his slippers at the judges and then bad-mouthing them to the media outside the court.

It was only after this unfortunate episode became public knowledge that deputy registrar Jumirah Marzuki lodged a report against Hoslan – on Friday, two days later.

More incredibly, she was quoted as saying that she lodged the report because the second slipper which Hoslan had flung towards the Bench had hit her!

Come on, I am not sure whether she expected Malaysians, including the police, to share her disappointment or to laugh at her decision.

Justice Zulkefli has told the media “to let the police investigate”.

Let’s hope the police will not have to take a decade to investigate this open-and-shut case involving an irate man who really needs to have his head examined.

Zulkefli is spoken about affectionately by most court reporters, who describe him as a “kind person”. So they were not surprised when he said “the panel did not make any decision to cite Hoslan for contempt of court as it does not serve any purpose. We do not want to get into the drama. It will complicate the matter further.”

But there are some fundamental issues here. First, the Federal Court is the highest in the country. Two, the panel was led by the second highest judge.

Hoslan does not deserve to be treated like a hero for throwing his slippers at these top judges. By not taking action on the spot, our honourable judges may send the message that they did not mind the action of this man.

No one should be allowed to go scot-free for throwing things at the Bench because they are unhappy, angry, sad or insane. In law, students rely on past court cases or precedents. Well, this is one precedent of a man who threw his slippers at the judges and got away with it.

There is no other way in this case. Hoslan should be taken back to the court and punished. The fact that he is a religious figure should also be taken into consideration. He should have been more composed and exemplary instead of behaving in an outrageous manner.

Throw the book at him!

Frustrated imam ‘bares his sole’


PETALING JAYA: The imam who threw his slippers at judges claimed that he did it out of frustration.

Hoslan Hussain, 46, said he was extremely frustrated because documents he had tendered at the Federal Court had been rejected because they were not sent within the stipulated time.

“But there was no objection earlier during the case management. The case was rejected because the respondent MAIWP (Federal Territory Religious Council) objected,” he said.

Hoslan, a former Al-Arqam follower, created a stir when he threw his slippers at the panel of judges at the Federal Court on Wednesday.

“I became angry. I threw a slipper. I do not know who was hit.

“Then I threw another slipper. And after that I threw my ihram (a piece of white cloth) onto the floor and performed sunat prayer,” he said.

Hoslan said the police later escorted him out of the court and told him the judges had decided not to take action against him for contempt of court.

“I walked out barefoot,” he said.

Hoslan had tendered the documents alleging irregularities in handling mosque funds.

MAIWP had removed him as the imam of the Masjid Al-Rahimah in May 2008, and in June last year, obtained a court order forcing him to vacate the imam quarters where he had been staying for a decade with his seven children.

The Appeal Court and the Federal Court had upheld the High Court decision.

The three-member panel of judges comprised Tan Sri Datuk Zulkefli Ahmad Makinuddin, Datuk Suriadi Halim Omar and Datin Zaleha Zahari.

In Kuala Lumpur, a deputy registrar of the Federal Court lodged a police report yesterday over the slipper-throwing incident.

Deputy registrar Jumirah Marzuki lodged the report against Hoslan as the second slipper which he had flung towards the Bench had hit her.

Justice Zulkefli confirmed that the report had been lodged. “Let the police investigate,” he said.

Asked about the incident, Justice Zulkefli said the panel did not make any decision to cite Hoslan for contempt of court as “it does not serve any purpose. We do not want to get into the drama. It will complicate the matter further”.

Head of corporate communications and international relations Mohd Aizuddin Zolkeply said the Chief Registrar’s office of the Federal Court denied any allegations by Hoslan, including that he had been denied his right to be heard fairly.

“It is unfounded. Our office has all recordings for hearings at the Federal Court,” he said.

Mohd Aizuddin said the judiciary took seriously matters which could tarnish its image.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Lloyds, Britain’s biggest mortgage lender plunges to £3.5bn loss for 2011

Rising Funding Costs Imperil Profit in 2011

Part-nationalised Lloyds Banking Group said today that it is "in a significantly stronger position than it was 12 months ago" despite unveiling total losses of £3.5 billion for last year.The losses, which compare with a £281 million profit the previous year and are driven by a £3.5 billion hit to tackle the payment protection insurance scandal, are nearly twice the size of those at fellow state-backed bank Royal Bank of Scotland.
By  Gavin Finch in London at
Antonio Horta-Osorio - Lloyds
Lloyds chief executive António Horta-Osório is cutting 15,000 jobs, on top of the 30,000 already axed. Photograph: Reuters

Lloyds Chief Executive Officer Eric Daniels

Former Chief Executive Officer Eric Daniels said, “We achieved a step change in our financial performance despite modest economic growth.” Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Lloyds Banking Group Plc, Britain’s biggest mortgage lender, tumbled in London trading as the bank said rising funding costs will squeeze profit margins in 2011.

The net interest margin, the difference between what the bank pays for funds and what it charges for loans, will be unchanged in 2011, Lloyds said in a statement today. The lender is replacing government support with costlier wholesale funding.

“The numbers and outlook statement from Lloyds are a bit of a horror show,” said Ian Gordon, an analyst at Exane BNP Paribas SA in London with a “neutral” rating on the stock. “Lloyds’s second-half performance has been very weak.”

Analysts including Gordon and John-Paul Crutchley at UBS AG said they may cut estimates for 2011 pretax profit by more than 2 billion pounds ($3.2 billion), about a third. Chief Executive Officer Eric Daniels, who will be succeeded by Antonio Horta- Osorio next week, has been trying to wean Lloyds off state aid after the takeover of HBOS Plc in 2008 led to 13 billion pounds of losses and left the taxpayer owning 41 percent of the lender.

The shares tumbled 4.5 percent to 62.85 pence at the close in London, the biggest decline in more than three months.

“The knee-jerk reaction could be some disappointment,” said Cormac Leech, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity Ltd. in London who has a “buy” rating on the stock. “The biggest negative is that the margin will stay flat in 2011.”

Net Interest Margin

Lloyds posted a full-year net loss of 320 million pounds in 2010, compared with a 2.83 billion-pound profit in 2009, the bank said in the statement. Earnings the previous year were buoyed by an 11.1 billion-pound accounting gain on the HBOS purchase. Pretax profit slumped 62 percent to 609 million pounds in the second half of 2010 from the first half.

The net interest margin rose to 2.1 percent from 1.8 percent in 2009. Lloyds cut its reliance on government aid to 96.6 billion pounds in 2010 from 157.2 billion pounds in 2009.

The shares, the second-best performing of the U.K.’s five biggest lenders last year, may struggle to repeat that in 2011 as funding costs and Irish loan losses climb and a government commission weighs whether to break Lloyds up, analysts said. The Independent Banking Commission, which is reviewing competition in the financial services industry, will report in September. Lloyds said today it also expects a “slow recovery over the next couple of years” for the British economy.

“Another extremely challenging year lies ahead,” Gordon said. “There are still very significant bumps in the road.”

Halifax, Oil Losses

Lloyds posted its first full-year pretax profit since the credit crisis today. Profit was 2.2 billion pounds compared with a loss of 6.3 billion pounds in 2009. That beat the 2 billion- pound median profit estimated by 21 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Provisions fell 45 percent to 13.2 billion pounds in 2010 from 24 billion pounds in 2009.

Profit was crimped by a 4.3 billion-pound charge for bad loans in Ireland and a 365 million-pound loss on the sale of two deepwater oil drilling rig businesses to Seadrill Ltd. The bank also made a 500 million-pound provision to cover payments it’s making to Halifax mortgage clients because the terms of their loans were unclear.

Lloyds follows Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc in posting an increase in losses from the implosion of Ireland’s decade- long real estate boom. Edinburgh-based RBS posted a full-year loss of 1.1 billion pounds yesterday, missing analyst estimates as Irish loan losses almost doubled.

“We expect to see further reductions in impairment losses in 2011 and beyond,” Lloyds said in the statement.

‘Radical’ Intervention

Pretax profit at Lloyds’s consumer banking unit rose to 4.7 billion pounds from 1.4 billion pounds. Profit was bolstered as customers reverted to standard variable rate mortgages, which generate more income than fixed-rate loans, Daniels, 59, said on a call to journalists today.

“The stand-out performance in the retail division will undoubtedly raise eyebrows, adding fuel to the fire of those that view the banking behemoth as an anti-competitive force,” said Paul Mumford, a fund manager at Cavendish Asset Management in London. “Increased profits will be met by increased enthusiasm for radical regulatory intervention.”

Daniels, who has overseen a 76 percent plunge in Lloyds share price since he took over as CEO in 2003, said he was “very pleased’ with his tenure at the bank. Daniels told the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme that he hasn’t decided whether to accept his 1.45 million-pound bonus for 2010 even though the board has made an award.

The bank’s core Tier 1 capital ratio, which measures financial strength, rose to 10.2 percent from 8.1 percent as risk-weighted assets declined by 18 percent to 406.4 billion pounds. Lloyds said it expects to meet its target to cut assets by about 100 billion pounds over the next three years.

“We achieved a step change in our financial performance despite modest economic growth,” Daniels said. “While the significant decrease in impairments was a key driver in our return to profitability, we also saw a good performance in the core business.”

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