News In Brief

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Welcome to our ‘News In Brief’ column in which we digest all the news releases for you in no more than five paragraphs. Below are snippets of all the media releases we received from July 3 till the end of the week. This column updates regularly throughout the week.

COVID Inflammation Testing Vital

Adelaide, July 3: A new test, the Systemic Inflammatory Index (SII), could help identify COVID-19 patients at the highest risk of severe illness or death, according to Strategic Professor of Pharmacology Arduino Mangoni from Flinders University. By analyzing routine laboratory data, the SII provides valuable insights to prioritize treatments and focus on individuals most vulnerable to respiratory disease. Professor Mangoni’s call to action, published alongside Italian Professor Angelo Zinellu, highlights the urgent need for risk assessment tools based on extensive research conducted during the global pandemic.
With COVID-19 vaccinations contributing to increased population immunity, the World Health Organization has observed a decline in related deaths, hospitalizations, and intensive care unit admissions. However, Professor Mangoni warns that hospitals and public health systems will still face pressure from COVID-19 and seasonal influenza cases. The SII test has the potential to predict outcomes, disease severity, and mortality, not only for COVID-19 but also for other conditions like cancer, stroke, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, heart conditions, and long COVID symptoms. By tailoring treatments based on patient’s risk profiles, the aim is to reduce long-term harm and improve overall healthcare outcomes.
The study by Professor Mangoni and Professor Zinellu, titled “Systemic inflammation index, disease severity, and mortality in patients with COVID-19: a systematic review and Meta-analysis (2023),” is published online in Frontiers in Immunology. Their research underlines the importance of utilizing the SII as a routine assessment tool, particularly for patients seeking hospital care, to optimize treatment strategies and enhance patient management.

E-voucher Partnership Expands Presto

Kuala Lumpur, July 3: PUC Berhad’s subsidiary, Presto Technology, has signed an MoU with Web Bytes to collaborate on selling e-vouchers on the Presto platform. Presto is an e-commerce redemption app with over 10 million members, simplifying the management of loyalty rewards programs. Web Bytes has empowered thousands of retail merchants with its Xilnex point-of-sale solutions across ASEAN countries. The partnership involves Xilnex recruiting merchants to list and sell e-vouchers on Presto, while Presto will make them available for redemption to users and members.
Through the partnership, recruited merchants gain access to a larger customer base and wider distribution network, increasing brand visibility and attracting new customers. The collaboration has already begun with potential merchants like TeaLive, Marrybrown, SNS Network, and Wonders Café. Both PUC and Web Bytes are optimistic about the substantial benefits this partnership will bring to merchants.
In the first quarter of 2023, PUC reported a narrowed LBT of RM4.64 million compared to the previous year, indicating positive growth for its Presto business. Additionally, Presto has signed a loyalty collaboration with VSING to enhance the value of VSING members’ loyalty points. With the Malaysian economy rebounding strongly and creating favorable conditions for business expansion, PUC aims to be a leader in the loyalty e-commerce redemption segment. The company is committed to ensuring long-term profitability and recognizes the opportunities presented by the growing market.

Triumphs and Extraordinary Achievement

Kuala Lumpur, July 3: International Medical University (IMU) honored its graduating students in a recent Convocation Ceremony. The ceremony saw 255 individuals receive their scrolls in various programs. It also recognized the inaugural cohort in the Master of Counselling program and conferred an Honorary Doctor of Medicine on Tan Sri Dr. Abu Bakar Suleiman. The event was presided over by Prof Dr. Abdul Aziz Baba, Vice-Chancellor of IMU, who expressed pride in the graduates’ hard work. The ceremony emphasized the changing nature of their work and the importance of skills acquired at IMU. The graduates were encouraged to reflect on their role in Planetary Health and to strive for continuous learning and innovation in healthcare. The ceremony also announced the re-accreditation of IMU’s chiropractic program.

Manufacturing Ransomware: Data Encryption

Kuala Lumpur, July 3: Sophos, a global cybersecurity leader, released a report on the state of ransomware in manufacturing and production in 2023. The survey revealed a high encryption rate of 68 percent in ransomware attacks against this sector, reflecting a broader trend of attackers successfully encrypting data. However, the percentage of manufacturing organizations using backups to recover data increased to 73 percent, emphasizing the importance of backups for faster recovery and avoiding the high costs associated with paying ransoms.
Despite the growing use of backups, manufacturing, and production reported longer recovery times compared to the previous year. Only 55 percent of surveyed organizations recovered within a week, raising concerns about extended recovery periods and their impact on IT teams. The report also highlights the need for improved security practices, including strengthening defensive shields, adopting adaptive technologies for automated responses, and implementing 24/7 threat detection and response.
Sophos recommends optimizing attack preparation through regular backups, practicing data recovery, and maintaining an up-to-date incident response plan. Additionally, organizations should prioritize good security hygiene by timely patching and reviewing security tool configurations. To access the full report on the State of Ransomware in Manufacturing and Production, interested readers can download it from The survey involved 3,000 IT/cybersecurity leaders from organizations across 14 countries in the Americas, EMEA, and Asia Pacific, including 363 organizations in the manufacturing and production sector.

CACEIS acquires RBC Investor Services

Paris, July 3: CACEIS, a subsidiary of the Crédit Agricole group, and Santander, along with Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), have announced the completion of a sale and purchase transaction involving the European asset servicing activities of RBC Investor Services. This transaction combines two strong asset servicing operations in Europe and has received all required regulatory and antitrust approvals.
The acquisition allows CACEIS to expand its international coverage and offer an enhanced range of services to its clients, solidifying its leading position in European asset servicing. The purchase of the business of the UK branch of RBC Investor Services Trust and RBC Investor Services business in Jersey by CACEIS is expected to occur in the coming months, subject to regulatory approvals.
The sold operations’ impact on RBC’s common equity Tier 1 (CET1) ratio and earnings per share (EPS) is deemed to be minimal. However, the transaction does not include RBC Investor Services’ Canadian operations.
Jean-Pierre Michalowski, CEO of CACEIS, expressed his belief that the acquisition strengthens CACEIS’ leadership position in asset servicing and highlighted the pride of the staff joining their group. He emphasized their collective commitment to serving clients and building the benchmark for the sector in Europe.
Francis Jackson, CEO of RBC Investor Services, stated their pride in the business they have built in Europe and the benefits that clients and employees will gain from being part of one of Europe’s largest asset servicing providers. He believes that the combined scale and expertise of RBC’s European business and CACEIS will bring more opportunities for employees and increased value for clients.

FedEx Launches Sustainability Tool

Hong Kong, July 3: FedEx Corp. has introduced FedEx Sustainability Insights (FSI), a new tool that provides customers in select Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa (AMEA) markets with access to emissions information on their shipments within the FedEx network. The cloud-based data engine, created by FedEx Dataworks, uses real-time FedEx network data to estimate CO2e emissions. Customers can view emissions data for individual tracking numbers and aggregate historical data for their accounts, including details such as mode of transport, service type, and country or territory. This tool supports businesses in making informed decisions to reduce their environmental impact and improve their sustainability practices.
As sustainability becomes a top priority for businesses, FedEx Sustainability Insights offers customers better visibility of emissions within their supply chains. The tool helps with reporting and strategic future planning, aligning with the increasing consumer demand for sustainable e-commerce purchases. By providing direct access to emissions data, FedEx aims to support its customers’ efforts in meeting consumer expectations and driving their own sustainability initiatives forward.
The launch of FedEx Sustainability Insights complements FedEx’s ongoing commitment to achieving carbon-neutral operations by 2040. The company focuses on areas such as the electrification of vehicles, more efficient facilities and fleets, and investments in natural carbon capture. The tool will provide insights into network efficiency opportunities and support FedEx’s goal through data-backed predictive insights and modeling.

Artroniq Drives Growth and Expansion

Kuala Lumpur, July 3: Artroniq Berhad, a key player in the ACE Market, has announced an upcoming bonus issue, granting shareholders two complimentary warrants for every two shares held. The ex-date for the bonus issue is set for July 13, 2023, and shareholders must retain their shares by this date to qualify. Simultaneously, Artroniq has successfully concluded a private placement, raising RM36.80 million through the issuance of 65.65 million new shares.
Under new leadership, Artroniq has been actively implementing corporate restructuring initiatives, including securing contracts, strategic mergers and acquisitions, and venturing into the Electric Vehicle (EV) industry. The private placement, combined with the forthcoming bonus issue, has significantly strengthened the company’s liquidity position. Shareholders are eagerly anticipating Artroniq’s transformation into a company with solid fundamentals and premium quality in the second half of the year.
The recent appointments of Artroniq’s senior executives to management positions in other publicly listed companies have attracted market attention. Chief Financial Officer Marcus Chin Choon Wei has become an Executive Director at APB Resources and Sarawak Consolidated Industries, expressing confidence in Artroniq’s growth trajectory and commitment to the EV sector. Artroniq’s subsidiary, AITech, has committed to assembling 7,000 premium E-Bikes, called “Reevo Bikes,” for Beno, leveraging the company’s strong financial position and potential private placement proceeds.
Additionally, Artroniq CEO Ken Liaw Way Gian has been appointed as an Independent Director at SCIB and an Executive Director at APB Resources, bringing valuable expertise and experience from Artroniq to these companies, thereby enhancing their potential for growth and success.

Regatta’s River Clean-Up

London, July 4: A group of 30 volunteers, led by Henley Royal Regatta Steward Greg Searle and local eco-warrior Lynne Lambourne, conducted the Regatta’s second paddle board river clean-up along the Course at Henley-on-Thames. The event, held as part of Plastic Free July, showcases the Regatta’s commitment to preserving the natural environment and biodiversity of its home river. Students from local schools, Shiplake College and The Oratory School, joined the volunteers, emphasizing the importance of connecting the rowing community and wider society in protecting rivers and oceans.
Searle expressed gratitude for the participants and acknowledged sustainability as a core aspect of the Regatta’s mission. The clean-up exemplifies the spirit of Henley and the shared responsibility to maintain the cleanliness of the river. Lynne Lambourne, the founder of Warriors on Waste, highlighted the educational and practical value of the event, indicating the positive advances in sustainability made by the Regatta in recent years.
Ally Mitchell, the founder of Ocean Plastic Pots, joined the volunteers to recycle discarded ropes and fishing nets into plant pots. The event emphasized the significance of reducing plastic use, promoting waste disposal in sustainable packaging, and fostering a circular economy. Volunteers were provided with paddleboards by the local SUP company Go with the Flo and equipped with litter pickers and recycling boxes by Lambourne.
The involvement of Shiplake College, a regular contender at the Regatta, marked the second year of their participation. The students’ dedication to helping the Regatta and the local community through the river clean-up serves as an inspiration for others.

Open Banking Preferred for Mortgages

Sydney, July 4: New research by Open Banking provider Frollo reveals that a significant majority of Australians are unfamiliar with Open Banking. According to the survey, 55 percent of respondents had never heard of Open Banking, while only 18 percent claimed to have a basic understanding of the concept. However, when provided with a brief description of Open Banking as a secure and regulated method for sharing financial information, 32 percent of Australians expressed a preference for using Open Banking in the mortgage application process.
The survey, which involved 1,030 Australians, also highlighted the desire for a comprehensive banking app that provides a holistic view of their finances. Approximately 20 percent of respondents considered a full financial overview in their banking app as the most valuable feature, and 44 percent ranked it among their top three desired features. Furthermore, 48 percent of banking customers in Australia stated that they would consider switching to a different bank if it offered this feature. Personalized offers ranked as the second most popular feature, with 14 percent of respondents prioritizing this service.
Frollo’s Chief Customer Officer, Simon Docherty, sees a significant opportunity for mutual banks to utilize Open Banking to compete and attract a younger customer base. He emphasized that offering a full financial overview, along with personalized offers and money management tools, can help mutual banks gain market share and increase customer loyalty. However, the research also highlights the need for greater awareness and adoption of Open Banking, urging industry collaboration and government support to promote its benefits and incentivize its use.

Ethnic Bias in Leadership Recruitment

Melbourne, July 4: A groundbreaking study by Monash Business School reveals significant ethnic discrimination and glass ceilings in the recruitment process for leadership positions. Led by Professor Andreas Liebbrandt, the research project examined over 12,000 job applications across Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane, targeting six ethnic groups in 12 different occupations.
The findings demonstrate a pronounced disparity in callbacks, with applicants bearing English names receiving 57.4 percent more callbacks for leadership roles compared to ethnic minorities. Even with identical resumes, ethnic minorities faced a 45.3 percent reduction in callbacks for non-leadership positions. Discrimination was heightened when customer interaction was required but lessened when the job emphasized individualism, learning, creativity, and innovation.
To address these biases, the study recommends implementing anonymous job applications and training recruiters to reduce ethnic discrimination while raising awareness of culturally endorsed leadership prototypes. By addressing these issues, organizations can foster a more inclusive and equitable work environment, ensuring fair opportunities for all candidates.

Stormtrackers: Chasing Lightning’s Power

Singapore, July 4: Dubbed the “lightning capital of the world,” Singapore attracts a group of fearless individuals known as the Singapore Stormtrackers.
These daring men and women embark on daring expeditions during treacherous storms to chase down lightning strikes.
Despite facing genuine physical dangers, they find inspiration in their pursuit of knowledge and adventure.
Join the Singapore Stormtrackers as they uncover the answers to intriguing questions that have long piqued curiosity.
Discover the secrets behind how planes withstand lightning strikes and whether lightning can bypass towering buildings and trees to strike the ground directly.
Moreover, explore the fascinating realm of upper atmospheric lightning.
Immerse yourself in the gripping documentary, “One Billion Joules,” airing on CNA.
Catch the full program on-demand starting from July 7.
Prepare to be captivated by the remarkable world of lightning and the brave individuals who explore its mysteries.

Ben Wagner Joins Mortar AI

Ben Wagner

Sydney, July 5: Mortar AI, a leading Marketing Automation Platform, has appointed Ben Wagner as its new Sales Director. With a strong background in driving revenue growth and implementing successful sales strategies, Wagner brings a wealth of experience to his new role.
His previous positions include Sales Operations Manager and Global Product Lead at Skyfii, Sales Director at Booodl, Commercial Director at Tapit Media, and Business Development Director at oOh!Media.
Wagner’s expertise will contribute to Mortar AI’s success in transforming the media industry with its cutting-edge Marketing Automation Platform. As the Sales Director, he will be responsible for strategic sales initiatives, revenue growth, and expanding the customer base.
Mortar AI CEO/Founder, Grant Baker, expressed his excitement about Wagner’s appointment, highlighting his extensive experience, proven track record, and leadership skills.
With Wagner’s guidance, Mortar AI aims to thrive and achieve new heights in the AI solutions industry. The Founder of Mortar AI, Nilan Mihindukulasooriya, also expressed confidence in Wagner’s ability to lead the sales efforts and drive the company’s continued growth in the market.

Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s 35th Annual Unity Convention

Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s Latest Convention
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s Latest Convention

Sydney, July 5: The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Australia will hold its 35th ‘Jalsa Salana’ (Annual Convention) on July 8th and 9th at the Grand Pavilion, Rosehill Gardens in New South Wales. This highly anticipated three-day event expects to bring together approximately 3,000 attendees from Australia and abroad. The convention offers a distinctive spiritual experience through scholarly lectures, discussions, and special exhibitions.
The National President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Australia, I. H. Kauser, expressed his enthusiasm for the historic Annual Convention, now in its 35th consecutive year. He emphasized the convention’s aim to foster spirituality, understanding, peace, and unity among attendees. The event seeks to bring people from diverse backgrounds together and promote dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims. Mr. Kauser encouraged all Australians to attend and learn more about Islam from Australian Muslims, scholars, and Imams.
Apart from providing a spiritual atmosphere, the convention serves as an opportunity for individuals to attend, actively participate, ask questions, and gain a deeper understanding of Islam. In addition to attracting hundreds of Australians from various walks of life, the event also draws government officials, lawmakers, diplomats, faith leaders, and media outlets. This diverse attendance showcases the convention’s inclusive nature and its potential for interfaith and intercultural dialogue.
By condensing the information into five paragraphs, the main highlights of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Australia’s 35th ‘Jalsa Salana’ Annual Convention are emphasized. The convention’s purpose of promoting spirituality, understanding, peace, and unity is conveyed, along with its welcoming atmosphere for people from all backgrounds. The event’s significance in facilitating dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims, as well as its appeal to a wide range of attendees, including government officials and media outlets, is highlighted.

Alibaba Cloud: Analytics Challenger

Kuala Lumpur, July 5: Alibaba Cloud has been recognized as a Challenger in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms.
The Quick BI platform, offering intelligent business analysis services, allows users to explore data and make informed decisions.
The recognition reflects Alibaba Cloud’s efforts to enhance platform capabilities and support customers in maximizing their data potential.
Quick BI has gained popularity across industries, including retail and finance.

Mambu Now On Google Cloud

Singapore, July 6: Mambu, a leading SaaS cloud banking platform, has announced its availability on Google Cloud Marketplace, providing an opportunity for fintech, neo banks, traditional banks, and non-financial institutions to embrace cloud technology. The partnership builds on Mambu’s existing collaboration with Google Cloud, enabling the delivery of core banking services globally. By offering Mambu on Google Cloud Marketplace, shared customers can benefit from a highly scalable and secure platform, gaining open access to new markets and reducing the time to market for innovative financial products.
Legacy financial institutions face potential profit declines of up to 20 to 60 percent by 2025 if they fail to digitally evolve, according to McKinsey research. As a result, many financial institutions are considering cloud migrations, with 88 percent agreeing that cloud adoption can help adapt to changing customer behaviors, enhance operational resilience, and support the creation of new products and services, as per a Google Cloud study.
Mambu’s cloud-native SaaS offering allows it to fully manage customers’ infrastructure in the cloud, offering increased control over costs, performance, security, and scalability. By joining the Google Cloud Marketplace, Mambu aims to extend its collaboration with Google Cloud and reach a wider range of financial institutions seeking faster time-to-market and greater flexibility in their solutions. The partnership between Mambu and Google Cloud brings together their capabilities to deliver a modern core banking system that meets the demands of the digital era.

Adyen Empowers Personalized Marketing

Sydney, July 7: Adyen has launched Data Connect for Marketing, a product that enables retailers to leverage payment data for personalized marketing and improved customer loyalty.
By linking in-store transactions to shopper profiles, businesses gain valuable insights and can tailor experiences to increase customer satisfaction.
Salesforce has already integrated this product, offering payments-enriched profiles to its customer base. With Data Connect for Marketing, retailers can use their own first-party payment data to build a comprehensive customer view and meet consumer demands for personalized discounts and tailored shopping experiences.

Fashion Fusion: Innovation Unleashed

Fashion Fusion: Innovation Unleashed
Taylor’s Fashion Design Technology students redefine fashion norms at ‘THE SHOW.’

Kuala Lumpur, July 7: Taylor’s University recently hosted ‘THE SHOW’ – A Fashion Fusion Showcase in collaboration with Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week (KLFW).
The event presented innovative creations by Bachelor of Fashion Design Technology students, challenging fashion norms.
The showcase highlighted the fusion of art, fashion, sustainability, and technology.
Taylor’s University empowers students to embrace technological advancements in fashion education, shaping the future of the industry.
The event also featured Malaysia’s first 3D Fashion Pod and interdisciplinary collaborations across various fields.

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