-- Malaysian ruling party United National Malays Organization is mulling a bailout of the politically wired Sime Bank, Kuala Lumpur analysts say. Local stock markets went into a funk on Mar. 4, after the bank reported $431 million losses for the six months through Dec. 31. They took the news as a sign that Malaysia's financial system is in far worse shape than earlier thought.
Sime Bank is controlled by two investment funds linked to UNMO. It has ties to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's closest economic adviser, Daim Zainuddin, who once had a big stake in parent Sime Darby. Odds are another Mahathir confidant, Rashid Hussein, would lead a bailout by merging Sime Bank with his Rashid Hussein Bank.