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World Affairs








  In Brief     Supplement


Edgar Gunatunge

Pleas that share price has fallen below rights price

Sampath asks CSE to defer rights issue

Sampath Bank PLC, the country's fourth largest private commercial bank in terms of assets has the dubious distinction of being the first listed company in the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) to request for a deferment of its application for a rights issue on the grounds that its shares were commanding a price less than the proposed rights price.

This application was made last week.

The company (bank) planned to raise over Rs. 1.7 billion through this issue. Sampath has 68.9 million issued shares.

This deferment had also resulted in the postponement of Sampath's plans to raise a further US$ 20.5 million (Rs. 2.2 billion) through two private placements which were to take place after the rights issue, by selling their shares at a premium price of Rs. 117 a share to two virginal investors in the bank.

However, the proposed rights issue for which Sampath is now seeking a deferment was priced at only Rs. 100 a share, and was in the proportion of one for every four shares held, offered to the bank's existing shareholders.

Sampath's shares were trading at Rs. 113.50 a share at the time it made its application. Sampath's shares however closed the week at Rs. 95 a share, 50 cents less over its Thursday's closing price and Rs. 18 less than the price that it was commanding when Sampath made its original rights announcement.

The closest example to Sampath's rights issue fiasco was the shareholders of Richard Pieris & Company throwing overboard that company's request for a similar rights issue at the extraordinary general meeting  held for that purpose last year

The Sunday Leader learnt that the CSE was going to respond to Sampath's request for the deferment of its share issue on Friday, the contents of which however are not known.

Sampath made its rights application in early May on the grounds that it needed to raise this money to meet its Tier 1 capital requirements.

In the interim period the CSE had  wanted certain clarifications from the bank, and with the bear run that afterwards overtook the bourse, this resulted in Sampath's shares too taking a dip, hence the request for this deferment.

Sampath also had plans to raise a further US$ 20.5 million (Rs. 2.2 billion) by selling a 14.5% equity to IFC, the World Bank's private sector development arm at Rs. 117 a share (plus two board seats) at an investment cost of some US$ 16 million, while ShoreCap, a US based fund had also been offered a US$ 4.5 million equity stake in the bank, also at Rs. 117 a share.

All these investments are intrinsically linked to the proposed rights issue. It's learnt that these two investors had also been informed of Sampath's request to defer this issue.

Multi million rupee green tea venture

Three companies in the tea trade have embarked on a venture valued at between Rs. 50-100 million to manufacture green teas for the export market.

The companies are Hapugastenne Plantations, a Finlays UK subsidiary; Imperial Teas and Tea Tang.

Those teas will be marketed at US$ 5 a kilo and above, a source involved in the project but who did not want to be named told The Sunday Leader.

 He said that they have already got inquiries for green tea imports.

The USA, the former Soviet Union and its satellite countries are increasingly looking at green tea as a health drink, even in Sri Lanka there is an increased interest in green tea consumption, he said.

However, this venture will be wholly for the export market. Because of Sri Lanka's high cost of production, the venture will be looking at niche export markets around the globe, he added.

Imperial Teas, Finlays Colombo (another Finlays UK subsidiary) and Tea Tang are traditional tea exporters. Finlays UK in turn is a subsidiary of the Swire Group, Hong Kong.

Hapugastenne will have the controlling interest in this venture, where one of its factories, fitted to manufacture black tea, will be converted to make green tea. The new venture is expected to be up and running by the year end.

Sri Lanka is a major black tea exporter, venturing out into green tea manufacture only 15 years ago. The traditional green tea drinkers are the Chinese and the Japanese, the source said. However, a number of them are now turning to black tea, he said.

Transparency to protect shareholder wealth

Team play, good governance and transparency were essential for the sustained success of corporates, whilst at the same time ensuring that shareholder interests were protected, said CIMA Sri Lanka President Ms. Gowri Shanker.

Shanker speaking at the inauguration of the SAARC Apex Body meeting that was held on Wednesday warned that debacles such as Enron and World Com USA, and Vivendi France that resulted in the loss of billions of dollars in shareholder wealth took place because of the non-observance of those principles.

SAARC apex bodies are accounting, law and chambers of commerce.

She also cited the danger of allowing CEOs to act in a dictatorial manner, and cited the collapse of Vivendi and Australian insurance company HIH as examples of the danger of allowing company boards to allow the management of their institutions to the whim and fancy of its CEOs, without questioning their judgments.

Shanker. further said that if those failed companies adhered to International Accounting Standards (IAS) or, in the case of US law, Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), their collapses could have had been avoided.

But at the same time she admitted that the most demanding regulation can be circumvented. "There will never be an accounting standard that will combine integrity and transparency," Shanker claimed.

She also cited the importance of countries per se rising above corruption and creating an investor friendly climate. In this connection she gave Singapore as an example, where in a recent global survey, it had been ranked no. 1 in Asia for quality of its governance and public sector, and for the lack of corruption.

"Efficiency, flexibility and speed are a priority, governments need to be small and lean and good governance is essential for a small country like Sri Lanka to survive in this era of globalisation," said Gowrie.

Retailer hype drives market

The bourse, helped by foreign interest in John Keells Holdings PLC and investor acceptance of the mandatory offer made by the Al-Futtaim Group, Dubai which acquired a controlling stake in AMW on Monday, recorded a Rs. 277.5 million turnover on Friday.

Crossings of 478,300 and 390,000 shares respectively were recorded in JKH; with both executed at Rs. 100 a share and over 220,000 shares of AMW acquired by Al-Futtaim at the mandatory offer price of Rs. 174.50 a share boosted turnover to Rs. 277.5 million.

The sellers of JKH were locals, market sources said. JKH contributed the biggest slice to Friday's turnover with Rs. 92 million, followed by AMW with Rs. 38 million, they said. The other major contributions were all below Rs. 13 million, the sources said.

In general, the big guns in the market, ie foreigners, institutions and high networth individuals are quiet, they said.

In a high interest rate and a high inflationary scenario that is plaguing the economy, it's difficult to believe that the bourse would be an attractive proposition for investment, the sources said.

However, the market is driven by a retailer hype with expectations, though unfounded, that there would be a breakthrough to the LTTE question, they said.

The benchmark ASPI ended the week at 2,473.45 points; up 10.04 points over Thursday's close, while the more sensitive MPI closed the week at 2,953.53 points; down1.9 points over Thursday's close.

Rs. 14.50 dividend

Vidullanka PLC has declared a 50 cents final dividend for the financial year (fy) 2007/08. Shareholders' meeting: September 10, 2008; excluding dividend (XD): September 11 and payment date: Sept., 17, 2008.

Ceylon Tea Services Ltd., has declared a final dividend of Rs. 14.50 a share for the financial year 2007/08. AGM: September 4, 2008; XD: Sept. 5, 2008 and payment: Sept. 8, 2008. J.L. Morison Son & Jones (Ceylon) Ltd., has declared a first and final dividend of Rs. 10.40; for both voting and non voting shares.

Commercial Bank has declared a Rs. 1.50 interim dividend for both voting and non voting shares for the fy ended December 31, 2008.

 Distilleries Company of Sri Lanka Ltd., has declared a Rs. 1.75 final dividend per share for the fy 2007/08.


Lanka Tiles PLC has announced a split in its shares in the proportion of seven new shares for every five shares held subject to shareholder approval at a general meeting. Consequent to the split, the number of shares on issue will increase from 30,314,522 to 42,440,330; while its stated capital will remain unchanged at Rs. 429,456,000; Lanka Tiles in a statement said.

Lanka Walltile PLC (LWP) has informed the CSE of a consolidation and sub-division (splitting) of its existing 32.5 million ordinary shares without any change to the stated capital of Rs. 576,823,000; subject to obtaining shareholder approval at a general meeting.

The company would, firstly, consolidate every existing five shares to one, which would result in the existing 32.5 million shares being reduced to 6.5 million shares.

After which, it would subdivide every one share so consolidated to seven, resulting in the issuance of 45.5 million shares.

Shareholders would in effect receive seven shares for every five shares held, LWP said. The final dividend recommended by the directors for the financial year ended March 31, 2008 would be in respect of the shares in issue prior to the consolidation and sub-division.

NGO sample disbursed Rs. 94.2 bn.

CBSL recently surveyed a sample of 32 NGOs & INGOs in humanitarian response operations in Sri Lanka including tsunami related operations.

The survey covered details of establishment and its purposes and mandates, constitution and other guiding manuals in terms of financial management, information on the legal status and amount of funds pledged, confirmed and disbursed for humanitarian response operations in Sri Lanka, including tsunami operations and proposed future projects and its budgets.  The list of NGOs & INGOs that responded to the survey is as follows; Alliance Development Trust; AMURT International; CCF-Christian Children's Fund Inc; Community Trust Fund; Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies; Dairy Development Lanka; Danish Demining Group (DDG); Danish Refugee Council; Diakonia Sri Lanka.

Diakonie- Katastrophennilf; FCE-Foundation for Co-existence; Fridsro Children's Home; Sri Lanka Red Cross Society; Sri Lanka Red Cross Society-Movement Coordination Office; International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; Hella beem Sri Lanka; Humpty Dumpty Institute; Janasuwaya, 576, Rural Development Society; Medecins Sans Frontieres (French Section); Muslim Aid - (Sri Lanka Field Office); Medecins Sans Frontieres-Spain section; Mercy Corps; National Democratic Institute; Oxfam GB; PAFFREL (Peoples action for free and fair elections); Samaritan's Purse International; Sarvodaya Suwasetha Sewa Society Ltd.; Save the Children- In Sri Lanka; Sight Servers International; UMCOR- NGO (United Methodist Committee on Relief); World Vision National Office and Zoa Refugee Care, Netherlands.

The sample survey findings in relation to those NGOs & INGOs humanitarian response operations in Sri Lanka, the major areas of their activities and the details of source of funds and use of funds are summarized below. The returns submitted by the above mentioned NGOs & INGOs have been the basis for the compilation of information.

Gestetner makes Rs. 708 mn., PAT

Gestetner of Ceylon Ltd., made a Rs. 708 million net profit in the first quarter (1Q) ended June 30, 2008 compared with a Rs. 673 million loss in the corresponding Q the previous year. 

SLT's PAT up 168%

Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) in the 2Q ended June 30, 2008 saw net profits grow by 167.9% year on year (YoY) to Rs. 1.5 billion. Cumulative net profits in the first half (1H) ended June 30, 2008 grew by 24.5% YoY to Rs. 3.2 billion. 

NTB's PAT up 54%

Nation Trust Bank in the 2Q ended June 30, 2008 saw net profits grow by 54.4% YoY to Rs. 140.8 million. The Bank, in the 1H ended June 30, 2008 saw net profits grow by 47.5% YoY to Rs. 285 million. 

JKL's PAT down 27%

John Keells Ltd. (JKL), in the 1Q ended June 30, 2008 saw net profits decline by 26.5% YoY to Rs. 33.8 million. 

Hemas PAT up 15%

Hemas Holdings Ltd., in the first quarter ended June 30, 2008 saw net profits grow by 14.6% year on year to Rs. 271 million. 

Trans Asia makes turnaround

Trans Asia Hotels Ltd., in the first quarter ended June 30, 2008 made a Rs. 3.9 million net profit compared with a Rs. seven million loss in the corresponding quarter the previous year.

DPL's PAT up 13%

Dipped Products PLC (DPL) in the three months ending June 30, 2008, saw revenue increase by 15%  YoY to Rs. 2.9 billion, while post tax profit grew by 13% YoY to Rs. 153 million.

Turnover from Hand Protection grew 11% to Rs 2,265 million, while Plantations grew 41% to Rs 852 million in the quarter under review before adjusting for "inter-segmental" sales.

"DPL's overall performance was the result of the strong performance of our plantations company and an improved contribution to turnover and profit from our Italian marketing company ICOGUANTI SpA," Managing Director J. A. G. Anandarajah said, disclosing that DPL Thailand, the Group's medical glove manufacturing business had also increased production by 6% in the quarter, improved income by 22% and reduced its net loss of Rs 43 million in the corresponding quarter to Rs 32 million.

The substantial contributions to Group turnover and profit from Kelani Valley Plantations PLC (KVPL) were predominantly the result of turnover from tea and rubber growing 58% and 19% respectively, he said.  KVPL's contribution to DPL Group profits was almost double over that of the first quarter of 2007/08. 

KVPL's PAT increases 76%

Kelani Valley Plantations PLC (KVPL) in the six months ended June 30, 2008, saw turnover grow by 34% YoY to Rs. 1.7 billion and profit after tax (PAT) by 76% YoY to Rs. 226 million. KVPL manages 27 estates with an extent of more than 13,000 hectares, divided almost equally in to tea and rubber.  - Sources: John Keells Stock Brokers & others

Private sector credit comes down to 13.1%

The Monetary Board has satisfactorily noted that the tight monetary policy stance adopted by the Central Bank in the recent past has resulted in the effective deceleration of the growth in domestic credit aggregates and broad money. Credit to the private sector, which was as high as 26% in April-May 2007, has decelerated to 13.1% by end May 2008. Overall credit to the public sector which includes credit extended to the government and public corporations, also declined by end May compared with the levels at end 2007 largely on account of the decline in credit utilised by the public corporations. Benefiting from these developments, expansion in broad money supply decelerated from 22% in August 2007 to 15% in April 2008 and to 13.1% by end May 2008. The favourable impact of the deceleration in monetary expansion on inflation will be observed with the tapering off of the impact of one time increases in price levels.

The Sri Lankan economy is estimated to have recorded a 6.2% growth during the 2008 first quarter compared with 6.1% in the same period last year.

Growth was led by the healthy performance of the Services sector which expanded by 6.4% during this period, closely followed by Industry and Agriculture sectors which grew by 6 and 5.9% respectively.

Inflation, which reached higher than expected levels worldwide on account of unprecedented high crude oil prices and increased food prices, has remained above desired levels throughout 2008 in Sri Lanka as well.

As measured by the new Colombo Consumers' Price Index (CCPIN), average inflation reached 21% in June, increasing from 19.8% recorded during May 2008. The increase in June was expected as the full impact of the fuel price adjustment that occurred at end May and the entailing transport fare hikes was felt during June.

The average core inflation measure, which is compiled by excluding food and energy items from the CCPIN also increased sharply to 8.4% in June 2008, from 7.9% in May 2008. This increase was largely due to the full impact of the one-off increase in transport charges such as train and bus fares, three-wheeler fares and school van fees, consequent to the fuel price increase in late May. 

In view of the increase in the average core inflation and the likelihood of its further increase due to second round impacts of the increases in prices of non core items and the need for stemming demand pressures to contain inflation, the Central Bank has decided to further tighten its monetary policy stance by restraining the expansion in reserve money. Accordingly, the Bank has revised downwards its reserve money targets for the third quarter of the year over and above the already tightened reserve money targets announced in April 2008. With this revision, the targeted rate of expansion in the annual average of reserve money has been lowered from 12.5% to 11.75%.

Trade deficit doubles to US$ 2.6 bn.

The cumulative trade deficit for January-May 2008 was US$ 2,579 million compared to a US$ 1,439 million deficit for the corresponding period last year.

Cumulative exports during the period January - May 2008 recorded a 12.6% growth in comparison to the corresponding period last year, and amounted to US$ 3,234 million.

Cumulative expenditure on imports during the period January - May 2008 grew by 34.8% when compared with the corresponding period last year and amounted to US$ 5,813 million.  Imports excluding petroleum grew by 25.1% to US$ 4,360 million for the first five-months of 2008.

In May 2008 exports increased by 17% year-on-year (YoY) to US$ 746 million. May 2008 import expenditure increased by 24.2% on a YoY basis and amounted to US$ 1,258 million

Industrial exports largely contributed to Mayx export growth with export earnings from food, beverages and tobacco; diamonds and jewellery; garments and textiles; rubber products; machinery and equipment; and petroleum products expanding.

However, the major impetus for export growth in recent months came from the agricultural sector, reflecting the impact of the surge in global food and energy prices.  Agricultural exports continued to expand in May 2008 along with significant increases in earnings from tea and minor agricultural products.  The continuous increase in minor agricultural product exports backed by the higher performance of-particularly cinnamon, cloves, fruit and vegetables, and betel leaves has been a noteworthy feature in relation to the agricultural sector in recent months.

 Mineral exports including gems which have a share of only 1% in total exports, recorded a decline. Petroleum imports continued to dominate the behaviour of import expenditure, accounting for 58.3% of the increase in import expenditure in May 2008, while food imports accounted for about 21% of the YoY increase in expenditure on imports, mainly as a result of increased expenditure on wheat. 

Investment goods imports also increased further and accounted for 5.5% of the increase in import expenditure in May 2008.  The deficit in the trade balance in May 2008 was US$ 512 million compared to a deficit of US$ 376 million in May 2007.  The overall balance of payments recorded a surplus of US$ 292 million by end-May 2008 and gross official reserves amounted to US$ 3,355 million by end May 2008 which was sufficient to finance around 3.2 months of imports.

SL uses 6.2 mn., PET bottles monthly

A PET Bottle recycling initiative to manage the growing quantity of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottle waste in Sri Lanka was launched recently.

Sri Lanka uses more than 6.175 million PET bottles monthly.

Given the volume and the non degradable nature of PET under natural conditions, there is a need for proper disposal and recycling of PET bottles.

The first phase of the project will comprise the Western Province, with the intention of rolling out the project ilandwide subsequently.

The collected PET bottles will be baled/crushed by a company called Manisha Polymer (Pvt) Ltd., and given to recyclers in India for recycling.

Central Environment Authority (CEA) Chairman Udaya Gammanpila said, "PET is one of the widely used food packaging materials than some of the other packaging materials in use.

However, since it is non-biodegradable, we as consumers and 'responsible' citizens need to ensure that used PET bottles are collected and recycled. I believe that this programme will help address the issue of PET recycling and thus support waste disposal in Sri Lanka."

Coca-Cola Beverages Sri Lanka Ltd. (CCBSL), Country Manager Basil Gadzios said, "PET is a versatile and robust packaging medium which is fast emerging as a preferred packaging material across the world, given changing consumer lifestyles.

PET though non-biodegradable is recyclable and more environmentally friendly than some of the other packaging materials. In Sri Lanka however, there was no coordinated effort to target the effective and safe disposal of these bottles.

With our 'Give Back Life'initiative, we have put together a working plan and have tied up with various partners to kick-start the project." Those partners include the CEA and CareKleen (Pvt) Ltd.

Gammanpila further said that as part of the initiative special collection bins will be placed at key locations to collect empty PET bottles.

CCBSL, the initiator of this project has also tied up with Sri Lanka Tourism, Jetwing, Stafford International School, Royal College Sports complex, and Crescat Boulevard (Asian Hotels & Properties PLC), which will serve as large collection points for the used PET bottles.

Short Takes

Emirates to buy 60 airbuses

Emirates Airline & Group Chairman & Chief Executive Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum recently signed a letter of intent with Airbus CEO Tom Enders for 30 Airbus A330-300s and 30 Airbus A350 XWBs.

Al-Maktoum said: "We are forging ahead with our expansion plans and the A330-300s and A350 XWBs will enable Emirates to continue its growth using modern, fuel-efficient aircraft. We remain ambitious and determined to achieve our long-term goals."

The announcement was made during a high-profile ceremony at an Airbus facility in Hamburg to mark Emirates' receipt of its first A380 superjumbo, equipped with an onboard shower spa.

Call discounts

Dialog GSM from this month is offering 25% and 50% discounts on outgoing calls provided they last a minimum of two and three minutes respectively. This facility is available on a once and for all payment of Rs. 477.

Halal certified

Ceylon Cold Stores (CCS), makers of Elephant House ice creams, recently announced that all its ice creams are Halal certified. CCS thus becomes Sri Lanka's only ice cream manufacturer to market Halal certified ice creams.

The Halal accreditation was received from the All Ceylon Jamithul Ulama (ACJU), the official accreditor for Halal foods in Sri Lanka.

NDB among Top 10

NDB Bank (NDB) was presented an award for being among the top 10 Sri Lankan Companies in Sri Lanka, selected by business magazine "Business Today."

President Mahinda Rajapaksa presented the award to the bank's CEO Eran Wickramaratne at a function held at the Temple Trees in Colombo recently.

Airtel to invest IRs. 8 bn.,

Bharti Airtel Ltd. An Indian mobile telecoms operator will invest about Rs 800 crore (1crore=Indian Rs. 10 million) in Sri Lanka over the next five years to build a nationwide mobile network in the country, a company statement said.

Last year Bharti Airtel bagged the license to become Sri Lanka's fifth GSM-based service provider. With 30% mobile penetration and witnessing a steady growth of two million mobile users per annum, Airtel sees Sri Lanka as a strategic market in its overseas expansion journey.*

Airtel's consolidated total revenues for the quarter ended June 30, 2008 of Rs.8,483 crore as well as EBITDA of Rs. 3,522 crore grew by 44% on a year on year (YoY) basis.

Net income for the quarter ended June 30, 2008 was Rs. 2,025 crore, a 34% growth over last year.

Bharti had 7.17 crore subscribers, as of June 30, 2008, a 61% increase in the total subscriber base over the corresponding period last year and maintained its leadership position through an improved market share of all India wireless subscribers at 24.2% as of June 30, 2008, up from 23.1% corresponding to the same period of last year.

Airtel Managing Director Sunil Bharti Mittal said, "It has been another quarter of leadership consolidation for the company. On the mobile side it has been a particularly strong quarter with monthly customer adds crossing the 2.5 million mark. This demonstrates that the Indian telecoms growth story is intact and rural markets are witnessing strong uptake. With our network, distribution and brand strength we are confident of continuing to lead this growth story."

*Those statistics were what was released sometime ago, and needs to be updated

Public servants buy 1,120 Mitsubishi vehicles

United Motors Lanka PLC (UML) completed yet another successful year, sustaining its consistent profitability record and growth and the Group as a whole, earned its highest ever profit in the financial year 2007/08 reporting a Rs. 519.7 million PAT, a 21.2 % year on year (YoY) increase.

The parent company UML reported a Rs. 5,664.6 million turnover which reflects a 37.5% YoY growth whilst group turnover of Rs. 8,395.1 million recorded a 24.5%.increase.

 A notable feature in 2007/08 was the incremental profit earned as a result of supplying 1,120 Mitsubishi vehicles by UML to senior government officials who were eligible to import vehicles on concessionary terms.

 As part of its expansion strategy, the company is considering venturing into the assembly of Chinese vehicles in Sri Lanka.

United Motors has throughout the years retained its focus on the core business of selling brand new Mitsubishi vehicles as the sole distributor for Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, Japan and providing after sales services to Mitsubishi vehicle users.

However being responsive to the changing environment and as warranted by business strategy the company has, over the years, diversified its business portfolio and as a result now has five subsidiaries; and a diversified, jointly controlled entity in the Group.

UML has maintained a healthy balance sheet with a strong reserve base of over Rs. two billion.  In addition to the strong financial performance, the company rationalised some of its business operations during the year, trimming costs and improving efficiencies, all of which contributed to increase in profitability in 2007/2008.

The high finance cost was one of the biggest challenges the company faced, escalating by over 200% and sharply increasing stock holding costs. The rupee depreciation against the Japanese Yen by 11%, particularly in the latter part of the year increased vehicle import costs.

 High inflation and high borrowing costs impacted on customers' purchasing power which in turn affected sales in the passenger vehicle segment.

The market for trucks continued to grow last year and Mitsubishi Fuso Canter held a 56% market share in the brand new Japanese truck segment. This segment of the business recorded a 70%  sales growth last year. This is a cost effective vehicle, suitable for utilisation in many of the growing industries in Sri Lanka.

UML was able to improve efficiencies at the workshop by downsizing certain operations and reducing costs to improve productivity and a significant drop in the number of repeat jobs at the workshop was observed. The company recruited younger and more qualified staff this year to fill a number of job vacancies in the workshop and introduced inhouse training for employees. Workshop turnover and profitability grew as a result, by 19% and 47% respectively.

Turnover in the spare parts division grew by 14% from Rs. 559 million in 2006/07 to Rs. 640 million in 2007/08. Both dealer sales and inhouse sales increased during the year, predominantly due to improved dealer management and better market penetration facilitated by the opening of a branch in Kandy.

Although double digit inflation was a formidable challenge to the company's cost containment efforts, UML and its subsidiaries succeeded in keeping operating costs within the national inflation rate. UML's distribution expenses increased by 14.6% and administration expenses by 8.5%. Other operating expenses which includes provisions made (in accordance with the company's provisioning policy) for slow moving inventories and long outstanding debts recorded a Rs.4.4 million increase over the previous year.

Over the years UML has invested in developing its staff and providing numerous training opportunities both in Sri Lanka and overseas. The company maintains an open culture, encouraging dialogue, where information on policies, challenges and issues are cascaded down to all levels so that staff are engaged and have a sense of collective responsibility towards achieving common corporate goals.

During the year several evaluation systems were introduced to more effectively measure the performance and competency gaps of employees in relation to corporate objectives. The company has also initiated several welfare schemes for employees' children to encourage them in their academic pursuits.

UML is committed to improving the work environment and welfare of its employees as well as continuing its support for the community, especially in the fields of youth empowerment and education.

UML continued to support Vijayabahu Maha Vidyalaya, an underprivileged school in Colombo by renovating several of their buildings and hopes to continuously support the school in the years ahead. Further UML also provided young people from technical colleges an opportunity to intern at its workshop and develop marketable job skills and also donated critical training material to their institutions.

Whilst focusing on developing the core business of selling Mitsubishi vehicles and the businesses of its subsidiaries, UML will continue to exploit new opportunities and venture into new brand and product segments to diversify its portfolio.

UML will focus on improving efficiencies and better utilization of resources in order to reduce its cost base and improve the management of working capital. UML will also look at cheaper and more innovative ways of raising funds for the company's operations.

UML will identify the potential to exploit synergies within the group. It has already opened up a branch in Anuradhapura that will sell all its group products under one roof.  Another similar branch is to be opened in Kandy soon.

Asus wins 2,500 awards

With its continuous effort to provide the most advanced technology with the simplest usage experience, ASUS unveils the latest feature, Express Gate on a range of models. Sankha Jayaratne, Group Product Manager Epsi Computers, .authorized dealers for ASUS in Sri Lanka said  that notebooks have become indispensable both at work and at home as Internet related activities take an increasingly important role in our daily life.

This additional built-in operating system which would be based on specific system configurations enables ultra fast boot up for access to a host of most commonly used features on a range of notebooks based on Intel's latest platform. With this convenient, instant access to the internet, users can now send a " last-minute" email before rushing off to work, browse the Web in between appointments and reach friends and family via instant messenger, all in the "blink of an eye." In addition, Express Gate has also created two computers in one that it is now easier to share the computer. When under the Express Gate environment, internet, music and photos can be shared without disturbing the files and setup in the Windows operating system reserved for personal use.Jayaratne added that ASUS saw last year (2007) filled with accolades from across the globe with 2,568 awards.

 It was also ranked in Business Week's "InfoTech 100" for the 10th straight year and named "Number One in Quality and Services" by Wall Street Journal Asia. He said that "Asus is committed to bring customers innovative solutions that helps to simplify usage experience while enjoying the' best' performance," and with With Express Gate, users will enjoy instant Internet access with new levels of fast speed and ease of use like never before.

" Asus is a leading company in the new digital era.  With a global staff of more than 8,000 and a world-class R&D design team, the company's last year's turnover was US$  6.9 billion. Asus ranks among the top 10 IT companies in Business Week's "InfoTech 100" and has been on the listing for 11 consecutive years. Asus was also selected by Wall Street Journal Asia as No.1 in quality and service in Taiwan.

New CIMA President

Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) elected a new President, Deputy President, and Vice President at its Annual General Meeting (AGM), held at the Caf‚ Royal, London recently.

Glynn Lowth (FCMA) was elected President at the 89th CIMA AGM. He has been a member of the Institute's Council for over 18 years and has chaired and served on several of the Institute's committees, including Education and Training, International, and Disciplinary.  His previous roles within CIMA include Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee and President of the Nottingham and Derby Branch.

Lowth is currently IT manager for the IT services company of BASF, the world's largest chemical company.  As IT manager, he is responsible for managing and implementing IT projects throughout the UK and Scandinavia.  Prior to this, he was Head of Accounting Development at Knoll Pharmaceuticals Ltd.  Lowth qualified as a CIMA Associate at the Boots Group Nottingham in 1977 where he held a number of commercial and financial management positions.

Lowth said:  "CIMA is an innovative institute with an increasing international remit. It's an honour to be elected as CIMA's president and I look forward to leading the only Chartered Management Accountancy body with a sole focus on business into new markets and territories. I'm keen to build upon CIMA's activities across the world and to maintain our strategic momentum."

He lives in Watnall with his wife and has two adult daughters.

The other honorary officers elected at CIMA's AGM were Aubrey Joachim (FCMA) who was elected Deputy President and George Glass (FCMA) who was elected Vice President. Joachim is a management coach, mentor, and management training provider based in Australasia. Glass is Finance Director for the Balfour Timber Group.

Controlling kids' mobile phones

Dialog GSM recently launched a mobile package designed for kids.

Named 'Dialog Kidz Connection' it offers a host of special features, designed to offer parents  control over their child's mobile phone while having the facility to contact them when needed.

Kidz Connection includes many child safety features, such as restricted calls/SMS, SMS copy and Word Filtering on SMS.

With the restricted call/sms feature, all outgoing and incoming calls and SMS are restricted to five numbers that would be chosen by the parent at the point of signing up for the connection. As an added safety feature, MMS and GPRS access is disabled. The SMS copy facility is a unique feature in this product which is introduced for the first time in Sri Lanka. This facilitates the parent to receive a copy of each SMS received/sent by the child.

"Dialog has constantly strived to make mobile communications accessible and relevant to all segments of the society. Today's launch of the Kidz Connection is yet another important initiative in this regard," said Dialog Mobile Chief Operating Officer Supun Weerasinghe.

"Our main goal in launching this package was to promote responsible mobile use, whilst keeping the benefits of mobile communication. We incorporated several special features to the Kidz Connection with the goal of making the package more secure and safe to be used by children.

The Kidz Connection on prepaid is issued under the parent's name and is available at all Dialog outlets. Once bought, parents could top-up the Kidz Connection by transferring credit from parents mobile using the eZ D2D feature in addition to standard prepaid recharge via eZ cards/reloads.


Sri Lanka Fruit & Vegetable Producers, Processors and Exporters' Association office-bearers for 2008/09:- President: Ismeth Mohamed (Amalgamated International (Pvt) Ltd.), Vice Presidents: Mrs. Dawn Austin ( Nidro Supply Ltd) and Annas Junaid (Cecil Foods (Pvt) Ltd).

Hony. General Secretary: . Zuraish Hashim (Development Interplan (Ceylon) Ltd), Hony. Treasurer: S. Gnanaskandan (Eastern & Allied Agencies Ltd) and Executive Committee: Dr. Upali Ranasinghe (CR Exports Ltd), Dilshan Fernando (Tess Agro Ltd),  Jagath Fernando (Jagro (Pvt) Ltd), Ahmed Kabir (Dilarshad Enterprises) and  Harsha Karunaratne (Macbertan Ltd).

Asian Alliance rewards performers

Asian Alliance Insurance (AAI) recognizes true passion for excellence & true professionalism, year on year, celebrating excellence and quality of their team's performance with a view to shaping and motivating higher standards of achievement and spawning a new breed of professionals for the future.

The company celebrated their 7th Annual Sales Convention-"Quality Awards 2008"at Amaya Hills, Kandy recently. The awards ceremony, held on a grand scale, was on the theme of "Beyond Great Partnerships."

Promoting Kandyan trade

Sinhaputhra Finance Ltd., recently sponsored an evening of Russian Music, a  video presentation on vistas from the Russian Federation and  food and drink.

Among those present were Western Province Governor, the Mayor and former Mayors of Kandy and many other dignitaries. 

The event which was held at the Sinhaputhra Auditorium was followed by a candle lit four course sit-down dinner at their roof-top pavilion. This event was the start of similar events to be held in Kandy to bring foreign missions and their food and culture to the citizens of Kandy.  The objective is also to foster possible trade ties with these nations for the mutual benefit of the citizens of Kandy and the respective nations.

Hutch issues subscriber IDs

In the interest of the safety of mobile users & in keeping with the directive by the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka, Hutchison Telecommunications Lanka (Pvt) Ltd. (HTLL) has made arrangements to issue subscriber identification cards with immediate effect.

This action is keeping in line with the recent national security requirements put forward by the government and to be implemented by all operators.

HTLL will provide an opportunity for all its subscribers to register and update their relevant personal information in order to issue certificates of ownership.

This document will serve as identification until the company mails out a permanent plastic card to all its subscribers.

The company will use its retail distributor network in reaching its subscribers. Any outlet that sells "top up" and "reload" for Hutch will carry registration forms where current Hutch users could update their personal information and obtain a temporary "proof of ownership" document until they receive the plastic card from the Company. Users are also required to submit a copy of their national identity card together with a recent passport size photograph, if the photograph on their NIC is unrecognizable.

A company spokesperson said that Hutch would be informing its subscribers registration and re-registration details through the mass media in due course.

Eagle's outreach to disabled kids

Eagle successfully conducted its Samana regional workshops in Matara and Kandy recently. Over 1,600 teachers participated in the full-day programmes, exceeding the expectations of the Company.

 The core objective of Eagle Samana is to enhance the knowledge of teachers who work with disabled children through a series of regular region-wide workshops and training modules featuring recognized resource persons in the field of special education.

This workshop also included mainstream pre-school teachers as well to enable the early identification of disabilities in pre-school children so that medical and special attention can be given to help lessen the identified disabilities.

This series of regional workshops to educate pre-school teachers and teachers of children with special-needs was focused and interactive. The workshops were held at the Matara Samupakara Mandira Auditorium in Matara and at St. Anthony's Boys' College, Main Hall - Katugastota.

The following topics were discussed with some practical sessions demonstrated onstage: Inculcating Positive Thinking in Children by Colombo University Senior lecturer Daya Rohana Athukorala, Classroom Management Strategies by Speech and Language therapist & Kelaniya University visiting lecturer Ms. Himali de Silva, Sensory and Movement Education by Theatre Institute for Disability Oriented Research and Advocacy Chairman Rohana Deva and Case Study Analysis by Mrs. Selomi Dias Abeysinghe, a teacher who has taught autistic children in mainstream classrooms in the UK.

Workbooks and specially developed reading materials including a comprehensive book on "How to develop a bright child" authored by Athukorala were given to all participants. Approximately 800 teachers attended each workshop.

SLI salutes top performers

The annual sales awards to honour top performers of Sri Lanka Insurance (SLI) was held recently at Colombo Hilton with the participation of Chairman D.H.S. Jayawardena, Board of Directors and SLI's top management.

Over 500 sales personnel and many other invitees attended this year's ceremony. The day belonged to the sales personnel who have outperformed and outshone the rest, to the men and women who have proved their mettle through dedication, hard work and pursuit of their goals.

Star awards night saw 188 insurance advisers and team leaders being awarded for their excellent sales performance last year (2007). They were recognised on the basis of achieving set sales targets and standards. Second and third place achievers were also invited to this evening.

Best team leaders and advisers were recognised under their respective business category- Life and Non Life Insurance business, with "Star Awards Certificates" and cash rewards. The best of the best in this category were presented with the Star awards trophy, foreign travel packages ,cash awards and certificates.

Chie Executive Officer Life Suresh Paranavithana said: "SLI has endeavoured to serve Sri Lankans in their 'best' interest, constantly striving for innovation, convenience and expertise in every aspect of customer service, thereby creating a loyal and strong customer base."

Jayawardena in his speech stressed on giving importance to deliver superior customer value at every service point, a key element in building long term relationships with today's customer. He added: "At SLI every employee should give priority to deliver better value to our customers. Customer satisfaction and delight should be the central focus on all aspects of business development at SLI."

Suntel adds more to CDMA network

Suntel Ltd., recently announced that it would provide local consultants of world renowned Swedish cosmetics brand Oriflame with special Post and Pre-paid CDMA packages.

The packages have been designed for Oriflame consultants taking into consideration the need that exist within this group to make communication.

Oriflame Sri Lanka Managing Director Per Gunnarssons said, "We selected Suntel since they demonstrated that they could provide us with packages that suited our consultants' needs. At Oriflame we want to remain true to our original business concept of 'natural Swedish cosmetics from friend to friend,' while ensuring that our customers receive the best and most efficient service. Our network of consultants is important to us and we are committed to making sure that they receive the best possible service. We are sure that this partnership with Suntel will prove successful for all concerned."

Suntel Managing Director Jeremy Huxtable said, "We are happy to provide customised telecoms solutions to Oriflame. These solutions will give them the required resources to communicate effectively, thereby maintaining their reputation for reliability and convenience. Since Suntel's CDMA coverage is of the highest standard and can be accessed islandwide, we are sure that these special packages will prove beneficial to Oriflame's network of consultants enabling them to develop their businesses and give their customers a new level of service and efficiency".

Access for all

HSBC Sri Lanka recently announced that the HSBC pavilion at the SSC has been improved to enable access for those with reduced mobility. These improvements have been made under the Bank's 'Access for All' project, launched in 2007.

This has led to the implementation of ramp access through a special entrance, clear signage, and modified washroom facilities to ensure all spectators visiting the HSBC pavilion at SSC will have equal opportunity to enjoy the game.

HSBC's ongoing 'Access for All' project was initiated to provide ease of access to persons with impaired vision and other debilitating medical conditions, users of mobility accessories such as wheel chairs, canes and braces, expectant mothers and individuals with baby carriers.

The first modifications were made at the HSBC Premier Centre and the Colpetty Branch on the advice of 'Idiriya' Secretary General Dr. Ajith C S Perera. Idiriya is a not-for-profit humanitarian services organisation that aims to serve disabled people.

HSBC branches in Nugegoda, Kohuwala, Pelawatte, Moratuwa and Negombo have already seen the implementation of 'Access for All,' while HSBC Wellawatte will be the latest to receive these modifications. HSBC will continue to extend the project to all its offices.

AV Productions, from good to great

AV Productions, Sri Lanka's leading audio-visual integrated solution pioneers celebrated its 16th year of successive operations recently.

AV Productions Managing Director Seniya Samarasekera told The Sunday Leader said that the company's vision to become the 'The Event Management Company' with innovative ideas and providing state of the art AV solutions has become a reality.

, "We are thankful to all our clients who had confidence in us and entrusted us with various events/projects. During the past 16 years certain clients helped us grow while some others grew with us. We are what we are today because of all of them," he said

As an event management company, AV Productions has proved their competency in handling complete services for conferences, conventions, launches, exhibitions, road shows and much more, for any special event, from organizing to executing.

AV Productions has under its belt a portfolio of giant clientele including HSBC, Singer, SLIC, Odel, Lanka Bell and Laugfs, to name a few. "We also work with some large advertising companies in Sri Lanka."

The company has successfully completed many multilingual and multicultural events islandwide thanks to their expertise during the past years of operation. In fact, AV Productions is one of the few companies in the country capable of executing events with "4D" effects and various special mechanisms for unveiling of products.

It all started out with Samarasekera's mother, whose inspiration led to the founding of the company back in 1992.

Speaking of the team at AV Prodcutions, Samarasekera said, "Our team comprises young, energetic, professionals who have had on the job training that has helped them gain much experience. We are proud to note that our team is capable of handling and executing any type of events & campaigns."

He added, "Some of the staff have been with me since the incorporation of the company. They have a sense of ownership towards the company. To further strengthen it we have decided to go in for a share issue where the senior staff will be offered shares of the company."

Samarasekera said that over the years the company has diversified in to other areas such as digital printing, design & fabrication of signages, pylons, displays, special structures and promotional items.

Arc Solutions (Pvt.) Ltd. is the subsidiary company handling those operations, equipped with a large workshop with state of the art machinery and handled by well experienced staff.

 "The company is set to shift location to a state of the art office in Boralasgamuwa. This building is going to be a landmark in the history of AV Productions and its subsidiaries as all our operations are going to be brought under one roof making it easier for management purposes as well as for customer reach,"

Talking about the move, Samarasekera said, "This will be a workshop and studio that offer clients a one stop shop for all their advertising/promotional needs."

One of the unique aspects about the company according to Samarasekera is that it handles every aspect of an event, and doesn't rely on any other party for assistance. He said, "It's hard initially, but fully worth all the effort and long nights. I think what's helped us along the way is the team effort which has proved to be essential. We're also strong in understanding and satisfying our customers' needs efficiently, effectively and profitably.

We believe that being first, speed of action, hard work and an aggressive determination to get things done are characteristics of a winning team. In our business they are a condition for survival."

When asked about Sri Lanka's events market he said, "currently the Sri Lankan events market has a lot of potential in spite of the economic setback.

The corporate sector uses events for various functions such as to promote products/services, to introduce new/improved products, to boost sales or even to motivate or reward their staff and customers."

According to him when companies spend on an event there's always a direct or indirect return expected by way of sales, awareness or image building.

"We as event management companies should first understand the customers ultimate expectations and work towards realising it when executing an event.

That should be the role of a professional event management company rather than blindly carrying out the event plan."

Talking about future plans, he said, "We have earmarked the Middle East (ME) market for property development in Sri Lanka.

The ME based 'Siyama Property Development' is the company handling this operation. We see potential in this market and feel we have a lot to gain by tapping it."

"HNB Super Weekend Draw"

HNB has introduced "HNB Super Weekend" for the benefit of the large number of Pathum Vimana Customers. HNB Pathum Vimana positioned as the largest deposit draw in Sri Lanka offers all existing Pathum Vimana account holders to be further rewarded through the HNB Super Weekend draw.

Through this draw the bank will be awarding 100 winners with gift vouchers worth Rs. 10,000 to shop at supermarkets. "Through this draw, every weekend, four winners will be selected every hour and a total number of 100 winners during the weekend." HNB customers can win these gift /shopping vouchers to shop at Arpico, Keells and Cargills supermarkets.

To be eligible for the Super Weekend draw account holders must maintain Rs10,000 in a regular savings, Singithi or current account at HNB.

Through Pathum Vimana 2008 customers also can win a luxury apartment in the heart of Colombo from the year end premium draw. The year end grand draw will offer a luxury Mitsubishi Montero jeep and in addition to this a Toyota Avanza car can be won from the September Toyota Avanza car draw.

By saving with HNB Pathum Vimana, a large number of customers get the opportunity to participate in the HNB Pathum Vimana TV game show and win prizes ranging from Rs 5,000-100,000 weekly. The TV game show is telecast on Rupavahini every Friday at 7.30 pm.

To qualify for the Pathum Vimana 2008 Year End Grand Draw, Toyota Avanza Car Draws and the TV game show, all you have to do is to maintain  a minimum balance of Rs.10,000 in a savings account, Singithi Savings Account or current account for a period of one calendar month prior to the draw. And to qualify for the premium draw a minimum balance of Rs 100,000 has to be maintained in a savings or a Singithi savings account or a minimum balance of Rs 50,000 in a current account for one calendar month immediately prior to the draw.

Cranfield offers schols.

World renowned Cranfield School of Management in the UK will present a scholarship to any member of the three leading IFAC accountancy bodies in Sri Lanka, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), the Institute of Chartered Accountants Sri Lanka (ICASL) or the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants Sri Lanka Branch (CIMA).

Cranfield has produced a distinguished honour roll of MBA alumni from Sri Lanka over the last two decades including Hatton National Bank Managing Director Rajendra Theagarajah, WNS Senior Vice President Arul Sivagananathan and Stretchline Group Financial Controller Hasantha de Silva.

ICASL, ACCA and CIMA members  must apply directly to Cranfield School of Management, for which instructions are available on the Cranfield website, marking the application 'Sri Lanka Scholarship.'

Full Time MBA Programme Director Sean Rickard who informed Sri Lanka of the scholarship said, "We hope the scholarship attracts candidates who will benefit from this initiative and that, with the help of the accounting bodies in Sri Lanka, it will raise Cranfield's profile.  We are extremely grateful for the support of the institutes in this.  We will be reviewing the success of the programme after two years."

ACCA Sri Lanka's Immediate Past President Dilshan Rodrigo, himself a Cranfield School of Management alumni says, "I hope that this initiative will signal the birth of a new generation of professional skilled managers who will add value to the corporate boardrooms of Sri Lanka."

Saying that this is a world class MBA ranked consistently as one of the top MBAs in Europe, he adds, "This one year full time programme is suited for members in middle and senior management positions with career goals."

Rodrigo, who has continued to maintain ties with Cranfield, further reinforced the relationship once he became ACCA Sri Lanka President, sourcing resource speakers for the ACCA National Conferences in the last two years.

"Two people who played significant roles in mooting this scholarship from the Cranfield end are the former MBA Programme Director Professor Leo Murray who was the keynote speaker at our conference in 2006 and and Sri Sriskanthan, a Sri Lankan faculty member on the MBA programme."

Dubai conglomerate acquires AMW

Al Futtaim Engineering LLC Dubai, a diversified group of companies bought Rs. 6.9 billion worth of shares of AMW representing 71.15% of its equity or 39.6 million shares at Monday's trading.

The sellers were Associated Electrical Corporation PLC controlled by Ajita de Zoysa and family which sale comprised the disposal of 51.15% of AMW's equity and John Keells Holdings PLC (JKH) divesting its 20% stake (11,138,808 shares), also in AMW, with the latter sale valued at Rs. 1.94 billion, effecting a Rs. 1.03 billion capital gain to JKH.

This purchase which triggered the Securities & Exchange Commission's Mergers & Acquisitions Code, resulted in Al Futtaim making a mandatory offer to the rest of AMW's shareholders to buy their shares at Rs. 174.50 a share, the price at which it paid to acquire a controlling stake and beyond, of AMW.

The Al-Futtaim group is divided into operational divisions Automotive, Electronics, Engineering, and Technology, Retail, Financial Services, and Real Estate.

Al-Futtaim represents many of the world's leading brands, including Toyota, Lexus, Honda, Volvo, Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge, Panasonic, Toshiba, Sanyo, Aftron, Alcatel, IKEA, Ace, Marks & Spencer, Ladybird, Hasbro, Toys R Us, Seiko, Raymond Weil, Westar, Kolber and Minato Pearls.

The latest development undertaken by Al-Futtaim is Dubai Festival City, a waterfront development offering a mix of entertainment, dining, shopping, marina, hotels, residential and office components. A groundbreaking ceremony recently took place for Cairo Festival City and others are planned throughout the region with investment from the recently closed Al-Futtaim Real Estate Investment Fund, the largest such fund in the region.

Established in the 1930s, Al-Futtaim initially operated as a trading enterprise. Rapid development throughout the 1940s and '50s saw it become established regionally as an integrated commercial, industrial and services organisation and one of the leading business houses in the Gulf region.

Today, it operates collectively more than 70 companies bearing the Al-Futtaim name, dominates many market segments in the UAE and has expanded its sphere of operation to include Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Egypt.

The group includes a diverse range of strategically positioned operating subsidiaries and associate companies. Its continuing investment in first class systems technology offers evidence of its commitment to maintaining leading edge performance and service delivery.

The success of Al-Futtaim can be attributed to a business approach that combines the ability to change with the traditional values of integrity, service and social responsibility that define its core business philosophy.

This, linked with the group's belief in decentralisation, gives the heads of the operating companies a high degree of functional autonomy and authority, providing the group with essential flexibility, and individual employees a clearly defined work culture and sense of responsibility.

LG stylish & award winning

LG once again solidified its existing commitment to innovative and creative design at the prestigious and internationally recognized Reddot Design Awards by winning an award for its High-output Chocolate Micro System.

LG's latest stylish micro system recieved this honour for possessing all the style, contemporary design and innovation that the brand has become renowned for.

The 160W stylish micro system has special features such as a high-gloss piano black bodyline (similar to LG's chocolate phone), a touch pad and red lighting that add a stylish sense of luxury and sophistication to its value.

The micro system employs XTS (excellent true sound) which is the most advanced audio technology developed by LG. It controls and stabilizes the entire frequency range to produce the best clarity in sound and enables its users to have all their speakers working in harmony with the amplifier for a more even and balanced sound reproduction through all frequency levels. XDSS plus creates magnificient and vivid sound by boosting up frequency level.

The system also supports a USB host port that lets users enjoy their favourite music with high quality by directly connecting it to mobile devices such as MP3 players. Abans is the agent in Sri Lanka for LG home appliances and have taken their innovative products to every corner of Sri Lanka through a network of showrooms and dealers. LG products which are reasonably priced are made even more affordable to urban as well as rural masses with interest free easy payment schemes and special trade-in offers and promotions. LG products sold by Abans are backed by a guarantee of quality and efficient after-sales-service.

LG Electronics Inc., is the global leader and technology innovator in consumer electronics and mobile communications employing more than 72,000 in over 120 operations and 80 subsidiaries around the world.

LG Electronics comprises four business units: Mobile Communications, Digital Appliances, Digital Display and Digital Media and is the world's leading provider of CDMA handsets, residential air conditioners, plasma panels, optical storage products and DVD players.

LG Electronics Digital Media Company provides digitally integrated products such as audio video systems, car infotainment systems, optical storage products, notebook PCs and PDA, whilst simultaneously focusing on next generation businesses.

In Brief

Ronali, top speller

Ronali Perera of Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya won the Rs. 100,000 cash prize the inaugural CIMA Spellmaster competition in which 1,200 students participated.

She also won a Toshiba laptop gifted by John Keells and a  scholarship for CIMA studies from Wisdom Business Academy, while her school received a 21 inch colour from Singer Sri Lanka.

First runner-up, Asmara Agus (Crescent International School) received a cheque for Rs.50,000; a desk top computer from Singer and a full scholarship to study CIMA at Imperial Business School. U.Thakshanth (R..K..M..Sri Koneswara Hindu College Trincomalee) received a cheque for Rs.25, 000 and a full scholarship to study CIMA at Imperial Business School.

The balance 20 finalists also received cash prizes and those ranked up to the eighth position received scholarships for CIMA studies from the CIMA Tuition providers Mercury and Achievers as well.

Skywards promo

During the four months from July-October 2008, members of Skywards, Emirates' frequent flyer programme can earn double miles on more than 100 flights across the network.

All Skywards members who register and fly Emirates in First, Business and Economy Class on select flights are eligible for the doublemiles bonus.

The offer is applicable to over 60 popular cities such as Munich, Sao Paulo, Doha and Mumbai.

A member flying from London to Sydney in Business Class will earn Double Miles for an eligible London-Dubai sector. There is no limit to the number of miles that can be earned.

 Skywards total Miles earned offer immediate flight or upgrade rewards on Emirates or a host of other rewards including "inspirational" shopping.

The Skywards Global Double Bonus Miles Offer represents an opportunity to experience rewards both for Emirates flights and "beyond the travel experience."

Rienzie's musings

Today's Benchmark programme will feature HNB Chairman Rienzie Wijetilleke musing whether corporate Sri Lanka is worthy of respect,in addition to the voice of business speaking out on issues that face the nation's engine of growth at present.

Benchmark is presented by LMD and airs on TNL and over cable TV: on LBN's Bloomberg Television segment.

Expanded network

NSB and NDB Bank have joined Lanka Bell's bill settlement network, giving subscribers another 170 outlets at which they may pay their monthly bills.

Eleven banking groups with a combined network of nearly 1,800 branches and service points now offer Lanka Bell bill settlement options, in addition to the company's own network of 60 branches and a "dedicated" counter at Apollo Hospital.

Lanka Bell Managing Director Prasad Samarasinghe said many of these banks offered holiday and Saturday banking as well as supermarket banking, making bill settlement possible even on public and bank holidays.

Richard makes Rs. 44 mn., PAT

Richard Pieris and Company PLC in the financial year ended March 31, 2008 saw turnover grow by 31% year on year to Rs. 20.4 billion, while making a Rs. 43.7 million profit for the year.

A sharp increase in interest rates resulted in the Group finance cost escalating by 73% to Rs.1.52bn.

Meanwhile, the company's retail (supermarket) sector contributed Rs. 8.2 billion to its topline and the plantation sector, Rs. 6.8 billion, in the year under review.

AmEx promo

With the July/August Summer holidays on, American Express (AmEx) recently launched My Holiday, My Rules, a holiday programme for the leisure seeker.

Each time AmEx card members buy travel tickets this season from a partner travel agent, they will be rewarded with a duty free gift voucher from Alpha Orient Lanka. The voucher could be redeemed at either Arrivals or Departures at the BIA,

This promotion also includes free travel insurance and Membership Rewards, loyalty points on all holiday spend, as well as a host of Savings and "SmiLes" on any Mega 999 SriLankan Holiday package to India, Singapore, Thailand, Kuala Lumpur, Frankfurt, London, Dubai & Paris. And while overseas, AmEx Selects offers card members an array of privileges. AmEx has also tied up with Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts, Chaaya Hotels, Keells Hotels, Jetwing Hotels and Amaya Resorts & Spas to offer the local holiday hunter room upgrades and savings up to 25%.


New Indian port

India's first international container transshipment terminal at Vallarpadam will be operational by November 2009, United News of India reports.

CPT and Dubai Ports International won the bid to build and operate this terminal.

Premier Manmohan Singh laid the foundation stone for the Port in February 2005.

Av. inflation up 21.9%

Annual average of the New Colombo Consumer Price Index (NCCPI) increased by 1.9% over its June figure to 21.9% last month. However, the point to point change in the NCCPI declined by 1.6% to 26.6% during this period.

Meanwhile, market sources said that a Rs. 20 billion Treasury Bond that matured on Friday was not going to make the market liquid nor bring interest rates down because of heavy government spending.

Current expenditure up 18%

Government's current expenditure in the first five months of the year increased by 18.2% year on year (YoY) to Rs. 282.5 billion, while its capital & lending minus repayments amount in the same period increased by 29.4% to Rs.99.1 billion.

Its total expenditure & lending minus repayments basket in the period under review was Rs. 381.6 billion, a YoY increase of 20.8%. Of this figure, the government's current expenditure comprised 74% of the total expenditure basket thus far and 39.6% of the year's budgeted expenditure figure.

Meanwhile, capital & lending minus repayments figure of Rs. 99.1 billion, comprised only 29.9% of the budgeted investment target. (Source: Central Bank)

Hunch clinches port contract

Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH) led consortium has been named the preferred bidder by the Board of Thessaloniki Port Authority for the development of new container facilities at Thessaloniki Port, Greece's second-largest container port.

An offer of 419 million euros has been made representing the present value of the guaranteed portion of the annual fees over the entire 30-year concession period. There are other charges such as annual rental fees for the docks which would be in addition to the above amount.

The Port currently has an area of 35 hectares, a total quay length of 595 metres and a depth alongside of 12 metres. When construction is complete, the port will have a 71-hectare area, a continuous quay of 1,770 metres and a depth alongside of up to 15.8 metres. 

A statement said that HPH, a subsidiary of the multinational conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa Limited (HWL), is the world's leading port investor, developer and operator with interests in a total of 292 berths in 47 ports, spanning 24 countries throughout Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, the Americas and Australasia. HPH also owns a number of transportation-related service companies.  In 2007, the HPH Group handled a combined throughput of 66.3 million TEU worldwide.

Cairns makes $ 67 mn., profit

Cairns India which won a tender for offshore oil prospecting off Mannar, made a consolidated revenue of Indian Rs. 4,036 million (US$ 96.9 million) for Q2 2008 as compared with IRs.2,433 million (US$ 59 million) for Q2 2007.

"Cash flow from operations" worked out as profit after tax prior to non-cash expenses (non-cash employee cost, depreciation, depletion, amortisation and deferred tax) and exploration cost was IRs.2,780 million (US$ 66.7 million) for Q2 2008 as compared with IRs. 2,234 million (US$ 54.1 million) for Q2 2007.

Cash (net of borrowings) available as at June 30, 2008 was Rs. 35,287 million (US$ 822.7 million).

Gross production of operating units was 71,082 boepd (barrels of oil equivalent per day) in Q2 2008 (77,392 boepd in Q2 2007) and th working interest production was 18,764 boepd in Q2 2008 (19,775 boepd in Q2 2007).

The average oil price realisation in Q2 2008 was US$ 125.9/bbl and for Q2 2007 was US $ 69.6/bbl. The gas price realisation in Q2 2008 was US$ 4.3 /mscf, which was also the same for Q2 2007. 

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