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No. 1 bank in SL

HNB Managing Director/CEO Rajendra Theagarajah with The Asian Banker International Resource Director Brett King (left) and The Excellence in Retail Financial Services Programme Head Christian Kapfer (right).

Hatton National Bank (HNB) was named Sri Lanka's Best Retail Bank in the seventh Asian Banker Excellence in Retail Financial Services Awards Programme.

The bank received the award at The Asian Banker Excellence in Retail Financial Services Awards 2009 ceremony held in conjunction with the region's foremost retail banking event, the Excellence in Retail Financial Services Convention at Grand Hyatt, Singapore on March 19.

HNB won the Best Retail Bank in Sri Lanka for 2008 for the second time in a row, gaining higher scores than the other banks surveyed in the programme, including Nations Trust Bank, HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank in Sri Lanka.

About 120 senior bankers from award winning banks in 22 countries across Asia Pacific, the Gulf and Central Asian regions attended the formal gala dinner, the industry's celebration of the region's best retail bankers that recognizes their efforts in bringing superior products and services to their customers.

The awards programme, administered by The Asian Banker and refereed by prominent global bankers, consultants and academics, is the most prestigious of its kind. "This year over 120 banks and financial institutions in 22 countries across the region were evaluated as part of the Excellence in Retail Financial Services Programme. It has become the single most prestigious, comprehensive and anticipated awards programme that recognises the pursuit of excellence amongst retail financial institutions available almost anywhere in the world today," said The Asian Banker Excellence in Retail Financial Services Programme Chairman Philip Strause.

HNB expanded its branch network to the rural and semi-rural sectors and launched new retail products targeting new customer segments, such as children, adolescents and the elderly in 2008. The bank's main target is to expand its low-cost deposits.

This strategy proved suitable amidst raging inflation and regulatory restrictions in Sri Lanka. The bank displayed healthy profit growth of 38% and 11% growth in retail deposits YOY from September 2007 to September 2008. The sales performance of HNB was "astonishing" with triple digit growth in newly opened branches.

"The bank aims to enhance its self-service sector, but still has some way to go to match international standards. Nonetheless the development is impressive," says The Asian Banker Excellence in Retail Financial Services Awards Programme head Chris Kapfer.

Realizing the importance of foreign remittances to Sri Lanka, HNB took the initiative to invest in exchange houses in the Middle East.  These exchange houses opened the way for remittances and money exchange. New technologies also enhanced the incoming flow of remittances which accounted for $450 million up to September 2008, "which is about 20% of Sri Lanka's total remittances."

HNB has increased its presence in rural areas where financial services still play a minor role for the population. The rise in HNB's low-cost deposits is going hand in hand with the strong profit growth, despite the challenging environment.

HNB invested in new distribution channels and its ATM usage increased by 20%, while the bank was able to expand the network with additional machines exceeding 250 ATMs altogether. Above all, HNB strived to upgrade processes, reduce costs and enhance its risk management.

Though having only a third of its equity

Strategic investor may control Seylan

An investor with a third of the equity stake in troubled Seylan Bank plc whilst simultaneously calling the shots in the Board will have a controlling stake in the Bank, informed sources told The Sunday Leader.

 This is because the Board also has control over Seylan's Employee Share Option Plan (ESOP) which at present has a 27% equity stake in the troubled bank, thereby effectively taking  control of the Bank's stated capital to beyond 50%, they said.

 "In general, a minority of directors, sometimes numbering not more than two may call the shots at bank's board meetings," they added.

Under Central Bank's (CB's) code of Corporate Governance for banks, a bank may have any thing between 7-13 directors.

The second biggest shareholder after ESOP in Seylan currently is its disgraced chairman Lalith Kotelawala, who, together with connected companies has a 23% equity stake in the Bank.

 CB, the bank regulator, on Friday called for expressions of interest (EOI) for investment in a third of the capital Seylan valued at US$ 50 million, with the assurance of a third of its Board seats as well being made available to the successful investor.

The strategic investor has also been called upon to invest in the Bank's debentures.

After the dissolution of its former Board by the CB in December 2008 due to alleged mismanagement, and the appointment of a new Board, Seylan at present has seven directors which includes its new chairman Eastman Narangoda.

In the event CB is successful in getting a strategic investor for Seylan, it's learnt that the new number in the director board may be anything between seven and 13.

Some of the existing directors may have to go, while others may be retained, after a strategic investor is found, they said.

The new appointees, working in consonance with the existing Board will have a majority control over the Board, and therewith over the Bank's ESOP, enough to muster the 50% plus voting shares to push through any critical resolutions, they said.

"They should have no difficulty in working in harmony with the rest of the directors," the sources contended.

With the expansion of Seylan's stated capital after the entry of a strategic investor, ESOP's current 27% holding in the Bank may be diluted, but not diluted enough to prevent the new investor together with the concurrence of the new Board and therewith having control over the Bank's ESOP, to have an over 50% equity stake in the Bank, they said.

CB in their advertisement said that the new investor will have to reduce his stake in the Bank to 15%, 15 years after the date of investment.

EOIs close on April 15, with selected investors expected to submit bids by May 27, and the successful bidder being selected by May 20, 2009.

Rates fall

Treasury (T) Bill and Bond yields in secondary market trading fell, in consonant with yield falls at Wednesday's T Bill primary auction before the week-end, market sources said.

T. Bill yields fell by 30 basis points (bps) at Friday's trading, over the weighted average yields (WAYs) fetched at that auction, the sources said.

WAYs of T Bills of 91, 182 and 364 days maturities fell by 32 bps, 31 bps and 27 bps  week on week to 14.62%, 16.16% and 16.63% respectively at  Wednesday's T Bill primary auction for the re-issue of Rs. 5,000 million worth of maturing T Bills. Central Bank (CB) accepted Rs. 10,000 million worth of offers from the market at this auction.

Coinciding with the drop in T Bill yields, T Bond rates in secondary market trading also fell due to increased demand for all maturities, to the 16«-17% levels, from the previous 17-17¬% levels, they said.

T Bonds of 2013 maturity fell to the 16.80% levels on Thursday, compared to the 17% levels demanded prior to Wednesday's auction, with the status quo continuing at Friday's trading as well.

Meanwhile CB in addition to allowing for rupee purchases through its overnight reverse repo window, is also allowing for term rupee purchases, generally for a period of one month, with some Rs. 20 billion worth of purchases made by the market upto Friday.

Reverse repo rates charged by the CB for these purchases have been in the region of 13%, they said. Overnight call money market rates were in the region of 11%.

Sources also expected lending rates to fall in line with falling inflation and T Bill rates.

Additional 100,000 tourists, solution

An increase of 100,000 tourists in the event the war is won would give a boost to the industry in the short-term, a hotelier said.

Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka were in the 400,000 levels prior to the July '83 riots. It has since increased by 100,000 to 500,000 at the present.

However, Stefan Furkhan, Managing Director Confifi Group, told reporters on Tuesday,  that the real numbers of tourists arriving to Sri Lanka were considerably lower, at around 250-300,000.

He defined a tourist as a person who visits the island on a holiday.

"Others traditionally defined as tourists inclusive of Sri Lankans holding foreign passports, where a number of them stays in the houses of relatives, while still others are business travellers who stay in city hotels," Furkhan contended.

Ajit Jayemanne, the Group's Director Operations, told The Sunday Leader that despite the recession, a 100,000 increase in tourist arrivals to the country in the event of peace being achieved was possible, because tourist arrivals to the island, relative to its peers, was small.

"Some other countries get as much as 20 million tourists," he said. "The Summer is looking bad, but we are keeping our fingers crossed for the coming Winter season which begins in November," added Jayemanne.

Furkhan said that in the long term Sri Lanka needs to have its infrastructure right to develop tourism.

"A traveller on a seven hour flight to Colombo having to spend several more hours on the road to get to Beruwela is unsatisfactory," he said.

The Group operates three resort hotels in Beruwela.

Furkhan defined short term as a period of between 2-3 years.

Maldives being submerged a myth

Human contribution to global warming is 65%, while the balance 35% is due to natural causes, an astro-physicist said.

Dr. Kavan Ratnatunga, President of the Astronomical Association of Sri Lanka, delivering a lecture at the Institute of Engineers on Monday said that if the present status quo continued, i.e. global warming as it is, by the end of the century, the sea water levels would have had risen by a foot, affecting the Western Pacific area, places like Japan and the Pacific islands.


Sun eclipse in 2010

Northern parts of Sri Lanka will witness an annular eclipse of the Sun on January 15, 2010, second only in beauty to the total eclipse of the Sun witnessed by Sri Lanka some 54 years ago in 1955, said Dr. Kavan Ratnatunga.

"It will be visible for a period of 10 minutes in Jaffna, six minutes in Puttalam and four minutes in Anuradhapura," he said.

However in the "South," in places like Colombo, its effects will be like that of a partial eclipse, an occurrence which is common, he said.

 "Colombo witnessed a partial eclipse as late as January 2009," said Ratnatunga. He said that the centre of the Sun is covered by the Moon in an annular eclipse.

Inflation  & Poverty

On Thursday Deputy Director of the Institute of Policy Studies Dr. Ms. Dushni Weerakoon on behalf of ESCAP, unveiled that UN Organisation's 2009 Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2009 report.

Answering questions from reporters, she said that though poverty levels have fallen according to the latest survey-carried some 2-3 years ago by the Census and Statistics Department, raging inflation that has overtaken the economy since, may have had pushed up poverty levels once more.

This survey which is carried out once in five years, saw poverty levels at 15.6%, according to latest data compiled in 2006/07, down from the 22.7% poverty levels, according to the previous survey conducted in 2002/03.

Friends and foes alike, if they are sincere enough in their opinions, should give credit to that brief two year period of the UNF regime, from December 2001 to April 2004, which helped to bring down inflation to the single digit level, which no doubt contributed to lowering the island's poverty levels.

But after the advent of the UPFA regime in April 2004, fiscal and monetary profligacy was the name of the game. This resulted in inflation peaking at the near 30% levels in the middle of last year.

Since then however the government has been adopting a tight monetary stance, with point to point inflation coming down to single digit levels by last month.

However, the moving annual average inflation is still above the 20% levels.

As such a concerted effort by the government, of maintaining a tight monetary policy over a longer period of time will have to be conducted, to bring down the moving annual average inflation to single digit levels, thereby giving a boost to the economy and to poverty reduction.

Two complaints made by the financial and the banking sector in regard to their inability to bring down lending rates are high inflation and heavy government borrowings that apparently crowds out the private sector from the market.

The government is trying to address these two bottlenecks, and in particular the latter, by infusing liquidity to the system through its open market operations. As one daily recently reported, let the two State owned commercial banks start the ball rolling by reducing their lending rates, perhaps then, others may follow.

However, in infusing such liquidity to the market, Central Bank (CB) needs to be careful that such infusions will not cause inflation to rise once more.

Rising inflation is squared by either adopting tighter monetary policy or by jacking up rates, or a mix of both, which may negate CB's plans to bring down rates in order to stimulate the economy.

Cheap credit is a stimulant to the economy as it boosts consumption and helps expand investments, which in turn are a conduit to job creation.

That is what the world is now doing, at least as far as the major economies are concerned, by offering credit at single digit interest, or more precisely closer to a zero rate of interest, in order to boost their economies, hit by the global recession.

The cause of the global recession, as everybody knows, was because no proper assessment was made of certain borrowers and their ability to pay, as well as not making a proper valuation of the mortgage, having its origins, like the Great Depression of 1929, in the U.S.A., and spilling over to the rest of the advanced and major economies alike, with cascading effects on smaller economies such as Sri Lanka's, all caused by the U.S. borrowers' inability to pay.

Weerakoon in her address said that in the light of the global recession, the IMF has advocated loose monetary policy, advising economies to infuse liquidity to the value of 2% of their respective GDPs in order to stimulate their economies in the current context.

In Sri Lanka's case this will amount to a sum of Rs. 66 billion, four times more than the Rs. 16 billion stimulous package unveiled by the government in January 2009.

Such an action may cause demand side inflationary pressure on the economy.

In the event the local economy needs a stimulous equivalent to 2% of GDP and not «% of GDP as envisaged in the government's already spelt out stimulous package, then a fine balance will have to be drawn between stimulous and inflation, provided that the latter will not only help to retain jobs, but will also assist in creating new and productive jobs to cater to the youth of this country entering the job market annually.

Hiding Statistics

Another factor highlighted by Weerakoon was the flight of foreign capital from government debt as a result of the global recession, where she said that from a peak of US$ 600 million, it had witnessed a flight of US$ 400 million, obviously causing pressure on the exchange rate.

In this connection, the CB, used to weekly, send this newspaper a report titled Government Securities Market Weekly report. This report which is usually received by us on Thursdays, covers the movement of government securities for the week ended on Wednesdays.

Data in that report also included foreign holdings in Treasury Bond outstanding.

Those statistics used to be reproduced in this paper weekly.

It highlighted a depreciating trend in foreign holding of T Bond outstanding in recent times.

But since March 19, CB has stopped sending those statistics to us despite several e. mails, asking for this data, sent by this newspaper. CB has remained silent to our several requests.

The last time we published this data was in our issue of March 15, 2009, courtesy the CB, that showed foreign holdings on T Bond outstanding dipping by 26.2% week on week to Rs. 6,777 million (US$ 59.4 million).

Whether palatable or unpalatable, it's the duty of the government and the CB to reveal these statistics to the public and to investors alike, so that they may form their independent opinions and investment decisions.  CB, and government officers alike, are paid by taxpayers' money, and the right to know is a key democratic right.

Transparency is a hallmark of a progressive economy. And CB Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal, when unveiling the Bank's Monetary Policy Roadmap for the year in early January, promised to be more transparent in their actions and be more inter-active with the media.

But isn't "hiding" such statistics contrary to that promise? After all such information doesn't jeopardize national security?

PS:The  said weekly report for the week ended March 25, 2009 was sent to us by the CB on March 27, 2009.

Ahead of competition

Machine-painted ceiling sheets have been introduced to Sri Lanka for the first time by

Rhino Roofing Products Ltd. These elegant, durable and high quality sheets marketed under the brand name Colorup are designed to add glamour to the home of the discerning consumer.

The sheets which come in five standard colours that soothes the eye will add a touch of class to the interior. Rhino can also offer additional colours to blend with the home in accordance with specific customer requirements for a nominal fee. This will enable you to make creative choices in design.

Colorup ceiling sheets are recommended by architects and builders due to their many advantages. Installing these is a hassle-free, economical and speedy process and involves minimal labour.

The colour does not fade. 

Furthermore, Colorup ceiling sheets are durable and resistant to fungal activity. They are also safe and environmentally-friendly. All their products are made from SLS standard raw materials.

Two pairs of gloves and a paint tin for touchups is also given free with every buy.

Colorup also offers free technical advice. They also provide professional after-sales service. Colorup services and products are innovative, customer driven and is way ahead of  competition.

These superior products are manufactured in the only fully-automated factory in South-East Asia and distributed islandwide through over 300 registered dealers. Customers can also purchase directly from the Rhino showrooms at Srima Bandaranaike Mawatha, Colombo and Kurunegala. Transportation can be arranged for a nominal fee. Rhino traces its roots to a company established in 1962 and assumed its present name in 1978 under Deshamanya A.Y.S. Gnanam who founded the pioneering conglomerate St. Anthony's Group.  It's a successful and diversified company. It has laid emphasis on quality and customer satisfaction over the years and obtained ISO 9001, ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001 and SLSI quality certifications.

Islamic banking

Islamic banking has shown that it is a viable alternative model by offering products and services that more equitably distribute risk and reward between banks and businessmen in the context of the current global financial crisis, said a press release.

In Sri Lanka, the Amana Group has established itself as the pioneer in providing Islamic financial services, from merchant banking to insurance, to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.Since its inception, Amana has been working towards obtaining a commercial banking licence from the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) which would allow it to expand its business activities and the breadth of its revenue sources by offering its numerous customers a wider range of Sharia-compliant services and products. In 2005, amendments were introduced to the Banking Act to include the provision of financial products based on the profit and loss sharing principle as permitted business for licensed banks, thereby paving the way for Islamic banking in Sri Lanka.

The Amana Group reached another milestone, with the granting of a Letter of Provisional Approval to establish a licensed commercial bank named Amana Bank Ltd.,  by CBSL's Monetary Board.

 Amana Bank Ltd. which was incorporated on February 5, 2009. has not yet been granted a licence to carry on banking business under the Banking Act. Upon achieving certain conditions listed in the Letter of Provisional Approval such as the raising of a minimum capital requirement of Rs. 2.5 billion, Amana Bank expects to receive a banking licence from CBSL that will enable it to begin commercial banking operations.                       

Amana Bank hopes to utilize the technical expertise and specialized Islamic banking know-how of Bank Islam Malaysia Berhad (BIMB), which currently holds a 10% stake in  Amana.

Looking ahead, Amana Bank plans to actively participate in the Government's 'Re-awakening of the East' programme by expanding its branch network in the Eastern province beyond the currently existing five and offering appropriate Islamic banking solutions to facilitate the resurgence of the East's infrastructure and economy.

No political will to solve Colombo's garbage problem

There has to be a political will to resolve Colombo's garbage problem, an environmentalist said.

Professor Mohan Munasinghe who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with former US Vice President Al Gore on their work on climate change in 2007, told reporters on Monday that there are several solutions available to tackle Colombo's garbage problem, but that which was lacking was the political resolve.

Those solutions included separating the garbage  from that which was bio degradable, from that which was not. It also included disposing of garbage through landfills.

He further said that there was a commercial value in garbage and pointed out to a project launched by Cinnamon Grand, a five star hotel in Colombo, to recycle polythene banners used by it for its promotional work, to be converted into bags, rather than discarding them after use.

Earnings made from these bags, priced at between Rs. 100-400 (a statement said Rs. 250-500) will go to pay for the salaries of the tailors involved in this exercise, whilst the balance will be channelled to the Maharagama Cancer Hospital's Children's Ward, for its uplift.

Munasinghe who was speaking at a function to fete this event said that this initiative is well worth to vie for a global award.

He said that this recycling project fulfils all the three attributes he highlighted at the Rio Earth Summit 15 years ago for sustainable development. Those being economic-it provides employment to tailors, social-provides funding for cancer afflicted children and environment-it stops environmental degradation by preventing plastics which are non biodegradable from polluting the bio sphere.

Munasinghe said that there were also indirect economic and health benefits from such activities as plastics also played a role in clogging drains which in turn spawned the danger of a rise in vector borne diseases such as dengue.

The Hotel's General Manager Rohan Karr said that  five container loads of plastics are monthly imported to the country for the making of banners.  His hotel had collected some 2-3 years stock of used banners from which 350 bags of different shapes and sizes and for a variety of uses have been made.

This project has been extended to Cinnamon Grand's parent company John Keells Holdings PLC which has 70 companies under its umbrella. Their used banners will also be used in this recyclable project.

The inaugural sale was held in the hotel premises on Friday with the hotel planning to hold such sales on a monthly basis.

In Brief

Reluctant lender

Banks are reluctant to lend to finance companies after the crash of an illegal finance company together with deposits worth Rs. 26 billion, banking sources said.

Lending to finance companies comprised a large chunk of banks' lending portfolio, they said.

Central Bank has assured of a Rs. two billion cover for existing facilities for such financial institutions that has been frozen by banks due to the instability of registered finance companies and specialized leasing companies after a series of frauds involving such illegitimate finance companies late last year that was having an impact on the regulated sector.

But banks say that cover  is not enough, asking for guarantees of their moneys in the event such companies collapse.

Poverty up

Sri Lanka's poverty levels are likely to have had risen due to raging inflation that has beset the country in recent times, an economist said.

Dr. (Ms.) Dushni Weerakoon, Deputy Director Institute of Policy Studies told reporters on Thursday  that according to a survey conducted by Sri Lanka's Census & Statistics Department, poverty levels in the country, in the five year period from 2002 to 2007 had fallen by seven percentage points, from 22.7% to 15.6%.

However, taking into consideration the raging inflation that beset the country since, poverty levels are likely to have had risen, she said.

This survey is conducted once in five years. "There is no interim data available," Weerakoon said.

Weerakoon who unveiled ESCAP's Asia-Pacific 2009 report on the occasion said that the financial crisis, rise in energy and food prices and global warming were the three terrors at present facing the globe.

With the world economy expected to recover next year, energy and food prices were due to take-off once more. She said the report emphasised the importance of finding alternate sources of energy.

Foreign T Bond holdings: Rs. 3.2 bn.

Foreign holdings on Treasury Bond (T Bond) outstanding which slipped by 80.8% week on week (WoW) to Rs. 1,300 million in the week ended March 18, 2009; slightly recovered with a  145.5% increase WoW  in the week ended March 25, 2009  to  Rs. 3,191 million; still down by 52.9% over the March 11 figure of Rs. 6,777 million. (See also business editorial on page 22)

$ at Rs. 115

The US dollar continued its ascent vis-…-vis the rupee in the absence of State intervention, gaining by 50 Sri Lanka cents to Rs. 115 per unit  in spot trading on Friday, sources said.

State intervention has been missing since Thursday afternoon, with the government owned Bank of Ceylon (BoC) last seen defending the rupee by offering dollars at the Rs. 114.25 levels per unit on Thursday morning, they said.BoC has been absent from the market since Thursday afternoon, the sources said.

Dollar gains since Thursday were mainly due to the repatriation of foreign exchange (forex) in regard to a "foreign" investor, believed to be Raj Rajaratnam who sold his shares in John Keells Holdings (to high networth individuals Don Harold Stassen Jayawardena and Sohli Captain) a few days ago, taking back his money, the sources said. The government has been staying away from the forex market these days, though actively borrowing from the rupee market, they said. 

Energy saving

McFoil, a Macbertan (Pvt.) Ltd. product, is the number one product in the country for thermal insulation. Macbertan is the first plastic processing company in Sri Lanka, which is ISO 9001:2000, ISO 14001:2004 and ISO 18001:2007 certified by Sri Lanka Standards Institution.

 McFoil is a reflective heat insulation material, which reflects more than 90% of radiant heat and thereby contributes towards keeping the environment cool by cutting off the heat from the building's roof. McFoil is manufactured locally by laminating thermally expanded low density polyethylene which comes in sheet form with aluminum or meterlized polyester film. McFoil is water resistant and non hazardous and come in a range of colours, with single or double sided lamination and flame retardant. In addition to this McFoil is also the only energy saving product in Sri Lanka which is certified by NERD. McFoil insulation reduces the energy that is used to cool household as well as business environments, This is done by reducing the amount of fans or air-conditioning systems that have to be installed for this purpose. All products manufactured by Macbertan is 100% recyclable and environmentally friendly.

The company also has an over 3,000 islandwide dealer network.

Five year extension for Chevron

Chevron, in a stock exchange filing on Wednesday  said that the Cabinet has extended their lease by five years, in relation to their factory premises in Kolonnawa, which is housed in State land.

The current lease expires on July 13, 2009. "New commercial terms have not been notified to us  as yet," the company further said.

Rewards programme

Seylan Credit Cardholders enjoy exclusive offers and privileges throughout the year. Staring this year; winners of January and February Credit Card draws walked away with prizes such as computers and Seylan Visa Gift Cards.

Cardholders who used their credit cards over 12 times, with each transaction being Rs.2,500 or more from December1,  2008 - January 15, 2009, had 25% of their finance Charge for February 2009 waived off.

Apart from these offers there will be a New Year Draw to select three winners who will have upto Rs.50,000 of their Avurudu expenses paid. Loads of prizes await Seylan credit cardholders this year.  Also, Seylan Credit cardholders receive a Free Travel and Medical Insurance Cover of upto 50,000 dollars when they travel. With the No Stamp Duty saving, cardholders can indulge in buying goods without having to worry about additional levies.

Germany, black sheep

The Continent, other than Germany, has softened their travel advisories on Sri Lanka, a hotelier said.

Ajit Jayemanne, Director Operations, Confifi Group told The Sunday Leader that other countries in the Continent, such as France and Netherlands have however softened the "tone" of their travel advisories.

Even the Central Province and the Southern coastal belt have been declared unsafe for travel by Germany, the industry alleged.

Travel advisories emanating from the UK are generally less harsh than those coming out from the Continent, Jayemanne said.

Tourism is Sri Lanka's fourth highest foreign exchange earner and Germany was at one time Sri Lanka's biggest market, now relegated to 3rd place, behind India and the UK.

Tourist arrivals last month fell by 23% year on year (YoY), following a 37% YoY dip in January. Sri Lanka gets between 400-500,000 tourists annually. The Confifi Group which operates three resort hotels in the South with a combined room strength of 500, has an average 40-45% occupancy currently, lower than the 70-80% occupancy levels enjoyed during the same period last year.


The Confifi Group which operates three resort hotels in Beruwela has launched a promotional campaign to lure local tourists this Avurudhu season.

The industry is currently in a downward trend due to the recession and the island's own problems. The Group currently has a room occupancy rate of between 40-45%.

The promotion includes free corkage and free soft drinks and ice creams to children. 

Computer motherboard sales down 20,000 units

Inflation has hit the sale of computer components, with the sale of motherboards declining by 20,000 units (17%) to 100,000 units year on year (YoY) last year.

Arthur Liu, Sales Director Gigabyte Taiwan, a motherboard manufacturer, told reporters on Tuesday, that the price of a motherboard ranges from US$ 35 and upwards.

"It comprises around 10-15% of the total cost of a desktop computer," he said.

The company's Country Manager for Sri Lanka, Alan Szu told The Sunday Leader that the biggest supplier of motherboards to the island was Fastcom, also a Taiwanese company with a 28% market share.

It was followed by Asus Taiwan (22-23%), while Megabyte and NSI were each having a 16% market share.

Szu said Gigabyte sold 20,000 motherboards to the local market last year, down from the 24-25,000 the previous year. This was despite a US$ 5 dip in the street (retail) price of a motherboard, from US$ 65 to US$ 60 a unit last year, Szu who is based in Taiwan said.

The first two months of this year saw Gigabyte shipping in 2,500 motherboards to the island, he added.

Share transfer

A "foreign to foreign" transfer involving two parcels of JKH shares numbering 960,000 and 400,000 respectively involving two accounts maintained by the same company and executed at Rs. 64 a share, boosted turnover to Rs. 186.3 million at Friday's trading.


 In Brief







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