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11th December,  2005 Volume 12, Issue 22

First with the news and free with its views                                     First with the news and free with its views                             First with the news and free with its views                                    

Business

Budget oblique about peace, FDI, reforms

National Chamber of Commerce (NCC) President and Deputy Chairman and Joint Managing Director  Mackwood Group of Companies Nirmali Samaratunga speaking at a post budget press conference on Friday said that  President Mahinda Rajapakse in his budget speech was silent on aspects such as the liberalization of the land market and labour reforms, key areas to promote growth in the country.

 She also said that though Rajapakse made an oblique reference to privatisation and its benefits, no commitments had been made to further privatise state enterprises-which could not be construed as positive from a private sector point of view.

Samaratunga further said that though the budget specifically does not talk about peace, it is built on the premise that peace will hold.

She said that peace is sine qua non for President Mahinda Rajapakse to achieve his budgetary targets. Samaratunga further said that the budget does not make direct reference to foreign direct investment (FDI)- critical for the country to achieve the targeted 8% growth rate.

However, recent promotional missions to India show the importance that the government places on FDI, said Samaratunga.She also said that the country needed to have good infrastructure to attract FDI and probably the government had donor pledges (such as the $ 4.5 billion pledged at Tokyo) in mind to move forward in this aspect.

Strengthening of FDI inflows are critical to meet the projected 8% growth target, Samaratunga said. She said that it was imperative for the government to keep to the targeted budget deficit of 7.3%. In this score, she said that it was crucial for the government to meet the specified revenue targets in the budget.

Sixty five per cent of government revenue comes in the form of taxes, as such it is important that the government performs in this regard, said Samaratunga.

She however said that though taxation has been increased in the budget, the Chamber understood the context in which such increases had been made. But she emphasised the importance of the budget which is welfare oriented,  does not exceed the targeted expenditure figures.

"We welcome the focus in the budget to achieve the millennium development goals," Samaratunga said. Reduction of taxes to the SME sector and the commitment by the government to go ahead with the Norochcholai and Upper Kotmale power projects are also positive features in the budget, she said.

A thrust to promote the export of organic agriculture was another positive feature in the budget, because Sri Lanka does not have the capacity to export large quantities of agriculture produce, said Samaratunga. " Export of organic agriculture caters to a niche market and Sri Lanka has the strength to provide for such a market," she said. The budget is also positive about the development of the IT sector which is important, said Samaratunga.


NSB's  flurry boosts bourse

With signs of another outbreak of war dissipating from the minds of local investors and the market further buttressed by government institutions like NSB buying selected stocks such as Dialog (100,000 shares), LIOC (200,000 shares) and JKH (100,000 ) at Friday's trading, the benchmark ASPI gained by 50.75 points (2.4%) over Thursday's closing figure to finish the week at 2,159.33 points, while the more sensitive MPI gained by 59.5 points  (2.2%) to close at 2,770.85 points.

 Market capitalization increased over Thursday's figure by Rs 15.4 billion to Rs 656 billion, but still short by Rs 116.8 billion over the pre-election figure of Rs 772.8 billion. Market sources said that the bourse's upward trend would continue this week as well, provided nothing untoward happens in the peace front.

Meanwhile, high networth individual (HNWI) Rusi Captain snapped up one million shares of SLT at Rs 18.75 a share at Friday's trading, thereby increasing his stock of SLT shares in his portfolio to eight million.

The sources said that Captain's investment in SLT was from a long term point of view and not for the purposes of trading. However, turnover recorded on Friday was a modest Rs 269.7 million.

They said that NSB's intervention in the bourse may have been prompted by the government in order to prop up the share market. The sources said that the market was flat till the last hour of trading on Friday.

However, NSB's intervention in this critical period had a knock on effect, creating a herd like instinct of buying pressure, which, as a result, on an overall basis boosted the bourse, the sources said.

But foreigners were cautious and so also HNWIs, with the market mainly being retailer driven, they said.

NSB sources however denied these charges and said that their investments in these stocks were made after a study. "We made these investments for trading purposes," they said.

Market sources also attributed the gains made by the bourse due to the perception of a possible outbreak of another war dissipating from the minds of investors.

Japanese peace negotiator Y. Akashi arriving in the island and international condemnation led by the USA on LTTE killings of army personnel have put a check on further terrorist killings, this has had a positive impact on investors, the sources said.

The market lost a lot of ground after Sunday's and Tuesday's killings of army personnel, they said. However, there were hardly any sellers on Friday, thereby building up buying pressure, the sources said.

They further said that another boost for the market was the fact that Thursday's budget, other than raising corporate taxes had not introduced any taxes on share trading. This factor too was viewed positively by investors, the sources said.

Meanwhile, earlier in the day business magnate Dhammika Perera who has a 51% stake in Fortress Hotel, Koggala, transferred 1.6 million shares of the hotel from his personal account to Vallibel, another company controlled by him at Rs 18.50 a share on Friday.

Fortress, which is a Rs one billion investment, will upon completion by early next year, have a total of 49 upmarket 'chalets,' they said.  

Among the main contributors to the day's turnover were Fortress Resorts Rs 30.9 million on a share volume of 1.7 million. Fortress closed at Rs 17.25, Rs one more than its previous. Touchwood Rs 27.4 million on a share volume of 274, 700. Touchwood closed at Rs 105.25, Rs 18.25 more than its previous. Tokyo (non voting) Rs 25 million on a share volume of 1.8 million. Tokyo closed at Rs 14, 50 cents more than its previous. SLT Rs 21.9 milion on a share volume of 1.2 million. SLT closed flat at Rs 18.75. JKH Rs 20.3 million on a share volume of 135,900. JKH closed at Rs 150.25, Rs 2.25 more than its previous.

LIOC Rs 12.7 million on a share volume of 361,900. LIOC closed at Rs 37, Rs 2 more than its previous and HDFC Rs 12.4 million on a share volume of 49,900. HDFC closed at Rs 251.50, Rs 10.75 more than its previous.


HSBC's Christmas promotion

December26 2004 is a day that will remain indelibly marked in the memory of all Sri Lankans, a press release said. As the tsunami waves left a trail of devastation in its wake, the nation united to help its victims in many different ways. This aid and assistance has continued throughout the year, making a difference to the lives of those affected by the natural disaster.

Now almost a year later, it's the time for giving - and HSBC is doing just that by contributing Rs five million towards buying school supplies for the needy children in tsunami-affected areas.

As this is the season for giving, HSBC opened its 'Time for Giving' promotion to all HSBC credit cardholders from this month. It will end on Christmas Day. Thirty merchant partners will be offering value additions and special gifts to customers who use their HSBC credit card this season at their outlets.  Selected offers cover a wide range of products and services, including hotels, restaurants and fast food outlets, jewellery stores, mobile phone, software and cable television services, household goods, supermarkets, clothing stores, spas and airlines.

HSBC is the leader in the credit cards market in Sri Lanka and strives to offer more benefits to its customers, the release said. From travelling overseas to grocery shopping, the HSBC credit cardholder has access to a range of services and benefits here and abroad offering HSBC credit cardholders a world of opportunities, it said.

The HSBC credit card is not just globally recognised - it also brings with it exclusive privileges. Furthermore, with an ever-increasing number and variety of benefits, HSBC defines the standard for excellence in customer service and convenience, it added.

BB- rating for Sri Lanka

 Fitch Ratings on Thursday assigned Sri Lanka's long-term foreign and local currency ratings of 'BB-' (BB minus). At the same time, the agency has assigned the country a short-term foreign currency rating of 'B' and a country ceiling of 'BB-' (BB minus), a press release said. All long-term rating outlooks are stable, it said.

The communiqu‚ quoting Paul Rawkins, Senior Director in Fitch's Sovereign team said that Sri Lanka has proved resilient to adverse shocks over a long period of time, its institutions are strong and it has an unblemished debt service record. "However, weighing in the balance are concerns about public debt sustainability, weak coalition governments that have impeded fiscal consolidation and the absence of an enduring solution to a long-running civil conflict in the Tamil-dominated areas of the island."


 Arpico also in Ceylinco's 'supermarket scheme'  

Customers of Laugfs super markets who obtained  'One  and Only' insurance cover from Ceylinco Insurance under the special Laugfs - Ceylinco insurance scheme for as little as Rs 10, were able to collect their compensation for flood claims following the recent rains,  a press release said .

 "Some were able to obtain as much as Rs 400,000 against as little as Rs 360 premium paid, every time goods were purchased at a Laugfs outlet, based on the value of the bill, " the release quoting an unnamed spokesman for Ceylinco Insurance General said.

Commenting on the claims being paid, Ajith Gunewardena, Chief Executive Director - Ceylinco Insurance General, says: " We offered cover up to Rs one million on this unique concept which enabled customers to obtain an insurance cover without even realizing it."

Launched three months ago, the Ceylinco Laugfs One and Only Insurance turned out to be a success, says Gunewardena, who adds that it presented an innovative concept to the customer.

"Also, it requires the minimal financial commitment on the part of the customer. For Ceylinco Insurance, understanding customer needs and innovation are key points that direct our business - in today's competitive market place, innovation is vital for success."

The product has shown that customers are open to new ideas and concepts that work along their everyday requirements, says WKH Wegapitiya, Chairman, Laugfs, who adds that they are happy about the value-addition Ceylinco One & Only Insurance provides to their customers.

Several customers of the Laugfs - Ceylinco One and Only Insurance collected their flood cover compensation from Gunewardena and Wegapitiya at the Laugfs supermarket premises in Havelock Road Colombo on December 1.

Commenting on the scheme,  customers said that they were happy to be able to obtain an insurance cover on a payment as little as Rs 10 - " for most of us, this has shown that Ceylinco Insurance keeps its promise to customers with new and innovative concepts that work for us," said  S G  Gunasena, a recipient.

Currently operating eight outlets at Wellawatte, Kohuwela, Rajagiriya, Baseline Road, Dematagoda, Borelasgamuwa, Havelock Road, D S Senanayake College and Mabima and due to open two more outlets at Jubilee Post Mirihana and Kottawa, the Laugfs supermarket chain has attracted customers with a unique product offering of late night shopping and easy access.  

According to Ceylinco Insurance company sources, customers of Arpico Super Centres also now benefit  from the Ceylinco One & Only insurance, when this scheme was expanded late last month.


UMLL beats taxes to make record profit  

Despite last year's phenomenal increase in import taxes which pushed vehicle prices up by 30 to 60%, United Motors completed a successful half year in the period ended September 30, 2005, both in terms of revenue and profitability on account of its strong marketing in growing commercial segments and successful cost management strategies, a press release said.

The communiqu‚ quoting the company's chairman M.J.C.Amarasuriya said that that the parent company United Motors Lanka Ltd (UMLL) recorded a turnover of Rs. 1,275.2 million, (a 40.8% year on year increase) and a profit after tax (PAT) of Rs.105.6 million-a 150% increase.

UMLL's  subsidiary companies collectively earned a profit of Rs. 13.8 million for the Group. It is noteworthy that the consolidated PAT of Rs 119.. 4   million, which is a record, was 183% above that of the first half of the previous financial year.

The parent company, UMLL is the sole distributor of brand new Mitsubishi vehicles, Genuine Mitsubishi spare parts, Valvolene lubricants and Eagle Car Care products in Sri Lanka. The company's fully owned subsidiary, Unimo Enterprises Ltd. is the distributor for Yokohama tyres, Farmtrac and EMEI tractors and the Malaysian made small car, Kelisa manufactured with Japanese technology.

TVS motorcycles marketed by the jointly controlled entity TVS Lanka Ltd has continued to gain popularity in Sri Lanka's two wheeler market enabling the company to achieve substantial sales growth.

After sales service also recorded substantial growth with spare part sales improving over the first half of last year by 21.5% and revenue from repairs and services at the company's state of the art workshop, increasing by 33.2%. The business volumes of Valvolene lubricants and car care products have also doubled during the period.

TVS Lanka faired considerably better in the first half of 2005/06, achieving a PAT of Rs 41.3 million as against Rs. four million earned in the first half of last year. UMLL's fully owned subsidiaries also succeeded in improving their performance in the period under review. Orient Financial Services Corporation earned a profit of  Rs. 7.7 million and increased its new business by 65%. Due to the growth achieved in a significantly short time and the increasing business potential, this company is in the process of restructuring its capital.

Unimo Enterprises Ltd. maintained last year's profit level with improved sales of all its products whilst Orient Motor Company succeeded in reducing its losses by 29%.

The company's and the Group's half year's earnings per share improved by 149.3% and 183.9% respectively over that of the first half of last year. Consolidated shareholder funds grew by 5.4 % in the half year whilst at the end of September 2005, Group net assets per share was Rs. 50.14 as against Rs. 47.58 at end  March  2005.

During the period under review the company's shares traded at Rs. 78, the highest recorded so far.  In view of the excellent results achieved in the first six months of the financial year and on the assumption that there will be no dramatic changes in the country's fiscal policies that would affect imports and domestic demand, the shareholders could expect a favourable return on their investment by the end of the financial year, the communiqu‚ said.

The company's directors are M.J.C.Amarasuriya (Chairman), C. Yatawara (CEO), A. Herath, T.M.R.B.Tennekoon, S.M.Chrysostom, N.A. Cabraal, R.M.S.Fernando and Y. Sasaya.


Crysbro,preferred choice

It takes a truly visionary mind with an uniyielding missionary zeal to conceive, launch and propagate a venture in to an overwhelming success. These in its fullest sense are the reasons for the existence of Crysbro - the preferred choice of the consumers where the discerning chicken market is concerned,  a press release said.

 The evidence of this is visible in the reciprocated confidence demonstrated towards it by consumers. Mohamed Imtiaz, the originator of this popular and respected business venture has displayed these exemplary characteristics from the inception onwards, never relinquishing his desire to offer anything less than the best.

 He has reasons for this - unlike most other products, chicken is consumed regularly by people of all ages in every segment of society, irrespective of class, caste or creed. He explains further: "Cleanliness is next to godliness goes the saying of sages and how true that is! We never compromise on this principle in anything we do and in turn it is truly reflected in everything we do."

1974 was the year Crysbro was launched at Jayamalapura, Gampola. This was chosen after a lengthy and careful selection process for a lush, verdant location and clean environment located in an'ideal' misty mountainous clime.

 It  is a foregone conclusion that chicks raised in such green country-environment only gives off the best results to the consumers in culinary aspects. The mutually rewarding healthy relationship thus established with the consumers have laid the firm foundation for the meticulous expansions that followed, helping Crysbro to forge ahead, preserving its time-honoured market leadership attributes intact.

Being a 100% Sri Lankan source origin enterprise where everything from parent to the end result of broiler chicken, inclusive of its' nutrient feed, are homegrown with meticulous care, Crysbro chicken are totally free of any virus infections and absolutely safe for consumption - a firm guarantee Crysbro sincerely offers to their discerning customers whose trust is Crysbro inspiration.

These are the salient features Crysbro harnessed, in order to provide their multitude of loyal customers who gathered at the Sirima Bandaranaike Memorial Exhibition Centre from November 26-28 to be entertained and educated by experts in the preparation of succulent art of chicken fiestas, at the eagerly received "Culinary Art 2005" exhibition, it said.


Health checks for dimo clients  

Ceylinco Diabetes Centre (CDC), an advanced stand-alone private facility for screening and management of diabetes in Sri Lanka and DIMO, a premier automobile company have come together in an effort to promote safer and healthier lifestyles to the latter's customers, a press release said.

Every buyer of a vehicle from DIMO will be entitled to a comprehensive health check by CDC under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) entered into by the two companies recently.

The MoU was signed by Ranjith Pandithage, Chairman and CEO DIMO and R. Renganathan, Deputy Chairman Ceylinco Healthcare Services (CHS).

The comprehensive health check package consists of a complete physical examination, diagnostic investigations and appropriate consultations.

The tests include fasting glucose, lipid profile, full blood count with blood picture, liver profile, ECG, urine full report, renal profile and eye checkup.

The release said that Pandithage addressing a ceremony to launch the joint promotion had said that lifestyles have changed over the past few decades. However, health has become the least important factor in one's life.

"Therefore, we encourage our customers to give priority to their health." He said that DIMO whose flagship vehicle Mercedes Benz is associated with safety, reliability, class and driving pleasure, 'cares for its customers on and off the road.'

CDC's senior medical Officer Dr. Samanthi De Silva who made a presentation on 'Diseases of Modern Times', said that the comfortable lifestyles of the modern era have burdened society with many non-communicable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and metabolic syndrome.

Those affected by one of these diseases may tend to get another as these diseases are closely linked, she said.

 De Silva stressed that being obese in the first few decades of life may bring serious consequences later in life.

Diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness, heart disease, kidney failure and stroke and afflicts one in seven Sri Lankans. Statistics show that diabetes is also one of the most common causes of foot ulcers and amputation of lower limbs.

Established by CHS in affiliation with the Washington Hospital Centre, CDC is a specialized out-patient clinic for screening, detection and management of diabetes and its complications.

The Centre also conducts clinics in Diabetology, Cardiology, Ophthalmology, Neurology, Nephrology, Vascular Pathology, Podiatry, Dermatology and Nutrition. In addition, a Diabetes shop provides diabetics with all their needs including custom made footwear.


FX1, for long lasting engine

Fastex FX1 better known as FX1 was the first product of its kind to be introduced to Sri Lanka eight years ago. Claimed a press release. It is manufactured by Glenveigh Developments Ltd., Canada and is marketed here by Ecogen (Lanka).

When added to the existing engine oil of a motor vehicle, FX1 reduces frictional forces and there by extends the life time of an average engine by up to 80%, it said.

Apart from reducing maintenance, other benefits to be derived are many. By reducing friction, FX1 causes an increase in power and a reduction in fuel consumption. Noise levels and temperature will also decrease.Owners of older motor vehicles have much to benefit by applying FX1 to engine oil.Many  vehicles  marked for engine overhauls have found a new lease of life through FX1. The fact that a person who knows much about motor cars, the owner of an older Pajero, managed to delay an imminent overhaul by 80,000 km by adding FX1 four times is well known.

FX1 reduces oil consumption and also increases compression. When FX1 is added, it makes use of the engine oil to get to the metal parts of theengine.Thereafter a thin film is formed on all the metal parts of the engine. It remains there even after an oil change till the film is worn off.

During the early morning start, when the lubricating oil has settled at the bottom, FX1 protects the engine against wear. The communiqu‚ further said that FX1 (Surface Modifier) is a proprietary blend of complex hydrocarbon and synthetic ester fluids containing no solid components.

It is specially formulated to improve boundary lubrication conditions. It both reduces the frictional forces between contacting surfaces by acting as a friction modifier and improves the 'extreme pressure/antiwear' characteristics of a lubrication system. FX1 is most economically added to a lubrication system (or pre-blended with the host lubricant) at a ratio of 1:20 or 5% 'vol.' to the volume of the host lubricant.However, there is no such thing as an overdose.

It should be emphasised that adding FX1 to the host lubricant is not considered as modifying the host oil but solely as a way of getting the Fastex FX1 to the moving metal surfaces. When the FX1 comes in to contact with metal surfaces at a temperature in excess of 50 degrees C,  a microscopic modified surface is formed.

Boundary lubrication is a state of lubrication characterized by partial contact between two metal surfaces and partial separation of the surfaces by a fluid film of lubricant. When metal to metal contact occurs severe wear can take place.  FX1 has been formulated to help minimize wear under boundary lubrication conditions.

 FX1 has detergent properties and when added to a lubrication system, will immediately start to remove carbon, sludge and varnish deposits generally caused by oxidation products from the lubricating oil. Therefore, checking the condition of the oil and filter before adding FX1 is strongly recommended.


Service

Dhammika Kalapuge, a 'customer service' trainer designed and conducted  a one day 'Customer Care Excellence Programme' for support service staff of Associated Motorways Ltd at Colombo recently, a press release said. Among the participants  were J. K. S. Jayasuriya,  Asitha Nishantha,  Sugath Pushpa Kumara,  U. S. Amarasinghe,  Indika Priyankara, W. Senarathnasiri, K. K. Karunadasa, K.H.Mahindapala, Indika Kulathunga, P.P.P.Premalal, I.Dharshana, Chaminda Athukorala, P.H.N.Sanjeewa, Hemantha Rodrigo, K.R.Gunadasa, Chandradasa de Silva, Roshan Perera, H.D.Chadrapala, .C.S.Neranjan, Sameera Pushpa Kumara, R.S.Hemasinghe, W.M.D.Ranathunge, C.Sumanasekara, G.D.C.Perera, Manjula Wasantha, P.P.Chaminda, H.H.Piyadasa, Jagath Sri Lal and Iresha Gallage (coordinator).  


CNT  appoints  PC House as Partner  

CNT International Ltd recently appointed PC House Pvt Ltd as its partner to market Symantec retail products (SRP) in Sri Lanka.

A press release said that under this agreement PC House will market SRP through its 24 branches islandwide and will hold exclusive stocks of the product.The release quoting Chief Executive / Director CNT International Suramya Karunaratne said that Symantec provides a broad range of software, appliances and services designed to help individuals, small and mid-sized businesses and large enterprises to secure and manage their IT infrastructure.

Popular in Sri Lanka, Symantec's Norton brand of products is the worldwide leader in consumer security and problem-solving solutions. Headquartered in Cupertino, California, Symantec has operations in more than 35 countries and is the global leader in information security.

A member of Ceylinco Consolidated, CNT is a provider of Internet security solutions connecting people to the world's leading technologies, thus ensuring total solutions that protect business communications and resources for corporate networks and applications, remote employees, branch offices and extranets.


Zenith Computers bring choice, affordability  

Zenith Computers is a sleek, 'hi-tech' branded computer available at a price that suits the customer's budget, a press release said. "We are not just talking about technology and affordability, Zenith also offer a wide choice through a stylish and extensive range of both desktop and notebook models," it said.

It also said that such details were revealed when Finco Technologies, a member of the highly diversified and leading private sector organization Finco Group announced the launch of Zenith Computers in Sri Lanka with Finco Technologies being appointed as the exclusive distributor for Zenith Computers.

The release further said that Zenith Computers is India's preferred brand of computer and is one of the fastest growing in the world, with a strong presence in many overseas markets.

This is not surprising when one takes into consideration the unique combination of leading-edge technology and affordability that Zenith Computers offer, it said. When these factors are combined with a stylish and extensive range, Zenith Computers is poised to become the preferred brand in Sri Lanka as well, it added.

While enjoying Zenith's range and innovative technology, the customer does not have to compromise on reliability. Manufactured in Zenith's ISO 9001 + 14001 certified manufacturing facility, each PC undergoes stringent quality control processes and tests. After three days of a rigorous 'burn-in process' systematically verified with diagnostic checks, Zenith ensures that only products of the highest quality reach the customer, the communiqu‚ said.  "So you will enjoy the best of technology without compromising on quality, with significant cost savings," it said.

Zenith has an extensive range of laptops loaded with the latest features one needs for productive mobile computing such as an in-built web camera, wifi, DVD/RW and many other multimedia combinations.  Zenith has designed specific laptops targeted at different levels of the corporate ladder with models such as the Presidio, Strategist, Director, Performer, Analyst, Executive and SalesPro. These models are configured to meet the specific needs of the professional user, whilst also taking into consideration multimedia needs. A Zenith laptop is ideal for the ambitious corporate professional who wants to increase productivity to a maximum. The Zenith desktop range also offers a wide choice to the customer for both corporate and home use.  

Every owner of a Zenith computer will be able to enjoy a  three year comprehensive after-sales warranty provided by Finco Technologies and backed by the reputation of the Finco Group. As a special introductory offer an educational CD pack containing more than 12 CDs will be given free with every purchase of a Zenith Computer.

Finco Technologies - the exclusive distributor for Zenith Computers in Sri Lanka, is the newest member of the Finco Group. Finco is a  diversified private sector organization in Sri Lanka with a solid business reputation and sound financial standing. With a common vision of being 'committed to excellence', all the companies in the Finco Group are market leaders in their respective fields of activity such as ICC, Alpha Industries Limited, Nivasie Developers Ltd, Finco Engineering Sales Division and Genesiis Software, to name a few. 


LMD's top 50 out

In an interesting development for corporate Sri Lanka, telecom giant SLT and a major Indian Oil company's local operation, LIOC, have displaced premier blue-chip John Keells Holdings (JKH) from its customary position of leading Lanka Monthly Digest (LMD) rankings, a press release said.

JKH was ranked third in THE LMD 50, a 'who's who' of listed high-fliers in the country, with a turnover of Rs. 23.6 billion in the fiscal year 2004/05. Big-league Telecom player SLT was ranked first for a second year running, with a turnover of Rs. 29.5 billion; followed byLIOC which raked in a revenue of Rs. 27.5 billion.

THE LMD 50 published annually ranks listed companies in Sri Lanka by their respective turnovers and has come to be regarded by the corporate community as Sri Lanka's version of THE FORTUNE 500, the communiqu‚ claimed.

Exactly 50 companies, being the movers and shakers in the private sector have been ranked by turnover and analysed in terms of other yardsticks - such as profit after tax, total assets and shareholders' funds - in addition to being profiled for financial performance, share-ownership, sectoral performance, growth and productivity.

Released at the end of each year for a dozen years, THE LMD 50 is now a special stand-alone edition, and is available in leading bookshops and other retail outlets, it said.

The twelfth edition of THE LMD 50 notes that cumulative turnover of the listed entities ranked reached a record, almost Rs. 400 billion for the first time, reflecting an apparent growth in the fortunes of corporate Sri Lanka.

But the premier rankings notes: "Numbers can be deceptive. The reality is that new entrants in 2004/05 distort many comparisons." However, THE LMD 50's cumulative turnover increased by as much as 25% in the fiscal year under review (2004/05). This "outpaces inflation by far", notes THE LMD 50 and is "not bad when one considers that the nation's GDP growth - of around 5% - for the fiscal year".  


'Covey' in Sri Lanka

Franklin Covey is a global learning and performance services company, a press release said. "Our driving mission is to help organizations succeed by unleashing the power of their workforce to focus and execute their top business priorities."

It further said that Covey's approach to personal and organizational effectiveness builds on the work of co-founders Stephen R. Covey, author of the global bestseller 'The Seven habits of highly effective people' and Hyrum W. Smith, author of 'What matters most'.

This system helps individuals and organizations move towards optimum achievement through a combination of empowered, principle-based learning, and tools such as planning systems, the communiqu‚ claimed.

Franklin Covey programmes can be standard or completely customized and is focused on the key issues that govern an organization's ability to execute and achieve its goals: Leadership, Organizational Culture, Goal Alignment, Productivity, Communication and Teamwork.

Franklin Covey South Asia was established to offer the same benefits of this great organization for South Asian countries. Since then it has been able to work with many corporate companies, large and small, in building the effectiveness process in these organizations, it said.

"We are excited about the product offerings and principle-centred learning that we can offer to the Sri Lankan corporate world. The response from individuals and corporate executives in getting this world class learning experience has been encouraging," the release quoting Ameer Ahamed, CEO of Sri Lankan and Maldives operations, said.

Ahamed has been involved with training and development for many years not only in Sri Lanka but across many South Asian Countries in various different types of individual and corporate training, the communiqu‚ said.

"The association with FranklinCovey and the Principle Centred Materials has been a really great experience". "We were fortunate to have launched the company in Sri Lanka by Dr. Stephen Covey himself upon his visit to Sri Lanka in October 2003 and since then the company has grown in size. "

FranklinCovey globally works with more than 80 of the Fortune 100 Companies and more than three quarters of the Fortune 500 companies and thousands of medium sized and small companies, the release claimed.

Even in Sri Lanka, 'Franklin Covey Sri Lanka' has been working with many large companies so far and the future looks great," said Ahamed.

"A few of our products and services include: 'The seven habits of highly effective people, ' ' Four roles of leadership,' ' Focus achieving your highest priorities' 'Four disciplines of execution' and 'What matters most.'

Covey is now moving into more user-relevant solutions for organizations. One such solution is the 'XQ Survey' which will identify the 'execution gap' of organizations in order to achieve a 'sustained superior performance'.  


Caring for youth  

'Save the Children in Sri Lanka' (SCSL) believes that youth between the ages of 15- 23 need as much attention as those below 15, a press release said.

Although there are many programmes for younger children and adults, this is one group that is intelligent and enthusiastic and could be involved in the development process, it said.

Opportunities to learn a trade or master a skill will ensure that these youth could make a positive contribution to society.

With this in mind, 'Save the Children' has already implemented programmes aimed at providing vocational training for youth. In the South, in partnership with the District Federation of Youth Clubs (DFYC), over 100 young persons have been trained on cement block making and provided with equipment and raw materials to start business.

Now blocks are being sold at a lower and at an affordable price to affected communities to rebuild their houses.

In the North, SCSL is working in partnership with World University Services Canada (WUSC) to provide basic education for tsunami affected youth in literacy together with vocational training.

During this three year programme, a total of 1,100 youth will receive training on trades related to construction such as carpentry, masonry, plumbing, electrical wiring and welding, motor mechanism, electronics, aluminum fabrication, leather product manufacturing, fishing and marine technology, agriculture equipment and machinery repair.

They will also receive on the job training. Tool kits will be given and credit facilities will also be linked for them to start self -employment.

Both males and females are selected for this training and priority has been given to female heads of households, youth directly affected by armed conflict, orphans, disabled youth and internally displaced.  


SLCC office - bearers  

Dayasiri Warnakulasooriya, Chairman/ Managing Director Midaya Ceramic Co, Ltd., assumed duties as the President of the Sri Lanka Ceramics Council (SLCC) at its Annual General Meeting held recently, a press release said.

 Warnakulassoriya, has 40 years of experience behind him and has been at the helm of his Company since it's inception in 1968. Sunil Wijesinha, Chairman /Managing Director Dankotuwa Porcelain Ltd., will serve on the Board of Management, as the Immediate Past President.

The rest of the Board Members for the year 2005/2006 are as follows: Mahendra Jayasekera, Managing Director, Lanka Tiles Ltd.- Vice President, Nimal Perera, Director/ General Manager, Noritake Lanka Porcelain (Pvt) Ltd., - Hony. Treasurer, Niranjan Jayawickrama, Deputy General Manager, Lanka Walltiles Ltd. - Hony. Secretary, J.K. Menon -Chief Executive Officer - Royal Ceramics Lanka Ltd., - Hony. Assistant Secretary.

SLCC represents tableware, tiles, walltiles, roofing tiles and ornamentalware manufacturers and serves as an independent apex body for the ceramic industry formed under the Companies Act of Sri Lanka. It is governed by a Board of Management.  


Bridging the digital divide  

Microsoft Sri Lanka, along with Intel, IBM, ICTA, HP, Suntel, IDM and PC House partnered together to announce the awardees of the "Bridging the Digital Divide" (BDD) initiative, a programme to facilitate the development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the country through Non Government Organizations (NGOs) working among disadvantaged communities.

A communiqu‚ said that four NGOs, Women's Savings Effort (WSE), Lower Uva Development Centre (LUDC), National Council for Child and Youth Welfare (NCCYW) and North East Socio Economic Developers (NESED) were selected for this programme.

WSE works for disadvantaged women centred families in the rural areas of Sri Lanka, and their project goal is to popularize the use of IT and internet technology among the rural populations and facilitate them to reap benefits from it.

NCCYW administers and maintains seven 'homes' for orphaned and destitute children, providing schooling, vocational and basic computer training. They aim to equip three of their 'homes' with computers, to enable the teaching of ICT to inmates, and to equip them with IT skills that will make them employable when they leave these homes. As a second phase, they intend to extend this facility to the needy and destitute children in the vicinity of the 'Home'.

LUDC works towards improving the life of the agricultural farmer and other parties associated with farming in Bibile and other areas in the Monaragala district. Their project aims to use ICT to set up an information system and network for farmers enabling them to get the best price for their harvest, improving farming methods and conducting research at a small level.

NESED is a development agency aiming to make IT infrastructure accessible to the backward agrarian services divisions of Nochchiyagama and Ranorawa located in the Anuradhapura district. They aim to reduce child labour trafficking by setting-up village based IT training centres to help young students obtain internationally recognized IT qualifications.

The NGOs eligibility was on the basis of them being registered with the Social Welfare Ministry and having as its primary purpose the provision of services to assist disadvantaged groups and demonstrating credibility, capability, project feasibility and sustainability.

The NGO day awareness programme brought over 30 NGOs out of which 19 submitted project proposals addressing 'Digital Divide'. The selecting of these projects was done with the involvement of all partners who selected four of the best. These four project initiatives are expected to directly benefit more than 5,000 people in the first year of its operations and will affect more than 15,000 people if continued for three years. The release quoting Sri Lanka's Country Manager Microsoft Sriyan de Silva Wijeyeratne said that as an industry leader Microsoft has a corporate responsibility to make technology accessible to all strata of society.

"In Sri Lanka we are committed to this goal. The BDD initiative gives us the opportunity to partner with illustrious private sector organizations and multinationals like ourselves to help further develop the levels of IT education and IT literacy in our country. This is only possible through the development of ICT infrastructure at the grass-roots level."


SLT's improved billing solutions

Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) together with Clarity (Australia) and Convergys Corporation (Geneva) felicitate all those who were involved in the CBIS project 'Maitree' which can now provide a comprehensive portfolio of billing solutions that will be in on par with the challenges of cost and 'complexity,' a press release said.

With the rollout of the fully integrated, convergent next generation solution, SLT will achieve significant competitive advantage, including increased revenue, streamlined operations, improved customer care service and the launch of new world class products.

Service order provisioning is now fully automated for all products and services drastically reducing service provisioning times and cost of delivery. An accurate up to date inventory and configuration database of the network equipment, fibre and copper cabling allows for more efficient network engineering, planning, capacity management as well as more rapid service provisioning.

Intelligent automated customer trouble ticket management now fully ensures customer responsiveness and improved levels of service. The increase in subscribers, integration between provisioning and billing along with the convergent capabilities of the Geneva billing system have resulted in significant increases in revenue with SLT's investment in the solution expected to be recouped within the first six months of operation.

The alliance brings together 'industry leaders in the business support system segment of telecommunications network and the service provider market. Convergys' highly scalable and flexible billing and customer care products are pre-integrated and among the most advanced in the industry. Clarity is a global provider of an award winning, integrated, end-to-end, operational support system (OSS) that helps to build and manage some of the world's most advanced telecommunications networks.

The companies expect to leverage their leadership positions to deliver more value to their clients. In today's market of evolving voice and data services, providers are looking carefully at their business support systems to increase operational efficiencies, lower costs and reduce 'churn' by enhancing customer satisfaction, the communiqu‚ said.

The more powerful, pre-integrated billing and customer care solutions such as those proposed by Convergys and Clarity help to achieve these objectives, it said.


LOLC's profits grow by 32%  

Lanka Orix Leasing Company Ltd (LOLC) saw net profits in the six months ended September 30 in the financial year 2005/06 grow by 32% year on year (YoY) to Rs 370 million, a press release said.

 These results were supported by a 19% increase in net interest income and a well planed collection drive which enabled the reversal of provisions for loan losses previously made by the company purely on a prudential basis. Group profits increased by 37% to Rs 431 million.

Growth in business volumes resulted in a 53% increase in operating profit compared to the 45% growth in operating profit recorded during the first half of the previous financial year. Two new branches were opened at Kegalle and Embilipitya during the period under review and the branch network now comprise 15 branches.

Return on capital employed increased to 28% and a 7% Return on Assets. Total assets of the Company grew by 25% to reach Rs 10.3 billion as at September 30, 2005. Shareholders funds amounted to Rs 2.6 billion at the end of the second quarter compared to Rs two billion in the previous year.

Group market capitalization increased to 4.8 billion from Rs 3.4 billion in the previous year. The 41% growth in shareholder wealth during this period demonstrates LOLC's ability to provide high returns to all its stakeholders.

This year LOLC is celebrating 25 years of successful performance in Sri Lanka. In view of the commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) whilst pursuing profitable economic growth many CSR projects including a Tsunami housing project is included with the events to commemorate the silver jubilee. A delegation from ORIX Japan also arrived to participate in these events.  


Real estate commission: Who pays?
Who receives? &  How much?

By Kirthi Hewamanna

Real estate commission is a professional fee usually paid by the seller (vendor) to an agent (broker) for successfully negotiating a transaction. This remuneration is a percentage of the sale price, lease price or the exchange value of the property.

The percentage of the commission can vary from 3% to as much as 6%, as in developed countries where the Industry is regulated by the commerce ministry, real estate boards and realtors' associations.

However, in countries such as Sri Lanka there are many problems that have arisen in the real estate trade in recent years. This is due to the fact that there is no proper procedure followed. This can be avoided if the trade is regulated and more organized.

The buying and selling public and others who are involved in real estate transactions must recognize that professional realtors make a valuable contribution and there services will prevent most forgeries and corrupt practices. Therefore it is time that a professional realtors' association is formed and a real estate institute established to train real estate agents in Sri Lanka. In addition the real estate business must be regulated by the Commerce Ministry. However, these boards and associations must be allowed to function independently.

In developed countries only registered real estate professionals (agents), real estate consultants, lawyers and developers' sales staff, can legally benefit from a real estate transaction. The commission is shared by the agents involved.

The real estate profession should be based on the agency relationship. When a broker is authorized by a seller to market his property, the broker becomes the agent of the seller. One of the most important terms in any real estate agency agreement is the commission (or fee) which the agent is to receive for his services. The real estate commission and the terms of contract should be stated in a 'listing' agreement.

The Listing Agreement is a verbal or written contract (agreement) between a property owner and an agent, authorizing the agent to offer the owner's real property for sale or lease. In this contract the commission payable (usually a percentage of the amount involved) and the expiry date should be stated. In Sri Lanka most of these agreements are verbal. It is best if the listing agreement is a written contract for the protection of both the agent and the seller. It can be a simple agreement drawn up and signed by the two parties.

When this procedure is not followed, it can lead to confusion and disputes when commission payment time comes. Most fraudulent activities also take place when there are no professional real estate agents involved in property transactions.

lf there is no listing agreement, a short contract between the seller and the agent should be signed stating the amount of commission payable. This should be done before the seller's acceptance of the purchaser's offer.

There are three different forms of' agency relationships in real estate. They are Seller's Agency, Buyer's Agency and Dual Agency.

Seller's Agent: The Seller's Agency is the most traditional and common agency relationship. The seller usually contacts a realtor (agent) when he decides to sell his property.

The role of the 'seller's agent' is to market the property and enlist the help of other agents to sell it. In such circumstances another agent can bring an offer from a purchaser. If the offer is accepted by the seller the commission will be shared by the two agents. This is where the two agents work together to achieve the goal of selling the house.

Buyer's Agent: In a Buyer's Agency an agent is hired by the purchaser to find him a suitable house. For this service the buyer pays a commission to his agent. The obligation of the buyer's agent is to select the best possible house for the buyer and negotiate the best price for him.

in this case, he should not receive a commission from the seller or seller's agent as he is exclusively working in the best interests of the purchaser. The agent gets compensated by the purchaser for his service.

In Sri Lanka usually buyers do not hire their own agents and depend only on the seller's agent. For example, say in one instance, the seller's agent conveyed to the seller that the prospective purchaser had just returned from overseas and that money is no problem to the buyer. Taking the opportunity, the seller immediately increases the price from Rs.  ten million and sells the property for Rs. 14 million as the purchaser has no idea of the market price.

 If he enlisted the services of an independent agent and agreed to pay 3'% of the value of the property he would have saved a substantial amount. In addition sales of this nature creates problems when establishing a fair market value for the properties in the area.

The Dual Agent: In a dual agency the agent will be working for both the seller and buyer. In such circumstances the agent must inform the buyer and the seller that he will receive commission from both parties.

This is acceptable if both seller and buyer think it is a"win-win" situation and that the efforts by the agent is commendable and should be rewarded. This usually happens when the property is unusual or special and will attract only a few purchasers for various reasons and  where the agent has put extra effort to find the "right" buyer.

In Sri Lanka real estate commission varies from 3- 4% of the selling price and it is shared among the agents involved in a transaction.

Some agents set their own standards and are selective when they undertake listings. They deal only in properties of a certain price range, in certain areas and certain types of properties ( such as residential, commercial, industrial and plantations). Some agents deal only in rental properties.

When a real estate transaction is completed there are numerous "hangers on" and unauthorized people demanding commissions from buyers, sellers and agents. They include people who give directions to the property, caretakers who open the house for the prospective purchasers and other workers who are present when the house is shown, and the list goes on!

There are also people who give the name of a prospective purchaser to an agent and expect a substantial portion of the agent's commission, having done nothing to facilitate the sale. They have no idea of the amount of work involved in putting a transaction together. However, most agents do "look after" the people who give "leads" and referrals in appreciation for the help they receive.

The writer is a graduate of  Peradeniya University, realtor and a condominium specialist. He is a former member of the Canadian Real Estate Association and  Ontario Real Estate Association. He was also a member of  the Realtor Political Action Committee in Canada.


Skywards fete members  

Skywards, the frequent flyer programme of SriLankan and Emirates, hosted top Gold members at the tenth SriLankan Airlines Golf Classic in Kandy recently.

A press release said that  SriLankan and Emirates showed their appreciation to Gold members who had flown frequently with the two carriers in the past 12 months and have stated golf as a preference in their membership profile by inviting them to the SriLankan Airlines Golf Classic held in Kandy in mid October.

The holiday began with a ride in SriLankan's Air Taxi and finished with the  awards night at the Mahaweli Reach hotel."The SriLankan Golf Classic gave us the opportunity to show our Gold members how much they mean to us and how deeply appreciative we are of their loyalty to SriLankan and Emirates," the release quoting SriLankan Skywards Manager Ranjit de Silva said.

The pristine beauty of the Victoria lake (where the air-taxi landed) and its surrounding jungle was a fitting start to an exciting weekend in what has been described by Golf Digest as "one of the 100 most beautiful golf courses in the world" - the Victoria Golf and Country Club in Digana, Kandy.Host hotel Mahaweli Reach proved that it was a 'home away from home.'

 Earl's Regency provided an outdoor barbecue exclusively for the Skywards guests. The evening was complete with rides between the two hotels in a vintage open-truck Dodge. The weather stayed fair allowing for some excellent play. The Classic began on  October 12, while Skywards guests played  from October 14- 15.

A team from SriLankan and Emirates were on hand to look after the need s of the invitees. Skywards partners' in Sri Lanka, Standard Chartered Bank and Zam Gems, joined in to offer attractive gifts to the guests.

Star class entertainment at the gala awards night was assured with names like Bhathiya and Santhush, Shanelle Fernando and Ricky Bahar and the Channa-Upuli dance troupe featuring Ruwan on violin. with Ultimate providing the music, the dancing went on till well after midnight. Skywards seeks to give its members benefits beyond the travel experience. Privileges include wait-list priority for all tiers with priority check-in and airport lounge access for Gold and Silver members.

Skywards members can exchange miles for a host of rewards such as free flights to hundreds of destinations with Emirates, SriLankan and airline partners, free holidays, financial, car-rental and telecommunications services and free luxury goods.


Tsunami, traditional crafts and Lakpahana  

By C.B.M. Joseph  

Located in a prime real estate area down Rajakeeya Mawatha, Colombo 7, stands Lakpahana, housed in a spacious bungalow surrounded by well maintained lawns and gardens and an array of flowering trees.

 Lakpahana or 'Light of Lanka', true to its name, is a gallery which has on display a superb collection of handicrafts, of outstanding quality and reasonably priced, offering a wide selection of utility and ornamental items for the connoisseur as well as to ordinary folk.

Lakpahana, one of the first privately owned handicraft shops in Sri Lanka, was opened in 1973 by Siva Obeysekere, a one time health minister and the first woman speaker in Parliament.  Obeysekere, an energetic sponsor of the revival of  ancient arts and crafts of Sri Lanka, spared no pains in setting up 'Laksala' the State Handicraft Emporium in 1964.

Encouraged by its success, Lakpahana was initiated.   Lakpahana sells striking gifts, handy household items, souvenirs, utility items and ornamental ware for tourists and Sri Lankans.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader, Director, Lakpahana Handicrafts (Pvt) Ltd., Chantal H de Saram said that as the owner of Lakpahana, they directly promote Sri Lankan handicraft.  

"The objective of Lakpahana has always been to give the artisans and craftspeople, a feeling of stability and hope and help them build on the traditional skills.  Lakpahana's main clientale are locals who patronise our shop, which is why a fall in tourist traffic does not affect us very much," she said.

De Saram however said that the tsunami had destroyed the raw materials used for the rush and reed industry. Craftspeople are finding it difficult to carry on with this cottage industry since there is no organised programme to plant or grow them, said de Saram.

 Even kaduru trees used for making masks have been destroyed by the tsunami.  Some of the crafts are handed down from generation to generation and some crafts are carried on, on a teacher-disciple (guru-shisya) basis. But unfortunately, young people are not taking up to these crafts now for various reasons, and it has become difficult to sustain this industry.

Speaking of Lakphana, de Saram  said: "Lakpahana was started by my mother Siva who pioneered the promotion of arts and crafts in Sri Lanka, opening new avenues to craftsmen and artisans to market their products profitably, and at the same time reviving the once dying arts and crafts.

She visited far away villages in search of crafts, of people who had preserved their wealth of ancient skills handed down through generations and helped in the revival of those works."

She also made it worthwhile for these craftsmen to preserve their creations by arranging exhibitions and sales, thereby giving an opportunity for them to get better prices for their products from tourists as well as local shoppers.

"My mother is the president of the National Artisans' and Craftsmen's Association and Lakpahana is the marketing outlet of that association.  This Association encourages craftsmen to be conscious of quality and purity in design and also sees about their welfare."

Lakpahana also functions as a museum displaying the rare workmanship of cottage industries such as batik, pottery, and brassware which are not for sale.

On entering the main building, the first sight that catches the eye is the dazzling collection of metal ornaments.   The intricate items are made of plated silver, sterling silver, copper, brass and bronze and includes items such as tea sets, trays, serving spoons, Buddha statues, candle stands, traditional oil lamps as well as oil lamps in various shapes and sizes, and wall hangings.  

A true treasure is the caparisoned elephant embedded with Sri Lankan semi-precious stones.  A wide selection of pottery, precious stones, and silver filigree jewellery, metal ware, woodwork, masks and drums, lacquerwork, musical instruments, horn work, lace embroidery, batiks, rush and reedware, cane and bamboo work, shell crafts, handloom and coir work are also on display.

Lakpahana's pottery works include a collection of hand made pottery- decorative 'heraldic' animals and birds, a variety of goblets, vases and garden ornaments- on display in an open varandah.

The jewellery showcased are sparkling Sri Lankan gems set in silver and carat gold fashioned into bangles, rings, pendants, necklaces, earrings, anklets and bracelets.  Traditional jewellery such as Gedi mala, Hansapootuwa and Kandyan bangles, horn jewellery inlaid with silver and fine silver filigree work.

 An eye catching collection of readymade clothes embroidered with intricate and colourful stitches of drawn threadwork, appliqu‚s and smocking as well as multi- coloured batiks styled into clothes for all ages are on display to tempting the discerning buyer.

 Hand made lace, hand embroidered household linen, batiks, handlooms, coir work tapestries and clourful Dumbara mats which make excellent wall hangings are on sale, including cushion covers and linen, all hand embroidered with traditional designs and a delight to any home.

Lakpahana also has a wide variety of traditional food items.  Sri Lankan sweet-meats, mouth watering Kaludodol, Aasmi,  coconut rock, milk toffee, muscat, cadjunut, stuffed pumpkin preserve and  pani valalu, are some of the items for sale. The stuffed veralu achcharu, dryfish pickle, chutneys, pahis, are some of the other food items that cater to the Sri Lankan palate.

So, with such an array of traditional handicrafts and mouth watering delicacies for sale, it would be a good reason for anyone to visit Lakpahana,  a repository of  traditional arts and crafts.


Indola in Sri Lanka

Indola, the hair colour that has been in operation since 1925 and ranked third best in the world made their Sri Lankan debut recently together with local distributors British Cosmetics [Pvt] Ltd (BCL).

A press release said that Indola offers brands to enable the hairdresser to help fulfil a client's wishes and needs. Over 60 local hairdressers attended Indola's two day launch workshop that was held at Excel World, where participants had the opportunity of learning the latest hair colouring trends and methods.

The communiqu‚ said that Indola's range of over 87 colours, competitively priced, will be available with British Cosmetics and hair dressing salons.Also available will be the complete range of Innova hair care products, the  designer  finishing  range  and  the  4 + 4  professional  salon  range.

The release quoting the brand's international training manager Janine Price who was in Sri Lanka for the launch said that Indola's focus was on  the  client  and  their  commitment  was  to  continuously  develop products  and  services  that  "help  the  hairdresser  in  her  daily  role, making  someone  beautiful".

Nirosha and Dimuth Jagodaarachchi who are the directors of British Cosmetics said that the addition of the Indola range to their product portfolio was another plus, enabling them to cater to an even wider range of clients.

Price said that Indola has a team of talented trainers who have a combination of skills which add further value to the product. "We have a  network of Indola technicians and hairdressers with different competencies  who  are ready  to exchange their  skills  and  knowledge by  way  of  technical  know how as  well  as creative  and  motivational  skills and  business  solutions. Indola offers choice, flexibility and value for money throughout its product range".


Another BTL product  

Grey Global Group launched G2 and Geometry, its specialised communication divisions in Sri Lanka this month , a press release said.

A global powerhouse in consumer engagement communication, G2 is widely acknowledged to be the pioneers and 'foremost' practitioners of consumer 'touchpoint' management, it said.

G2 globally has created a mark by successfully delivering solutions for global power brands like Absolut Vodka, Nike, Guiness, Diet Coke and Volkswagen, the communiqu‚ said. G2's specialisation lies in brand building solutions beyond conventional advertising.

Started in 1999, Headquartered in New York and present in 43 countries, G2's new thrust is in South East Asia where brands increasingly require solutions beyond conventional advertising.

Mark Steven the Senior Vice President (VP) of G2, which the release claimed to be one of the most respected G2 resources in the region was in Sri Lanka for the launch."G2 is one of the exciting Grey brands in the world, it takes brand building to a new dimension, after creating success stories in the USA, Europe and east Asia, this region is now the focus and here weare offering our specialised solutions to clients," the release quoting Stevens said.

G2 has pioneered the concept of shopper marketing, which is the new 'buzz' word among global FMCGs, retail environment media, consumer relationship events and other forms of one-on-one marketing.

Geometry will provide design solutions from packaging to labels to product design and G2 will manage the other half of '360 degree' marketing.

Overall it strengthens Grey's offering in the market," said Ajai Singh, CEO Grey Lanka. He said that G2 has the capability to create opportunities for brands to start consumer relationships.

The local G2 unit will be headed by Sundarraj Devarraj, a professional with over 15 years of BTL experience. He has worked closely with G2 in London for over eight years. Devarraj said that they would be offering clients specialized services in corporate identity systems, retail environment media, shopper marketing and brand design for which they have Geometry - Grey brand design cell.'

He added that they were encouraged by this initial foray and discussions with clients and we have already begun on a few projects'. Among its other key global brands are Oracle, Mars, Nokia and Dunhill. G2 in Sri Lanka will have a dedicated team to offer solutions, it further said.


Eagle records 14% growth, leads in CSR  

Eagle Insurance recorded a 14 % year on year (YoY) growth with Rs.3,020 million in consolidated revenue in the nine months of 2005, a press release said.

Total Gross Written Premium income also recorded a 14% YoY growth, registering a figure of Rs.2,732 million. Life and Non Life businesses recorded 14% and 15% YoY growth in written premium respectively over the previous year.

This is a significant achievement, made possible by implementing focused business development initiatives, it said. Consolidated profit after tax (PAT) in the period under review was Rs.136 million, a 27% growth. Reported profits were made after a further provision for Incurred But Not Reported claims (IBNR) of Rs. 29 million in line with actuarial recommendations and the Company's prudent claims reserving policy, the communiqu‚ said.

Effective cost management initiatives and high performance in investment income during the period resulted in a positive contribution to profits. The asset management business of the company yielded a growth in revenue, including fee income of 16% and a net PAT of 11% over the previous year.

By maintaining solvency margins well above the requirements stipulated as per Solvency Margin (Long Term Insurance Rules 2002) and Solvency Margin (General Insurance Rules 2004), Eagle has demonstrated its commitment to provide a superior level of security to its clients, the release said.

Having assured a healthy solvency and adequate reserves, the directors have resolved to pay an interim dividend of Rs 2.50 per share. The Company launched a plan for good health; Eagle HealthCare - a surgical and hospitalization cover with five different annual benefit limits ranging from Rs. 35,000 - Rs. 100,000. The product is designed to provide enhanced health insurance coverage mainly to existing and potential life insurance policyholders who presently enjoy the flexibility to add optional riders: Critical illness, Disability and Hospitalization to their basic insurance plans.

Demonstrating Eagle's corporate social responsibility (CSR) and hailed as one of the ten best corporate citizens in Sri Lanka by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) and the second successive year that Eagle was selected for the award, having been accepted as one of the best companies practicing CSR, Eagle sponsored the communication campaign of the Colombo Municipal Council initiative to provide a free ambulance service for the city to improve the survival chance of seriously injured accident victims. This initiative is known as " Emergency Rescue 110".

Eagle also became the principal sponsor of the Civilian Bravery Awards presented by the Foundation For Civilian Bravery. These awards were presented in recognition of those who have saved lives at the risk of their own. Eagle's sponsorship is a part of the Company's endeavour to appreciate and acknowledge human compassion and bravery with the objective of encouraging the nation to value selfless actions.

The release quoting chief executive officer Deepal Sooriyaarachchi said that their results are satisfactory. The growth momentum fuelled by strengthening distribution capacity continues. "Focused business strategies that are in place and as indicated by the internal valuation of life business year-end results will be achieved as planned."

The release said that Eagle vied with leading corporates for the Best Corporate Citizen (BCC) award initiated by the CCC to reward organizations which promote and practice ethically and socially responsible behaviours and are currently practicing CSR The Company's environmental, social and economic performance was taken into account in assessing its CSR activities.

Explaining the Company's approach to CSR, the release quoting an unnamed Eagle Insurance spokesman said that the Company had in place a stated policy on each of the aspects considered for the award.

 In environment, the Company attempts to create and sustain a safe, secure and environmentally friendly working place. The policy expressly states as an objective, 'to reduce levels of waste materials and other sources like paper, fuel, electricity, thus contributing to the protection of the environment'. Towards this, the Company has built a company-wide Lotus Notes based communication platform linking twenty five regional offices together. This step has contributed significantly towards the paperless office concept.

As a responsible corporate entity, Eagle has a profound commitment to contributing towards the betterment of society. The Company's CSR initiatives are selected and implemented based on two of its brand characteristics of  'caring' and 'farsightedness.' The emphasis on the latter ensures continuing social service endeavours through its long time-frame, focus. Several trusts have been formed to ensure the long term focus on these activities.

Eagle's safety programme for the community at large is structured to identify and address issues relating to personal safety in everyday life. Creating public awareness on the careful use of fire-crackers and fireworks during festive seasons, road safety where Eagle adopts a two-pronged approach targeting both the drivers and the pedestrians, the prevention of deaths due to drowning during the Poson season in Anuradhapura and safety at home creating awareness of common accidents which may occur at home are the key areas.

Eagle also plays a vital role in creating awareness of industrial safety. It manages the total process of "National Safety Award", especially making significant contributions at the evaluation stage. National Safety award, which was evolved by Eagle Insurance in 1993 is held once in two years in collaboration with the Labour Department and Employees Trust Fund to recognise the safest work place with the objective of creating awareness of the benefits of safety in the work place, thus enhancing the morale of the workers to improve organizational and national productivity.

The spokesman said that the promotion of safety awareness and accident prevention has yielded results and rewards that are better measured not in rupees and cents or statistics, but in the immeasurable enrichment of innumerable lives.

In education, Eagle supports the nation's most promising children through the annual awarding of Eagle Higher Education Scholarships. Since 1994, over 311 students who achieved the best results in the Grade Five Scholarship Exam in each district of the country has received these scholarships. The aim of the scholarship is to encourage excellence, while developing the next generation of intellectual leaders of the nation.

Eagle 'Guru Pubuduwa' is another unique project to guide pre-school teachers in handling children in their formative years.

In employee relations, Eagle's strength lies in the adherence of its core value of encouraging everyone to contribute and excel. The Company thus enjoys a learning culture with everyone committed to reaching higher levels of excellence and superior performance while adding value to themselves as well. The Company places great emphasis on Human Resource Development, allocating considerable resources for the training and development of its staff. This focus has earned the Company recognition in the form of the National Award for Best Training and Development - Strategy and Practice at the inaugural National 'FIRM' Awards.

The Eagle sales force is provided with extensive training at the Eagle Training Centre, which was the first 'in- company training centre' outside UK to be recognised by QTM - UK. In addition, top performers are regularly sent for training abroad.


Chemanex  

Chemanex Ltd for the six months ended September 30, 2005 saw gross turnover increase by 26% year on year (YoY) to Rs 506.6 million, the company said. However, profit from operations during this period declined by 48% to Rs 19.2 million and profit for the period declined by 14% to Rs 58.7 million.

Profit after tax  (PAT) and minority interest in the period under review declined by 14% to Rs 58.7 million. PAT was buttressed by 'Income from Associates' which increased by 42% YoY to Rs 56 million.  


Launch of  Coonawarra wines  

The Coonawarra Premium Vineyards (CPV) with a distinct 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon, Unwooded Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc, was launched in Sri Lanka in the presence of a distinguished assembly of VIPs and wine connoisseurs.

A press release quoting an unnamed spokesperson of M&C Marketing (Pvt) Ltd, local agents for the Watson Wine Group, Australia said that the unique soils and cool climate of the Coonawarra region consistently produce some of Australia's best quality wines.

 "CPV is now the largest, independent grape growing enterprise in the recognised Coonawarra area". CPV and the Watson Wine Group managing director Rex Watson  is the driving force behind the planting of the most significant, modern vineyard in Coonawarra, thus fulfilling his dream to become the largest independent grape grower in the region.

Watson's vineyard development is now a venture that owns, controls and manages nearly one thousand acres, all in close proximity to the historic township and well within the geographically defined "Coonawarra" wine district in Australia.

At full capacity these vineyards have an annual production of over 400,000 cases of premium wine with the opportunity of producing high volume, consistent quality and own brand wines year after yea r.

CPV's chief wine maker Roger Harbord - winner of over five hundred awards, both in Australia and overseas - has produced some great value Coonawarra wines of 2003 and 2004 vintages. Harbord  is looking forward to the bottling of the 2005 wines which are also shaping up to be spectacular.

The CPV Sauvignon Blanc displays attractive, fresh fruit aromas of gooseberry with hints of apple and pear. The CPV Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied red with subtle influences of American oak. The CPV Unwooded Chardonnay, with lemon-line aromas is clean, crisp and made to drink young.

The release said that M&C Marketing are confident that the Coonawarra wine labels which are opening cellar doors of the bigger, fine wine drinking American states of Texas, Calfornia and New York, will be high up on the wine lists in Sri Lanka soon.


ORIX boss visits LOLC  

Y Miyauchi, chairman and CEO ORIX Corporation, Japan (said to be the largest independent leasing company in the world) along with senior officials visited Sri Lanka recently to mark LOLC's twenty fifth anniversary, a press release said.

To mark this historic occasion LOLC organized an event where Miyauchi addressed the LOLC Group.  In his address he said that he was delighted with the growth and progress made by LOLC thus far.  He also mentioned that LOLC has been performing admirably and was one of the best associate companies in the region.

They were happy to note that LOLC has diversified into many areas and was focused on realizing its vision by pursuing the 'ORIX Way.' Miyauchi explained that the 'ORIX Way' is to stay ahead of the pack in addressing business opportunities, continuously upgrading professional skills and promoting teamwork by evolving synergistic cooperation.

He pledged his continued support to the group in future years. Miyauchi said that he was confident that LOLC would continue to grow from strength to strength and contribute effectively to the Sri Lankan economy and society.

The communiqu‚ quoting Rohini Nanayakkkara, Chairman LOLC Group, said that Nanayakkara in her address recalled the history of LOLC which was established in 1980 in association with the then Orient Leasing Company (OLC), Japan, the International Finance Corporation-the private sector arm of the World Bank and a few local financial institutions.

 She also said that when OLC changed its name to ORIX Corporation in 1989, LOLC too changed from Orient to ORIX. Today, LOLC is recognized as the pioneering and most prestigious leasing company in Sri Lanka.

She also referred to the unique achievements of LOLC and the range of financial services now provided by the group which includes, Project Financing, Debt Factoring, Insurance Broking, Investing and Trading of Securities in addition to its core business of leasing and asset financing.

Nanayakkara thanked the Chairman and senior management of ORIX Corporation for the support and guidance they had extended to the LOLC Group throughout the last 25 years.  She reaffirmed LOLC's commitment to follow the ORIX Way and build a unique identity for the Group with the inspiration and guidance of ORIX Corporation.  Nanayakkara also thanked ORIX Corporation for the contribution they had made to the LOLC Tsunami Housing Project of 25 houses with a playground, community centre and other infrastructure in the village of Seenigama on the Southern coast of Sri Lanka.

 She said that the LOLC village will be a lasting monument to perpetuate the relationship between the two groups and the joint contribution to the needy people of Sri Lanka.


Dankotuwa, outstanding exporter 

Dankotuwa Porcelain Ltd (DPL) bagged the top award, "Most Outstanding Exporter of the Year" and two other Golds at the recently concluded NCE Export Awards 2004 organised by the National Chamber of Exporters (NCE).

The other two awards won by Dankotuwa were: Most Outstanding Exporter (Industry) - Gold and Industry (Extra Large) - Gold. Having won the top award in 1996 and 1997 as well, this is the third occasion that Dankotuwa reached the pinnacle of export awards, a press release said.

Dankotuwa has been gradually shifting its marketing strategy from being a totally 'OEM' operation producing for other brands, to one which is now over 40% on its own "Dankotuwa" and "Elan" brands. Its vision is to make "Dankotuwa" a world famous brand recognized for its quality.

"Although we started 2004 badly due to many operational problems we managed to turn around quickly and ended the year on a record breaking note. This achievement was made possible due to the team effort of the DPL family led by our highly committed and dedicated Chief Operating Officer (COO)," the release quoting DPL Chairman Sunil Wijesinha said.

Winning export awards is not new to Dankotuwa, having an export record spanning over 20 years. It has won Golds at the Presidential Export Awards for three years in the early nineties and has continued to make its presence felt at almost every award ceremony of NCE's.

Dankotuwa has been constantly innovating products, processes, and marketing strategies, and this has helped to a great extent in winning this coveted award. "Quality, superior product features and consistency in servicing our international buyers have been the hallmark of Dankotuwa's success."

The change to a superior body which has the highest whiteness among Sri Lankan manufacturers and one of the highest in the whiteness index in the world was a turning point. Its high firing temperature coupled with its hard scratch resistant glaze is appreciated in sophisticated markets. The new square and other irregular shapes made many buyers take notice of Dankotuwa as a forward thinking manufacturer. New sophisticated fully computerized state of the art design processes coupled with modern pressure casting technology has made Dankotuwa the trail blazer in new technology.

Dankotuwa exports mainly to Spain, USA, Italy, UK, Japan, Dubai, Poland, Belgium, Ukraine, Russia, Germany, Canada, Australia and India. Its exports amount to over 80% of its production. It has a branch and a retail operation in Chennai. Dankotuwa caters to the western taste and lifestyle by getting world famous designers from UK and Continental Europe to design its new shapes and launches new shapes at every trade fair.

"The traditional round plates are no longer in fashion, and therefore we have to come up with new shapes all the time, shorten our lead times, service orders on schedule and with good quality, and be very competitive in pricing, if not we will no longer be in this business. Competition is springing up everywhere, and therefore only the most competitive and innovative can survive," the release quoting COO Sarath Mallawa Arachchi said.

Dankotuwa's participation at key trade fairs in Germany and other venues has enabled it to attract foreign clientele and contacts. In addition buyers have their own trade fairs promoting DPL's products, most notably in countries such as the UK, Italy and Spain which have given much exposure and recognition for their brands.

To share the joy with Dankotuwa on winning this prestigious award, three of its agents from UK, Spain and Italy flew down to attend the ceremony. Hofmann, President of International Services Company, Italy who was an invitee to the awards ceremony, and who has been dealing with the Company for twenty years, said: "We've always been impressed by the extraordinary quality of Dankotuwa products and the uniqueness of its decorations. The quality of their porcelain is constantly improving and the new shape 'PLUS' is extraordinary - comparable with the best from Japan and Europe."


50% profit increase  

Edirisinghe Trust Investments Ltd (ETI) saw profits in the financial year ended March 31, 2005 increase by 50% year on year (YoY), a press release said.

It said that the main contributors to this achievement were its pawning sector and the 'hugely successful' ETI homes campaign. It said that the core business line of pawning has grown rapidly over the last year.

Four new successful pawning centres were launched and four others were refurbished. ETI's pawning business has started in 16 new locations and all pawning centres have been computerized.

Meanwhile, ETI Homes has become a well established division due to the successes of Regency Royale in Kiribathgoda, Mahogany Park in Piliyandala and Respiro at Ratmalana. Described as the 'dream homes that'll change the way you dream,' the luxury abodes did exceptionally well in the market, the communiqu‚ said.

It said that in the ensuing year another two projects were released and a further three have been embarked upon in the current year. The release also said that over the past year ETI under the stewardship of its new CEO Mahendra de Silva has been fully re-organised.


TAL gets global recognition  

After many years of success in the domestic market, TAL recently enjoyed a new lease of energy and are proving their creative abilities in a global context with outstanding work on SCB.

A press release said that working closely with TBWA Worldwide network to develop SCB's Global Brand strategy for implementation in the Sri Lankan market, recent campaigns produced by TAL are now attracting acclaim from SCB and TBWA Global Management teams.

At a recent review of work from more than 25 markets around the world, TAL's work was singled out, it said. An excerpt of the e-mail sent to the TBWA network by Chris Galea, Global Group Account Director, TBWA Singapore read, "Whilst each and every one of you have delivered above and beyond the call of duty, I would like to make one special mention, despite having one of the tougher clients in the SCB world, our partner agency - TAL - in Sri Lanka has excelled. Their work is consistently on strategy, always within guidelines and most importantly, always delivers the 'spirit' of the brand. ÿCongratulations to Keith, Renuka, Gowrie and all the team there - stunning commitment, great client management skills and exemplary networking."

The communiqu‚ quoting Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) Sri Lanka's Head of Consumer Banking Sabry Ghouse said that in the past year SCB has introduced and aggressively marketed a host of new products and some traditional banking products with new innovations. The marketing success is apparent and the communication has been memorable and effective. Kudos to TAL."

A jubilant Keith Wijesuriya, TAL's joint (Jt) managing director (MD) said: "Partnering with TBWA has been an enriching experience for us at TAL and this kind of recognition is quite overwhelming.'  "Another reason for our success has been SCB itself," adds Gowrie Indraratne, Client Services Director, "A client, quite truly, that drives and encourages nothing but the best. And then goes ahead and backs the work to the fullest."

When asked about the new verve in the agency, Jt MD Renuka Marshall said, "We are now seeing the fruition of what we set out to do about a year ago. We've kept our focus on producing refreshing ideas backed by sound strategic thinking. Simply put, the result of deep insights into the consumer's psyche."

On TAL's creative stance Kunal Roy, Creative Consultant and Strategic Planner said, "The advertising scenario in Sri Lanka is getting fiercely competitive, every agency has to fight it out with fresher, simpler and more compelling ideas. We differentiate our work by simply stressing on ideas with strategic relevance, not arbitrary creativity.'


New local agent  

Celebrating its hundreth year of success, Garnier, said to be the number one natural beauty brand of Europe has introduced its full product range to the Sri Lankan market with its new local agent JL Morison Son & Jones (Ceylon) Ltd. (JLM), a press release said.

It said that Garnier is a total personal care solution to women 'with different attitudes and needs.' The range covers Garnier Fructis: A range of shampoos and conditioners with natural extracts that adds 'strength and shine to your hair,' Garnier Ultra Doux: A range of shampoos and conditioners with natural extracts for each type of hair to 'gently care your hair,' Garnier Nutrisse: A range of hair colours with many shades to select from. 'It colours your hair while nourishing with natural oil.'

Garnier Colour Naturals: A hair colour range with olive oil which covers 100% grey and provides you 'fashion shades' at a reasonable price. Garnier Light: A fairness range including a fairness face wash, wipe-off lotion, fairness and dark spots prevention moisturizer and fairness concentrate.

Garnier Skin Naturals: A range of skin care products including face washes, cleansers, toners, moisturizing creams and lotions, sun care products and special care for eye and wrinkles.

The communiqu‚ said that within a span of less than two years, Garnier was able to establish its brand name in Sri Lanka. Garnier, a signature of Group L'Oreal has joined hands with JLM, one of the prestigious distribution houses in Sri Lanka.

The brand has concentrated on ATL and BTL activities and with the might of JLM distribution Garnier is contemplating two fold growths in the year 2006, it said. The release further said that in 1904 the founder, Garnier invented a hair tonic with natural extracts when people were washing their hair with soap.

Following this pioneering tradition Garnier marched ahead and invented the first sun control lotion, Fructis; the first hair strengthening shampoo, Belle Colour; the first home hair colourant and Fructis Style, the release claimed.

"Today Garnier is the number one selling natural beauty brand in Europe and rapidly expanding in North America, Brazil and Asia, it said.


Another award for CEE 

Colombo Engineering Enterprises (CEE) Chairman Kiran Atapattu recently won the national business excellence gold award as the best knowledge integrator in Sri Lanka, a press release said.

They also won two more silver awards for business excellence at the same event. CEE is classed as the most efficient ship service organisation in Sri Lanka and specializes in providing services to ships in the high seas, it said.

Their services have been approved and accepted by international classification bodies. The company provides modern ship repair technology, the communiqu‚ said. Atapattu had earlier won the most outstanding young persons award for business entrepreneurial accomplishment, entrepreneur of the year - silver award and also exporter of the year - silver award.


Seasonal Selects  

Nations Trust Bank (NTB), the sole issuer and acquirer of American Express Cards (AECs) in Sri Lanka have launched their seasonal extravaganza 'American Express Seasonal Selects'.

A press release said that through this programme, card members will enjoy value deals and privileges in shopping, dining and travel both here and overseas.

AE 'Selects' (AES) offers AE card members privileges with an array of offers and savings. Benefits available in key destinations worldwide can be accessed through the website.

"In order to facilitate card members seasonal celebrations in a fitting manner, AE have put together a range of benefits which include best value deals and discounts ranging from 10% to 20% at 'esteemed' service establishments locally to complement global offers," the release quoting AEC Head Priyantha Talwatte said.

Those include Colombo's leading five star hotels, a selection of popular restaurants, cafes, pubs and stores such as Odel, Fila, Reebok and Giordano jewellery stores, bookshops, wine and liquor merchants, household and furniture establishments, super markets and gift stores.

Card members can also make donations via their AECs to Helpage Sri Lanka.

 Since its worldwide launch, the AES programme has been a winner, serving its card member base locally and overseas, the release said.


 As property prices rise 12%  

Selna Residencies an investment

By Ranee Mohamed

It is true that the nation has great confidence in Ceylinco Group and being able to sell a record 17 houses in a day is just one example of this confidence. At Ceylinco-Selna Residences at Lake Road, Malabe preparations were made recently for their second launch, following the successful first launch in which they sold 17 out of 52 houses. This week-end will see how much people want to experience the Ceylinco way of life.

Selna residencies at Lake Road, Malabe, 450 metres from the main Malabe road and a mere one and a half kilometres from Malabe town, is equipped with its own gymnasium, kiddies park, jogging track and 24 hour security. Therefore it is no surprise why Selna Residencies have become the first comfortable choice of   even those who visit 'merely to have a look'.

'Symphony, Harmony and Melody' are what Ceylinco Selna offers at the Selna Residencies. In close proximity to the supermarket and to the busy junction, and also to the IT University, Selna Residencies is yet able to give a quiet and harmonious residence to the buyer.

"It is not a buy, but a true value for money investment," said Bhathiya Satharasinghe, Director/General Manager Ceylinco Selna Ltd. Satharasinghe said that Ceylinco Selna gives luxury houses, fully tiled, with imported sanitaryware and a built in pantry with pantry cupboards made of teak and mahogany.

"This is solid timber," explained Satharasinghe who has been dealing with real estate in New York. Satharasinghe who obtained  his qualifications as a senior certified valuer in the USA has years of experience working in the real estate business in New York, Satharasinghe said that Ceylinco Selna's offers are unmatched value for money.

During the launch that is to be carried out today too, the first ten house buyers who pay 30% value will be given a double door refrigerator. 'This is not a raffle. It is an outright gift to those who rush in to pay the 30% down payment," he said.

Ceylinco Selna was incorporated to the Ceylinco Conglomerate two and half years ago.  "We have many real estate professionals working with us. They have good experience in the industry," observed Satharasinghe.

The parent Company of Ceylinco Selna is Ceylinco Security and Financial Services Ltd. In the team of senior management are Ceylinco Consolidated Chairman Dr. Lalith Kotalewala, Bandula Ranaweera and Bede Fernando.

Ceylinco Selna how had about 400 customers during the last two years.

'We are always customer oriented. It is our intention to give our customer complete satisfaction, cooperation and support, " said Satharasinghe.

Selna which is a BOI venture has all its houses architecturally designed. The buyers automatically become winners with the value of appreciation. These houses are also in close proximity to schools and medical institutions too,' said Satharasinghe. He said that since it was begun, real estate prices have gone up by between 12 - 15 %. 'And we expect it to go up further next year," he said.

"From an investment point of view it is as good as cash in hand because of the demand," said Satharasinghe. So with Ceylinco Selna, one does not merely have a house, but a property that keeps appreciating with time.

"To us the customer is the most important 'asset'. Identifying a customer and his special level of need is an important area.  "We have a good professional team which has been trained both locally and internationally to look into the needs of the customers and give them what they want,"said Satharasinghe.

"We have a continuous process of training. We train our staff - teach, train and guide them to give quality services and offer greater customer satisfaction," he said.

Thus there is no doubt why Ceylinco Selna is the most sought after residencies today. With their quality building, professionally trained staff and customer oriented service, Ceylinco Selna residencies seems to be the choice to make when choosing a home that one has to keep for a lifetime.


Prime Destinations, the solution to travel

With increasingly varied travel opportunities being offered to the Sri Lankan traveller, the chance to see the world and experience new and diverse cultures is becoming easier and affordable each day, a press release said.

 With over eight years of experience in the outbound leisure industry, Prime Destinations, the leisure arm of Hemas Travels Pte Ltd, stands a cut above the rest in offering its customers 'outstanding' services and 'unsurpassed' holiday packages and cultural snapshots into the far flung corners of the globe, it said.

The latest campaign launched by Prime Destinations offers packages to destinations as far as China and Egypt as well as those closer home-Bangkok, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

"Spend a magical winter in China exploring some of its most stunning sights"- the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven Park, the Lama Temple and the Great Wall, to name just a few. Hunt for silks, jade, Mao memorabilia, pearls, chops, brushes, inks, scrolls, handicrafts, clothing and antiques in Beijing's many bazaars.

Egypt offers travellers a glimpse into its history. In the fifth century BC Herodotus wrote of Egypt that 'nowhere are there so many marvellous things...nor in the world besides are to be seen so many things of unspeakable greatness' - and not too much has changed. The Sphinx, the Nile, ancient Luxor, the pyramids - Egypt's scope is glorious.

"Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and the futuristic splendour of Singapore and beyond, Prime Destinations offers a number of attractive and affordable short stay packages for the cost conscious traveler," the release said.

"We also offer exclusive escorted holiday tours to exotic destinations such as Greece, Turkey, China and Egypt.  Prime Destinations also has an exciting array of safari tours to Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa.

Prime Destinations is also the international representative for RCCL and Celebrity Cruises in Sri Lanka as well as being one of the General Sales Agents (GSA) for Cosmos/Globus Coach Tours.

The cruise brand offers a number of  accommodation  packages along with an array of onboard activities, services and amenities, including swimming pools, sun decks, beauty salons, exercise and spa facilities, ice skating rinks, in-line skating, basketball courts, rock climbing walls, miniature golf courses, gaming facilities, lounges, bars, Las Vegas-style entertainment, cinemas and Royal Promenades, which include interior shopping, dining and an entertainment boulevard.

Cruises are offered to numerous destinations such as Europe, Canada, Alaska, Caribbean and more. The Tour brand offers affordable coach tours catering to the needs of customers travelling to Europe and North America. Cosmos coach tours pioneered the idea of quality value travel to Europe, specializing in featured affordable, budget-priced European touring.

For over three decades Cosmos has opened up the world for independent-minded, smart, practical travellers. Their expertly planned vacation packages combine all the benefits of group travel with much of the freedom of an independent vacation to create a balanced experience for each and every traveller.

The Globus brand of vacations is simply a cut above the rest. "It offers you the flexibility, choices and pace that best fit the way you want to travel. Globus offers more selection, more included features, more quality hotels, more experience and more value. Prime Destinations acts as the preferred sales agent for Cosmos and Globus in Sri Lanka."

Prime Destinations also acts as the preferred sales agents for Monograms. Introduced in 2003 under the Globus brand of vacations, Monograms, enhances the concept of independent travel, designed to offerl the benefits of Globus on an independent basis. All Monograms vacations have a local host available to help the visitor to get around.

 "These hosts ensure you are able to make the most of every destination with insider tips and information. The local hosts can help plan out a day or just get you pointed in the right direction. They can also help with excursions to nearby attractions or even in making dinner reservations."

The latest travel products and promotions of Prime Destinations are just a click away, where a team of dedicated leisure consultants will attend a customer's inquiries. " So the next time you want to discover the world, choose Prime Destinations for a mesmerizing experience," the release said.

One stop property shop

Real Realtor (Pvt) Ltd (RRPL) will present a new and much needed specialty consultancy to the public through their  " the one -stop real estate shop" as a solution to sales , purchases , investments and rentals in the realm of  real estate.

A press release said that with the influx of expatriates, the numerous migrants with family ties in Sri Lanka, and the overseas working population, the real estate industry saw tremendous growth in a short period of time.

However, advise and guidance has been lacking, as has the need for specialty services and aid under one-roof to minimize  'running around.'  

"Real Realtor (RRPL) will scan the best option available in the market that will suit your need, and will also offer the customer a whole gamut of other auxiliary services such as leases, loans and insurance," the communiqu said.

With RRPL, the burden of being hassled over one's investment will be minimum or non-existent. "The company will investigate and present you with solutions of options available, be it local and overseas markets. RRPL will be a customized solution made individually for you," the communique said.

The most interesting aspect of their consultancy - will be the ability for customers to handover their projects/properties and the company to co-ordinate the sales at the best rate with very little effort from the client.

The company's board comprises T.Sritharan (Chairman), Sarath Mandawala and Ravi Gunawardene (joint Managing Directors) and Nalin Attygalle

CJP winner found

The grand prize winner of the Carlsberg Jet promotion (CJP) has been won by Graeme Overlunde of Colombo after the winner produced the winning crown with the picture of the Jet plane and the words "you are the winner of the grand prize" to Lion Brewery Ceylon Ltd, the manufacturers and marketers of Carlsberg premium category beer in Sri Lanka.

A press release quoting Overlunde said that he was at the bar with his friends and joking about what they would do when they found the winning crown. The following day when he checked the crown, he was speechless, Overlunde said.

"I couldn't believe my eyes! I just can't express how happy I am. I had to pinch myself to believe that I had found the missing crown! I feel fortunate and lucky and I am planning to take my friends who were with me that night on the fantastic trip! It's an incredible prize!" the release quoting Overlunde said.    

The CJP, the biggest ever consumer promotion in the history of consumer promotions in Sri Lanka, was launched three months ago in keeping with the Carlsberg global theme "Share with a World of Friends," it said.

Carlsberg consumers were rewarded with consolation prizes such as 35 hot air balloon rides, 4,000T-shirts, 230,000 mobile phone straps, 24,000 free beers, 779 mini coolers, beach wallets, 44,700 caps and coasters in addition to the grand prize of an exciting world trip by a private jet.

The unique grand prize entitles the winner to the full use of a private jet to go around the world in seven days with seven chosen friends courtesy Carlsberg. The winner can choose to travel to any destinations of his choice.

CJP had an overwhelming response from beer lovers around the country, the communiqu said. The special customer service hotline handling the CJP was inundated with calls from consolation prize winners and queries from consumers regarding the promotion.  

"As this is the season of cheer and celebrations, we are happy that the crown has been finally found," the release quoting Birgitte Christensen, Carlsberg's Premium Category Manager said. "More fun filled events of Carlsberg are planned for the future. Many more unique experiences await Carlsberg lovers" she further said.


JICL's scheme for int'l card holders

Janashakthi Insurance Company Ltd.(JICL) under its premier motor insurance brand "Janashakthi Full Option" has revolutionized the motor insurance industry with its latest service offering, a press release claimed.

Presenting an alternative to the traditional method of making annual premium payments, Janashakthi has launched a  "'Zero' interest monthly instalment plan," thereby bringing comprehensive insurance cover within the reach of everybody, it said.

  "We consider this a major breakthrough in the Sri Lankan motor insurance industry and perhaps in the entire region. This customer centric payment plan is a unique concept that eases the burden of having to make large lump sum payments in meeting annual motor insurance premiums. Those who are in possession of a Master or Visa

Card need not pay sizeable annual premiums any more," the release quoting Chandra Schaffter, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of JICL said.

"Those who wish to join this 'trauma' free and economically beneficial "Zero" interest monthly instalment plan could do so immediately. They do not need to wait until their policy falls for renewal. Those who join the plan early not only lessen the burden of future instalment payments, but also earn interest points on their premium payments, which is an encouragement for future savings.

This scheme is designed in such a way that policy holders will enjoy four months credit every year right from the outset in addition to the standard credit period of the credit card company which is

generally up to 51 days.  In addition to motor insurance, Janashakthi has plans to extend this monthly instalment plan to other general insurance products.

Life Insurance policyholders too can move away from current payment plans under which they are charged interest, added Schaffter.

"Historically Motor Insurance policyholders either under value their vehicles or take out only third party insurance in order to avoid the heavy burden of annual lump-sum premium payments. The Zero interest monthly instalment plan paves the way for individuals to take control over the full value of their assets and schedule their cash outflow in twelve easy to pay instalments.

An added bonus is the consumer promotion that runs parallel to this zero interest monthly instalment plan. A wide array of monthly gift vouchers, air tickets and a brand new car every six months are there to be won. Those who join now even before their next renewal date can, with a nominal payment increase their chances of winning. "This is in addition to the interest points they will earn in any case," said Ravi Liyanage, Deputy General Manager - Sales and Marketing JICL. Furthermore those who do not currently have a credit card can apply for an HSBC credit card through Janashakthi and have the joining fee waived, provided they start paying premiums immediately under the zero interest monthly instalment plan. And in the unfortunate event of the death of the cardholder, Janashakthi undertakes to settle the credit card balance in full up to a maximum of Rs. 250,000 provided the cardholder was below the age of 65.

  Janashakthi Full Option, a Gold award winner at the 2005 SLIM Brand Excellence awards is Sri Lanka's most comprehensive motor insurance solution offering the best deal to the Sri Lankan motorist, the communiqu claimed. Janashakthi Full Option has made several new breakthroughs including offering the highest ever No Claim Bonus of 75%, 15days grace period after policy expiry, highest discount on multiple vehicles and income support for 'buses and three-wheelers.'

All these are in addition to an islandwide onsite damage inspection (with no police reports required) and a claim settlement process which is supported by a 24 hour round the clock Customer Care Centre. Janashakthi Full Option was also the first to offer personal accident protection and hospitalization benefits to the occupants of the vehicle, it said.

 Other benefits include free 'natural perils' protection with flood cover and the Janashakthi Pedestrian No Fault Scheme, which compensates the next of kin in the event of a fatal pedestrian accident.

Bic's CSR initiative

To mark 25 years of Bic in Sri Lanka, 25 'deserving' students affected by the Tsunami received scholarships to continue their education up to their Advanced Level (A/L) under the scheme titled "Fostering Leaders of Tomorrow (FLT)."

A press release said that the award ceremony was held at Galle Face Hotel on November 25 in the presence of Societe Bic, France officers and senior management of Darley Butler & Co., agents for Bic in Sri Lanka.

The scholarship programme received an overwhelming response and 25 students were picked in a lottery draw.  The lucky students receive Rs 1,000 monthly, beginning January 2006 up to their A/L.

The release quoting Darley Butler Managing Director

S.D.R. Arudpragasam said that as the theme FLT indicated, the outcome of the celebration would benefit the children not just for today but in the future as well, right up to their A/L.

Darley Butler also has good news for those not selected this time as they plan to grant more scholarships to deserving students from the applications received for the Bic scholarship.


NDB donates Rs 22 mn worth fishing gear

With the first anniversary of the tsunami only a few days away, the single largest donation of fishing gear valued at Rs 22 million under the NDB Fishermen's Relief Trust Fund is being handed over to 122 fishermen at Matara this week, a press release said . This donation will benefit 366 tsunami affected families in the Galle and Matara districts bringing the total number of families helped by the Fund to 1,857 in areas hit by the tsunami-in the South and the East.

The NDB Fund, set up to help the tsunami affected fisher-folk,has so far given out boats and canoes as well as engines and nets to the tune of Rs 73 million. Another nearly  Rs three million has been spent to repair boats and engines. The Fund was set up immediately after the tsunami with a seed capital of Rs 10 million by  NDB Bank (NDB) with a target of Rs 100 million. "The response has been most encouraging and we reached our target quite comfortably from both local and foreign donors," the release quoting Ravindra Ranjith, NDB's Assistant Vice President-Auto Finance who coordinated the project as head of the Relief Fund Committee said.

 NDB itself contributed another Rs 10 million as the project progressed. Ranjith said that at the initial stage there was considerable difficulty in getting the required material particularly fishing boats. The demand was so great that the suppliers could not meet the demand.

"In fact, we launched a programme to help small-time entrepreneurs to set up boatyards. In Trincomalee, for example ' we selected a person who was repairing boats to expand. Facilities were given and when we placed a firm order, he was able to set up the boatyard without any problem. Today his is a thriving business."

Similarly a person from Matara was helped to set up a boatyard at Ampara," he said. Meanwhile, boatyards already in existence were encouraged to expand. There was also a waiting time to obtain fishing equipment because the demand was so great.

Among other constraints was the identification of genuine applicants for assistance. Two field officers visited each applicant and verified the information given. They also made sure that the applicants had not received assistance from other sources.

The bulk of the boats and canoes had been distributed in the districts of Trincomalee (75 boats), Ampara (54), Hambantota (36), Batticaloa (29), Galle (three) and Matara (24). The total number of boats replaced amounts to 281. In addition, 204 engines and an equal number of nets were also replaced.

For the bank officials it was a most satisfying experience even though it was quite a tough task at times. Among such experiences was the assistance given to 80 families in Kappalthurai, a tiny backward village to the east of Trincomalee. They do community fishing and all the canoes were owned by the village cooperative society. The community comprised  Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslims. When 15 out of their 16 canoes were completely destroyed by the tsunami, they were devastated.  But they were given 15 new fiberglass canoes and fishing nets and they are a happy lot today back in business.

 Another village benefited by the NDB Fund is Saindamarudu near Kalmunai. Here too its community fishing using big canoes known as 'madel Vallam'. Of eight canoes they possessed, four were destroyed. Two hundred and forty families benefited when the Bank replaced the four canoes.

On Wednesday the lucky recipients from the Galle and Matara districts will assemble at the Uyanwatta Stadium where boats and other gear will be handed over. Two more presentations will be held in the near future - one at Hambantota and the other at Ampara to wind up the tsunami relief activities planned under the NDB Trust Fund.


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