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AirAsia Offers Exclusive Deals to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

AirAsia this week announced a special deal of RS.12,699 for direct flights from Colombo to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The exclusive promotion is part of the airline’s efforts to further engage the local market ahead of its plans for 2018.

Travellers can discover the best of Malaysia with the iconic attractions and world-class shopping experience in Kuala Lumpur, a slice of paradise in coastal cities such as Langkawi and Terengganu, the charms of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Penang, lush rainforests in East Malaysia, and more, with low fares for the booking period from now to 18 February 2018 on airasia.com or the AirAsia mobile app for immediate travel until 31 July 2018.

Spencer Lee, Head of Commercial for AirAsia Malaysia said, “Our focus in Sri Lanka remains on connecting locals to the world thanks to our extensive Fly-Thru network and low fares. Flying via Kuala Lumpur, Fly-Thru passengers will be within reach to the best Asia has to offer across Malaysia with must-visit destinations such as Penang, Langkawi, Kuching, and Kota Kinabalu among others. Guests will also be only hours away from many great adventures exploring several ASEAN countries, China, Japan, Maldives, Australia, and even the US.

“But the next phase for us is to offer an even seamless experience using technology and data. We want guests to enjoy products and services that are personalised, convenient, and most importantly, easily accessible with just a few clicks. Among them include our cashless transaction app, BigPay; in-flight Wi-Fi and free entertainment platform, ROKKI; duty-free marketplace, ROKKIshop.com; and many more. We look forward to growing further in Sri Lanka not only in terms of connectivity but digitally as well to cultivate an ecosystem of smart travelling,” he added.

AirAsia currently connects Sri Lanka directly to Malaysia with two times daily flights operating out of Colombo to the capital city of Kuala Lumpur.

Aside from the direct route, guests can also make use of the airline’s seamless Fly-Thru service that connects travellers to other flights with their baggage checked-through to the final destination without the hassle of immigration clearance at the transit hub in Kuala Lumpur. AirAsia offers a total of 41 routes across 14 countries in Asia, Australia, and the US.

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SriLankan Chief Ratwatte given marching orders

SriLankan Airlines CEO Suren Ratwatte was asked to step down following a Board meeting on Thursday. According to government officials, Manoj Gunawardena is tipped to be the hot favourite to take over from Ratawatte.

The move comes amidst plans to restructure the troubled national carrier, with its Chairman and Board of Directors expected to step down once the Government finalises the reform agenda.

When asked about the changes, a member of the Board said: “decisions on restructuring and changes in personnel need the approval of the ministerial committee under the Prime Minister which includes the line Minister.”

The appointment will be finalised during next week’s board meeting upon Company Chairman Ajit Dias’ return to the country.

SriLankan Airline employee unions had repeatedly called for Ratwatte’s removal from the post amidst claims that he was unable to keep the cash-strapped airline from taking a nosedive. The Unions were receptive to the possibility of Guwardene’s appointment.

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Sony names Kenichiro Yoshida as new chief

Sony has appointed Kenichiro Yoshida, the chief financial officer credited for executing the turnaround at the once-struggling Japanese electronics and entertainment group, as its new chief executive.

The promotion of 58-year-old Yoshida, which will take place in April, boosted Sony’s share price by 1.9 percent on Friday as investors cheered the selection of a chief executive who has proven willing to jettison Sony’s previously renowned consumer products to plug losses.

Kazuo Hirai, Sony’s current chief executive, will be handing over the role he has held for six years to become the group’s chairman after spending much of his tenure scaling down Sony that has resulted in the sale of its Vaio PC and battery businesses and decisions to split out as separate businesses its TV and Walkman divisions.

Under his watch, Sony also became a target of a massive cyber attack on its US movie studio in 2014, leading to a revamp of its management team. Thanks to these restructuring efforts, Sony’s fortunes have improved since Hirai took the helm in 2012, replacing Sir Howard Stringer. On Friday, the group confirmed it was heading for its most profitable year on record and raised its operating profit target for the second time in three months.

Source : The Financial Times

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Softlogic to raise Rs. 7 bn with foreign equity investments up to USD 35 mn

Softlogic Holdings PLC came to an agreement with Samena Ceylon Holdings Limited to raise private equity in order to restructure Company balance sheet and improve key capital ratios.

Samena Ceylon Holdings is a fully owned subsidiary of Samena Capital, a principal investment group focusing on the Subcontinent, Asia, Middle East and North Africa.

The firm has raised more than USD 1.5 billion of capital since 2008 and has returned USD 615 million to investors from over 45 full and partial exits. Samena Capital currently manages total capital of approximately USD 1 billion across three primary investment strategies: private equity, direct investments, and credit.

This will be Samena Capital first investment in Sri Lanka and its fourth investment in the Asian region within the past six months.

The private placement of 182.7 million ordinary shares at Rs. 17 per share raises Rs. 3.11 billion for Softlogic Holdings PLC to be utilized to settle short-term debt. Subsequently, Samena Capital will hold 19% of the Company.

A further issue of 230.81Mn shares by way of rights issue in the proportion of 24:100 at Rs. 17.00 per share will be made to raise Rs. 3.9 billion.

Softlogic Holdings PLC’s present stated capital stands at Rs. 5,089 million with 779 million shares in issue. Subsequent to the private placement and rights issue, the stated capital would rise to Rs. 12,119 million with 1,192.5 million shares.

Softlogic Holdings PLC has been investing in strategic CAPEX projects with a long term view.

This fund-raising exercise which raises over Rs. 7 billion will help the Company rectify the funding mismatch and, in turn, boost profitability with noticeable saving in finance costs when equity replacesdebt.

Ashok Pathirage – Chairman/ Managing Director of Softlogic Group, said, “Samena brings in a wealth of global business expertise and access to quality financing. With this equity infusion, Softlogic’s financial position will be strengthened, propelling strong bottom line and supporting medium term investments.”

Shirish Saraf, Founder & Vice Chairman of Samena Capital, said, “We are delighted about our first investment in Sri Lanka and to partner with Ashok Pathirage in Softlogic Holdings. We strongly believe Sri Lanka is one of the most exciting markets in the Samena region and our investment reflects our confidence in the Softlogic Group.

We see multiple growth drivers for each of the businesses and look forward to actively supporting the Softlogic team in their endeavour of building a truly world class enterprise.”

This fund-raising exercise is subject to regulatory approvals and shareholder approval at a General Meeting.

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India ride-sharing firm Ola to enter Australia

India's ride-sharing company Ola is entering the Australian market in what will be the firm's first international venture. It plans to first launch in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth and says it will soon start recruiting drivers.

The Australian taxi-hailing industry is dominated by Uber - Ola's biggest rival in India.

Bangalore-based Ola was set up in 2011 and has grown rapidly as more people bought smartphones. It now claims to have about 125 million users in India, with around one million drivers across more than 110 cities.

Ola, which still needs regulatory approval to launch in Australia, said it would offer a "high-quality and affordable travel experience".

"We are very excited about launching Ola in Australia and see immense potential for the ride-sharing ecosystem which embraces new technology and innovation," said Ola's chief executive and co-founder Bhavish Aggarwal.

 Source : BBC

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Hemas buys Atlas for Rs. 5.7 Billion

Hemas Holdings PLC said yesterday it acquired 75.1% of Atlas Axillia Co Ltd, Sri Lanka’s leading school and office brand, for a consideration of Rs. 5.7 billion. The existing shareholders of Atlas will retain a stake of 24.9% in the company, post-acquisition.

Atlas Axillia Managing Director Nirmal Madanayake said: “Atlas Axillia is on a great journey of growth and we were keen to take our organisation to the next level. We went through a rigorous process to find the right partner, and we saw a great business and cultural fit with Hemas. “

“Both our organisations have a rich history of bringing loved brands to Sri Lankan homes and have served the Sri Lankan consumer with high quality, affordable and innovative products. Both Atlas and Hemas have always felt that our most valuable asset is our team and we strive to empower the people in our organisation. I am deeply proud of the Atlas journey over the past 58 years and of the place that this brand holds in Sri Lankan consumers’ hearts. As we embark on the next phase of growth, we are delighted to have a high quality partner with similar values,” Madanayake added.

Hemas Holdings Group CEO Steven Enderby said: “Hemas Holdings PLC is expanding its presence in the Sri Lankan consumer market by acquiring one of the most respected local brands with market leading positions for its notebooks, pens, pencils and colour products. Today’s consumers seek out premium, innovative and design-oriented products and Atlas has demonstrated its ability to do this repeatedly, resulting in its unique position as the most loved school & office brand.

“Consumer stationery is a new and exciting category for Hemas with significant potential and we will bring the best of our consumer-focussed mindset to deliver superior value to Atlas’ many customers across the island. We look forward to working closely with the team at Atlas and building on their considerable success.”

Atlas will become the third largest business in the Hemas Group and will operate independently as a subsidiary of Hemas Holdings PLC. Hemas aims to continue to drive Atlas’ excellent track record of sales growth; and strengthen its market leading position, highly effective lean manufacturing and enviable dividend track record.

The Group will cross-fertilise brand and marketing insights between the business and its Home and Personal care portfolio as well as deliver route to market excellence through our two significant island wide sales and distribution networks. In addition, Hemas will look to reduce funding costs and enhance talent attraction and development at Atlas.

In April 2015 Hemas announced a Rights issue of Rs. 4.1 billion to be invested in FMCG and Healthcare businesses. During the first quarter of 2017, Hemas allocated Rs. 1.45 billion for the construction of the new Morison PLC pharmaceutical plant. The entire proceeds from the Rights issue have now been utilised with the acquisition of Atlas Axillia.

Atlas Axillia Co., formerly known as Ceylon Pencil Company (Pvt) Ltd. was founded in 1959 by the Madanayake Family. The brand “Atlas” has created a strong connection to the Sri Lankan consumer, fueled by a passion for providing school-children with the essential tools for success has been voted Sri Lanka’s most loved brand 2017 (No.1). The Company is the market leader in school stationery and notebooks, pens, pencils and colour products, with products retailed in over 70,000 outlets across Sri Lanka. Atlas Axillia brands include “Atlas”, “Zebra X”, “Homerun” and “Innov8”. The Company employs 1,300 people and operates two production facilities in Peliyagoda and Kerawalapitiya.

Hemas Holdings PLC, founded in 1948 is Sri Lanka’s leading Consumer and Healthcare business with further interests in Leisure and Mobility.

A-Sec Capital Ltd, the investment banking affiliate of Asia Securities Ltd, acted as arranger and sole advisor to the seller on this transaction.

 Source : Daily FT

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Sri Lanka Tea Board to put criminal factory owners out of business

Sri Lankan tea factories owned by people who adulterate black tea to get higher prices will be shut down from next month, Tea Board Chairman Rohan Pethiyagoda said.

Making good tea is difficult but consumers want a clean product, he said at a forum on the tea supply chain organized by the Shippers’ Academy Colombo.

“Consumers have a right to clean tea,” Pethiyagoda said. “From next month, I will be selecting factories whose tea we will clean and if we find it is contaminated we will shut them down.

“Of the 700 factories in Sri Lanka, we could have a better industry if we shut down a couple of hundred,” he said.

 “If people can’t produce tea that would be recognised as the best in the world they don’t deserve to be in business.”

 The latest abuse was that factory managers have been found adulterating their tea with sugar, a practice that everyone in the industry is concerned about as it could damage the image of Ceylon tea.

Detecting tea adulterated with sugar, to blacken the tea and get higher prices, was difficult given the several hundred chemical compounds involved, although experienced tea tasters are able to spot it.

The Tea Board has been trying to weed out factories engaged in the practice but since tea adulterated with sugar fetches high prices, it acts as an incentive for bad factories, Pethiyagida said.

“My approach to factories who get caught – there were over a dozen last year – is to shut them down, put them out of business, never allow them to come back.

“But we don’t. Instead, we suspend them. They go behind politicians and eventually, after a few months, they are back in business adding sugar again,” Pethiyagoda said. Because of the money involved, part of the criminal underclass was now running tea factories.

 Source : Economy Next

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SONY's latest revolutionary mirror less camera now available in SL

The revolutionary mirror less camera, SONY Alpha - A7R III was officially launched in Sri Lanka on 16th of January 2018 at the Galle Face Hotel.

IMG 9789

This camera has come to light with the ability to capture images at a rate of 10 per second at 42 Mega pixel resolution, while being able to focus even faster than its predecessors with improved 425 focus points. Moreover, with Pixel Shifting technology, the existing 42 Mega pixel sensor will be able to produce an image with almost 160 Mega pixel resolution.

The SONY A7RIII camera was introduced by the authorized dealer, CameraLK in collaboration with the product’s mother company; SONY.

View the embedded image gallery online at:

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Fitch Downgrades HDFC Bank

Fitch Ratings has downgraded Housing Development Finance Corporation Bank of Sri Lanka's (HDFC Bank) National Long-Term Rating to 'BBB-(lka)' from 'BBB(lka)'. HDFC Bank's senior secured and senior unsecured debentures have also been downgraded to 'BBB-(lka)' from 'BBB(lka)'.

Releasing a statement Fitch said the one-notch downgrade reflects Fitch's assessment of the weakening of support from the Sri Lanka sovereign (B+/Stable) to HDFC Bank. This is after the state failed to provide capital to the bank in a timely manner for it to meet the minimum Rs. 5 billion regulatory capital requirement by January 1, 2018. However, “Fitch believes that it is still likely that the authorities would provide adequate support to meet the shortfall within an extended deadline” the release further added.

According to the assessment of the bank's standalone profile, Fitch said the Bank is weak compared with better-rated peers.

It also said that Fitch will downgrade the bank's rating if the sovereign does not raise HDFC Bank's capital as this would indicate that sovereign support cannot be relied upon. Should this occur, Fitch is likely to downgrade the bank to the 'BB' category on the National Rating scale; the extent of the downgrade would depend on whether the bank's intrinsic strength continues to weaken.

“Furthermore, Fitch may also downgrade HDFC Bank's ratings if there is a change in our expectation of state support due to a weakening of the bank's linkages with the state, through a dilution of the state's majority ownership or a revision of Fitch's view of the bank's policy role” it said.

However, it also went on to say that HDFC Bank's rating could be affirmed if the state were to provide the additional capital required in the next six months.

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‘Jan-Nov apparel exports surpasses entire 2016’

Sri Lanka is reporting a surge in latest apparel exports-and so upbeat on apparel performance for Y2017, it even forecasts the overall returns for the year.

“Our apparel revenues from January to November last year (2017) has exceeded Sri Lanka’s entire apparel exports for 2016 which was $ 4.3 billion” said the Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen on January 16 addressing the launch of ninth Apparel Industry Suppliers Exhibition (AISEX) 2018 by Lanka Exhibitions & Conference Services in Colombo. “The latest apparel export total from January to November last year (2017) is now reported by Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association at a strong $ 4.36 billion. In that our apparel revenues from January to November last year (2017) has exceeded Sri Lanka’s entire apparel exports for 2016 which was $ 4.3 billion. Therefore we now expect that the final total apparel exports for entire 2017 would clearly exceed the exports of 2016, and expect it to be in the range of $ 4.7 billion.”

“Even the November 2017 monthly apparel exports of $ 406 Million is an 11% increase in comparison to November 2016’s $ 364 Million” said Minister Bathiudeen.

“I praise Sri Lanka apparel industry and the exporters for this great performance. As you may already know Textile and Apparel are almost half of our total annual exports of all products. Our largest apparel export market is the US at around 42% followed by the EU at around 38%. What is more important is that two-thirds of the apparel workforces are women and therefore this sector is a major industry supporting the development of our female labour force. Therefore it is clear that events such as AISEX help strengthen our apparel sector in many ways.”

First held in 1998, today AISEX has become a major industry event in Colombo for apparel export manufacturers and industry suppliers of Sri Lanka and abroad.

The expo is scheduled to be held in Colombo in mid-May 2018.

The two major export destinations for Lankan apparel showed a positive trend In January-November 2017.

In this period, the total apparel exports to US was $ 1.959 Bn (slightly up from 2016 Jan-November’s $ 1.94 Bn), export to EU was at $ 1.84 Bn (up from 2016 Jan-November’s $ 1.80 Bn).

Source : Daily News

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Ikea founder Kamprad dies at 91

The Swedish founder of the Ikea furniture chain, Ingvar Kamprad, has died at the age of 91, the company has announced.

Mr Kamprad died at his home in Småland, Ikea confirmed in a statement.

The company said that Mr Kamprad was "one of the greatest entrepreneurs of the 20th century".

The Ikea founder had faced questions over his past links to the Nazis, which he referred to as the "greatest mistake" of his life.

 Source : BBC News

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Respected Sri Lankan Business leader, D. Eassuwaren no more!

Respected Sri Lankan Business leader, D. Eassuwaren who was the Chairman of the famed Eswaran Brothers (Pvt) Ltd., a premier tea supplier and exporter of various other products in the country passed away yesterday (Saturday) in Singapore.

D. Eassuwaren was the eldest son of the Late V.T.V. Deivanayagam Pillai, a well- known philanthropist and founder of Eswaran Brothers and the V.T.V Deivanayagam Pillai group of Companies & the late Mrs Sithambrathammal Deivanayagam Pillai.

A product of St. Benedict's College in Kotahena, he pursued his higher studies in India. At the time of his death, Mr Eassuwaren was a father of two sons and two daughters.

In March 2017, D.Eassuwaren received the Deshabandu national award from President Maithripala Sirisena.

He had set up his first business to export tea and other Sri Lankan produce with the initiation by his father, V. T. V. Deivanayagam. Eswaran Brothers established their humble beginnings in 1964 with their first export of 300 chests of tea to Somalia.

D. Eassuwaren was also a philanthropist much alike his father providing facilities to less privileged schools, contributing to the construction of the 70 feet tall Samadhi Buddha statue in Rambadagalla, financially supporting rehabilitated former LTTE cadres to marry and working towards ensuring a sustainable tea business while protecting the environment.

Eassuwaren held many important posts during his lifetime and was a former President of the National Chamber of Commerce, former Honorary Consul of the Republic of Mauritius, Trustee of the Varatharaja Vinayaga Temple, Former President of the Kanban Kalagam Literary Association, Trustee of the Manitha Neyam Trust among many others.

The mortal remains of D. Eassuwaren will be brought to the country at 2 pm today and will lie at No. 133, New Chetty Street, Colombo 13.

 Source : Sunday Observer

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