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Krishan Balendra appointed Deputy Chairman at JKH

John Keells Holdings Plc yesterday announced that Krishan Balendra has been appointed as the Deputy Chairman, ahead of him taking over as the Chairman from 1 January 2019.

The move follows Ajit Gunewardene retiring as Deputy Chairman with effect from 31 December 2017 and the impending retirement of incumbent Chairman Susantha Ratnayake with effect from 31 December 2018.

JKH also announced the appointment of Gihan Cooray as the Group Finance Director with effect from 1 January 2018 succeeding Ronnie Peiris who retired on 31 December 2017. Cooray will be the Deputy Chairman from 1 January 2019 after Balendra assumes Chairmanship.

 Source : Daily FT

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Fitch Upgrades DFCC Bank’s Rating Outlook from “Negative” to “Stable”

Fitch Ratings have revised DFCC’s outlook for both its International and National Long-Term Ratings to “Stable” from “Negative” while affirming the ratings at B+ and AA- respectively.

The rating agency said that this outlook revision reflects their view that adverse effects on the bank’s credit profile from increasing risks in the domestic operating environment previously expected have reduced.

DFCC's Viability Rating and the National Long-Term Rating capture its developing commercial banking franchise and still-high capitalisation levels relative to the peers.

DFCC’s Sri Lanka rupee-denominated senior debt is rated at the same level as its National Long-Term Rating, as the debentures rank equally with other senior unsecured obligations.

The bank’s subordinated debt rating will move in tandem with the bank’s National Long-Term Rating.

Commenting on the latest rating review, Lakshman Silva – CEO, DFCC Bank, said

“This upgrade in DFCC’s rating outlook by Fitch closely follows a similar upgrade by S&P Global Ratings which clearly indicates that the rating agencies have recognized DFCC’s effort to keep the fundamentals strong.

The positivity reflected by the upgrade of our outlook by both rating agencies gives us the confidence to drive the bank to create more value for its stakeholders and press on with our plans for long-term growth and stability.”

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CBSL to manage ETI Finance and Swarnamahal FS

The Monetary Board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka at its meeting held on January 1, having considered the weak financial performances of the ETI Finance Ltd. (ETIF) and Swarnamahal Financial Services PLC (SFSP) decided to take regulatory actions, as a temporary measure, under the provisions of the Finance Business Act No. 42 of 2011, with immediate effect.

This with a view to safeguard the interests of the depositors and other creditors of the two companies, and to ensure safety and soundness of the financial system.

These include the appointing a panel to manage the affairs of both companies restrict the withdrawal of maturing deposits and renew such deposits for a period of six months and thirdly the payment of interest due for deposits as per agreed terms and conditions.

In the meantime, the companies can finalize the negotiations with the prospective investors and the Central Bank will facilitate suitable investors as per the applicable laws and regulations.

The depositors of the above two companies are further informed that the Central Bank is taking further measures and closely monitoring the operations of the companies to protect the rights of the depositors and therefore, the depositors are kindly requested to cooperate with the Central Bank in its effort to ensure the stability of the ETIF and SFSP.

The depositors may contact the Department of Supervision on Non-Bank Financial Institutions of the Central Bank through the telephone numbers 011 2477258 or 011 2477229, for further clarification.

Source : Daily News

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People’s Bank celebrates Christmas with incredible offers

In celebration of the Christmas Season, People’s Bank is now offering its Visa & Master credit cardholders an exciting array of special offers. Throughout the month of December, cardholders will be able to enjoy savings and discounts of up to 50% at leading Restaurants, Hotels, Bookshops as well as Clothing, Jewelry and Stationery stores.

The People’s Visa credit card offers customers the lowest interest rates enabling them to secure exceptional savings on purchases during the season. The card is available to all People’s Bank customers at minimal membership sing-up cost and annual fee. The card offers ultimate levels of safety and convenience and bill settlements can be made easily through an island-wide branch network of over 735 branches. Cardholders also have access to mobile and internet banking facilities.

Whilst providing you with the ultimate shopping experience this season, People’s Bank would also like to wish you and your loved ones a p merry Christmas.

Visit the nearest People’s Bank today to get your own People’s VISA Credit Card and enjoy convenience along with valuable offers. For further details contact 2 490 431 / 432 / 433 / 435 / 437.


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Tata Global Beverages plans to sell 31.85% stake in Sri Lankan plantation

Tata Global Beverages Ltd (TGBL) on Thursday said it had agreed to sell its 31.85% stake in Watawala plantations in Sri Lanka to Colombo-based Sunshine Holdings Plc.

In line with its strategy of focussing on packet tea businesses in key geographies, TGBL will sell its stake in joint venture Estate Management Services Pvt. Ltd, the managing agent for the Watawala plantations, for Rs120 crore, it said in a regulatory filing.

TATA PIC 1Caption: TGBL’s shares rose 0.5% at Rs306.6 on BSE, while the benchmark Sensex fell 0.19% to close at 33,848.03 points. Photo: India Post

Following the exit of TGBL, Watawala plantations will become a joint venture between Sunshine Holdings, the dominant shareholder, and Singapore-based Pyramid Wilmar Plantations Pvt. Ltd.

TGBL, the erstwhile Tata Tea Ltd, had acquired a majority stake in Watawala plantations in 1996. In 2013, its stake in Estate Management fell from 49% to 31.85% when Pyramid Wilmar Plantations came in as a new partner. The book value of its investment, or the actual amount of money spent to acquire the interest, was Rs14.57 crore, according to TGBL’s latest annual report.

Apart from tea, Watawala plantations produce palm oil and dairy products.

Over the years, TGBL has been withdrawing from the plantations business. In 2005, it restructured its Indian plantations by creating two separate companies while divesting direct control among workers .

The company, however, continues to own 41% in Amalgamated Plantations Pvt. Ltd, which owns estates in West Bengal and Assam, and 28.5% in Kanan Devan Hills Plantations Ltd, which has gardens in Kerala. Both the companies have lately been running losses.

Tata group chairman N. Chandrasekaran had said at TGBL’s annual general meeting in August that the management was reviewing its investments in plantations, adding that a decision was soon to be taken about the two Indian plantations in which the company was still invested.

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Siemens, Ceylex win Sri Lanka electricity grid contracts

Siemens and Ceylex Engineering (Pvt) Ltd. have won contracts from Sri Lanka’s state power utility, Ceylon Electricity Board to set up four grid substations to connect small hydropower plants to the main grid.

Siemens has won the contract for Rs. 297.2 million while Ceylex Engineering, earlier known as LTL Projects, has won the contract for Rs. 122.9 million.

The proposal by Power and Renewable Energy Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya to award the contracts was approved by the Cabinet of ministers this week, Gayantha Karunathilaka, Minister of Land and Parliamentary Reforms said at a press briefing held recently.

The contracts are for construction of four grid substations in Nawalapitiya, Ragala, Wewalwatta and Maliboda.

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China orders tech tycoon to return and face debts

The country's markets watchdog on Monday demanded LeEco founder Jia Yueting return to China before the end of the year to fix his business empire's financial woes.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission said that Jia, whose whereabouts are unknown, has not made good on earlier promises to provide interest-free loans to the embattled company.

LeEco did not respond to a request for comment following the unusual public statement from the regulator.

Once dubbed the Netflix (NFLX) of China, LeEco expanded from streaming into a wide array of industries such as movies, smartphones and transportation before it was compromised by heavy debts.

Jia made his ambitions known last year when LeEco invested in U.S.-based electric automaker Faraday Future, an apparent attempt to beat Tesla (TSLA) at its own game. At one point, the firm's shopping list also included U.S. electronics firm Vizio.

However, the company ran into trouble thanks to heavy borrowing.

Jia cut his own his own salary to just 1 yuan (about 15 cents) a year in late 2016. He admitted the company had been "burning money" and had "spent recklessly" on its expansion efforts.

LeEco later pulled the plug on a plan to buy Vizio for $2 billion.

Jia resigned as chairman and CEO amid moves by a Shanghai court to freeze personal assets of more than $180 million.

In October, rich-list compiler Hurun estimated that Jia's fortune had fallen by 95% to just 2 billion yuan ($306 million).

Source : CNN

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Seven staffers given the axe by Peoples Bank

Seven staffers of the People's bank have been temporarily suspended for violations of Employee circulars.

According to sources the reasons for the suspensions include threatening the employees of a bank branch and acting in a disorderly manner at the Ampara branch.

On November 21, a group of Peoples Bank employees representing the Ceylon Bank Employees Union had visited the Peoples Bank Ampara Barancn. They had gone on to threaten the branch manager while acting n a disruptive manner. The decision was taken following an investigation into the incident.

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Bitcoin loses more than a third of value over a week

Bitcoin continues to give its investors a volatile ride. This week it has lost more than a third of its value from its record high of nearly $20,000.

On Friday, the cryptocurrency's price fell below $11,000, according to the Coindesk exchange website, before recovering to about $12,000.

This puts it on track for its worst week since 2013.

Bitcoin has had a blistering trip over the past 12 months. Its price at the start of the year was $1,000.

Charles Hayter, founder and chief executive of industry website Cryptocompare, said: "A manic upward swing led by the herd will be followed by a downturn as the emotional sentiment changes."

He said a lot of traders would have been cashing in on the spectacular gains made over the year.

The past few weeks have seen it gain some legitimacy after two major exchanges in the US started trading futures contracts underpinned by Bitcoin.

This allows investors to bet on where they expect the price of Bitcoin to be at certain points in the future.

Trading on Friday was so rocky both exchanges, the CME and the CBOE, stopped trading temporarily.

Many global exchanges have automatic brakes that apply once a commodity or asset has moved by a certain amount.

Regulators around the world have stepped up their warnings about its provenance as an investment.

Its origins are only barely understood, its volatility is extreme and its use as a currency is limited.

One of this week's most striking comments comes from Denmark's central bank governor, who called it a "deadly" gamble.

Earlier this month, the head of one of the UK's leading financial regulators warned people to be ready to "lose all their money" if they invested in Bitcoin.

Andrew Bailey, head of the Financial Conduct Authority, said that neither central banks nor the government stood behind the "currency" and therefore it was not a secure investment.

Source : BBC

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S&P upgrades DFCC Bank’s rating outlook from negative to stable; Ratings affirmed at B/B

S&P Global Ratings has revised its credit rating outlook for DFCC Bank from negative to stable while affirming 'B' long-term and 'B' short-term issuer credit ratings on the bank. In its assessment of DFCC's business position, the Bank is projected to maintain its satisfactory market position and business stability over the next 12-18 months.

The stable rating reflects the rating agency’s confidence in the financial institution’s ability to navigate operating conditions in Sri Lanka and maintain its financial profile in the coming months. At the same time, it has affirmed its 'B' long-term and 'B' short-term issuer credit ratings on DFCC Bank while affirming its senior unsecured debt ratings on the bank.

Further, the rating agency noted that an improvement in the bank's risk position balances a decline in the bank's risk-adjusted capital under its new updated methodology. It anticipates bank's loan growth to be 14%-18% while profitability is likely to remain stable, with healthy net interest margins and fee income balancing credit costs.

DFCC's credit costs are expected to increase somewhat in the next 12-18 months due to sluggishness in an economy in the past 18 months and elevated interest rates. However, S&P expects losses to remain well within its normalized loss expectations. The bank's loan growth has been lower than the industry average and the proportion of granular retail assets has increased in the past few years.

Commenting on the latest rating, Lakshman Silva – CEO, DFCC Bank, said,
“We are pleased that S&P has recognised that DFCC Bank’s fundamentals keep improving the deposit base increasing, loan to deposit ratio moving in the right direction and NP ratio within industry average.
The upward revision of the rating outlook fully justifies the decision of the Board taken last year to sacrifice short-term profitability in exchange for long-term stability.”



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Maruti Suzuki to launch its first electric vehicle by 2020

Maruti Suzuki, at its annual meet, announced that the first electric car from the Indian car makers will be launched most likely by 2020. Last month, Toyota and Suzuki signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) which will see both companies working together for introducing electric vehicles (EVs) in the Indian market by around 2020.

According to the agreement, both the Japanese firms will look into the prospect of introducing electric vehicles for the Indian market, which will be sold through Maruti. This is in-line with the Indian government's target of full electrification by 2030.

RC Bhargava, Chairman, Maruti Suzuki India said, "The Toyota-Suzuki JV is beneficial to Maruti, as it will allow the company to provide electric vehicles for the Indian market. While Toyota and Suzuki have the technology for developing electric vehicles, Maruti doesn't. This JV will help us bridge that gap and work towards a common goal of electrifying the Indian automobile industry."

Asked whether Maruti will be able to launch an electric vehicle by 2020, Bhargava said, "We haven't made that promise, it's the Japanese. And when they say something, it happens."

Bhargava also said that the company is conducting a survey to understand the Indian market and its views on electric vehicles.

He said, "This survey will help Toyota-Suzuki JV in the R&D for developing electric vehicles."

Speaking on the pricing of these electric vehicles, Bhargava assured that while it will be expensive in the beginning; the prices will come down once the components will be locally produced. However, till then, the cost of these EVs will be higher than the traditional products available in the market.

Bhargava also emphasized the need to develop an ecosystem for these electric vehicles. The electric car will be developed by the Toyota and Suzuki, while it will be sold and serviced by Maruti in India. These include the development of electric batteries from Suzuki's Gujarat plant.

Source : NDTV

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Best Sri Lankan Brands 2017

In inaugural ‘Best Sri Lankan Brands’ 2017 awards ceremony was held on December 11 under the auspices of Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe at the Hilton Colombo.

The event was also attended by Minister of Law & Order and Southern Development, Sagala Ratnayake, Minister of Primary Industries Daya Gamage, State Minister for International Trade Sujeewa Senasinghe, Parliamentarian Mayantha Dissanayake and Prime Ministers Deputy Chief of Staff Rosy Senanayake and other prominent dignitaries.

View the embedded image gallery online at:

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