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Bajaj Qute To Hit Lankan Roads Soon

Sri Lanka’s David Pieris Motor Company Ltd (DPMC), the sole distributors for India’s Bajaj-brand of vehicles is planning to officially launch the first motorized quadricycle Bajaj Qute, touted as an alternative to three-wheelers in Sri Lanka within the next two months, Business Observer learns. According to a company official, the vehicle which made headlines in both Sri Lanka and India in the last few years over safety concerns has finally received the green light from Sri Lanka’s Motor Traffic Department and quality inspection authorities.

 “We have registered four vehicles in Sri Lanka at the moment for testing purposes. However, we have not yet opened commercial sales so far,” DPMC’s Lead Internal and External Communications, Dasun Edirisinghe said.

According to him, the quadricycle which was previously named as RE60 will not be marketed in Sri Lanka as an alternative to three-wheelers to run taxi services but as an affordable four wheel private vehicle for the family. The Indian quadricycle is set to be competitively priced at under Rs. 1 million in Sri Lanka.

The Bajaj Qute runs on a 216.6 cc engine with an ability to produce 13.2 PS power and a top speed of 70 kilometers per hour. The engine will also have CNG and LPG compliant variants, Indian media reports said. It drives a six-speed sequential shift transmission, similar to those found in motorcycles.

Capable of carrying four passengers, the Qute claims to have a mileage of 36 km per litre and emits 66 grams of carbon dioxide per km. Bajaj claims these figures are higher than those seen with a usual three-wheeler, making its quadricycle more economical and environment-friendly. On the safety front, the vehicle which comes with seat belts for both drivers and passengers meets the European Standards and Guidelines of Quadricycle for quality and design.

Bajaj Qute which comes out of the production facility in Aurangabad in India is presently being exported to countries in Europe, Africa, South America, and rest of Asia. The vehicle initially developed by combined efforts of Bajaj and Renault as RE60 under their Ultra Low Cost car project was first unveiled at the Delhi Expo as RE60 in 2012.

Motorized quadricycles are small and fuel-efficient vehicles intended to be a small urban vehicle fit for crowded streets. According to recent research in Europe, motorized quadricycles continue to be an attractive vehicle segment, especially among urbanites.

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Cargills Bank partners with Transfer To in Sri Lanka

Cargills Bank has partnered with TransferTo, a cross-border mobile payments network for emerging markets, to enhance and strengthen its remittance services offered by the bank, according to a press release.

The partnership provides customers worldwide the convenience of sending money in real-time, from over 60 countries across TransferTo's global network, to beneficiaries in Sri Lanka.

Beneficiaries can now collect cash remittances from 17 Cargills Bank Branches and at over 330 Cargills Food City outlets island wide. In addition, customers will receive a 5 percent discount on their purchase when they collect cash remittances at any Cargills Food City outlet.

"As a bank which understands the DNA of its customers, we are pleased to strengthen our remittance services by partnering with one of the world's leading money transfer networks: TransferTo," Buddhika Perera, head of retail banking at Cargills Bank, said in the release. "The integration of mobile financial services with commercial banks to provide delivery of remittance will boost the formal remittance inflow to the country, particularly in the rural and remote areas and the beneficiaries would be able to collect them from any of our 330 Cargills Food City network."


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Ceylinco Insurance posts consolidated after-tax profit of Rs. 8.3 billion

Ceylinco Insurance PLC, the holding company of Insurance giants Ceylinco General Insurance and Ceylinco Life Insurance recorded a massive, consolidated after-tax profit of Rs. 8.3 billion, for the year ended 31st December 2017. The profit before tax stood at an exceptional Rs. 9.2 billion.

Contributing to this remarkable performance, Ceylinco General Insurance and Ceylinco Life Insurance recorded profits after tax of Rs. 1.4 billion and Rs. 6 billion, respectively.

The Managing Director / Chief Executive Officer of Ceylinco Insurance PLC, Ajith Gunawardena commenting on the impressive performance said, "The Insurance sector recorded an impressive premium income of Rs. 33.7 billion in 2017, with Ceylinco General Insurance surpassing Rs.18 billion; an increase of over Rs. 1.9 billion year on year, just as Ceylinco Life Insurance registered a premium income of Rs. 15.7 billion. As the clear market dominator, the Insurance sector, in 2017, remained far ahead of the competition. As an insurance company, we have our objectives as well as our responsibilities. Whenever our customers are affected, we always compensate them within the shortest possible time, often within 24 hrs. For us, this is in line with our values - to stand by our customers in their time of need. Also, as the industry leader, we were able to enhance the goodwill of the industry through our actions."

Ceylinco Life Insurance Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, R Renganathan said, "Everything we do is inspired by the credo that life insurance is a 'Relationship for Life'. Ceylinco Life not only retained its leadership in the life insurance sector for the 14th consecutive year in 2017, the company grew its profit by 95 % to 6 billion while transferring Rs 7.3 billion to its Life Fund, paying Rs 6.7 billion in net claims and benefits and continuing all of its community welfare commitments, We also persisted with our market expansion efforts, benefiting the entire life insurance industry. In that context, Ceylinco Life's performance in 2017 is truly remarkable."

Patrick Alwis, Managing Director of Ceylinco General Insurance commenting on the performance of Ceylinco General Insurance said "the premium income of our flagship brand 'Ceylinco VIP' alone stood at a staggering Rs. 11 billion, with Non Motor Insurance contributing an impressive Rs. 7 billion, allowing the total premium income of Ceylinco General Insurance to record yet another fantastic year. This is in the midst of stiff competition. Despite numerous challenges, we have worked hard and worked together, and we have exceeded expectations, once again. Ceylinco General Insurance paid claims amounting to Rs. 9 billion during 2017".

Source : Colombo Page

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BOC appoints new GM/CEO

Sri Lankan state bank, Bank of Ceylon has appointed K. B. Senarath Bandara as its new General Manager and CEO with effect from 22 February.

The appointment comes following the retirement of GM/CEO D. M. Gunasekara.

Bandara is a senior banker and at present operates as the Deputy General Manager (Sales and Channel Management).

He is a member of the Governing Board of the Institute of Bankers of Sri Lanka and a Director of Merchant Bank of Sri Lanka and Finance Plc. He is also a Council Member of the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka and the incumbent President of the Association of Professional Banks, Sri Lanka. Formerly, he was a Director of the Regional Development Bank.

Bandara is a graduate of the University of Kelaniya in Physical Science with a Second Class (Upper Division) and holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) with a Merit Pass from the Postgraduate Institute of Management, University of Sri Jayewardenepura.

He is also an alumnus of the Harvard Business School, USA, where he successfully completed the Advanced Management Program.


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Ericsson and Dialog to roll out Sri Lanka’s first commercial massive IoT network

Dialog Axiata, Sri Lanka’s largest telecommunications services provider, and Ericsson have rolled out South Asia’s first commercial massive IoT network.

The network supports both Cat-M1 and NB-IoT technologies, and is deployed across Dialog Axiata’s Sri Lankan network. The partners say the advanced mobile network technology will help accelerate the proliferation of IoT devices. It will further develop the IoT ecosystem in the country by offering superior coverage, long battery life and cost-effective solutions to enterprises.

“With this launch, we are seeking to accelerate the adoption of innovative technologies by enterprises, and help them create exciting new products and services for consumers,” commented Pradeep De Almeida, Group Chief Technology Officer, Dialog Axiata PLC. “The Cat-M1/NB-IoT network will amplify opportunity for solutions such as smart metering for utilities, smart parking, smart bins, smart environmental sensors for smart cities, logistic solutions as well as other applications in agriculture and farming.”

Ericsson delivers Cat-M1 (LTE-M) and NB-IoT support as a software activation to Dialog Axiata’s existing LTE Radio Access Network. Ericsson's Massive IoT solutions for Cat-M1 and NB-IoT devices are claimed to have low cost, low power consumption, deep coverage, massive connections, and more secure and reliable transmission.

“A well-developed IoT ecosystem is fast becoming key for operators to enable new services and revenue streams,” summed up Vinod Samarawickrama, Country Manager, Sri Lanka & Maldives, Ericsson. “Our partnership with Dialog Axiata to roll out the first massive IoT network for both NB-IoT and Cat-M1 in the country, and notably South Asia, contributes towards this fast-developing IoT ecosystem.”

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Cheery Hill Interiors starts operations in SL

India's leading corporate interiors firm specialising in LEED certified projects, Cherry Hill Interiors Private Ltd, has started its operations in Sri Lanka.

According to a company press release, after having a pan-India presence, the company has set up its first international office in Colombo.

This financial year saw the company bagging clients like Western Union,Airbus, Standard Chartered, Amazon, PwC, Bank of New York Melon, Genpact and Airbus.

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Allianz completes Janashakthi’s acquisition

Global financial services firm Allianz Group has completed the acquisition of Sri Lanka-based insurer Janashakthi General Insurance Ltd for about $106.4 million (LKR 16.4 billion).

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Janashakthi Insurance PLC Managing Director Prakash Schaffter shakes hands with Allianz Insurance Lanka Managing Director Surekha Alles. Also present are Janashakthi Insurance PLC Director Ramesh Schaffter (left) and Allianz Asia Executive Board Member Zakri Khir. (Image:Daily Mirror)

In an announcement on Monday, the German insurance major said it sealed the buy after receiving all the necessary regulatory approvals and will now begin amalgamating the operations of both companies.

“This transaction brings together two highly complementary businesses for enhanced scale, competitiveness and service capabilities, while positioning Allianz as one of Sri Lanka’s largest general insurers and significantly accelerating its growth agenda in this market,” said the announcement.

After the deal, Allianz Insurance Lanka will be one of the country’s largest general insurers, with a market share of approximately 20 per cent. Further, with close to a million policyholders island-wide, the expanded client base represents a significant growth opportunity for Allianz in Sri Lanka.

Together with its 6 per cent share in the country’s life insurance market, the acquisition positions Allianz Lanka as one of the strongest protection leaders in the country. This supports Allianz’ strategic priorities of achieving market leadership positions and high-quality growth in the Asia Pacific region, Allianz said earlier this month while announcing the deal.

It had further added that Janashakthi will continue to focus on its life insurance portfolio in order to strengthen its presence in the Sri Lankan life insurance industry.

Janashakthi Insurance has been in Sri Lanka for over two decades and focuses on motor, fire and health protection for individuals and corporates. Meanwhile, Allianz with core businesses are insurance and asset management services over 80 million customers worldwide and is a leader in the German market in insurance sector.

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Nestlé unveils coconut-flavoured milk beverage

Nestlé aims to provide children more ways to enjoy milk with the launch of Nespray Coco-Up in Sri Lanka.

The beverage is made with coconut and Nespray milk and is said to have a nutty taste. It contains no added artificial colours or preservatives.

Nestlé said the dairy milk is the first product of its kind for Nestlé worldwide and Sri Lanka’s first dairy milk beverage to be enhanced with coconut extract.

The company aims to draw on the health benefits of milk and combine it with coconut, which it describes as a “much-loved loved staple of cuisine in Sri Lanka and around the world, pepping up any meal or drink with a distinct and refreshing taste”.

Nestlé vice president of dairy Ruwan Welikala said: “Nespray has always been a milk brand trusted by mothers to provide their children with a strong nutritional foundation. It offers a range of local milk products that cater to children’s varying tastes and needs.

“With its innovative recipe of fresh milk and coconut, Nespray Coco-Up now joins our strong portfolio with a unique consumption experience, making drinking milk more fun, adventurous and refreshing for kids.”

Shivani Hegde, Nestlé Sri Lanka managing director, added: “Innovation is in our DNA, ever since our company was founded more than 150 years ago. Today we continue to provide innovative, science-based products and services that enhance quality of life.

“We’re proud to offer our local consumers a variety of products made from local fresh milk, with the latest being Nespray Coco-Up with the unique infusion of coconut.

“This innovation perfectly reflects Nestlé in Sri Lanka, combining cutting-edge global technology and R&D with local innovation, using local ingredients and strong local consumer insights to develop superior products.”

Last year, Nestlé began construction of a new manufacturing plant in Sri Lanka, in a move to strengthen its position in dairy and coconut products.


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DIMO buys control of seed, fertiliser firms

Diesel & Motor Engineering said it has acquired control of two companies which import and distribute agricultural inputs like chemicals, fertilisers and seeds.

A stock exchange filing said it invested Rs 345.5 million to take 51% stakes in the privately-owned Plantchem (Private) Limited and Plant Seeds Private Limited.

The two firms are engaged in the import, processing and distribution of agri inputs like crop protection products, specialised fertilisers and seeds, it said.

DIMO, best known for importing luxury Mercedes-Benz cars and also selling Tata vehicles, has diversified into other activities including agricultural machinery and crops and fertiliser.

Source : Economy Next

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Asia stock markets drop sharply after US falls

Major Asian markets has suffered sharp losses today following another day of steep falls on Wall Street. In a volatile week for global investors, Japan's Nikkei 225 index slid 3.2% during early trading, while China's Shanghai Composite tumbled 5%.

Earlier, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by more than 1,000 points for the second time this week. Sell-offs around the world have been pinned partly on concerns over higher interest rates.

Elsewhere in Asia on Friday, Hong Kong's Hang Seng pulled back 3.8%, while South Korea's Kospi index traded down 1.9% and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 1.2%. Those losses came as little surprise, with moves in major US markets providing the cue for global investors.

On Thursday, Dow Jones ended 4.2% lower at 23,860, the S&P 500 closed down 3.8%, while the Nasdaq sank 3.9%. European exchanges also headed south on Thursday. "The return of volatility after two relatively calm days supports the idea there are further losses to come in the days and weeks ahead," said CMC Markets analyst Michael McCarthy.

Rate rises imminent?

Investors have begun to worry that inflation might rise more quickly than expected, leading policymakers to raise rates, prompting a pull-back from stocks.

On Thursday, the Bank of England seemed to offer support for that view.

The bank left interest rates at 0.5% at its meeting, but said a strengthening economy meant interest rates were likely to rise sooner than the markets were expecting.

Also worrying investors was a government budget proposal announced by US lawmakers, which raises spending caps and could fan inflation. Bond yields in the US have also risen in recent weeks, typically a signal of higher rates. Higher interest rates push up borrowing costs for companies and individuals, which can hurt corporate profits and curb economic activity.

At the same time, higher interest rates can make investment alternatives to stocks, such as bonds, more attractive.

Shifting conditions

The uptick in volatility comes as investors react to the shifting conditions. Thursday's declines mean the Dow and S&P 500 have now fallen by more than 10% from the record highs set in January, a threshold analysts call a correction.

Shares in financial, technology and consumer companies led the declines on Thursday, which infected every sector. American Express and Intel were the two biggest losers on the Dow. Analysts, who have said for months that the financial markets were due a correction after a long period of rising prices, urged calm.

"The latest decline takes us back to where we were 17 November," said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com, which tracks interest rates. "We've just given back some recent gains, not wiped out anyone's life savings."

 Source : BBC

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HRAWI to host 18th Regional Convention In Sri Lanka

The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) has announced plans of hosting its first ever overseas and the 18th Regional Convention in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Scheduled to take place from June 27-30, 2018, the convention will integrate business sessions on specially curated topics for the hospitality professionals.

With over 300 participants expected to gather at one place, the convention will offer business networking opportunities for industry players. HRAWI will also organise post-convention tours for the delegates to spend leisure time in the beach destination of Sri Lanka – Colombo.

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Allianz buys Janashakthi Insurance for LKR 16.4 billion

Allianz, a global financial services leader, has announced that it has entered into an agreement with Janashakthi Insurance to acquire 100% of its subsidiary Janashakthi General Insurance (JGIL) for LKR 16.4 billion (US$106 million).

This acquisition makes Allianz Insurance Lanka one of the country’s largest general insurers, with a market share of approximately 20%.

This transaction also represents one of the largest investments into Sri Lanka, demonstrating Allianz’s confidence in the Sri Lankan market.

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