SEC probe: issue
As an investor in the stock market, I am greatly perturbed at the
various statements that have been made in the media regarding price
sensitive information being known by Directors of Aitken Spence
& Co. Ltd., prior to selling their shares.
As an investor,
I have obtained the Annual Report of Aitken Spence, for the year
ended 31.03.02, which I have studied in detail and I have been unable
to find any reference to such information, especially in regard
to Aitken Spence Garments, which is the company that is alleged
to be in trouble.
The first and
second quarter results of Aitken Spence have also no reference to
any problem regarding the financial situation of the company. As
an investor, I have to rely on the Directors’ and Auditors’
statements and the officially published accounts as my sources of
information to ascertain the status of the company. Further, Aitken
Spence has recently released a statement to the stock exchange confirming
that all disclosures regarding the financial position of the group
have been correctly presented.
Hence it appears
that the auditors and directors have confirmed that as far as they
were concerned, there was no price sensitive information that could
have been used by any party during this period.
I am also most
perturbed that the newspapers have carried on a campaign bordering
on irresponsibility with no specific focus on the facts. The question
that needs to be asked and needs to be known is: “What is
this price sensitive information that these parties had knowledge
of, and used to sell shares?” It is still unclear to us, the
general public and the common investor, as to what information they
were privy to, which was not available to the general public.
There are further
allegations that special consideration is being given to these parties
by the SEC by directing the investigation to continue with two eminent
independent personalities. In view of this very curious situation,
where the company has publicly confirmed that all information is
disclosed, it is incumbent upon the SEC, which comprises a team
of highly respected personalities, to obtain all the relevant information
and advice prior to taking a decision.
Hassle to renew residence visas
Residence visas are granted to expatriate staff of Companies approved
by the Board of Investment for one year. In other countries the
visas are granted for three years to the expatriate staff of foreign
companies. To renew the visa each year is a hassle. It is an unproductive
waste of time. Besides the Board of Investment charges $ 10 for
a visa application form. Residence and student visas have to be
renewed each year on payment of Rs. 15,000.
In the case of Sri Lankan residents abroad who visit Sri Lanka they
are given a tourist visa for one month. If they wish to stay in
Sri Lanka for another two weeks they have to pay for a further three
months. In India persons of Indian origin are given a visa for 10
years except for persons resident in countries like Sri Lanka. Sri
Lankans who travel to the UK are given a visa for six months and
to the USA for one year.
law should be immediately changed if we are to encourage Sri Lankans
domiciled abroad from visiting their homeland and investing in business
undertakings. Sri Lankans living abroad should be given incentives
to return to their motherland and participate in rebuilding the
nation. It should also be noted that Sri Lankans with foreign passports
have to pay more to visit places of historical interest and wildlife
sanctuaries. They are treated as foreigners for this purpose.
Power crisis - Is Upper Kotmale the answer?
The article under the above caption appearing in The Sunday Times
by D.N.R. Samaranayake is most educative and debunks the argument
of Dr. Tilak Siyambalapitiya that hydropower is the cheapest energy
was in the Island of 9.5.95 a letter by the then-Hydro Consultant,
Carlo Fernando of the CEB, who quoted a telex sent by the Asian
Development Bank (ADB) which reads as follows:
is the ADB warning to the CEB (Telex 7 Jan. 1985) - Long range optimum
expansion plan (1985-2004) includes Rantambe (60 MW) for commissioning
in 1988 and Broadlands (20 MW) and Samanalawewa (120 MW) in 1989.
We have serious reservations on the possibility of achieving these
commissioning dates and more importantly the advisability of the
further hydro additions given the already overwhelming proportion
of hydro capacity in the system and their inability to meet base
load requirements.” Telex – 11 Jan. 1985:
“The system load characteristics even in its current form
can absorb a base load capacity of about 200 MW. We cannot therefore
find any justification for the proposed hydro plants.... ahead of
Trincomalee (Mention of Trincomalee is for the coal plant).
the construction of Upper Kotmale hydro plant is because of the
objection raised by the Catholic Bishop of Chilaw to set up a coal
plant at Norochcholai. The CEB may have been forced, politically,
to ignore ADB advice.
CEB and the Minister should take serious note of the ADB advice,
for they are financiers of international fame and know which project
should be funded for the benefit of the country.
- the man
person is under attack and siege it is the moment for friends to
reflect what has to be done. I am writing this more as a friend
of Michael Mack and one who has known him for over thirty five years.
The Press has
painted a picture of Michael’s dealings which has disturbed
the public. At the senior age of 65 years I read the newspapers
with great circumspect. My qualification to do this is that I have
had contact with newsprint from the time I can remember, in fact
from the time I was in rompers.
Like every utterance
which we make, news stories tend to be ephemeral. Most often they
are written without great thought. Sometimes they are placed by
parties with whom the subjects have crossed swords.
Most often they
are written by relatively young persons without an in-depth understanding
and maturity of the machinations and ramifications of the subject,
especially when it comes to high finance. For the Press to take
up a controversial stand is most often good copy and leads to improving
It may not necessarily
be reflecting the authentic facts. Michael Mack joined Aitken Spence
at the age of 22, forty eight years ago. Ultimately he ended as
Chairman, Managing Director and a predominant shareholder of one
of the largest blue chip companies in the country. After his retirement,
he was called to serve on several boards. The Chairmanship of the
DFCC was one of his tasks. This extraordinary career was not a bed
A few years
after he joined the company, the agency house business in which
the company was involved, was taken over by the state and the fortunes
of Aitken Spence was in the doldrums.
and the British directors left to be replaced by a team of young,
trained and qualified executives, Chari de Silva, Michael Mack,
Norman Gunewardene and G.C.Wickremasinghe. This leadership made
The company started to gauge and assess government policy and respond
by launching into new lines of business.
many years the Senior Director under Chari de Silva and later as
Chairman and Managing Director, never changed his personal style.
He remained in the house of his birth at Sunethra Lane, which today
has gained historical significance after Michael Ondaatje referred
to it in the internationally acclaimed best seller “Running
in the family”.
The spirit at
Lukannon, which is the name of Michael’s home, reflects the
spirit of goodness which one rarely encounters elsewhere in this
country. I have met many of his friends in this house. Each person
is received with the same simple warmth and kindness.
success I would attribute to some unique qualities. He has the enormous
inbuilt confidence to reactivate confidence in those who have lost
it. There is something very decent about him and the way he does
Most of all
what I admire about him is his loyalty to his friends and the love
for his country. How often, he must have been tempted to leave these
shores. He did not. More than that he remained and served it. The
very highest in the land can vouch for that. In service, he seems
to be totally at home. Such men cannot, by God, be harmed.