ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday March 9, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 41
Financial Times  

SLT’s 2007 Annual Report - Letter

I would like to offer a few comments on the SLT Annual Report which struck me as unique and refreshing:

1.The 3-page quick read is an innovative and practical departure from conventional reporting of corporates. It encapsulates the salient features of the Report for the busy yet discerning reader.

2.The messages of the Chairman and CEO are exceptional. They succinctly review performance, plans and prospects. A very well coordinated effort without any overlap between the two. The chairman’s message is focused on putting the last decade since privatization into context. In addition the Chairman’s message puts the entire Annual Report into context. The CEO’s message spells out the strategy of SLT in a very clear and easily understandable manner without the use of jargon. These two statements are a must read and should be regarded as a model for modern Annual Reports.

3.The preamble to the Management Report gives in 4-pages and in a tabular format at that, an excellent summary of SLT’s current position; what most readers would be unable to or at best take forever to comprehend and deduce from most annual reports.

4.I am afraid the operations review however is far too esoteric for the greater majority of the targeted readers and too lengthy at 18-pages especially compared to the Financial Review of only 6-pages the average stakeholder would I am sure be uninterested in the abstruse details of technology and infrastructures involved. Much of this Review is an exercise in futility, I am afraid.

5.The Financial Review lucidly expounds the operational results which is music in stakeholder’s ears and carries a wealth and useful information in particular on Risk Management - the name of the game is today’s volatile economic environment locally and internationally.

6.Investor Relations Review is a commendable new feature in Corporate Reporting, which comprehensively deals with an aspect hitherto treated perfunctorily in Annual Reports.

7.The Sustainability Report vividly captures the corporate ethos or culture of SLT.

8.Although Corporate Governance is still a relatively new concept in Sri Lanka, its practice at SLT is well documented in the Report.

9.The look and feel of the Report is classy and has a sense of understated elegance. There is no attempt to force a modern, hip type of image as one would expect. Instead modernity comes out almost in a paradoxical manner through the clever avoidance of clichéd imagery and the use of a sophisticated style of illustrations.

I was particularly motivated to write this critique in the context of an unsavoury trend of sheer volume and bulk in Annual Reports that I have seen emerging. This may be due to companies slavishly following conventions or flavours of the day largely motivated by awards. It would have been preferable if the majority of potential readers of most Annual Reports of blue-chip corporates were spared the tedium of wading through a plethora of technical and financial information much of which is unlikely to be of interest or comprehensible to them. SLT must be commended for bucking the trend.

N. Jayasingam
Former Chairman
of Harrisons and Crosfield (Colombo) Ltd., Lankem Ceylon Ltd., E.B. Creasy and Co. Ltd.



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