Financial Times

Business brief

The Sunday Times Business Club AGM
The Annual General Meeting of The Sunday Times Business Club will be held tomorrow (Monday) at 6.30 pm at the Cinnamon Grand, Colombo, the club’s host hotel.

The election of the Executive Committee (EXCO) for the new term – 2008/2009 – will be on the agenda. The current EXCO comprises President - Nishan Silva; General Secretary - Ajit De Soyza; Treasurer - Madhawa Gunaratne, and Committee members - Harsha Rajapakse, Dhammika Weerakkody, Chanaka Perera and Anura P. Perera. Hameedia is one of the sponsors of the club.

Autodrome first off the blocks with June 2008 quarter results
Autodrome Plc, among Sri Lanka’s oldest companies, on Tuesday was the first company on the Colombo Stock Exchange to release its results for the quarter ended 30 June 2008, brokers said.

Post tax profit at the 55 year-old company was Rs 8.4 million, up from Rs 5.1 million in the same 2007 quarter while turnover almost doubled to Rs 127 million from Rs 110 million in the corresponding periods.

Dhammika on Hayleys board
Aggressive investor Dhammika Perera, also Chairman of the Board of Investment, was appointed a director of Hayleys at a board meeting of the company held on Monday evening.

Mr. Perera through his company, Vallibel Holdings bought into Hayleys last month and gradually increased the stake in Hayleys up to more than 16 percent. He is the single largest shareholder of the company.

New banking service as NTB brings money to ‘your’ doorstep
Nations Trust Bank (NTB) will next week introduce a banking first in Sri Lanka – doorstep banking – where privileged customers would be served at their doorstep by NTB staff, Bank officials said. It’s the first time this is happening in Sri Lanka, banking industry officials said.

“Be it collecting money, depositing money or any other transaction, customers of our privileged class category can do these transactions anywhere they want. With just a call, a NTB staffer will go to the location of choice of the customer for any transaction that is required,” a spokesperson said. Details of what the bank calls “a new era in banking services” were announced on Friday at a briefing to the media.


Dhammika sells Lanka Ceramics stake to Page family
Dhammika Perera, one of Sri Lanka’s most powerful businessmen, sold his 25 percent Lanka Ceramics Ltd (LCL) stake to the Ceylon Theatres Group on Tuesday, according sources close to the businessman.
The deal was done at Rs.47 per share with nearly 7.3 million shares traded just before the market closed, they said.

The transaction was done through five parcels. Last April, Perera was appointed to the board of directors at LWL (Lanka Walltiles Ltd) by its controlling party-the Page family. LCL is the holding company of LWL, Lanka Tiles Ltd and Kahawatte Plantations Ltd. Ceylon Theatres Chairman Baba Page was subsequently appointed a director to the Perera-controlled PABC board. Nearly one and a half years ago, Perera who owns Royal Ceramics Ltd (ROCELL), lapped up 20 percent LCL shares from the market and subsequently increased its holding to 25 percent.

Tigo starts issuing mobile phone IDs
Mobile operator Tigo said today it has begun issuing phone IDs in the form of ‘Certificates of Ownership’ to its customers from this week to meet new, stringent regulations of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA).

The new rules, announced last week by the TRA, requires mobile users to produce proof of ownership of the mobile they are carrying when required, CEO Dumindra Rathnayaka told reporters. The Tigo ID will be in the form of a card carrying the name, telephone number and National Identity Card number or passport number of the subscriber.

He said current customers are required to re-register their connections to ensure compliance with the new regulations as some subscribers may not have the connections in their names. Mr Rathnayaka said that a date when the implementation of the regulation will begin has not been announced as yet.

ANC, NTB in easy payment plan for education
ANC, an education subsidiary of the Ceylinco Group, and Nations Trust Bank last week jointly introduced an Extended Settlement Plan (ESP) to allow for enhanced financial flexibility and convenience in payments for higher education programmes offered by ANC.

Designed specially for use by the bank's 75,000 American Express card holders, the plan allows a structure where payments are staggered so that card holders may utilise the option of 3, 6 or 12 equal monthly installments, once they have successfully completed a ESP application process, officials said at a press conference.

NTB’s Senior Marketing Manager Louie Diaz said this is the first step in an ongoing relationship between the bank and ANC which could eventually encompass loans, foreign exchange and other financial products going into the future.

ANC offers accredited transfer and degree completion programmes from U.S. colleges such as Missouri S&T University, Northwood University and Patten University.

Richard Pieris dealers convention in Matara
Richard Pieris Tyre Company, established in 1942 and one of the Group’s earliest subsidiaries, held its southern dealers convention in Matara, recently.

A company press release said the annual sales convention is held to recognize and encourage performance and this year’s gala event was attended by over 200 sales agents. The first place was awarded to Dayan Gajanayake of Dayan Tyre House and Motors in Embilipitiya while T.S. Ratnayake of Ratnayake Tyre Centre in Akuressa came second B.S. Ratnayake of Tyre House in Middeniya, third.

Qatar Airways to buy 6 Airbus A321 planes
Farnborough Air Show, UNITED KINGDOM – Qatar Airways has signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the purchase of up to six Airbus A321 aircraft – four firm and two on option. The agreement was signed at a press conference last week at the Farnborough International Air Show, between Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker and Airbus President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders.

The four firm aircraft are scheduled for delivery in the near term. Qatar Airways will use the A321s to complement its existing narrow body fleet on regional routes. These additional aircraft will bring Qatar Airways’ A321 fleet to 14 aircraft. With the addition of these 6 A321 aircraft, Qatar Airways’ narrow body fleet will increase to 27 aircraft, consisting of 14 A321s, 11 A320s and 2 A319 Long Range aircraft, according to a press release by the airline.

“Concluding this deal with Airbus for the additional A321 aircraft will further assist Qatar Airways in the rapid development of its regional network,” said Mr Al Baker, in a press release issued by the company.

Qatar Airways is currently the largest operator of the A320 family in the Gulf and Middle East region. The Doha-based airline’s current in-service fleet consists of a total of 19 A320 family variants, 1 A300-600R, 3 A300-600 freighters, 31 A330s, 4 A340-600s, together with 2 Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

The airline has outstanding orders for more than 200 aircraft worth over US$30 billion. It operates a modern fleet of 62 aircraft to 83 destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Indian subcontinent, Far East and North America.

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