4th June 2000
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Markom moves in 

Ceylinco Group's Finance and Guarantee Company is tying up with Mobitel to form a new company that would provide leading edge business communication solutions using wireless technology. 

The partnership would also make F and G Markom Pvt.. Ltd. Mobitel's eighth dealer. With 106 companies in 12 different clusters, the Ceylinco Group is a readymade launch pad for the new company to provide its business solutions. 

The group's 20,000 or more employees in 350 branches will be linked in stages through this new technology which includes digital wireless office systems solutions, video conferencing etc. 

" We will start with inter company, inter bank and inter group but eventually a person in Dehiattakandiya can speak face to face with someone in Colombo," Mr. Mervyn Jayasinghe, Finance and Guarantee's chief said. The cellular technology link will be a cost saving and vastly improved communication for the group and its customers.

The mobitel dealership will also be marketed in attractive packages with easy payment schemes to their wide client base, which includes a real estate sector with up market apartments, and mid to low income housing projects. 

The Finance and Guarantee Group one of the 12 clusters in the Ceylinco Group runs the finance and guarantee Company, a finance company, F and G Property Development Ltd. Carlton and Majestic Apartments, F and G Real Estate Consultants and brokers and recently floated a company F and G Portfolio management Co. F and G Markom is the fifth in the cluster. Mr. Jayasinghe said that they were confident of selling at least 150 - 200 phones a month for a start.

36 companies for Europartenariat

A business delegation comprising 36 Sri Lankan companies will be leaving the island shortly to participate at the Europartenariat (European Partnership), to be held in Denmark from June 8-9, 2000. 

This delegation, the biggest from Asia to attend this event which is one of Europe's most successful business forums, is being organised by the European Business Information Centre (EBIC) in Colombo. EBIC, which is an initiative of the European Commission in Brussels operates under the aegis of the European Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka. 

Member companies of the Sri Lanka Electronics Manufacturers' and Exporters' Association comprise part of this mission, which features electronics on the top of the list of sectors to be represented at the event in Denmark, the press release said. 

The Europartenariat is an initiative of the European Commission and is held twice a year in Europe. The European Commission sponsors part of the Europartenariat event, which includes stand costs, local transport, food, etc. Up to date, 21 such Europartenariat events have been held with the participation of over 40,000 companies world-wide. 

During this event, participants will have one-to-one meetings with companies of their choice, which includes Danish, other European, Asian, Mediterranean and Latin American companies. 

EBIC, which has been appointed the Europartenriat's National Counsellor for Sri Lanka by the European Commission, has up to date, taken three similar delegations to Spain, Austria and Germany in the past two years. All three missions, according to EBIC, have been extremely successful with many of these companies which attended the events, tying up with European companies on various projects. 

The next Europartenariat event will be held in Sicily, Italy in December 2000. 

Construct 2000

Exhibition in October

An exhibition of the latest products, services, techniques and concepts and key aspects that would contribute to the growth of the construction industry in Sri Lanka, including major government projects and infrastructure development plans, will be held in Colombo in October this year. 

The event "Construct 2000", which is intended to be a showcase for the potential in the local construction industry, is expected to bring together more than 175 local and foreign exhibitors who supply products and services to this vital sector of the economy a media release said. 

The three day exhibition scheduled for October 6-8 at the BMICH, is organised by CDC Conventions (Pvt) Limited for the National Construction Contractors Association of Sri Lanka (NCCASL). 

It is supported by the Ministries of Urban Development, Housing and Construction, Industrial Development and Trade and Commerce. 

Tea Update

Tea exports 

Russia might be on the road to recovery, but local value added tea exports are tumbling. Figures published by tea brokers show that value added local tea exports dropped by over 2.8 million kilos year on year. This was solely due to a drop in packeted tea exports. Meanwhile, tea exports in bulk increased by over 5 million kilos taking total exports to new heights of 81 million kilos. However, the FOB value of tea exports during the period went up by over Rs. 2 billion from Rs. 13.1 billion last year. 

Teas imported - re-exported also went up marginally by about 0.7 million kilos. 

Tea production on the other hand, fell marginally on account of the mid and high grown categories. However, accumulated tea production for the first four months increased by over 3.7 million kilos or 3.8 per cent year on year. Asiya Siyaka Tea Brokers forecast the mid and high growns elevations to continue their low trend and estimate 24 - 25 million kilos for May. 

Low grown prices are struggling to hold on, but officials are confident it will at least maintain levels higher than last year. The low grown average that has been holding firm for some time now saw the average drop a few rupees in the last two auctions. Officials hope that it will hold in the Rs. 130 levels at least. 

The high and mid grown price average on the other hand have been dropping from highs gained earlier this year. However, all three catagories have obtained higher prices than last year when teas were sold at almost cost of production.

Money Market update FCL Group 

Inter-bank call money
The inter-bank call money rate remained high on the back of a weakened liquidity position in the market. The weekly call money average remained unchanged in the region of 13.88%. 

Cash circulation saw no significant change and continued to range around at Rs. 68 bn level. With the spiralling cost of living, cash in circulation could increase further in the medium term. The adverse trade deficit and rising cash circulation would lead to a bleak liquidity in the medium term.

The overnight repo rate remained at 9.25% while reverse repo rate increased to 14%. The market repo rates followed suit with the inter-bank call money market ranging between 13% and 14%. 

Given the liquidity shortfall in the market, the reverse repo window of the Central Bank's Open Market Operations played a very active role. During the week the repo window released Rs. 30.6 bn to the market as the lender of the last resort, averaging around Rs. 6 bn a day. The repo window continued to stay quit. 

Treasury bill auction.

Rs. 3.47 bn worth of treasury bills were auctioned during the week. The Central Bank reserved and bought Rs. 1.5 bn worth of bills from the auction, mostly to pump much needed liquidity into the market and to hold the rising rates. In light of the persistent liquidity shortfall and the revised investor sentiments, the rising momentum in the short-term interest rates continued. In spite of the Central Bank intervention the treasury bill yields for all categories surged up, 91 days rose to 11.80%, 182 days 12.02% and 364 days 12.57%

Treasury bond 

Four year bonds worth Rs. 2 bn were auctioned last week. The bond rates continue to hike as the poor liquidity position and the weakened investor sentiments prevailed. The bond yields rose by six and ten basis points over previous 4 year bond auction.


The rupee/dollar spot rate continued to be under pressure, backed by the strong demand for dollars. The market spot rate virtually remained at the Central Bank selling rate. There was speculation that the Central Bank may have sold some dollars to the market. However, rupee/dollar market remained very tight. The market spot rate moved within Rs. 74.68 and Rs. 74.86 per dollar. 

The Central Bank selling rate increased by 11, while the spot rate was ranged bound. Three month forward dollars are in the range of Rs.76.10 and Rs. 76.20.
Market Report

Edging up on thin volume

The market edged up on thin volumes as more positive news from the battlefield continued to trickle in. Meanwhile price hikes in utilities such as gas, electricity, water and telecommunications raised fears of spiralling inflation. 

The All Share Price Index rose 2.19 per cent to register 478.91 while the Milanka Price Index gained 2.11 per cent to close at 769.9. The MBSL Midcap Index increased 4.65 per cent to close at 836.7. Average turnover for the week was Rs.27.3 mn. Foreign selling escalated towards the latter part of the week and net foreign sales were Rs. 45.5 mn.

"We expect the market to consolidate at the current levels with the retailers taking inspiration from the lull in fighting in the Jaffna peninsula and relatively positive first quarter corporate earning growth,' Head of Research, Asia Securities, Dushyanth Wijaysingha said.

"Technical indicators indicate that the market should edge up to 496 which is the next resistance level," Head of Research, CDIC Sasoon Cumberbatch, Diluk Desinghe said. However volumes are expected to remain thin as long as foreign investor participation remains anemic, he added. Investors will adopt a wait and see attitude next week as the results of large companies start coming out, Director, John Keells Stock Brokers, Nanadakumar Nair said.

The prevailing pessimism may not affect the market as bargain prices and better than expected corporate performance results in stronger counters, he said.

Five-star cuisine for all from Emirates

The freshest ingredients combined with flavours that evoke the countries of the Middle East. That's the concept behind 15 exclusive dishes created specially for Emirates by chefs at Dubai's luxurious Royal Mirage Hotel.

The Royal Mirage Beach-resort recreates the ambience of a fabled Arab fort. From June 1, Emirates passengers in all classes will be able to sample its distinctive cuisine enjoyed by hotel guests in the Celebrities Restaurant, a dining experience blending the flavours of Arabia.

The new dishes have been created by Swiss Stephan Schupbach, the hotel's Executive Sous Chef, and Australian Lew Kathreptis, Chef de Cuisine of the Royal Mirage's Celebrities Restaurant.

The selection includes five hors d'oeuvre, five main courses and five desserts which will be available to passengers in all classes on board Emirates flights from June 1.

Examples include braised lamb shank on couscous, roast beef with a pomegranate sauce; spiced prawns with red pepper coulis served on tabbouleh and chicken with saffron mayonnaise.

The Royal Mirage is the fifth hotel to feature in Emirates' Great Chefs Promotion, in which top chefs of the world are invited to prepare dishes exclusive to the airline. These are served in all classes.

Months of preparation go into each promotion. Guest chefs are first briefed on regulations regarding inflight catering and the specific requirements of the airline. They sit in as passengers and are served with a First Class meal at the Emirates Training College to gain an understanding of the way dishes are served on board.

They also tour the Emirates Abela airline catering unit to see first-hand how airline meals are produced. Finally, the chefs produce their ideas for on-board dishes. Chefs Schupbach and Kathreptis produced no fewer than 40 from which the airline finally selected 15.

Don Foster, Emirates Director Service Delivery, said: "The Royal Mirage has developed a style that is entirely its own, one that takes the traditional ingredients and flavours of the Middle East and then presents them in a way that it is up-to-date. I am confident that our passengers will enjoy the exclusive dishes our guest chefs have created for them.

Hayleys Electronics 150 per cent profit growth

Hayleys Electronics Limited, a local market leader in consumer electronic appliances, recorded its most successful year todate in 1999-2000, ending the financial year with a record 150 per cent growth in profits.

This performance made consumer electronics the main contributor to the profits of the Hayleys Electronics Group, which includes the lighting business, which also performed excellently, the company's Managing Director Sujiva Dewaraja said in a news release.

Announcing details of Hayleys Electronics' performance at the company's annual Partners' Convention, Mr. Dewaraja said although consumer demand generally was flat during this period, the market for consumer electronics, particularly colour television receivers, had been noticeably buoyant, growing by an estimated 50 per cent.

He said the performance of Hayleys Electronics was especially noteworhty because many of the company's competitors, including the larger players, had reported tougher conditions and reduced margins. "The economy's rate of growth was below expectations, and competition hotted up with new players starting up by the day, " Mr. Dewaraja said.

However, Hayleys Electronics achieved record growth despite these adverse conditions, due to a reduction in import duties, gaining of access to the duty free complex at the airport, the launch of attractive easy payment schemes in collaboration with the Bank of Ceylon and the People's Bank, the introduction of more brands to the company's product portfolio, and a very successful programme of incentives to partners and employees at all levels, he explained.

This recognition of the role played by the company's partners, was also reflected in the renaming of the company's annual dealer convention as "Partners Convention" this year, the 16th year of the event, Mr. Dewaraja pointed out. Reinforcing this message, the event was themed "Let's achieve together."

ISC Matara completes one year

The Investor Services Centre(ISC) of the Colombo Stock Exchange at Matara completes one year on 5th June 2000. The ISC was established on 4th June 1999 with a view to providing investors in areas outside Colombo with similar facilities as those enjoyed by investors in Colombo. Three stock broking firms namely, Forbes ABN Amro Securities (Pvt) Ltd, MMBL Phillip Securities Ltd and Jardine Fleming HNB Securities (Pvt) Ltd are represented at the ISC.

The ISC at Matara has provided investors access to on line-line trading , real time information, stock broking services and other connected services.

There has been a tremendous amount of enthusiasm generated among investors in Matara and this is reflected in the performance of the ISC.

From the inception todate over 1,300 new accounts have been opened and the total turnover has been RS. 301 Million. The ISC has averaged daily turnover of Rs. 1.2 Million for this period.

The Exchange also launched an aggressive awareness campaign in the Southern Province to introduce the ISC. Over 55 seminars for students, 36 seminars for focus groups and on staff of commercial establishments, planters/factory owners, small & media enterprises, the business community etc. and 6 public seminars. These seminars were very well attended. A total of over 5,000 students, 1,400 members of such focus groups and over 650 members of the public participated at these forums. In addition the ISC also carried out two educational direct mail campaign to the public of the area.

The first anniversary will be celebrated simple note with religious observances taking precedence. The occasion will be graced by the investors of the area.

Computer School at Russian Centre

The latest Russian computer technology will be brought to Sri Lanka along with leading Russian Professors who will participate side by side with the highly qualified Ph.D. and M.Sc. Computer Engineering teachers in Sri Lanka, a news release said. 

The Moscow Aviation Institute and State University will give their support to this project. 

LB Finance expands branch network

LB Finance will expand its branch network when it opens its 3rd branch in Negombo on 8th. Following the successful opening of its branch in Badulla in January this year, the branch in Negombo will be the 3rd branch of LB Finance. The first branch of LB finance was opened in Kandy 25 years ago.

LB Finance has identified the Gampaha District to be an area with great potential for marketing its services. The branch to be set up in Negombo will be the first branch of LB Finance in the Gampaha District. The Company intends to set up its 2nd branch in the Gampaha District in Gampaha town, a company release said.

The Negombo and Gampaha branches will further enhance the Company's capability to offer real estate marketing services to its customers who wish to sell their land using the marketing services of LB Finance. The company will also be purchasing and developing real estate in these highly populated areas.

Notebook privacy filter from 3M 

3M a world leader in innovation, through its local subsidiary 3M Lanka (pvt) Ltd. launched its notebook privacy filter to the Sri Lankan market recently. A first of its kind, the product with its patented microlouver technology uses the concept of blinds on windows. With the filter the screen presents an improved crisp, clear image only to the user. When viewed from the side, even sitting right next to the user, all you will be able to see is a dark screen, as if it were switched off.

The filter looks like a matte finish flexible sheet of plastic and is available in various common notebok screen sizes. With the provided tab stuck on the frame of the screen, the filter is slid in and can even stay in place in a closed notebook. And if you got to share information with a group of people simply slid it off. The lightweight privacy filter may be useful to all notebook uses as it not only provides privacy;but guards against accidental damages to your LCD screen and its anti- reflection coatings reduces glare that causes problems like eye strain and headaches. The product carries a lifetime warranty.

3M is a U.S based multinational corporation which has already in its product range filters for the desktop monitors with many value additions. It has operations in over 60 countries and markets more than 50,000 products that enhance quality in various spheres of life.

DFCC/ KFW - awareness program for SME clients

The DFCC bank in early April 2000 held an awarenesss program to inform its Small and Medium Enterprise clients of a new KFW line of credit.

In february 2000 DFCC Bank received a new credit line of DM 60 million from KFW ( Kreditanstalt Fur Wiederaufbau). The aim of the agreement is to finance long- living investments in fixed assets in Sri Lanka of private owned enterprises of each scale.

Th objectives of the project is to contribute to an efficient, demand oriented and sustainable long- term credit supply by DFCC for long term invstments in Sri Lanka of private owned enterprises of each scale. Further objective is to create additional jobs or to safeguard existing jobs and to earn additional income in the private sector.

The loan proceeds could be utilized to fund the import of machinery or purchase locally made machinery, construction of buildings and part of working capital.

Another first from Celltel

Celltel Lanka Limited has introduced another first in the local cellular market, with the launch this week of CLI (Caller Line Identification) and SMS Short Message Service) through its pre-paid system CellCARD for all GSM subscribers.

Two powerful cost control tools, CLI and SMS are available to all Celltel's digital GSM network users free of charge until July 31, 2000. Now, with the launch of pre-paid GSM services, the same facilities will be available to CellCARD users as well.

Chief Executive Officer of Celltel Lanka Limited Mr. Michel Schluter said in a news release that controlling of costs is a prime concern of subscribers who opt for the CellCARD. The availability of both these facilities on the pre-paid system will provide such users with further opportunities to make substantial savings on their cellular bills, he explained.

Enhancing convenience to users is the fact that the same CellCARD can be used on the analogue network and the GSM network. A CellCARD subscriber, therefore has the option of being on the analogue network if his priority is extensive coverage, or using the GSM network if his priority is the features offered by the digital service, Mr. Schluter pointed out.

CellCARDs are available in denominations of Rs. 450, Rs. 750 and Rs. 1000 from 2000 authorised dealers throughout the island. CellCard users receive no bills, make no deposits and have deposit-free IDD facilities.

Celltel which commenced operations in Sri Lanka in 1989, commissioned its digital GSM network on May 2.

Tri Star in Rs. 130 million upgrading 

Tri Star Apparels is to upgrade its production base and delivery systems with a Rs. 130 million capital infusion. 

Tri Star's Chairman Deshabandu Kumar Dewapura disclosed these future developments at a top level executives and heads of its 34 Factories and eight Service Centres meeting recently, a news release says. 

Included in the upgrading programme is the setting up of a Central Cutting Department for Colombo based factories with computerised machinery and equipment replacing separate cutting departments in each factory. Introduction of various types of modern sewing machines, purchase of a fleet of Prime Movers, trailers and containers to meet requirements of Marks and Spencer Global Losgistics Programme, carrying out training programmes and infusion of new skills and methods to improve quality control and packing are some of the other developments earmarked. Streamlining and improvement of financial control, administration, and import/export procedures etc. too are in place. 

Tri Star's main collaborator S.R. Gent is to finance GEP 300,000/- of the total cost of the upgrading programme as a grant while the balance will be met by Tri Star. 

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