The Sunday Times on the Web Business
29th August 1999

Front Page|
Editorial/Opinion| Plus | Sports |
Mirror Magazine

Front Page
Mirror Msgazine

Reckitt & Colman gets stamp of quality

Reckitts & Colman Sri Lanka, manufacturers of leading brand names in the pharmaceutical, household products and pesticide market, was accredited with ISO 9002 certification, the ultimate stamp of quality, for the superior quality of all processes used in the manufacture process of Mortein mosquito coils.

ISO 9002 accreditation assures customers that they are buying a quality product. This certification gives the company the distinction of being the only mosquito coil manufacturer in Sri Lanka to be awarded ISO 9002 accreditation.

SLSI offers centre for benchmarking

The Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI) has decided to set up a Benchmarking Information Centre for the benefit of Sri Lanka's business community. The Programme for Technology Initiative for Private Sector (TIPS) has agreed to provide the necessary expertise to set up this centre at the SLSI.

Benchmarking is a continuous systematic process of searching for and implementing "best practices" that lead to superior performance in business activities. In any country there are always model companies which excel in certain business processes.

Some may have best practices for human resources development, some for strategic quality planning and others may be role models for marketing or handling consumer complaints. The objective of this Centre is to share the expertise of one company with another without compromising the competitive edge of each company in the market situation.

A soap manufacturer may share its expertise with a textile industry so that the competitive edge will not be affected. However, to implement this programme the need for an organization acceptable to the business community would arise.

The Sri Lanka Standards Institution has decided to offer its services to the business community as the ultimate aim of this activity is to promote the quality of products and the productivity of business operations.

Further, the benchmarking practices are part of the criteria used in the National Quality Awards programme of the Institution and the setting up of this Centre would help potential award applicants. Similar centres are now operated in most other countries such as USA, Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong. But the exorbitant membership fee charged by these centres prevent Sri Lankan industries to seek their assistance. SLSI will provide the services at a minimum cost to the business community as most of the initial expenditure for the setting up of the centre will be met by TIPS Authorities.

Dun & Bradstreet and Lofac team up

Dun & Bradstreet (D&B), a leading provider of business credit, marketing and purchasing information and receivable management services has formed a strategic alliance with Lanka Orix Factors Limited (LOFAC), a leading factoring company in Sri Lanka.

Dun and Bradstreet is pursing a strategy of joint ventures in ASEAN and South Asia with Singapore as its regional headquarters, company release says.

The alliance will tap on Dun & Bradstreet's exhaustive business information database of over 53 million companies world-wide. Dun & Bradstreet's extensive information resources and expertise, coupled with LOFAC's capabilities provide an important business decision-making tool for Sri Lanka businesses to assess the creditworthiness and organisational strength of companies they wish to do business locally and globally the release adds.

Lofac, a subsidiary of Lanka Orix Leasing Company Ltd pioneered factoring in Sri Lanka in 1992. After having established itself in the domestic market Lofac introduced export factoring to the business community of Sri Lanka, thus pioneering another service vital to the export sector of the economy. Lofac is also a member of the Factors Chain International, the largest umbrella organisation of the factoring companies worldwide.

This year International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, invested 15% of Lofac's equity and also extended a medium term US$ loan to expand the export factoring operations. IFC made this investment after having evaluated Lofac's strengths and its pioneering role in the factoring industry.

The WIN WIN deal

"People are used to waking up in the morning and discovering that the same company no longer owns them..." Justin Meegoda, CEO, President Vanik Incorporation.

Justin Meegoda was referring to employees in more developed markets, but he may have also been hinting at the way the wind would blow in Sri Lanka corporate world in the future. 1998 was hailed as the year of takeovers and mergers and global corporates went on a buying and selling binge to consolidate in an environment of stifling competition.

Although the merger mania has not really hit this part of the world yet, last week's changing hands of Forbes and Walker Ltd. (F&W) for Rs. 625 mn caused quite a stir in the market. Why was Vanik selling off F&W which it acquired after a tooth and nail battle with Asia Capital only in 1997?

Rumour was rife that Vanik was badly in debt and needed cash to bail themselves out. Their income from F&W was way below the cost of funds to service the debt raised to buy the company, analysts say.

Others said Vanik did well to get rid of a loss-making plantation for such a high price.

And why does Milinda Moragoda head of Mercantile Merchant Bank Ltd, the legendary business tycoon N. U. Jayawardena's grandson think F&W is worth Rs. 625 mn?

The Sunday Times Business went behind the scenes to speak to the two deal makers and the head of the management team who bought out 26% stake in the company, to find out how they arrived at this WIN WIN situation....

Interviews by the Business Editor and Mel Gunasekera

Funds are my raw material-Meegoda

STB: The Sale of Forbes and Walker Ltd. to the Mercantile Merchant Bank has caused quite a stir in the market. There are all kinds of speculation as to why you did it? We would like to hear it from the horse's mouth.

Meegoda: If we are getting into the free market, the business community and the market must expect the changing of ownership. This happens in the western world very frequently and for various reasons.

People are used to waking up in the morning and discovering that the same company no longer owns them....

Why I bought Forbes:

Now here, I think we should look at first why we acquired the Forbes Group. At that time there were two attractions for us.

One was, that was the time (from 1995 onwards) when merchant banks were having problems. Because the capital market was going down and the deal flow was drying up. Or income from merchant banking was drying and so was our fund base.

When we embarked on our lending activities we had another constraint.

Since we are not a commercial bank we are not permitted to mobilise deposits from the public.

If the capital market is drying up and you are not allowed to mobilise funds then you have a problem, especially if your want to grow.

If you don't want to grow you can have a Rs. 100 mn Rs. 200 mn credit line from one bank another Rs. 50 mn from another bank and carry on business. But if you really want to grow then you grow out of that phase and then you can no longer raise that kind of money from credit lines.

Because your cost of funds will be too high and you will come up against single borrower limits etc.

That is why we went into the debt market. It happened out of necessity. It is not that we wanted to say that we were the pioneers or anything like that. It was out of sheer necessity.

The attraction in the Forbes acquisition was the certain amount of cash available immediately to us. This is almost like issuing a debenture to the market and getting money. That is why we issued that Rs. 900 mn debenture.

We had to diversify:

Secondly, we also saw that when the market is not perfect, diversification is good.

In a developed market diversification theoretically cannot be done.

When the market is very perfect, people's attitude is: you don't have to diversify, I will diversify my investment the way I want them. You carry on your core areas. If I want to invest in plantations, I will buy plantation stock and If I want to invest in merchant banks, I will invest in the investment banking sector.

But in developing countries, the scenario is different. Because the market is not perfect there are various imperfections and some companies cannot specialise in only one area for various reasons. I was glad to read in the Harvard Business review about a month or two ago, an article theorising on this same concept.

We went for Forbes almost by intuition as much as need and thought we must invest in some other areas although we had no management expertise in those areas.

Even today we believe that there are two sectors that are going to be strong in the medium to long term, that is the plantations and the investment sectors.

And Forbes Ceylon offered these two opportunities very nicely. They had broking and Kahawatte plantations.

But unfortunately what happened was that after we bought it, for the first six months last year the tea prices were okay but later those prices fell.

Forbes let go of two good plantations:

Before we acquired the company, Forbes Ceylon let go the opportunity of acquiring some very good plantations like Balangoda and Maskeliya plantations, for the previous owner was not interested in owning plantations although they had the opportunity to buy at the lowest price. Kahawatte was the last bit of plantation and at the time the negotiation were at a very matured stage and I asked the Americans to buy this Kahawatte and keep it.

After we got it we hired the best superintendent and manager to run the company and there is no doubt that the yields improved and the COP went down.

Bottomline down:

But unfortunately although there was a small profit in the first half, the second half prices crashed and there was 100% loss from Kahawatte.

This affected our group profitability and for the first time we had to record a loss. And this arose from direct losses and also from some goodwill write off after the acquisition.

But we were not so worried because tea prices were tipped to go up because of many reasons but that did not happen and the first half this year also we have the same story and we had to suffer significant losses.

STB: How is your consolidated bottom line for the first half of 1999?

Meegoda: As a result of Kahawatte and we also put money into Watawala (20% stake) the first six months there are going to be losses.

The loss is coming mainly from the plantations.

The moment we record this loss the market will react saying that Vanik is in trouble.

STB: Why are your first half results not yet out?

Meegoda: Watawala Plantations have not yet published their accounts for the half year and we cannot consolidate until that is ready.

So, we know how the market is going to react to these figures and they will not analyse the situation. They are very short term oriented. However much we may say we have long-term views, we have been under pressure because the profitability was low, subject to public rumours and attacks. I don't know, I can't understand this attitude. As a result we were under severe pressure and we thought we have to do something.

Although in the long-term we firmly believe that the plantations will make profits, in the short-term we have a problem. And we don't see it reversing in the short-term either. With Kahawatte, we are going to have further losses before it can turnaround.

One of the major reasons we were tempted to do this, I would say very emphatically, was a short-term decision.

The market always does not understand what we are going to do but we are operating in this market and so, we have to change our strategy.

STB: There is market talk that you sold off these companies to settle off some of your debt?

Meegoda: Now I gave you the rationale for our decision to sell. We sold off to actually arrest a bad situation from getting worse.

The monies tied up in those investments are not giving us a return.

Because of that we thought okay, now we will sell these and get the money and immediately we no longer have to consolidate the losses of these companies to our balance sheet. At the same time immediately some of these monies will go to reduce some of our borrowings.

We will immediately reduce some of our short term borrowing and that way it will help our half yearly earnings.

STB: Did any of these companies you sold off give you a return?

Meegoda: Kahawatte obviously did not but the others, the broking companies give us a return but much less than we expected. For example, the tea brokers income was lower than last year mainly because the tea prices were lower.

STB: There is market speculation on whether you actually made a capital gain on the deal?

Meegoda: People can very easily do some arithmetic and arrive at this answer.

Okay we are getting Rs. 625 mn. Of course some of it is in a deferred payment. Still even with the discounted value, at our cost of funds, we are getting about Rs. 565 mn.

It is no secret that we paid only Rs. 250 mn for Kahawatte.If you take the Rs. 250 mn out of the Rs. 625 mn we still have Rs. 375 mn. Now for what companies have we got Rs. 375? For broking companies and a trading and services company. They have no assets.

STB: When you bought Forbes Ceylon Ltd. (which was the listed company) and Forbes and Walker Ltd. (unlisted) did you make a mandatory offer to the shareholders of Forbes Ceylon?

Meegoda: No, we made a general offer. Before making that offer we negotiated with the majority shareholder which was the American company Global Equity Ltd. about the price. If the majority shareholder did not agree with the price the deal would fail. We got an acceptance from the majority holder on the price and then made a general offer to the others.

Forbes and Walker was a private company and we made a private deal with them.

STB: Do you still retain a part of Forbes and Walker Ltd.?

Meegoda: We don't retain anything. F&W had, when we acquired four companies. The tea broker, the commodity broker, the stockbroker and Forbes Investment Services.

After the acquisition we restructured, we took Forbes Stock Brokers out of F&W and brought it under Forbes Ceylon, and Forbes Investment which was just a paper company was also removed and made a holding company. Forbes Services which was under Forbes Ceylon was brought under F&W. Now all are plantation related.

Now for example the real estate company which owns the building is under Forbes Ceylon. And the F&W will become tenants.

So there are no fixed assets that were are transferring except for the Kahawtte Plantations.

STB: There was also some concern as to what this type of bouncing back and forth of companies could do to market sentiment?

Meegoda: As I said at the beginning, this is happening all the time. And the rationale behind the share market is that it is changing every day every minute. Somebody is buying and selling and changing the ownership all the time.

It so happened that this was a bigger chunk. So the ownership should have nothing to do with this, as long as the management is good.

One thing that we made sure was that this was not an outright sale. The condition was that anybody wanting to negotiate should allow a significant portion of the company to be bought by the management team. So I ensured that the management gets back a certain ownership 26% and there is a continuity of the management of those companies.

On the other hand, I would also like to say that what we sold except for Kahawatte were not quoted companies.

Also now the management company will be motivated to do better because they own 26% of the company. In a way investors should be more confident.

STB: How is this installment basis for the payment going to be worked out?

Meegoda: We are getting Rs. 225 mn up front. Of the Rs. 225 mn Rs. 100 mn has to be paid within 30 days. The balance will be in Rs. 50 mn half-yearly installments for the next four years. They will also take over our guarantees given to banks.

STB: It seems like Vanik has embarked on an acquisition spree with the Forbes takeover. Do you now feel that you have been expanding too fast?

Meegoda: Actually that is a wrong conception. We only acquired the Forbes Group. In addition, we bought into the Pan Asia Bank. We have always wanted a commercial bank and we had applied for a licence, but that was being delayed.

Then we saw this opportunity to get into the Pan Asian bank and that was a decision we took to be in all activities related to our core area of financial services.

STB: What about Watawala?

Meegoda: Watawala, yes, was an acquisition in the sense that we invested in it.

But it's not really an acquisition. We are not even on the board. Watawala is a company very well diversified, but making losses due to the present situation and that is not giving us any return at the moment. It's a fairly significant investment and one of the reasons for our losses

STB: Are you thinking of selling Watawala?

Meegoda: That we cannot sell without incurring a huge loss on this. I don't think there is any other alternative but to hold it. and hope for better return in the medium to long term.

STB: There are also rumours that you are going to sell off certain other companies in the Forbes Group like Soy Foods etc?

Meegoda: No. We are not going to sell any more companies. What else do we have?

Soy Foods is a small company. Selling it would not make any difference. You know why we decided to sell this is because it makes a big impact to financial performance.

This rumour about Soy Foods was so strong that I had to go personally to Ratmalana to the company and assure them that their company was not going to be sold.

STB: You are considered a dynamic innovator in the business world and thought to be the life and soul of Vanik? Are you grooming a number two to take over from you?

Meegoda: It is true that I gave leadership to this institution and now everybody can see only me. This is a question to which we have given much thought. And no organisation of this nature can run on a single individual.

And I must say that we have a fairly good team. They have also worked very hard to come to this level. But the thing is to have a number two. At the moment we are very intently looking at this issue. We are definitely going to get a number two but when and how, I cannot reveal unfortunately.

But yes, I recognise it and we are working on it. But if you look around what is the company in the financial sector that has a very clear number two? Most companies operate without a number two

STB: Investors and the market say that your share price has fallen below the average fall of shares with the downward trend in the market.

Meegoda: I think I agree. I think our shares are undervalued. It is true that we have been through a hard time and our profitability has been under pressure.

But if someone analyses this they will see that it is not a fundamental problem. And at the same time we are taking this type of steps and we are not afraid to take any drastic steps to redirect our strategies. And take timely action unlike some companies who dearly hold onto their assets and form an attachment to them.

Going for the boutique concept - Moragoda

STB: What was the attraction, the brokerages or Kahawatte?

Moragoda: Both. We were looking to integrate fully into the sector. We would like to explore the possibility of both. You see the barrier between broking and exports is coming off. So being the large broker gives us the possibility of going into large-scale marketing.

Now that does not mean that exporters need to get worried, because they are our clients. But at the same time one can do much more on the marketing side. Kahawatte itself is not a huge plantation company for us we were somewhat comfortable, because most of our produce broker clients were either from the Ratnapura or Kahawatte area.

So we know the area. Of course, there is also talk about gem mining and all kinds of other things in Kahawatte, which we can look at. But the focus will be on tea and what to do with the rubber area. We also have very good contacts with the oil palm plantations in Malaysia. We are involved with the Rasheed Hussein group.

The father-in-law of Rasheed Hussein is Robert Koch who is probably the sugar and palm oil king of the world. These are possible synergies we could bring in, but we will take it a step at a time. The timing was important, because we looked at plantations 18 months ago but the price was not right so this was another chance.

STB: What is your cost in funding?

Moragoda: I don't want to be too explicit. There is a 26% employee share ownership also. And that will be funded through the transaction itself. What was attractive about the deal was that we were interested in getting into the sector and the financial structure as to how it was made was very attractive to us. It was a win-win situation. We were looking for something and the whole deal was done in a very traditional way. It was a good investment for us.

STB: How did you come up with the Rs. 625 mn figure, you got many people stumped on that?

Moragoda: We had projections, cost of funds which we looked at, but the deal clincher was a few million here and there so it was a case of mopping up. We had various possibilities, which were decent. We looked at the cash flow projections and saw some opportunities. Justin was looking for one set of figures on a certain set of parameters we were looking at another, so there was a huge gap.

STB: How will you raise the money, will you raise it on the market?

Moragoda: No. We will probably go to a few institutions. Because the way we have structured it, the requirement is not much. Although the figure looks impressive. We may think of a debenture to raise money privately. There are gaps and there are possibilities of getting foreign investment in. We have that possibility as a backup but we would like to preserve that facility for any expansion Forbes will want. We may think of getting into other plantations. So we set the base. We don't want to front load it too much. Forbes will need money then.

STB: What the market found interesting was how the deal was done?

Moragoda: Yes it was a very good deal for both parties. We were looking for a particular acquisition and Vanik was looking for a particular sale. That is how the meeting of minds took place. In this case it was the employees who were interested in it. We have the experience here. Together we will control 37% of the market share.

We will run them as separate brands. That's again important. Because our produce tea brokers cater essentially to the lower grown tea with a smaller structure and they are essentially a different market. For instance, because it is situated on Galle Road, when a producer comes from Deniyaya he gets off the bus right outside our office. It was one of the reasons when I tried to move them to a better location they didn't want it changed. Whereas Forbes caters to a different class. So its interesting to see the difference. Sometimes I have watched at produce brokers. The father is the traditional Ariya Sinhala type Sinhala speaking and he comes in with the son who has gone abroad to study and brings along a laptop. It's a fundamental difference.

STB: Would you pitch for Watawala as well?

Moragoda: We'll see. Everything depends on time, we have to first digest what we have got.

STB: How much is your group worth?

Moragoda: We prefer to remain low key about it. It's a private group. After my grandfather's era, I tried to turn the company into a holding company. So the core overall company ownership is between Martin Trust and myself. Martin Trust is a very big player in garments here. But ours works independent of that. Apart from garments he is into areas like venture capital in the US. So its really from here that we started off.

STB: Are you hoping to list MMBL?

Moragoda: We are not looking at the holding company. We will probably look at listing some of our subsidiaries.

As an experiment we listed Ruhunu Hotels this year. It was more of an experiment. One was we hooked up with local high networth individual like Merril Fernando who is a competent investor in other areas. There are also people who are high profile who work with us. The success has been that we don't need to sign agreements with them, we have the ability to get back together with them some day.

STB: What is your approach towards the new management structure?

Moragoda: As far as our approach to management is concerned, we believe in share ownership of employees. I always tell them our role is that of a goal keeper, but then again as owners we must have a right to knock the ball out. That has been our approach throughout the group. We can't be a manager everyday. That is not possible and its not very healthy either. We are looking at the strategic point as well.

We are looking at expanding the employee ownership at some point. We will also be looking at the plantation options and also the financing. But we want to do it a step at a time. Although it looks like an adventurous transaction we are looking at it in a very conservative manner. We don't want to go on, on a buccaneering expedition.

STB: Was the deal hatched in secret?

Moragoda: Well it was done at a very high level. In most of our deals we act as intermediaries so its essential we maintain a level of confidentiality in our transaction. Being a merchant banker we don't go after everything. Even for foreign investment we only go after well-known brands.

For instance, with Fedex we started from zero when DHL was well set in the market. But we took a lot of risks, some years we didn't make money. That was our first experience. Since then we are looking out for new clientele. We recently tied up with Motorola then Dominos Pizza.

Dominos is an interesting concept and people are wondering if it will work. It's a total life style change. It's a young industry. You go to India there are lots of young people involved in it, and there is also a certain amount of technology involved in it as well.

STB: Will you look at listing F&W?

Moragoda: Down the road yes. This is not the time for a listing. Even for the employees their share value will go up once it is listed.

STB: How are you going to position your commercial bank in the midst of tough competition around?

Moragoda: It will be based on the boutique concept. We want to give value added services to our targeted clients. But, beyond that I don't think there is a particular road that banks can go to make headway. With the opening out of the banking sector, it's a question of which foreign banks will come in.

In the Sri Lankan market HSBC is a very interesting bank to watch. When they moved to Britain they took on the old British financial institution Midland Bank with a sort of a new more dynamic approach and they did well. Here also you can see they projected that. They are a good bank to watch. When people talk about our bank and where benchmarking is concerned I tell them to look at HSBC as they are catering to a niche market.

Deutsche Bank has decided to move into investment banking. Citi Bank has also done the same thing. We also invest very heavily on IT and training. Something like Rs. 3.5 mn was invested in training FEDEX staff alone this year so far. It's one of our biggest budgets now.

STB: Are you getting closer to becoming a conglomerate?

Moragoda: I don't think so. There is no Sri Lankan company that can call itself a conglomerate in the true sense. We are modest but we are focused on being professional and improving the quality of our products. We are looking for quality staff. The project opportunities are there.

No more bouncing about - Perera

STB: What drove you into pushing for this deal?

Perera: I felt that we the original working directors of Forbes & Walker (F&W Ltd.), including myself made a wrong collective decision to sell out to the Ondaatji Corporation. Subsequently we lost control of the company which we helped build up over a period of 100 years. This is the chance to bring back some of the ownership we had.

STB: How does it feel for a 100 year old company to be bounced back and forth from time to time?

Perera: Definitely bad. To avoid being bounced again we decided to buy 26%. I decided to marry two parties together. Both of them were firmly convinced they needed the support of the management. There is also a notion we were bounced around too often. In reality F&W was sold once to Ondaatji Corporation in 1994. Ondaatji Corporation was subsequently sold to an American corporation. We were not sold.

I believe the Americans bought it (Ondaatji Corporation) for a strategic investment for one of their North American investors. The Sri Lankan component wasn't really in their focus. They were looking for a right opportunity to divest their Sri Lankan operations who in turn sold it to Vanik. So these are the two structural changes.

Vanik having bought F&W structured it as a wholly owned subsidiary of Forbes Ceylon Ltd. until then we were not a subsidiary. F&W had some share in Forbes Ceylon which were owned by the Ondaatji Corporation. We are now buying it back from Forbes Ceylon on a 74:26 basis.

STB: What will be the ownership structure of F&WL ?

Perera: The structure will come in the form of a trust. All the details have not been worked out yet, we just have a broader idea. The details to set up the trust will be worked on once the sale of agreement is finalised. The trust will be formed with the senior directors comprising of F&W and the subsidiary companies. At the moment there are eight senior directors but there could be more.

STB: What will the trust be known as?

Perera: The name of the trust is yet to be worked out. The trust will hold the 26% owned by Forbes Senior management but there will be certain allocations for future changes.

STB: F&W had a similar trust before, what happened?

Perera: F&W was operated as a trust right up-to when it was sold to the Ondaatji Corporation. Though F&W was a private company it was run like a director-owned company. The system stopped when we were sold to Ondaatjie Corporation. There was a share swap, where F&W shares were swapped for shares in Ondaatjie Corporation. Whether we are going to revert to the former trust we don't know because at that time we had 100% ownership unlike now when we have 26%. With this, 26% we have a fair degree of control of the company. Now the senior directors were involved in the buy back of F&W. We are bringing back some ownership to the senior management as well as the future senior management.

STB: What are your future plans now that you own part of the company?

Perera: I hope with the synergies now with MMBL it will give us opportunities for further development. F&W Ltd. has to get the Forbes Plantation shares which is another important thing. Because it's Forbes Ceylon that owns the plantation company. A lot of things will have to be done within the next one month on the procedures. I feel there is a lot of value in marketing tea. There is also lot of value in doing regional businesses. Where rubber is concerned we are seriously re-looking at the what we can do with rubber we have at Kahawatte. We are doing a study as to what we can do with the existing rubber we have before taking any decisions. There may be a plan of reducing our exposure to it.

STB: How do you propose to fill the gap?

Perera: Areas like professional timber and forestry. There are enormous opportunities. It's environmentally possible, it has good return, we also feel there should be flexible government policy towards it.

STB: What are the monetary projections from this?

Perera: It has long term returns. The way you structure it, it has regular cash flows coming in. I don't know the technical details but the return on investments can be pretty high. We are also having presentations on how we can package it and sell it to attract investors into this project.

STB: What sort of investors?

Perera: We are looking at locals and internationals because I feel this is an area where we can attract people for an investment return as well as if you are interested in an environmental return. There is even a concept where you can virtually own a tree.

STB: Do you float a separate company for this purpose?

Perera: I don't know because we have not looked at the structural aspects of it yet.

DDB celebrates 50 years

June 1, 1999, marked the 50th Anniversary of the founding of DDB Needham, whose classic campaign for Volkswagen, Avis, Seagram revolutionized the advertising industry in the fifties and sixties. In the eighties and nineties, DDB was joined by other creative agencies to form a worldwide communications group unsurpassed in creative excellence. DDB is represented in Sri Lanka by Masters DDB.

Creativity at DDB however is hardly a thing of the past. At last week's Clio Ad awards ceremony in New York, nine DDB offices combined to win a record 32 Clio awards - more than any other Agency network. DDB also won Clio's first ever recognition as "Agency Network of the Year".

In addition, in a new five year survey of results from the world top 49 award competitions by Donald Gunn, the former head of worldwide creative resources at Leo Burnett and Shots Magazine, an UK publication, DDB once again confirmed their position as the most Creative Agency network. DDB is associated with some of the world's best known brand names including McDonald's, Volkswagen, Mobil, Compaq Computers, Michelin, Digital and Johnson & Johnson.

Some of the DDB international clients represented by Masters DDB in Sri Lanka include McDonald's, Mobil and Compaq Computers.

Business promotion mission to Japan

A business promotion mission of over 30 businessmen led by Mr. Das H T Wijeratne, President of the Sri Lanka-Japan Business Co-operation Committee will visit Japan from the 6th to 9th September, 1999.

The Mission will include Mr C P De Silva, Founder President and Senior Advisor and Chairman of Lanka Orix Leasing Co Ltd., Mr. S S Jayawickrema, Senior Adviser and Director of Hayleys Ltd., Mr Deva Rodrigo, Vice president and Senior Partner of Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Mr. Sarath De Costa, Vice President - Japan and Deputy Chairman, Colombo Dockyard Ltd., Mr Daya Weththasinghe, Vice president and Chairman of Lanka Tractors, Mr. Tissa Jayaweera, Vice President, and Chairman of Advanced International Management Services (Pvt) Ltd.

Government officials include Mr P Amarasinghe, Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Mr Edmond Jayasinghe, Senior Adviser, BOI, Mr Lakshman Hewawasam, Director - General EDB, Mr. Elmo Wanigasooriya, Project Director, Seethawaka Industrial Project, Ministry of Industrial Development, a chamber release said.

Leading Businessmen like Mr. M Dayananda, Chairman of Tea Tang, Mr Prema Cooray, Chairman Tourist Hotels Association and Deputy Chairman of Aitken Spence & Company Ltd, Mr Tony Whitham, Director of International Victoria Golf Club, in addition representative from East West Information Systems, Carsons, Finco, Andrews Travels, Lanka Oberoi, Singhagiri, Frigi, Tradlanka, R A Associates and Mr. M. Atton, Deputy Secretary General of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, will also participate. The Mission programme includes.

An Investment Seminar in Tokyo on 6th September, 1999 organised by the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sri Lanka Embassy in Japan UNIDO, ITPO Tokyo and JETRO followed by the, 12th joint meeting of he Japan Sri Lanka Japan Business Co-operation Committees on 8th September, 1999. These events will highlight Sri Lanka's Investment opportunities in trade and services.

On the 8th September, 1999 a meeting will be held with the Ota City Industrial Promotion Organisation, an industrial Zone of over of 200 sub contractors.

In addition a visit would be made on the 19th September, 1999 to Kitakyushu to meet with over with over 30 Software Companies.

Presented on the World Wide Web by Infomation Laboratories (Pvt.) Ltd.

Business contents page

Business Archive

Front Page| News/Comment| Editorial/Opinion| Plus | Sports | Mirror Magazine

Hosted By LAcNet

Please send your comments and suggestions on this web site to

The Sunday Times or to Information Laboratories (Pvt.) Ltd.