14th November 1999

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KLM offers exceptional facilities

Once more with their current Middle East promotion, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines offers all its passengers, service beyond expectation. All KLM passengers flying via the Middle East can now enjoy extra benefits, which no other airline can match.

Any KLM passenger travelling via Dubai on KL425 or Muscat will be given 24 hour transit visa, hotel accommodation and transfers from airport to hotel and back, all on the house. Passengers travelling via Doha on KLM will be given a meal in Doha even though the transit time is only a couple of hours.

What's more all members of our Flying Dutchman frequent flyer programme will be awarded double points when they fly KL 425 - Dubai/Amsterdam/Dubai, which could be spent on free air tickets or exciting leisure packages which include Worldwide and European holidays, sporting breaks, cultural activities, car rentals, self improvement courses and many more. This offer is valid till 31 November '99.

Fly to Middle East on Sri Lankan Airlines or Emirates and let KLM take you to the world!!

Uniglory Marine to sell 4 containerships for scrap

Uniglory Marine Corp. has decided to sell four of its 866-TEU S-type containerships for scrapping. This is the first time for the Taiwanese shipping line to sell its boxships for demolition purposes.

In a deal arranged by the Taiwanese subsidiary of Japan's Marubeni Corp., the first of the four ships, the Uni Spring, was delivered to C. Chih Sheng Steel & Shipping Co., in Kaohsiung on September 15, a Uniglory official said.

Of the three other ships, the Uni Superb will be sold for scrapping in November, to be followed by the Uni Summit next April and the Uni Shine the following November.

Uniglory, an intra-Asia container carrier affiliated with the Evergreen Group, has taken the decision in line with the policy set forth by Group Chairman Chang Yung-Fa. His decree calls for the scrapping of aged ships rather than placing them on the second-hand market for further trading.

The S-type series of ships are the first full containerships which were built in 1975 by Evergreen Marine Corp.

In scrapping the Uni Spring the first of the series, Uniglory will donate all its navigation equipment on the bridge, and the main and auxiliary engines for exhibition at the Evergreen Museum in Taiwan, the official said. Some of other auxiliary equipment will be donated to the National Taiwan Ocean University for educational purposes, he added.

Uniglory has been deploying the S-type ships for its shuttle services between Taiwan and Hong Kong and loop services linking the island and other Southeast Asian points.

Now the carrier is replacing the S-type with 10 new P-type ships with a capacity of 1,618 TEU.

The first of the P-type ships the Uni Pacific, was completed last July. The second ship is due for completion in November, to be followed by three in 2000 and five in 2001.

Boxships chartered by nantai sold for payment default

Taiwan's Nantai Line is selling off its vessels on long-term charters as the charterer defaults on its lease payments.

Of the Nantai-chartered boxships, the Nantai Venus and the Nantai Queen, deployed for Nantai's Asia-South Africa service, were sold to Greek owner Thenamaris and UK owner Zodiac, respectively, for about $16.7 million each. Both are 1,552-TEU ships built in 1994.

Nantai Line had been offering container services on the Asia-South Africa, Japan /Taiwan/Hong and Taiwan-China lanes. It had also been operating two lumber carriers on intra-Asian routes.

However, creditors seized the two containerships assigned to Nantai's South African service in late June, as the Taiwanese line failed to pay lease fees. More ships were later repossessed in Hong Kong and Shanghai, driving Nantai out of business in early September.

In the meantime, Nantai returned the 715-TEU Nantai Princess (completed in 1985) and the Nantai Prince (completed in 1986) used in its South Africa trade to their owners in Singapore and Norway.

Hong Kong's Supreme Court put the Nantai Venus and the Nantai Queen up for auction in October under order of their mortgagees - BOT Lease and Tokyo Lease, both of Japan, respectively.

Besides, Japan's major trading companies are reported to be taking procedures to bring two 835-TEU ships, the Nantai Dragon and the Golden Dragon (both built in 1997), seized in Cape Town, to the auction block.

The creditor of the two lumber carriers, the Nan Shin and the Nan Hui (both built in 1991), is BOT Lease, which restored a lien on the two vessels in late July. BOT Lease has since been operating the ships on its own, but is now said to be in negotiation on their sale.

Hapag indicates steady growth

Hapag Lloyd liner shipping is projecting a DM100 million (US$54 million) operating profit for the 1998/9 fiscal year. This increase will come from a projected move of some 1.5 million TEU (15% up year on year). Yielding DM 3.2 billion in turnover. Attributed largely to a sharp increase in intra-Asia trade and management initiatives, it has already pocketed DM 50 million in the period 1 January to 30 September 1998.

This is Hapag's fourth year of steady growth. The company as a whole expects a gross profit of DM 200 million for 1998/99, prompting speculation about merger and acquisition options.

Evergreen group to contribute NT $300 mil. for quake relief

The Evergreen Group of Taiwan announced on September 22 that it would contribute NT$300 million toward the rescue activities to assist victims of the earthquake that hit Taiwan on September 21.

Furthermore, Evergreen Group companies will establish the Evergreen Group 921 Earthquake Emergency Aid for various emergency relief activities. The Dr. Y.F. Chang Foundation will also put up a long-term unlimited budget and establish the Dr. Y.F. Chang Foundation 921 Earthquake Emergency Aid. The two teams will promptly participate in the various relief activities.

As the scope of the damage has expanded, the group has also decided to provide various relief goods and services from its member companies.

Evergreen Marine Corp., and Uniglory Marine Corp. will provide containers as shelters for quake victims, EVA Airways and Evergreen Hotels are distributing blankets, quilts, bath towels and sheets to the victims. Evergreen Catering and UNI Airways have also committed to delivering unlimited amounts of water, bread and other foodstuffs while the need exists.

At the same time, EVA Airways is offering free transportation for the rescue teams and to carry relief supplies from other countries. UNI Airways is providing transportation for medical supplies to the nearest airport in areas devastated by the earthquake. Other group companies will also offer their full cooperation in transporting rescue teams and goods.

Anyone interested in providing assistance or making a contribution may call the Evergreen Group 921 Earthquake Emergency Aid in Taiwan at 886-2-8500-2005. The telephone number for the Dr. Y.F. Chang Foundation, 921, Earthquake Emergency Aid is 886-22509-3

UASC down

Despite increased income, United Arab Shipping Co's (UASC) 1998 net profit fell 49%. UASC's movements of 565,000 TEU and 1.4 million tonnes of breakbulk cargo last year brought in US$ 642 million (5% over 1997). But profit was only $27 million. It blamed the Asian crisis and general industry overcapacity.

Compaq ships three millionth server

HOUSTON, Compaq Computer Corporation (NYSE: CPQ) today became the first company to ship three million industry-standard servers which is more than the combined shipments of IBM, HP and Dell. This milestone is another proof point of how Compaq delivers high-performance NonStopTMe Business solutions for its customers' most demanding applications, Planet Online, a backbone Internet Service Provider (ISP), purchased the 3 millionth server, a Compaq ProLiant 8500 8-way server, with Compaq/Intel Co-developed Profusion architecture and PenitumRIII XeonTM support. The purchase reinforces Compaq's growing strength in the ISP and Application Service Provider (ASP) markets, and builds upon its leadership in Industry Standard Server and Web server markets.

"This milestone speaks volumes about the broad customer endorsement of Compaq's ProLiant standards-based platforms," said Mary McDowell, vice president and general manager, Industry-Standard Server Division, Compaq Computer Corporation. "Working closely with our customers and partners Compaq has become the only company to ship 3 million industry-standard servers, making us the clear market leader. Compaq is committed to providing customers with the most manageable, reliable and highest performing servers to maximize the competitiveness in a nonstop world", a company release said.

John Beaumont, managing director of Planet Online accepted delivery of the 3 millionth server from Compaq's President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Capellas, at the Gartner Group Symposium/ITxpo in Cannes, France.

The innovative capabilities of the 8-way ProLiant server were particularly appealing to Planet Online, which handles over 400,000 e-mails per hour and receives more than one million hits per day on the Web sites that they host. Currently, more than 2,500 companies have their Web services hosted within the Planet Online network operations centre. Planet Online, headquarters in the United Kingdom, is the Internet company of Energies (the rapidly growing FTSE 100 telecoms company). Planet Online is the UK Internet Service Provider Association's Best Business ISP and is the ISP behind Dixons' Freeserve.

Compaq's 8-way ProLiant servers offers new levels of power across a broad range of applications, changing the way enterprise customers, ISPs and ASPs conduct eBusiness. Compaq introduced its first industry-standard server in 1989 and by 1996 sold, its one millionth server. Less than two years after this, the company reached its two million milestone, and just 13 months later shipped its three million servers. Today, one of every servers shipped is a Compaq ProLiant.

Selling the Apple buffet to households

He is not Satan, but he is trying to convince the Sri Lankan consumers that Apple is good. On a recent visit to Sri Lanka, the new Apple India's Managing Director for India and SAARC Countries for the western region in India, Naren Ayyar spoke to the Sunday Times Business Desk about his plans for the company's future in Sri Lanka. He is determined to create an identity for a computer as a necessity, but we will have to wait and see if the Sri Lankan consumer will take the bait. Mr. Ayyar has been with Hewlett Packard, Dell and IBM before he joined Apple India four months ago. At present he is touring the region to understand the market and what needs to be done by Apple to grow.We share with you some of the views he shared with The Sunday Times Business desk:

By Shafraz Farook

"In countries like India and Sri Lanka the home market is in itself not very clearly defined and developed. People are not using computers at home as much as they should be. Internet has not spread into homes as it should have and the grey market products have penetrated the home market and sometimes created a wrong perception among home users.

"Because the grey market products are not of a good quality, the first time home user experiences repeated failures and the end result is that he just gives up using computers at home. Therefore it is very important to have quality products at affordable prices to be able to penetrate the market and also tie it up with a financing scheme.

"My first task is to help the home user to identify who is going to use the computer and for what purpose." Very often people buy computers because the neighbour has it or somebody else has it. They should be very clear as to what they are looking for and what benefit they are going to get out of it.

He feels that the iMAC is the right solution for our sub-continent where the awareness of what they need to buy is not there. In addition he said that customers have the gurantee that you are getting a real Apple. Because the dealer, unless he is trained, cannot tamper with the Apple. The Apple concept is that you should not be tampering with the computer, he said.

"Personally I believe that the key benefit for the home user in the sub continent is to educate their kids. A parent in the sub continent is willing to sacrifice two dinners to get a better education for their children. That is the psychology of the sub continent."

He believes that surfing the web in itself is education. "It is an amazing tool, and everyday more and more business information is added to the web. It is true that the World Wide Web also houses undesirable information, but a child has other ways of getting there."

Mr. Ayyar said that education was the key and the child was the most important user of the computer at home and not the working man, who might be using a computer in office. "Probably a computer is the last thing he wants to involve himself in, unless he is a workaholic."

"Another thing that I am looking into is the affordability of an Apple computer." According to him, generally middle class homes purchase beyond their means because of financing schemes. So he feels that typically an average middle class family would not mind, in our sub continent, to spend 15 percent to 20 percent of their monthly income as an instalment to purchase a good computer.

"So my challenge is to bring the equated monthly income over the leased finance scheme which is less than 15 percent to 20 percent of their average monthly income."

"One of the things I am studying in Sri Lanka is what the average monthly income of an average family is and what kind of financing schemes are available here. Also whether it would make good sense to tie up with a local finance company or to get the Singapore company we have tied up with to start up business here. But I realise that their schemes do not work in Bangladesh. So we had to tie up with a local company there. My own feeling is that Sri Lanka is more global and open than India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. So something could be worked out here."

He also said that Sri Lankan people liked quality, style and design, and they might be willing to pay a small premium for that.

"So we have launched a new series of Mac's. Earlier Mac was available only in one model. Now we have three models and we think it will address the different needs in the market. The staff will be trained to understand what the needs are and then position the right product for the need. And if you don't have a product to suit their needs, they will be told that the company does not have a product for them.

This is unlike some companies who try to cook up something that most often ends up dissatisfying the customer." In terms of developing the market, he said the company was looking for a company who had a consumer background. "So a family can walk in and they just do not get a demo they also get counselling on what accessories they should buy, what kind they should have and then if you are interested that should be tied up with a computer education course. That is what I am looking for."

He said that Wijeya graphics was their only authorised Partner. They have specialised skills and understand design and publishing. "So I want to develop them as specialists, system integrators and solution providers in the design and publishing market. I do not want them to be a jack of all trades. I want them to be master of one market segment."

"In addition I am trying to move them to also look at the education field, because they have the ability to hire the technical people required to talk to schools and colleges."

To market Apple Computers to the consumer segment, he said they did not want an IT company at all. he says that they will try to sell it as an IT tool, which is not the way he wants to sell. "I want to sell the Apple computer to the home user the way a washing machine would be sold."

"So the complete psychological mindset of the company has to be different."

He said that a couple of companies were shortlisted, but added that it is too premature to mention names right now. "But we have asked them to submit business plans to us. Maybe by January something will be worked out."

"In addition I am trying to workout a plan with Wijeya to look at the education field, because they have the ability to hire the technical people required to talk to schools and colleges. This is in view of promoting Apple computers as an educational tool."

"Software is another aspect that the consumer should be made aware of., he siad. Software for Apple computers are available either in Apple authorised shops or on the web. "We have developed what is called Apple store on the web, which can provide the consumer with any software he requires. We hope to educate the customer in all aspects of Apple." Also speaking of software, pirating software is rampant in South East Asia. he said. "I would say it is a little less in India. We faced the same situation in India five years back. Three things helped in reducing the problem. One is creating awareness." He believes that the consumer should understand that buying pirated software is like stealing.

"The consumer has to look at his own moral values, is that what you want to do? Do you want to steal? This really helped and the Computer Society in India saw that it did."

He said that the software companies also had to reduce prices to such a level that it is not worthwhile pirating software. "So the companies reduced the prices considerably in India to make software affordable. And finally, the economy also developed so people could afford it.

"Therefore all three helped in reducing the use of pirated software. It will happen in Sri Lanka too but it will take time."

"In terms of promotion, first he said he had to find the consumer channels. "Once we find the consumer channel we have to create a lot of awareness through seminars, T.V spots and advertisements. We hope to have a series of seminars in January."

However Mr. Ayyar is concerned about the smuggling of computers by non-authorised companies into this country which is rampant.

"In fact, I met two people who are not authorised to sell Apple computers here. Generally they go to Singapore, buy from a Singapore distributor, bring it here and sell it to unsuspecting customers.

"They do not keep any spares and some of the products are outdated. Worse yet, they print their cards with the Apple logo and say Apple authorised dealer. I do not know what laws are there to stop these things. This is brand copyright plagiarisation, which is a very serious offence."

He said that if anyone was interested they could go through the authorised sources. HE believes that this could be stopped if the duty is zero. "That is the only way the market will develop."

"The company aims to achieve around two percent of the perceived annual home PC demand of 60,000 PCs initially. However as Mr. Ayyar said the company does not want to sell a computer, but sell a necessity to the home. He believes that the company's strategy will help develop a real market for computers and a better awareness of it.

According to Mr. Ayyar the difference between an Apple computer and other computers is that other computers serve a la carte menus. So if you want anything in addition you have to pay for it.

Whereas the Apple offers you a buffet. We fit it with everything a home user would want. In fact, now we have three models to choose from and we believe it is sufficient to address many of the home users' needs.

ADB funds agriculture research and Colombo port expansion

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a US$5.6 million technical assistance grant to support five studies at international research institutions, which are aimed at boosting agricultural productivity and farm incomes in the world by developing environmentally sustainable farming systems, policies, management and technologies.

The five independent but mutually supportive research studies are on: (i) Developing Sustainable Forage Technologies for Resource-Poor Upland Farmers in Asia; (ii) On-Farm Soil and Water Management for Sustainable Agricultural Systems in Central Asia; (iii) Irrigation Investment, Fiscal Policy, and Water Resource Allocation; (iv) Conservation and Use of Native Tropical Fruit Species Biodiversity in Asia; and (v) Building Performance-Based Management Systems in the National Agricultural Research Systems in Asia.

The studies will be conducted at the research centres of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), a grouping which provides financial support to 16 international agricultural research centres in developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. CGIAR currently has 53 members comprising 21 industrialized countries, 17 developing countries, 3 foundations, and 12 international and regional organizations including ADB, the news release says.

The centres are International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Colombia which will conduct research through its regional office in Philippines, International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) in Syria, through its regional office in Uzbekistan, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in the US, International Plant Genetic Resources Institute in Italy, and International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR) in the Netherlands.

During the next 25 years, food production must be increased by more than 75 percent to meet the demand of the additional 1.5 billion people by 2025 in Asia and the Pacific. The challenges for increasing food production will become more complex as agricultural production must be increased with less water and on less cultivated land. The technical assistance will address such problems as low livestock productivity and production in areas bypassed by the Green Revolution; salinity, waterlogging, and erosion problems in Central Asia; low water quality and quantity for agriculture; loss of fruit biodiversity due to deforestation and land clearing; and declining performance of some national agricultural research systems in Asia.

The Asian Development Bank has also agreed to provide a US$1.46 million technical assistance grant to prepare development plans for the South Harbour at the port of Colombo.

The study, financed by the ADB's Japan Special Fund, will determine the viability of building a breakwater for additional container terminals to be constructed, a news release said. With an annual growth of 14.4 percent over the last 10 years, Colombo port has experienced a big increase in container traffic. During 1996 and 1997, container traffic increased by 29 and 22 percent, respectively. Expansion is urgently needed to meet expected rising demand upto the year 2003, the release added.

The total cost of the study is US$ 1.83 million equivalent and cofinancing may be provided by the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund of Japan, the World Bank and others. The executing agency of the grant will be Sri Lanka Ports Authority.

Containerized maritime traffic between Europe, America's East Coast and East Asia is growing rapidly. Sri Lanka, and Colombo port in particular, with its location near the main container shipping routes, is trying to develop facilities to accommodate this growth.

Online gambling growing rapidly

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) - From casino-type games such as slot machines, blackjack and video poker to betting on the National Football League, World Cup soccer and professional golf, gambling is big business on the Internet and getting bigger.

No one knows for sure how much money is being gambled on the Net. One research firm estimates that worldwide online gambling revenue will total $1.2 billion this year and could grow to $2.1 billion in 2001.

There are 400 Web sites offering gambling, according to one estimate. All it takes is a credit card and anyone can gamble from the convenience of home, 24 hours a day.

In an effort to skirt U.S. laws against gambling, many companies with Web sites have set up operations offshore in such exotic Caribbean locales as Antigua, Curacao and the Dominican Republic. But federal law enforcement authorities are pursuing the companies anyway.

In March 1998, 22 owners, managers or employees of 11 Internet sports betting firms headquartered in the Caribbean were charged in federal court in New York. Nine of them have pleaded guilty, cases against four are pending and seven of those charged remain fugitives. Two cases were dismissed.

Federal authorities say they will continue to monitor and prosecute offshore betting operations, but they acknowledge it is a formidable task.

Institute of management launches new events

The Sri Lanka branch of the Institute of Management, UK, is launching several events aimed at elevating its status in the new millennium as the country's main management institute, the institute said in a statement.

"We want to make the local branch of the Institute of Management, UK the best recognized management organisation in the country aimed at developing managerial skills and promoting excellence in management," says Fayaz Saleem, the institute's local president.

Included in the range of activities for the next few months are a fundraiser - seen crucial to carry out the work of the institute -, seminars and workshops, and increasing by 25 percent its current membership of 210.

The UK Institute is one of the most prestigious institutes in the world with a worldwide membership exceeding 86,000 and having 10 chapters. Its only branch is in Sri Lanka.

Branch status - which is higher than being a chapter - was exclusively granted to the Sri Lankan office in November 1998, a mere three years after the Sri Lanka chapter was actually established.

"This is a rare honour indeed. The UK institute was impressed by the enthusiasm and dynamism of the executive committee in promoting the art and science of management to local managers," said Saleem, a management consultant who runs his own company - MIL Holdings Ltd and Executive Search Ltd.

The Sri Lanka branch has a cross section of the cream of Sri Lanka's business community including respected leaders like Ceylinco chairman Lalith Kotalawela and Central Finance chairman Chandra Wijenaike among its members. It's fundraiser "Management Ball '99" was held on November 12.

Apart from this, another crucial development is plans by the management institute's UK headquarters to apply to the Privy Council for chartered status on the basis that the institute comprises professional managers with an equal amount of academic/professional qualifications, thereby making it a major policy advocacy group on management issues.

If the Institute of Management were to be conferred with chartered status, it would be recognized as the national authority on management education and professional development, the Sri Lanka statement noted.

It said this would make the British institute responsible for setting and maintaining standards for the profession and for supervising the assessment of individuals.

What impact would that have in Sri Lanka? "That would be a unique achievement and make our institution similar in status to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Sri Lanka. It would be the first management institute here carrying this prestigious tag," said Saleem.

"We would then be recognizing chartered managers similar to chartered accountants."

Saleem urged junior and middle managers to join the association now before chartered status is obtained as entry then would be restricted to those with higher academic and professional qualifications.

The Association, which has an office at "Bible House", Kollupitiya with a full-time administrative secretary, in recent months organized an Y2K contingency plan workshop and a seminar on international trade and risks and responsibilities of irrevocable letters of credit.

But perhaps its most interesting event was a presentation by international cricket dynamo Tony Greig who spoke on cricket and its management. Greig's informal presentation - while he was in Sri Lanka covering the Aiwa triangular Cup tournament as a television commentator in September - was a well-attended one.

Saleem, who took over as president in July 1999 from M.V. Theagarajah, deputy chairman of Browns Group, is looking forward to taking the institute to new heights in the new millennium.

"This is a momentous occasion, something that we are all proud to be a part of. Our vital contribution to the 21st century would be to improve the skills of Sri Lankan managers and ensure their place of importance in the country's economy," he said.

Japanese government gifts Micro filming equipment to museum

The ancient literary treasures of Sri Lanka are getting a picture book preservation. The Government of Japan as a gesture of friendship gifted Canon micro -filming equipment worth US$ 5 million to the Museum of Sri Lanka to preserve its volumes of books and manuscripts that are in a dire state.

The Museum's 500,000 books and manuscripts will be micro-filmed and made available to the public holding a museum library membership. The 500,000 books and manuscripts will be micro-filmed and made available to the public holding a museum library membership. The 500.000 literary artifacts include Sri Lanka's oldest printed book, the Singaleesh Gebeode Book, (a prayer book) published in 1737. A fully-fledged library and reading room have been set up and are in operation. Museum staff have already filmed many books which require immediate attention. The Chief Librarian of the National Museums Department, Padma Akarawita said that the project would take at least five years to complete.

The equipment will be maintained by the local agents for Canon Microfilming equipment, Chitraphoto (Pvt.) Ltd., a member of the Wijeya group. Chitraphoto was also instrumental in training the museum staff as they were trained by the Manager of Chitraphoto, Mr.Azeez, who has over 20 years experience in the field of microfilming. On a request made by the museum authorities Chitrahoto had agreed to train the seven member staff free of charge.

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