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Aitken Spence achieves 44% growth in 3Q PBT from non-tourism sectors

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Aitken Spence PLC non-tourism multi-industry sectors reported a Profit-Before-Tax (PBT) of Rs. 1.3 Bn in 3Q, a growth of 44% compared to the previous year in the midst of challenging economic conditions. These sectors also reported an EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest Expense, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation) of Rs. 1.7 Bn compared to Rs. 1.4 Bn of EBITDA recorded during the third quarter of previous year.

An Aitken Spence press release said: ‘The overall contribution from the non-tourism sectors was notable during the second lockdown period of the country. Companies in the maritime and freight logistics, power, money transfer, elevator agency, printing and packaging, and plantation sectors performed exceptionally well compared to last year with an increase in PBT for the quarter while maintaining positive performance during the nine months ending 31st December 2020.

‘The Group’s latest iconic venture, Sri Lanka’s first waste-to-energy project with an investment of approximately Rs. 15 Bn will be formally launched this month by the Prime Minister. This project will provide a sustainable solution to the Colombo city’s waste management problem while adding renewable energy to the country’s energy profile.

‘Outstanding performance was seen from the strategic investments sector that recorded a profit before tax growth of 248%. The Group’s plantations segment recorded an excellent performance during the quarter with a substantial profit growth. During the quarter Elpitiya Plantations PLC clinched the award for Best Integrated Report – Plantations sector at the CMA Excellence in Integrated Reporting Awards 2020. The company was also presented with a certificate of Merit.

‘The printing and packaging segment recorded a significant improvement in its performance generating healthy profits during the quarter compared to the negative returns generated in the third quarter of the previous financial year. Furthermore, the maritime and freight logistics sector also performed remarkably to record a 10% increase in profits before tax for the period.

‘The Group’s tourism sector EBITDA for 3Q was a loss of Rs. 447.2 mn. However, subsequent to the reopening of Maldives, the hotels segment is gradually recovering alongside the local tourists handled by the Sri Lankan tourism sector. Amidst many challenges, Aitken Spence Hotels were awarded at the prestigious Luxury Lifestyle Awards – Heritance Aarah (Maldives) named the winner in the category of the Best All-Inclusive Resort in Asia and Desert Nights Camp (Oman) winner of the Best Luxury Hotel in Oman.

‘The destination management arm of the Group Aitken Spence Travels recently facilitated the first of many weekly charter flights from Kazakhstan an arrangement that will continue until April and which is expected to generate significant foreign exchange earnings to the country.

‘The Group recorded a loss from operations of Rs. 0.2 bn for the third quarter compared to the profit from operations of Rs. 1.8 bn recorded in the same quarter of the previous year. The Profit-Before-Tax (PBT) for the third quarter was a loss of Rs. 0.5 bn compared to a profit of Rs. 1.2 bn in the previous year, which was due to the pandemic weighing on the tourism sector.

‘Aitken Spence was the only Group that had two companies – Aitken Spence PLC and Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings PLC in the top 10 ranking in LMD’s Most Awarded. Aitken Spence PLC was recognised among the 10 Best Integrated Reports at the CMA Excellence in Integrated Awards 2020.

“Amidst the challenges faced this year and especially during the third quarter of 2020-2021, the innovative and pragmatic thinking that we had introduced during the initial months of the pandemic came to fruition whilst seeing a remarkable growth in the non-tourism sections. We expect a stronger resilience in the next quarter and financial year,” said Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake, Deputy Chairman and Managing Director of Aitken Spence PLC.

‘Listed in the Colombo Stock Exchange since 1983, Aitken Spence is a blue-chip conglomerate anchored to a heritage of excellence spanning over 150 years. Driven by over 13,000 employees and has a strong regional presence across 9 countries, in hotels, travels, maritime, freight and logistics solutions, plantations, power generation, insurance, printing, apparel and other services.’



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Latest model of OPPO F- Series tipped to launch in March

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It is learnt that OPPO is set to unveil the latest addition to their range – the F19 Series in early March 2021. A rectangular camera module with four lenses, LED flash, and AI support adorns the rear design of the F19 Pro while a smart band which may get launched simultaneously – is seen alongside, in a post revealing the series.

OPPO F19 Pro looks quite elegant its design & features a button on the right side which is believed to be the power on/off button. As per the poster image, there is no physical fingerprint sensor at the back panel, which suggests the phone might come with an in-display fingerprint sensor.

While OPPO might be working on the low-light camera performance, it is also suggested that it will have features like AI Colour Portrait Video, and Dual-View Video, which allow recording videos from both front and rear cameras.

Wrapped in Ultra Slim Body, the device is tipped to come in at least two shades.

The OPPO Smart Band could also be expected in Sri Lanka alongside the launch of the new F19 Series, similar to the OPPO watch which was released with OPPO F17 Pro. The Smart Band is said to handle message notifications which will include incoming call notification & call rejection, apart from having whole host of other features. Both products are expected to be in stores from mid- March 2021.

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Dialog Axiata revolutionizes digital payment acceptance for small business owners

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eZ Cash, Sri Lanka’s Largest Mobile Money platform has enabled instant access for small businesses to accept contactless and remote payments using LANKAQR. With the Central Bank of Sri Lanka led initiative to digitize small value payments in Sri Lanka through an inter-operable, standardized LANKAQR, Dialog Axiata PLC (“Dialog”) is committed to empowering the nation with simple, easy solutions which add value to small businesses who are now able to self register for this service through their mobile phones.

Small business and self employed persons such as retailers, street vendors, three wheelers etc. with a Dialog mobile number can now download the eZ Cash app and use a simple registration process to sign-up for an eZ Cash Classic Wallet at no additional cost. On using the “MyQR” feature via the eZ Cash app, they can start accepting payments from their customers using their unique LANKAQR code. Payments can be accepted from any mobile banking app or payment wallet in the country which has enabled LANKAQR transactions, and proceeds will be received instantly to their wallet. Transactions using the LANKAQR payment network will be charged a nominal fee of 0.5% of the transaction value. Businesses are able to withdraw cash from the wallet at over 20,000 eZ Cash retailers located island wide or at any commercial bank ATM. Proceeds from the wallet can be used to settle over 100 utility or institutional payments to companies such as CEB, LECO, the Water Board, SLIC, AIA, Ceylinco Insurance, HNB Finance, CDB, AMW Finance etc. eZ Cash Wallet holders can also send money to an eZ Cash Wallet or pay for good and services at any retailer in the country which has enabled LANKAQR payment acceptance.

The revolutionary MyQR solution can also be used by online businesses to accept payments by posting a saved image of their LANKAQR code on their website or Facebook page. Businesses can also accept remote payments from their customers by forwarding their saved LANKAQR code via email and WhatsAapp so that customers can scan the image of the LANKAQR code and make payments through their bank’s mobile payment app which has enabled LANKAQR. Payments to the value of Rs. 10,000 per day can be accepted into an eZ Cash Classic Wallet while payments in excess of this value and up to Rs. 50,000 per day can be enabled through an eZ Cash Power Wallet. Customers can enhance their Classic eZ Cash Wallet to a Power Wallet by visiting any Dialog Customer Experience Centre or Service Centre.

 

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Hirdaramani takes bold new steps in transparency

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The Hirdaramani Group has yet again taken bold strides towards energy accountability by being the first in Sri Lanka to receive International Renewable Energy Certificates (I-RECs) for its energy usage. With this robust tracking standard, the group hopes to add new layers of accountability and credibility to its operations, living up to the commitments outlined in the company’s own sustainability vision.

As Energy Attribute Certificates (EACs), I-RECs serve to increase transparency in the energy sector and provide clarity about the use of renewable electricity among end-consumers. The I-REC Standard (www.irecstandard.org) ensures that issued certificates comply with major international sustainability and carbon accountability standards and adhere to stakeholder expectations of industry best practice for the avoidance of double counting, double certificate issuance and double attribute claiming. The system also helps individual companies seeking to improve their environmental credentials, while raising awareness among consumers and industry players.

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