Ali Asghar (Asgi) Akbarally has been appointed as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Amãna Bank upon the retirement of the Bank’s Founder chairman Osman Kassim. Leaving a strong legacy in the Islamic banking industry in Sri Lanka, Osman Kassim retired from Amãna Bank having completed the maximum 9 year statutory period of holding a directorship in a Licensed Commercial Bank as per CBSL directions. Despite retiring from the bank, Osman Kassim continues to be one of the bank’s top 10 shareholders.
Asgi Akbarally joined the Board of Amãna Bank in July 2020 as the nominee director from Akbar Brothers, taking over the position vacated by Tyeab Akbarally, who also retired upon completing the maximum 9 years of directorship as per CBSL regulations.
Asgi Akbarally is an Executive Director of Akbar Brothers (Pvt) Ltd, one of Sri Lanka’s largest diversified corporates, globally renowned for its tea exports. Asgi Akbarally holds directorship in multiple subsidiaries and affiliates of the Akbar Group covering sectors such as Manufacturing, Property Development, Hotels & Leisure, Healthcare, Power Generation, Packaging & Printing, Logistics and Environmental Services. He is the Managing Director of Renewgen (Pvt) Ltd and chairman of Windforce (Pvt) Ltd, Hermitage Resorts (Pvt) Ltd, Uthurumaafaru Holding (Pvt) Ltd Maldives, Lhaviyani Holdings (Pvt) Ltd and Cocoon Investments (Pvt) Ltd Maldives. He is also a director of Alumex PLC.
Asgi Akbarrally is currently the Honorary Consul of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordon. He holds a BSc Degree in Industrial Engineering from the California State University and is a Fellow Member of the Institute of Certified Professional Managers. A classic car enthusiast, Asgi Akbarally has authored a coffee table book on “Classic and Vintage Automobiles of Ceylon” and is the Patron of the Classic Car Club of Ceylon.
Commenting on his retirement and appointment of the new Chairman, the Bank’s outgoing Chairman Osman Kassim said “Serving Amãna Bank as its Chairman since inception has been a great honour, specially seeing firsthand how the Bank has grown amidst various challenges to where it stands today. I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to my fellow retiring directors Tyeab Akbarally, Harsha Amarasekera and Jazri Magdon Ismail who completed the regulatory tenure of 9 years in 2020. They have been great pillars of strength to the Bank since its formation. I am happy to welcome Asgi Akbarally to take over the stewardship of the Bank. It is heartening to know that Asgi, whose business acumen and experience gained through building and guiding a homegrown company to become a world renowned tea brand, will be leading the Bank’s forward journey. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the other Board Members, CEO Mohamed Azmeer, the Management Committee and Staff of the Bank for their continuous contribution, dedication and commitment towards the Bank’s growth and wish them all the best in taking Amãna Bank to greater heights.”
Also sharing his views newly appointed Chairman Asgi Akbarally said “Amãna Bank will be truly indebted for the visionary thinking and guidance of its Founder Chairman Osman Kassim. Stepping in to fill this void will be no easy task, but I am thankful for the foundation laid, from which we eagerly look forward to build upon to achieve the Bank’s strategic goals and continue making our ‘People Friendly’ banking model available for all Sri Lankans with wider reach and accessibility.”
With the recent changes, Amãna Bank Board of Directors constitute as follows : Ali Asghar (Asgi) Akbarally(Chairman), Rajiv Nandlal Dvivedi, Pradeep Dilshan Rajeeva Hettiaratchi, Aaron Russell-Davison, Mohammed Ataur Rahman Chowdhury, Syed Muhammed Asim and Khairul Muzamel Perera bin Abdullah.
Amana Bank PLC is a stand-alone institution licensed by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange with Jeddah based IsDB Group being the principal shareholder having a 29.97% shareholding of the Bank. The IsDB Group is a ‘AAA’ rated (S&P, Moody’s & Fitch) multilateral development financial institution with a membership of 57 countries. In June 2020 Fitch Ratings Sri Lanka declared an upward revision of the National Long Term Rating of Amãna Bank to BB+(lka) with a Stable Outlook.
Amãna Bank does not have any subsidiaries, associates or affiliated institutions, other than its unique flagship CSR venture, the ‘OrphanCare’ Trust. Retiring directors Osman Kassim, Tyeab Akbarally, Harsha Amarasekera and Jazri Magdon Ismail will continue to serve as trustees on the ‘OrphanCare’ Trust.
StrEdge calls for SMART restructuring of businesses
In a climate of unprecedented economic challenges, restructuring of businesses, from public enterprises to SMEs is critical, says the leadership of the StrEdge Group of Companies. In a press statement, StrEdge Group, which is a cluster of home-grown enterprises covering consultancy in Processes, People, Finance and Technology, notes that Business Process Reengineering (BPR), Human Resource Restructuring, Financial Restructuring and Automation are crucial not merely to support rebuilding the country but also from a long-term sustainability perspective.
“Multi-dimensional restructuring is a prudent and a tested method to come out of the difficult circumstances the entire country is facing right now. This will create results in national interest if all can adopt SMART methodologies, from entrepreneurs to government hierarchy,” Group Director /CEO StrEdge Advisory, Sumedha Wijesekera notes in the press statement.
StrEdge which brings hands-on experience restructuring multiple businesses from corporates to SMEs, believes that a proper analysis of the existing banking finance structures of a business cannot be undermined. “The rising finance costs and all the macroeconomic constraints coupled with prevailing uncertainties have warranted restructures from both the business perspective as well as that of the bankers’,” observes Wijesekera. From a business perspective, such restructuring would enable solutions for cash flow constraints, save bank interest cost, promote sustainable growth and more importantly, businesses to be future-ready to capture the market potential in the next upward curve of the economy, he says.
From the bank’s perspective, restructuring helps to offer better structures with effective monitoring to match the business requirements, prevent NPLs and build up strong and more profitable relationships by being able to act as an advisor in this setting.
Furthermore, it is very important to revisit the costing of goods and services in any organisation in view of increased raw materials prices, exchange rates, finance cost, loss of sales, diminishing margins and loss of capacity. Introductions of dynamic price mechanisms for each product and service channel of today’s businesses, will give a lot of clarity for the leadership to manage them successfully.
The StrEdge Group which has in depth experience in BPR covering multiple industries including both banks and non-banking financial institutions, believes that SMART restructuring will help organisations re-align their processes with present and future demands, says StrEdge Group Director, Janaka Epasinghe. The current demand to achieve more with less resources, has triggered this as a need, he adds. “Eliminating waste, increasing the service levels, reduction in costs, increased visibility, internal and external customer satisfaction and future-readiness are few of the results that can be derived with this activity. Furthermore, this will strengthen the sustainability of any organisation,” Epasinghe remarks.
Current economic constraints have taken a huge toll on the human resource which is the heart of any organisation, compelling to revisit the HR pillar for sustainability and growth, observes Epasinghe who notes that if organisations are not in a position to compensate with economic benefits, it’s always important to bring other interventions to maintain productivity.
“The biggest bonus here is that even the workforce is ready to embrace changes despite the current challenging environment with a resilient mindset, which the leadership needs to capitalise on,” says the StrEdge Director.
The foreign currency constraints and the lack of resources due to the brain drain in the IT industry have pushed certain organisations to successfully opt for less expensive technology solutions with the help from external and internal experts. “These interventions will give results within a shorter period of time with a very low budget. Empowering the staff, cost reductions, visualisation, better service standards and increased profitability are some of the major benefits of these SMART technology interventions within a company,” observes StrEdge Tech Solutions Director/CEO, Udaya Samaradivakara. It will also help them to address multiple urgent needs from a people-process-finance and technology perspective, without waiting until times get better and this certainly will be a SMART option, notes Samaradivakara.
Oil demand forecasts aren’t as bullish as they seem
Oil has become an attractive alternative fuel because gas prices have soared. But Europe is rapidly replenishing its natural gas stockpiles.Recent revisions to oil demand forecasts aren’t as bullish as they might appear. Don’t get too excited about prices going up just yet.
The International Energy Agency, the US Energy Information Administration and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries all updated their short-term outlooks in the past week. Two of them cut their demand estimates for both this year and next, with only the IEA breaking ranks to increase its forecasts. And it wasn’t just a minor tweak from the Paris-based agency. It revised oil demand higher for this year by a whopping 520,000 barrels a day, with most of that rolled forward into 2023 as well. On the face of it, that’s very bullish for oil.
But there are plenty of reasons to be cautious. First, let’s compare the actual outlooks from the three sets of analysts and put them in their historical context. The IEA’s revision sets its new demand number for 2022 roughly halfway between those of the other two agencies. It also brings its outlook pretty much back to where it saw things in March. So, although the IEA’s revision was big, it’s not out of line with others.
The other noticeable feature in the forecasts is that oil demand growth is disappearing fast, as the chart below illustrates. Global oil demand grew year on year by about 5 million barrels a day in the first quarter of the year — all three sources agree on that — but that increase is now evaporating.
That’s not entirely unexpected when you consider year on year comparisons. Oil demand at the start of 2021 was still adversely affected by the Covid pandemic, so a rebound at the beginning of this year was entirely reasonable. Then economic activity and travel eventually picked up later in 2021, so we would expect demand growth in the corresponding quarters of 2022 to ease.
Digital Marketing Association of Sri Lanka hosts its 1st AGM
The Digital Marketing Association of Sri Lanka (DMASL), Sri Lanka’s national body of digital marketers hosted its 1st Annual General Meeting on the 4th of August 2022. Umair Wolid was ceremoniously inducted as the new President of DMASL for the year 2022/2023 at the event. Additionally, a new Executive Committee was also appointed during the course of the event.
The DMASL was formed in 2021 in an effort to drive the growth of the digital marketing industry. The association plays a pivotal role in recognizing, representing, and supporting Sri Lanka’s digital marketing professionals. Since its inception, the DMASL has implemented professional standards, ethical guidelines and ensured best practices for Sri Lanka’s digital marketing industry.
The newly elected President of the DMASL commented on the event: “I am truly honoured and grateful to have been selected as President of the DMASL. I look forward to working with the entire digital marketing fraternity to help uplift the digital marketing industry in Sri Lanka. The DMASL was created as a platform for individuals to expand their knowledge and provide guidance on running digital businesses in an ethical manner. I look forward to the upcoming year and all the opportunities and challenges it will bring”.
The newly elected EXCO committee for the year 2022/23 includes; Kabeer Rafaideen, Muhammed Gazzaly, Niranka Perera, Rajitha Dahanayake, Jaque Perera, Prasad Perera, Udara Dharmasena, Lalinda Ariyaratna, Infas Iqbal, Amitha Amarasinghe, Sanjini Munaweera, Umair Wolid, Gayathri Seneviratne, Arjun Jeger, Shalendra Mendis and Shehan Selvanayagam.
Over the next year, the DMASL is looking to improve upon its previous efforts and continue implementing training sessions, knowledge sharing, and networking activities which will bring together different sectors in the industry.. The association will also be looking into integration of digital marketing into businesses, as it is an important element in Sri Lanka’s economic recovery. Another key area of focus for the DMASL is working in tandem with selected Government Organisations to help strategize Digital firsts and Digital marketing driven projects.
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