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Carson’s ensure no job losses or pay cuts despite crippling blows to business

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Carson Cumberbatch PLC, the 107-year old Colombo incorporated conglomerate had suffered a group loss of Rs. 2.65 billion in the year ended Mar. 31, 2020, down 349% from a profit of Rs. 1.07 billion a year earlier. according to the company’s just released annual report.

Despite possibly the worst challenges faced during its long history, Carson’s Chairman Tilak de Zoysa said he was proud to report that none of their group employees lost their jobs or had to take pay cuts on account of the Covid impact – something they considered a key corporate social responsibility.

Carson’s are among the world’s major players in palm oil with extensive plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia and substantial processing capability. The business had been impacted in the year under review by two consecutive years of low prices for crude palm oil (CPO), de Zoysa reported.

“(Prices) started recovering during the third quarter, and were yet again pushed down by the demand downturn following the spread of the pandemic,” he said. “In addition global crude petroleum prices were not incentivising vegetable oil during the year.”

These remained range-bound at the USD 50-60 level, subsequently crashing since Jan. 2020 despite the emergence of an industry benevolent bio-diesel programs in Indonesia. Also adverse weather hurt crops impacting the fresh fruit bunch production.

In addition to growing and processing palm oil, Carson’s are into the ancillary oils and fats industry, beverages (being the dominant stakeholder in the Lion Brewery), portfolio and asset management, controlling the wealthiest investment company quoted on the Colombo Stock Exchange, leisure (Pegasus Reef and Giritale Hotels) and real estate owning prime commercial properties in Colombo.

The chairman said their three main areas of activity were oil palm plantations, beverages and portfolio and asset management with a value of Rs. 7.2 billion.

Despite the negative results resulting from a variety of factors including the Easter bomb and the pandemic, de Zoysa said that as a “resilient conglomerate, the group remained focused and positive by looking ahead despite the immediate economic and operational strain created by the pandemic on markets and businesses.”

He vowed to move forward achieving a balance of utmost health and safety of their operations and the optimum level of business and customer satisfaction.

Carson’s has a strong balance sheet with total assets totaling Rs. 172.9 billion and total liabilities Rs. 117.7 billion. A revenue reserve of Rs. 23.1 billion is also carried in the books. An interim dividend of 75 cents per share was paid during the year under review, down from one rupee a share a year earlier.

Bukit Darah PLC, a member of the Carson’s group, is the single largest shareholder of the company where there is a total if 1,997 shareholders in the register including the EPF (2.85%) and several non-resident investment funds. The Selvanathan family, founders of the Sri Krishna Corporation, is the ultimate controlling shareholder.

The directors of the company are: Messrs. T. de Zoyza (chairman). H. Selvanathan (Deputy Chairman), M. Selvanathan, DCR Gunawardena, SK Shah, VP Malasekera, F. Mohideen, R. Theagarajah, Ravi Dias, AS Amaratunga and Ms. Sharada Selvanathan. Mr. K. Selvanathan is alternated for Mr. M. Selvanathan and Mr. S. Selvanathan for Mr. DCR Gunawardena.

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A ‘phygital’ experience at HSBC Premier Centre in Pelawatte

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With the demographic equation changing and the mass affluent customers now also choosing to live in the suburbs, HSBC is gearing its branches of the periphery of the city to service customers in this segment.

Pelawatte has become the latest HSBC branch to be upgraded to be an exclusive Premier Banking Centre to meet the growing demand of the affluent population in the residential hub of the Colombo metro region.

The newly refurbished Premier Centre was declared open by Mark Prothero, CEO for HSBC Sri Lanka and Maldives. Also present was Nadeesha Senaratne, Country Head of Wealth & Personal Banking, together with senior management and staff.

Nadeesha Senaratne, said, “HSBC has established a long history of 128 years in Sri Lanka, and in the past few years we have seen the value of strategically expanding to meet the specific needs of our customers.”

HSBC’s Pelawatte branch was opened in 1998 and is conveniently located at no 418B Battaramulla – Pannipitiya Road, Battaramulla which currently serves a diverse portfolio of retail banking customers. With the new improvements undertaken, HSBC hopes to provide customers with an inclusive banking service, and attract potential new customers with its Premier banking proposition and worldwide banking service, within the expanding residential neighborhood.

The Premier Centre in Pelawatte models HSBC’s flagship Premier Centre located in Flower road- Colombo 7, with an expansive ‘open’ space concept for casual open dialog with customers. The space has been optimized to enhance the customer experience by providing a ‘phygital’ banking experience with private meeting rooms specially designed to give customers an exclusive banking service with the assistance of a dedicated Relationship Manager. It also features video conferencing facility, which enables customers to connect with their Premier RM’s internationally, while enjoying the highest standards of privacy. Customers can walk out of the branch with the ‘Bank in their pocket’ by opening an account in less than an hour and begin transacting digitally, almost instantly.

(HSBC)

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SLT & Mobitel successfully conclude digitization of Lankagama Village

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Fulfilling its role as the nation’s pioneer in Telecommunication Services, the SLT Group successfully completed the President’s directive of providing high-speed connectivity solutions to the Lankagama Village recently.

An event was held to mark this proud achievement on 20th September 2020 in the presence of Oshada Senanayake – Director General of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL), Lalith Seneviratne – Group CEO of SLT & Mobitel, Kiththi Perera- Chief Executive Officer of SLT, M.B.P. Fernandez – Chief Operations Officer of SLT, Prabath Dahanayake – Chief Marketing Officer of SLT, Sudarshana Geeganage – Chief Financial Officer of Mobitel, Shashika Senerath – Chief Marketing Officer of Mobitel, Rasantha Hettithanthrige – Senior General Manager, Engineering & Operations at Mobitel along with SLT & Mobitel technology partners Huawei, ZTE and the community.

The SLT Group provided high-speed 4G/LTE broadband and enhanced voice services within record-time despite the fact that the Lankagama Village is located at the southern boundary of the Sinharaja Rain Forest, in the Neluwa Divisional Secretariat, Galle District; posing severe logistical challenges. Further, the SLT Group also offered SMART classroom solutions consisting of tabs, laptops and school supplies including stationery thereby opening up a world of possibilities for the students in the remote village. (SLT)

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Local tyre manufacturers say ‘no need’ to import motorcycle and three-wheeler tyres

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by Sanath Nanayakkare

Local tyre manufacturers request the government not to import motorcycle and three-wheeler tyres as they have the capacity to supply locally produced premium quality tyres for the segment, without leaving room for any supply shortage in the market.

“We have the combination of quality and technology to meet the demand in the market”, a leading local tyre manufacturer said.

“We have the capacity to meet the local demand for motorcycle and three wheeler tyres and we are already supplying the products to the market, fully meeting its demand,” they said.

“In 2019, Rs. 1,062 million worth motorcycle and three-wheeler tyres and tubes were imported to the country. This means we are able to save Rs. 1,062 million in foreign exchange this year by producing all of these locally”, they pointed out.

“We produce sufficient quantities of high-demand tyres for the local market without any supply shortage. We are supportive of the government’s drive to encourage Sri Lankan companies to manufacture goods that can be manufactured in Sri Lanka. We request the continued support of the government to keep our efforts up in this direction,” they said.”Only a few types of tyres of special sizes are not produced locally. Those products are imported in small numbers. There is lesser demand for these tyres as they are not widely used”, they said.

“Apart from establishing ourselves in the local market, we are in the process of further improving our production capacity to boost our current export volumes. As a result of it, we will be able to create new jobs for thousands of Sri Lankans”. they said.

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