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Global business developments dampen local bourse

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By Hiran H.Senewiratne

CSE trading activities witnessed some dull and negative moments due to the global business scenario yesterday. The main reason being that the Chinese real estate giant Evergrande is facing a financial crisis triggered by the current Covid-19 situation. The company is now facing a major crisis with regard to settling their debt, which factor has negatively impacted major stock markets in the world, market analysts said.

Evergrande expanded aggressively to become one of China’s biggest companies by borrowing more than $300bn (£217bn).Last year, Beijing brought in new rules to control the amount owed by big real estate developers, sources said.

The new measures led Evergrande to offer its properties at major discounts to ensure money was coming in to keep the business afloat. Now, it is struggling to meet the interest payments on its debts. This uncertainty has seen Evergrande’s share price tumble by around 85 per cent this year. Its bonds have also been downgraded by global credit rating agencies.

Due to these developments it is believed that investor confidence in the CSE is also affected. However, Sri Lanka and seven other countries have been taken off the ‘Red List’ of the United Kingdom’s travel advisory, boosting the country’s prospects for tourism. Therefore, the local hotel sector witnessed fresh buying interest, market sources said.

The pandemic restrictions on travelling into England and Scotland were to be eased, officials were cited as saying on Friday, replacing a complicated ‘traffic light’ watch list with a simpler regime for fully vaccinated arrivals. Amid those developments both CSE indices witnessed a downward trend. All Share Price Index went down by 34.08 points and the S and P SL20 declined by 23.32 points. Turnover stood at Rs. 1.7 billion with one crossing. The crossing took place in Sampath Bank, which crossed three million shares to the tune of Rs. 149.1 million, its shares traded at Rs. 149.70.

In the retail market top five companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were; Expolanka Rs. 295 million (1.8 million shares traded), Browns Investments Rs. 287 million (31.7 million shares traded), Hayleys Rs. 83.9 million (856,000 shares traded), Citrus Leisure Rs. 72.4 million (8.1 million shares traded) and Keells Hotel Rs. 70.76 million (4.8 million shares traded). During the day 106.6 million share volumes changed hands in 19000 transactions.

The Commercial Bank’s latest listed debenture issue had drawn 120 applications with a demand for Rs. 8.6 billion. The bank issued 50 million Basel III compliant Tier 2, listed, rated, unsecured, subordinated, redeemable debentures with a non-viability conversion feature at Rs. 100 each with an option to offer a further 50 million debentures in the event of an oversubscription. The debentures were of two types – Type A, a five-year instrument with a fixed coupon rate of 9 percent per annum (Annual Effective Rate of 9.2 percent) payable semi-annually; and Type B, a six-year instrument with fixed coupon rate of 9.50 percent per annum (AER of 9.73%) payable semi-annually.

Meanwhile, the US dollar is now selling at Sri Lanka Rs. 199.405, Central Bank sources revealed.



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Ransomware menace plagues Sri Lankan businesses: Kaspersky

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A total of 2,650 ransomware incidents were detected and blocked by Kaspersky cybersecurity solutions for businesses in Sri Lanka from January to December 2023.

Experts from the global cybersecurity company insist on organisations, regardless of shape and size, to beef up their IT security posture as ransomware, especially the targeted type, continues to be a damaging menace for organisations in the region.

“The era of widespread mass attacks by encryptors on both individuals and businesses is gradually fading away. Instead, we are witnessing a shift towards organised groups that execute hacks involving data theft and encryption, commonly referred to as double extortion. The rationale behind this evolution lies in the perpetrators’ ability to operate with greater efficiency, thereby enabling them to demand significantly higher ransom sums,” says Fedor Sinitsyn, Lead Malware Analyst at Kaspersky.

Last year, ransomware incidents in Sri Lanka include the compromise of 5,000 government-related emails as well as attacks on telecom servers.

“It’s evident that the threat actors behind ransomware attacks target all sectors in Sri Lanka. The total number of attempts may be low, but organisations need to realise the real impact of each successful ransomware infection, both on the financial and reputation fronts. It’s imperative for businesses here to look into cybersecurity technologies that provide absolute anti-ransomware effectiveness in third-party exams. Because not all cybersecurity solutions are created equal,” Yeo Siang Tiong, General Manager for Southeast Asia at Kaspersky.

Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business, Kaspersky Small Office Security and Kaspersky Standard demonstrated complete protection against ransomware in 10 different real-life attack scenarios during regular Advanced Threat Protection assessments held by AV-TEST.

To combat ransomware and assist those affected, Kaspersky, alongside Europol, the Dutch National Police, and others has the No More Ransom initiative, launched in 2016. On the official website, participants provide decryption tools, guidelines, and instructions to report cybercrimes, irrespective of the location of the incident.

By the end of 2023, Kaspersky marked the seventh anniversary as a key contributor to the No More Ransom initiative. This period witnessed expanded access to Kaspersky’s free decryption tools, in line with its commitment to combating ransomware. These tools, targeting 39 ransomware families, have been integral in assisting nearly 2 million victims globally, as reported by Europol, underscoring the profound impact of the No More Ransom initiative supported by Kaspersky.

To protect yourself and your business from ransomware attacks, consider following the rules proposed by Kaspersky experts:

Do not expose remote desktop/management services (such as RDP, MSSQL, etc.) to public networks unless absolutely necessary and always use strong passwords, two-factor authentication and firewall rules for them.

Promptly install available patches for commercial VPN solutions providing access for remote employees and acting as gateways in your network.

Always keep software updated on all the devices you use to prevent ransomware from exploiting vulnerabilities.

Focus your defense strategy on detecting lateral movements and data exfiltration to the Internet. Pay special attention to the outgoing traffic to detect cybercriminals’ connections.

Back up data regularly with special attention to offline backup strategies. Make sure you can quickly access it in an emergency when needed.

Avoid downloading and installing pirated software or software from unknown sources.

Assess and audit your supply chain and managed services’ access to your environment.

Prepare an action plan for reputational risk of your data exposure in the unfortunate event of data theft.

Use solutions like Kaspersky Endpoint Detection and Response Expert and Kaspersky Managed Detection and Response service which help to identify and stop the attack on early stages, before attackers reach their final goals.

To protect the corporate environment, educate your employees. Dedicated training courses can help, such as the ones provided in the Kaspersky Automated Security Awareness Platform.

Use the latest Threat Intelligence information to stay aware of actual TTPs used by threat actors. The Kaspersky Threat Intelligence Portal is a single point of access for Kaspersky’s TI, providing cyberattack data and insights gathered by our team for over 26 years.

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IDB and MOI organize National Vehicle Parade with all domestically value-added vehicles

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A vehicle parade of locally manufactured and assembled vehicles organized by the Industrial Development Board (IDB) along with the Ministry of Industries (MOI), Sri Lanka Automobile Component Manufacturers Association (SLACMA) and Automobile Assemblers Association will be held for the third time, through Galle Face, Lotus Roundabout , Fort, Technical Junction, Punchikawatta, Maradana, Borella, Borella cemetery junction and to BMICH on June 18, 2024 from 4pm onwards. The IDB under the Ministry of Industries is a key stakeholder in the Standard Operating Procedure which facilitates automobile assembly and component manufacturing in the country. The roadshow will see a fleet of over 200 locally assembled vehicles parade the streets.

Chairman of Industrial Development Board Dr. Saranga Alahapperuma stated, “The IDB which is the statutory body responsible for the development of all industries in Sri Lanka, has a mission to provide the strategic, technological and commercial foundation needed to encourage, promote and develop all industries in the country. Hyundai, Proton, Chery, BAIC, DFSK, Wuling, Mahindra, TATA, JMC, Lanka Ashok Leyland, TVS and Bajaj are few of the brands that are assembled in Sri Lanka with the approval and certification of the Industrial Development Board.”

The services of the IDB are of great benefit to the automobile and auto component manufacturing and automobile assembly industry in the country.

It is the authority responsible for overseeing the auto component development, design, testing and certification for industries, automotive component costing and process/product optimization services, raw material testing and selection for automotive components, plant, machinery, equipment, tool appraisal and valuation and incubator facilities for automotive component developers. It is also the national tooling center for automotive component development and provides services such as foundry and metallurgy services for automotive component developers, technical inspection services, rubber compound development for automotive components and electro-plating services for automotive components through a network of district offices covering the entire island.

The IDB also provides industrialists with industry information services, incubator facilities, and even an electricity subsidy.

“The facilities provided by the IDB will help create a very favorable environment for the automobile manufacturing and assembly industry and the automotive component manufacturing industry to match world standards. The Sri Lanka Automobile Component Manufacturers Association (SLACMA) and Automobile Assemblers Association both are committed to help organize the Vehicle Parade annually, to whom which I thank for their efforts.” Alahapperuma said.

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Q+ Payment App goes trilingual to further facilitate payments for the masses

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Highlights of the launch events in Nittambuwa and Jaffna,

‘Q+ Payment App’ – the first LankaQR certified mobile payment app in Sri Lanka – has gone trilingual with the launch of its groundbreaking Sinhala and Tamil versions at twin events held in Nittambuwa and Jaffna respectively.

Powered by the Commercial Bank of Ceylon, the Q+ Payment App is now available in the preferred language of the user, making the App and its payment options available to a much wider customer base covering the entire island.

The launch of the Sinhala version of Q+ Payment App took place at the Nihal Fashions complex in Nittambuwa, and was supported with a Cashback offer for QR payments for purchases from the merchant, the Bank said. The event was attended by the Head of the ComBank Card Centre Mr Nishantha De Silva, the Bank’s Regional Manager – Colombo Metro Mr Hemantha Sooriyabandara, branch managers from the area, and the management and staff of Nihal’s Group.

The Tamil version of Q+ Payment App was launched at TCT Multi Trade Centre in Jaffna, also with the participation of the Bank’s Head of Card Centre Mr Nishantha De Silva, Regional Manager – Northern Mr A. Jeyabalan, several branch managers and senior Bank staff from the region and the management and staff of TCT Multi Trade Centre.

Positioned as the next dimension of payment options, the Q+ Payment App enables cardholders to pay through multiple payment options via their mobile phones including ‘Scan & Pay’ by scanning the merchant’s QR code. Since the launch, the app has undergone numerous functionality-enhancing upgrades. Besides all the multiple payment options it offers, Q+ Payment App has also been enabled for different methods of fund transfers and scheduled payment options supported by year-round attractive Cashback offers, promotions and lifestyle events.

Q+ Payment App is the only QR payment app in Sri Lanka that supports six types of QR codes – LankaQR, VisaQR, MastercardQR, UnionPayQR, Indian UPIQR & Alipay QR. It was adjudged the Best Mobile App for Retail Payments in Sri Lanka for the last two years by LankaPay.

Sri Lanka’s first 100% carbon neutral bank, Commercial Bank is the largest private sector bank in Sri Lanka and the first Sri Lankan bank to be listed among the Top 1000 Banks of the World.

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