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Ideal Finance targets more than doubling branch network

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Ideal Finance Limited (IFL) has opened its 13th branch in Welimada, as part of the company’s massive expansion drive to more than double its branch network, by adding 15 new locations within the current financial year (FY 2021/22).

The new branch, which provides a range of services such as leasing, loans (including gold loans) and deposits, was opened by IFL at Welimada, given the area’s importance as a production hub for up-country vegetables and as the location of the Keppetipola Economic Centre, a key trading centre for many types of produce.

The Welimada branch opening will be followed by the opening of new branches at several key locations in September, as Ideal Finance ramps up its branch network on the back of several key recent developments. These include attracting new Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from India’s Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services Limited (MMFSL), an upgrading of IFL’s rating by Fitch and the company recording its best-ever financial performance in the last financial year (FY 2020/21).

With the latest investment, MMFSL is now Ideal Finance’s largest shareholder with a 58.2% stake, making Ideal Finance its second foreign subsidiary. MMFSL’s total investment in IFL amounts to LKR 2 billion. Earlier, in 2020, MMFSL secured a 38.2% stake in Ideal Finance, providing the latter the backing of a massive financial giant with over USD 11 billion assets under management, which far exceeds that of Sri Lanka’s entire banking industry.

Fitch Ratings also recently upgraded Ideal Finance’s rating to ‘AA-(lka)’ from ‘BB-(lka)’ and assigned a ‘stable outlook’, providing a further vote of confidence on the company’s stability and prospects.

Adding further positive momentum to these developments, Ideal Finance recorded its best-ever annual financial performance in the financial year ended 31st March 2021, emphatically overcoming a host of issues stemming from COVID-19. In this same period, the country’s Non-Bank Financial Institution (NBFI) sector recorded a notable decline, reporting a drop in profitability and a surge in Non-Performing Loans (NPLs).

However, going against the industry trend, Ideal Finance achieved a simultaneous increase in profitability and a reduction of its NPL ratio. Profit Before Tax (PBT) increased by 76% to LKR 288.4 million in the financial year ended 31st March 2021, on a year-on-year (YoY) basis. Profit After Tax (PAT) grew by 74% to LKR 183.8 million YoY. Gross NPL ratio improved to 3.3% for the financial year, from 5.2% in the previous year.

“Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services demonstrating its confidence in Ideal Finance and in Sri Lanka with this investment is a timely vote of confidence on both the country’s economic prospects and in Ideal Finance’s stability and growth trajectory,” Nalin Welgama, Chairman, Ideal Group, said. “The company’s stellar performance in the midst of numerous challenges, in out-performing the industry in all key indicators, demonstrates that confidence in Ideal Finance was well-placed.”

“Prudent strategic changes delivered dividends, as evidenced by this performance,” Ideal Finance CEO, Duminda Weerasekare said. “However, it is perhaps even more commendable that in addition to short-term improvements, developments undertaken during this challenging period has laid the foundation for a high long-term growth trajectory – particularly with the launch of our new digitization strategy.”

“The expansion of our branch network will further strengthen Ideal Finance’s presence in key areas outside of the Western Province,” Ideal Finance Regional Manager, Nilanga Jayalath said. “This positions Ideal Finance well to support and benefit from the growth of sectors such as agriculture, as the country focuses on boosting domestic production.”

Ideal Finance Ltd. (IFL), a NBFI registered with Central Bank of Sri Lanka, commenced operations in March 2012 with a clear focus on the rural and semi-urban sectors. Its lending portfolio consists of gold loans, SME loans, personal loans, motor cars, three wheelers and commercial vehicles. IFL has developed a quality lending portfolio, while recording sustainable annual growth in profitability.



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SLTMobitel-PEOTV and DP Education launch ‘Videsa DP Education’

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SLT-MOBITEL, the National ICT, Telecommunications and Mobile Services Provider has teamed up with DP Education, to launch ‘Videsa DP Education’, a dedicated educational channel on CH.215 of SLTMobitel–PEOTV, ensuring school children from Grade Five to Advanced Level have access to a high-quality learning experience with Rewind TV.

The revolutionary services of SLTMobitel-PEOTV includes ‘Videsa’ a series of educational channels hosted on the platform, that comprise of 06 TV channels dedicated to individual grades covering grades 06 to 11, that enhance the knowledge sharing with curriculum-centered lessons from a panel of reputed teachers. DP Education, a unique online learning platform, leverages digital solutions to deliver quality education to empower students. Together, Videsa and DP Education, enrich the educational arena further with the ‘Videsa DP Education’ channel, a dedicated television space for the students at home.

This path-breaking partnership is a commitment by SLTMobitel–PEOTV to support the education of children, whose options are limited due to the challenges convergence posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative will use the home TV screen and mobile devices as a ubiquitous medium to impart knowledge providing access to quality education for students across the country.

Commenting on the initiative, Rohan Fernando, Group Chairman, SLT said, “We understand that parents are now faced with the challenge of keeping their children safe during the pandemic as well as having to deal with the ongoing disturbances to their children’s education. As a solution to ensure that their learning remains uninterrupted, we have already introduced six different channels for Grade 6 to Grade 11 students through our Videsa digital platform. Our latest initiative and partnership with DP Education has now enabled us to launch a dedicated channel with unique learning experiences in key subjects such as Mathematics, Science and English for students from Grade 5 to Advanced Level with the Rewind TV facility. We are appreciative of the exceptional efforts extended by Mr. Dammika Perera and his team at DP Education and are grateful for the opportunity to connect the two learning platforms together in unison to create a revolutionary learning experience for our children”.

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Thornton and Dane’s combined projects portfolio tops Rs 5.9 billion

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Thornton Engineering, the Nextventures owned civil engineering company, has announced the acquisition of a 100% stake in Dane Engineering (Pvt) Ltd. for Rs 350 million, creating a construction business with a combined portfolio of Rs 5.9 billion.

The new entity, Thornton and Dane Engineering, expects to add new construction projects with a cumulative value of Rs 5 billion within the current financial year, nearly doubling its projects portfolio, the Company said in its announcement.

“We are excited at the post-acquisition prospects for the new company, because we strongly believe that it is a good example for the concept of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts,” said Thornton and Dane Director Dinesh Schaffter. “The combined strengths of Thornton and Dane create a formidable as well as extremely flexible engineering company that is capable of executing projects of varying scope and scale.”

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Capacity-building programs for SMEs

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Sri Lanka Chamber of Small and Medium Industries (SLCSMI), the apex body for SMEs in Sri Lanka has been at the forefront in supporting the SMEs during the pandemic. The chamber took several measures since the pandemic first hit the country in the first quarter of 2020. The Webinar series “Way Forward for SMEs” was a grand success among other initiatives, which was conducted with the participation of prominent scholars, leading business personalities as well as top rankers of state and private sector organizations.

The president of SLCSMI, Prof. Rohan De Silva said: “We are always there to represent and support the SMEs in the country and that’s our prime duty. During the first wave, we understood the need to share the knowledge and provide psychological support for the business owners to withstand the difficult times and that’s how the webinar series was born. Our initiative was well received by the businesses and our audience was not limited to Sri Lanka alone, as we witnessed participants from around 12 countries.”

Prof. Rohan further said that the chamber has looked at the possibilities of providing sustainable solutions to the SMEs beyond merely conducting knowledge sharing sessions and the Executive Committee has decided to introduce a range of Capacity Building programs to develop the SMEs. These programs include different solutions to address various gaps among the SMEs and the chamber intends to issue a valuable certificate for the participants of these programs.

The chamber has partnered with the Asia Pacific Institute of Money and Entrepreneurship Development (iMED) to design and deliver the programs and the details of the Programs will be unveiled at the launching event scheduled to be held on the 25th of September.

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