• The Group’s Leisure business was significantly impacted during the quarter given the suspension of operations of our hotels in April and May on account of the closure of the airports in Sri Lanka and the Maldives and the lockdown measures in Sri Lanka. The Maldivian airport was opened for arrivals in mid-July. While bookings for the next few weeks are low, we are encouraged by strong forward bookings for the peak season of January to April 2021, exceeding the bookings we had for the same time last year. Whilst Sri Lanka is yet to re-open its airport, our hotels in Sri Lanka have now commenced operations where the recovery of domestic tourism has been encouraging.
• The Consumer Foods businesses displayed a faster than expected recovery in volumes post the easing of the lockdown in May. In the month of June, the Frozen Confectionery and Convenience Foods recorded positive volume growth whilst the Beverage business recorded a low single digit decline.
• The week-on-week momentum of same store sales of the Supermarket business displayed signs of recovery.
• The Group’s Bunkering business, Lanka Marine Services, recorded an increase in profitability driven by improved margins despite a reduction in the overall market volumes due to lower throughput in the Port of Colombo.
• Construction resumed at ‘Cinnamon Life’ in mid-May after a 2-month closure and it is encouraging to note that the momentum is gradually reaching pre COVID-19 levels. The Group is working closely with the contractor to ascertain the impact of the COVID-19 disruptions on the overall timelines of the project. The finishing work of the apartment and office towers are being re-sequenced to be completed within the financial year to enable handover.
• The profitability of Nations Trust Bank recorded an increase despite pressure on margins, due to the positive impact on account of the removal of the Debt Repayment Levy from January 2020 onwards.
• Due to the deployment of cash equity to fund the ‘Cinnamon Life’ project, Group profitability for the quarter was impacted by a year-on-year decrease in finance income, as expected.
SEC, CSE and the CFA Society SL aim to strengthen ESG focus in the Sri Lankan capital market
The Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka (SEC), the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) and the CFA Society Sri Lanka (CFASSL) have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to further strengthen Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) focus in the Sri Lankan capital market.
The MoU will enable the institutions to jointly deliver initiatives focused on educating local investors on ESG and fostering effective ESG practices and communication by Listed Companies. Furthermore, the MoU will also pave the way for cooperation in improving ESG-related know-how of local market practitioners, encouraging the adoption of the CFA Institute’s Global ESG Disclosure Standards for Investment Products and the introduction of ESG-related new products, standards and regulations.
Commenting on the development, Chairman of the SEC Viraj Dayaratne PC stated “Strengthening ESG focus in regulation, policy-making and in our advocacy efforts among investors, issuers and other market stakeholders is vital in ensuring that the Sri Lankan capital market benefits from the considerable interest in ESG investing observed globally. While capturing the knowledge and expertise of the CFA Society Sri Lanka in our ESG agenda offers considerable value, the MoU also offers a new avenue through which the SEC and CSE could strengthen ties with an institution that represents financial analysts and investment practitioners – professionals who are central to the development of the Sri Lankan capital market.”
Chairman at CSE Dilshan Wirasekara commenting on the MoU said “CSE has over the years maintained a strong commitment to creating ESG related awareness and to encourage the greater adoption of ESG practices and communication by listed companies as it not only creates opportunities for the market, but also creates a positive impact to the environment and society at-large. This MoU offers CSE the opportunity to benefit from the strategic direction and guidance of the industry regulator the SEC and tap into the technical know-how and expertise of CFASSL and its international network during the process of delivering multiple progressive ESG related objectives. The CSE looks forward to creating positive ESG related outcomes for investors, listed issuers and our stakeholders as a result of this collaboration.”
Dinesh Warusavitharana CFA, the President of CFASSL said “The local member society of CFA Institute, which is a global organization that provides education for investment professionals are pleased to collaborate with the SEC and CSE to educate capital market participants on ESG. As sustainable finance has grown rapidly in recent years, a growing number of institutional investors and funds now incorporate various ESG investing approaches to create better long-term financial value. We believe this tripartite collaboration will facilitate knowledge enhancement of the key participants on ESG to prepare them to access global funds dedicated for ESG investing.”
Fuel crisis combines with profit-takings to drag down share market
Hiran H. Senewiratne
Sri Lanka’s shares fell over 1.7 per cent within the first hour of trading, dragged down by weak investor sentiment amid the continuing fuel shortage. These developments combined with month-end profit takings to negatively affect the market yesterday, stock market analysts said.
“It is said that last week we saw the market gaining in four straight sessions solely on the news that a fuel shipment was due to arrive on June 24. However, now the country is unsure when it will receive its next fuel shipment, a top market analyst said.
“Therefore, unless there is confirmation on the fuel supply, I feel the market will continue to fall or move sideways. There are no other factors in the market for it to move up either. Further, the government’s previous night’s announcement on providing fuel to essential services created some issues as the government failed to define the phrase ‘essential services’ clearly. What sectors are being classified as essential? stock market analysts asked. “However, they have mentioned several sectors, such as public transport and health, but not clearly mentioned food supply, market analysts said.
Amid those developments both indices moved downwards. The All- Share Price Index went down by 139.25 points and S and P SL20 declined by 36.76 points. Turnover stood at Rs 815.3 million with one crossing. The crossing was reported in Commercial Bank, which crossed 446,000 shares to the tune of Rs 22.3 million, its shares traded at Rs 50.
In the retail market top seven companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were; Expolanka Rs 182.8 million (1.1 million shares traded), HNB Rs 81.9 million (one million shares traded), Lanka IOC Rs 72.5 million (1.1 million shares traded), Browns Investments Rs 69.9 million (9.5 million shares traded), Sampath Bank Rs 63.1 million (2.1 million shares traded) Commercial Bank Rs 43.3 million (464,000 shares traded) and LOLC Finance Rs 21.4 million (3.3 million shares traded). During the day 43.9 million share volumes changed hands in 11643 share transactions.
Recommendations made by the Advisory Committee for Revival of Failed Licensed Finance Companies
The Monetary Board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (Monetary Board) established the Advisory Committee for Revival of Failed Finance Companies (Committee) in October 2021 to examine possible revival options for five (5) failed finance companies, i.e., Central Investments & Finance Ltd., ETI Finance Ltd., TKS Finance Ltd., The Finance Company PLC and The Standard Credit Finance Ltd, of which licenses have been either cancelled or suspended. The Monetary Board has vested the Committee with the responsibility of recommending possible revival options or recommending liquidation for aforementioned five failed finance companies if such revival options do not seem feasible.
The Committee submitted its final report to the Monetary Board on 31.05.2022, after careful consideration of several proposals submitted by different parties for revival of four (4) of the above- mentioned companies.
The Monetary Board, having considered the Report of the Committee on the said five failed finance companies, noted that the proposals received for perusal of the said Committee were not viable and entailed a number of policy and legal implications, which did not appear to be workable within the existing regulatory framework. Further, given the present economic conditions, the said Committee does not expect any viable proposals to be received from prospective investors. Under these circumstances, the only option concerning the five (05) failed finance companies would be to continue with liquidation proceedings/filing for liquidation. In the light of the above, the Committee in its report has recommended to wind up the Committee. Based on the recommendation of the Committee the Monetary Board decided to dissolve the Committee.
Consequently, actions will be taken to liquidate the aforementioned five failed finance companies in accordance with applicable legal provisions.
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