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LOLC at the helm of corporate sector due to its impressive performance

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LOLC Group (LOLC), the premier blue chip conglomerate, concluded another financial year on a high note as per the results for the year ended March 31, 2020.

LOLC posted an impressive Rs.19.8 billion Profit after Tax (PAT) for the year in comparison to Rs.19.6 billion PAT in the last year, becoming the most profitable listed entity in Sri Lanka for two consecutive years. In a short span of time, LOLC has truly emerged as a “Sri Lankan global player” having operations in over 10 countries.

While the Group performance was affected by local externalities, such as the Easter Sunday attack, the subdued economic growth and the political instability in FY19/20 that resulted the company to record dips in the net interest income and hikes in impairment charges, LOLC has been able to enjoy its stellar performance largely based on the earnings stemming from its overseas financial operations and the gain on a bargain purchase of Rs. 5.4 billion from the acquisition of the largest sugar production plantation company in Africa. Moving forward, LOLC is well set to realise the financial synergies generated from the PRASAC divestment through realigning the capital position of the Group.

Established 40 years ago, LOLC has spearheaded the Small & Medium Enterprise (SME) lending and microfinance revolution in Sri Lanka and the region. Excelling on a national level, LOLC has now established itself as a leading microfinance institution in the countries which it operates.

With its financial strength and the perfected micro finance business model in the region, the Group is now well-positioned to expand its operations beyond Asia to the African continent where a substantial opportunity lies in serving a large Bottom of the Pyramid population. Overseas expansion has not only offered LOLC diversified revenue streams with increased financial stability, but also has added resilience with a well-spread risk profile.

LOLC already made its debut to Africa by acquiring a microfinance bank in Nigeria in October 2019 and by starting LOLC Finance Zambia as a green field project. In FY 2020/21, LOLC will focus on consolidating its existing businesses while pursuing promising investments in Africa and Asia for long-term value creation.

The Group announced the board’s decision to sell its 70% stake in PRASAC to the South Korean KB Kookmin Bank for a consideration of $603 million in January 2020. LOLC received the relevant regulatory approval in March 2020 and concluded the transaction on April 13, 2020. PRASAC claims $3.3 billion in assets, $2.7 billion in portfolio, $1.8 billion deposits and $133 million Profit before Tax (PBT) for the 12 months ending March 2020.

Despite the sale of PRASAC, LOLC still has a foothold in the fastest growing Southeast Asian country via LOLC Cambodia, the fourth largest Microfinance Institution (MFI) in terms of portfolio size. The company has recorded an impressive performance with a 57% YoY growth of its earnings to conclude the year.

The group owns 97% of LOLC Cambodia that has an asset base surpassing $1 billion, a gross loan portfolio of $857 million, a deposit base of $501 million and a recorded profit of $34.6 million. With its superior process efficiencies and the right product mix, the company now leads the industry in terms of profitability.

Venturing into Myanmar in 2013 as a greenfield operation, LOLC Myanmar Microfinance Company Limited has now become the third largest among the 176 MFIs in the country with an asset base of $109 million, a portfolio of $77.8 million, and a growing deposit book of $13.8 million. LOLC Myanmar has seen an exceptional performance in FY2019/20 with over 94% YoY growth in loan book, total assets and deposits.

In 2017, the Government of Pakistan and the Sultanate of Oman invited LOLC to take up the major shareholding of their joint venture – Pak Oman Microfinance Bank, in recognition of LOLC’s outstanding contribution to the microfinance community. The Group ventured into Indonesia in 2018, acquiring the controlling interest in PT Sarana Sumut Ventura (SSV), expanding its global footprint. SSV is now well-placed to capture the industry potential in a country that has a massive Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) market and over 100 million Bottom of the Pyramid population.

Tapping into other neighbouring emerging markets, LOLC invested in the Philippines through LOLC ASKI Finance and LOLC Bank Philippines (a thrift bank) in 2019. These entities collectively account for $11.8 million loan portfolio. In the year under review, the Group made its first finance sector investment in the African region by acquiring a controlling stake of FinaTrust Microfinance Bank in Nigeria, the country with the largest population in Africa.

Today, with the financial sector representation in eight countries along with promising investments in Asia and Africa in the coming years, LOLC has successfully established itself as a strong global financial conglomerate. With this standing, the Group is poised to be a global financial catalyst with a multi-currency, multi-geographic microfinance and SME platform in the future.

In spite of the challenging and unexpected external shocks, LOLC Finance PLC (LOFC) continued to hold its market leadership position amongst the Non-Banking Financial Institutions (NBFIs) in the country with an asset base of Rs.192 billion, a portfolio of Rs.134 billion and deposits of Rs. 99 billion. The company posted Rs. 3.9 billion PAT in the year under review. LOFC as the leading impact lender, holds the largest pool of Development Finance Institutions (DFIs), guiding their respective development goals for Sri Lanka.

The capital and the wide array of technical assistance provided by these DFIs through LOFC have transformed the grass root levels of the economy. Continuing the Group’s legacy of expanding strategic international alliances, LOFC signed a loan agreement with Swedfund, the Swedish Government’s Development Finance Institution to promote financial inclusion and gender equality.

In a statement about the annual performance of the Group, Group Managing Director/CEO Kapila Jayawardena said, “2019/20 has been a difficult year due to externalities affecting most industries, but we are pleased with our strong performance this year, with a Group PAT of Rs. 19.8 billion which is largely contributed by our strategic foreign ventures. With this standing, we are proud to be the most profitable listed entity for the second consecutive year. With a timely global expansion strategy, well diversified revenue streams and a dynamic workforce in place, we will ambitiously look forward to stride ahead with consistent performance during these turbulent times.”

 



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Trio of collections to mark Vogue Jewellers’ 60th anniversary

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Marking another milestone, Vogue Jewellers, Sri Lanka’s premier jeweller staged an unprecedented trio of jewellery collections at a lavish jewellery show held at Shangri-la, Colombo. The event featured Royal Majestic Collection – the third volume of Sri Lanka’s first ever branded patented 22 karat gold jewellery; Vogue Lace Collection – a Diamond encrusted 22 karat gold necklace collection inspired by Beeralu lace and the luxurious Diamond Necklaces Collection along with the complete set of Vogue Lotus Bridal Jewellery – 22 karat Kandyan bridal jewellery collection. The collections released exhibit Vogue’s instinctive ability to focus on fashion, uniqueness and everlasting value.

Each handcrafted necklace of the Royal Majestic Collection screams grandeur, wealth and value. They are absolutely versatile as they can be worn as a grand long centerpiece or by detaching the tassels that can be worn as a pair of matching earrings, and even by detaching the pendant to wear with a plain chain. They are 22 karat solid gold creations, Pure Brilliance SWAROVSKY Cubic Zirconia or genuine coloured stone encrusted necklaces that come with a 1 gm branded gold coin. Royal Majestic Collection with many designs. Ideal for gift giving, to pass on to the next generation and as a sound investment, these masterpieces are absolutely stunning creations.

Vogue Lace Collection, inspired by the traditional Beeralu lace is an intricately hand-crafted Diamond and Pearl encrusted 22 karat fine jewellery. As delicate as lace in their appearance, the luxury collection of necklaces and choker necklaces are truly exotic. Handcrafted to perfection, every necklace of this signature collection reflects mastery in design, craftsmanship and sheer elegance.

The newest array of Diamond Necklaces and Earrings released at the Vogue jewellery show brings a distinctly modern point of view to Diamond jewellery. Inspired by Vogue’s rich heritage in Diamond jewellery, the newest Vogue Diamond Collection comprises necklaces and earrings, accented with white gold, and in the case of some, rose gold, for that touch of colour. Each creation offers optimal style versatility with maximum sparkle.

In addition to the three new collections that were released at the jewellery show, the complete set of the 22 karat Kandyan Bridal Jewellery was paraded. Inspired by the much-revered Lotus, the divine symbol of purity, resilience and faithfulness, the Vogue collection is a made-to-order complete set of Kandyan bridal jewellery that includes the headdress and its accompaniments, earrings, seven necklaces, waist chain and the bangles. Available as a complete set or as individual items, it is a collection for those seek evolved designs in keeping with local traditions.

The jewellery show was choreographed by renowned Designer and Fashion Consultant, Michael Wijesuriya. Channa Wijewardena’s dance troupe lead by Aseka Wijewardena and Opera singer Stephane Siriwardhena added colour to the event. An elegant coffee table book was introduced to the distinguished invitees. The Kandyan bride was dressed by the popular bridal dresser, Mr. Dhananjaya Bandara.As with any item available at Vogue, the new collections too come with a lifetime guarantee. Visit the Vogue flagship store at Colpetty or any of its branches in Nugegoda, Kandy, Negombo and Kurunegala.

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Innovate Lanka concludes with Demo Day and Finale

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Innovate Lanka recently concluded with its 2022 Demo Day and Finale, where 10 finalists pitched their exceptional ideas to a high profile panel that encompassed Corporate Leaders, Domain Experts and Angel Investors.

Adjudged this year’s winner, AGC Innovate (Pvt) Ltd is a sustainable initiative pioneering technology to convert non-recyclable waste plastics into an industrial raw material called Plastic Modified Asphalt Concrete (PMAC) in Sri Lanka, which will be used for paving roads, car parks and yards. Since its inception in 2018, the company has already completed more than 15 projects, including for RDA, PRDA, Cargills (Ceylon) PLC, John Keells Holdings (Cinnamon Life and Crescat), CBL, French Embassy, etc.

The runner-up for 2022 was DirectPay (Pvt) Ltd, which connects everyone digitally, bringing them one step closer to a cashless society, by introducing modern payment methods for the financial and telecom industries. DirectPay is a FinTech application that provides direct debit facilities, Internet Payment Gateway and LankaQR and JustPay (National QR) technologies to enable customers to make payments across any boundary.

Also awarded was the “Best Female Entrepreneur” title, which was handed out to Bluefish Ceylon (Pvt) Ltd. This fish food manufacturer is dedicated to providing ready-to-eat, flavourful, and nutrient-dense fish products made with hand-picked natural ingredients with an authentic and distinct taste, while adhering to 100% hygiene standards.

A national initiative bringing together Sri Lanka’s main startup and SME ecosystem partners, Innovate Lanka is a program initiated by the Council for Startups (CFS) of The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC), the Lankan Angel Network (LAN) and Sri Lanka Association for Software Services Companies (SLASSCOM). This program will ideally also serve up the systematic change required to rebuild Sri Lanka, by providing personalized support for every entrepreneur while offering a one-stop-shop for incubation and acceleration, until exit, at the global level.

In addition to the winner, runner-up and “Best Female Entrepreneur” title holders, the Innovate Lanka Demo Day and Finale also offered up presentations by other top 10 finalists. These included WorkXFlow (Pvt) Ltd, EDUS Lanka (Pvt) Ltd, INGROW Holdings (Pvt) Ltd, Ceylon Dhee Ayurved (Pvt) Ltd, Stag Space (Pvt) Ltd, Edutoys (Pvt) Ltd and CrossBorder Payments (Pvt) Ltd.

Garnering an exemplary 70+ entries during its initial, applications stage, Innovate Lanka later went on to thoroughly vet these submissions, ultimately whittling down its pool of startups and SMEs to just the top 10. This was achieved via an intensive pitching and evaluation process, which was facilitated by LAN.

Said LAN Chairperson Chandi Dharmaratne; “We at LAN, along with our global, national and eco-system partners, and the many incubators and accelerators that participated, are committed to supporting SMEs and entrepreneurs during the tough economic times ahead. Programs such as Innovate Lanka will keep dreams of scaling alive, until such time as our economy recovers and more startups and SMEs can bootstrap themselves into the global marketplace.”

Commenting further, CFS Chairman Prajeeth Balasubramaniam said; “Entrepreneurship is critical to stimulate long-term economic growth and national prosperity. As an entrepreneur, today there is no one private sector body representing them to help in all spheres of growth at the different stages. Innovate Lanka platform was created with this in mind as a national initiative that brings all the start-up and SME ecosystem partners together”.

Adding to this, SLASSCOM Chairman Ashique Ali said; “We were happy to partner in this programme as start-ups play a significant role in innovation, creating social, economic, and environmental impact, and generating export revenue. There are a significant number of start-ups which have the potential to scale regionally and globally. SLASSCOM together with other ecosystem partners aim to support these startups through their incubation to scale up journey, realising SLASSCOM’s goal of catalysing 1000 startups by the year 2025.”

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LSEG Foundation joins ‘Manudam Mehewara’ initiative driven by corporate Sri Lanka

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Aiming to Assist Over 200,000 Vulnerable Families

The LSEG (London Stock Exchange Group) Foundation pledged its support as a corporate donor of the ‘Manudam Mehewara’ emergency relief programme, initiated by Dialog Axiata PLC, MAS Holdings, Hemas Holdings PLC, execution partner Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement and independent auditor PwC Sri Lanka, together with corporate partners CBL Group, Citibank, Sunshine Holdings PLC, Huawei Technologies Lanka Co., Pvt Ltd, and Unilever Sri Lanka.

 Launched to support over 200,000 vulnerable families and communities across the country amidst the ongoing economic crisis, the ‘Manudam Mehewara’ initiative has currently distributed emergency relief across all 25 districts in Sri Lanka, where over 115,000 families in-need have been assisted to date. The Manudam Mehewara programme will conduct its relief efforts until a sustainable benefit transfer system is established in the country through an effective economic recovery plan.

 Speaking on the occasion, Pulasthika Wirasinha – Head of Human Resources, LSEG Sri Lanka stated, “It has been inspiring to witness the many corporates who have stepped up to the frontline of Sri Lanka’s economic recovery. At LSEG, we embody the spirit of empowering communities, and we would like to thank the Manudam Mehewara corporate coalition for the opportunity to help in this time of need”.

 Addressing the gathering, Hong Zhou Wong – Group Chief Financial Officer, Dialog Axiata PLC commented “Dialog along with our corporate partners rose to the call of need in early April by initiating Manudam Mehewara with the aim of assisting and supporting the most impacted communities across Sri Lanka in the backdrop of devastating economic hardship. Our partners and donors have not only contributed their financial aid to this initiative but also their resources and expertise to pave the road to recovery for Sri Lanka. On behalf of Manudam Mehewara, I would like to thank LSEG for joining us in this effort. Since April, Manudam Mehewara has supported over 115,000 families across all districts, but our journey has only just begun as we aim to reach 200,000 families. To see our mission to fruition, I urge other like-minded corporate partners to join us in this collective force for good”.

Manudam Mehewara invites all Sri Lankans and corporates to join its shared mission of supporting the most vulnerable families across the country and contributing to this cause. Individuals can now simply donate via their credit/debit card on the website – https://dlg.lk/donate/  or through a bank transfer, Star Points transfer, eZ Cash, genie, or even through a mobile top-up to 077 642 1421. Donors can also conveniently donate through a range of payment options via www.karuna.lk, Sri Lanka’s First Cause-verified Crowdfunding Platform.

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