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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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NCE highlights costs of Customs officers’ trade union action

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‘The recent actions taken by the Sri Lanka Customs Officers Union, including a two-day sick leave campaign and work-to-rule initiatives, have had profound implications across Sri Lanka’s business community, particularly affecting exporters and importers. These actions were initiated due to perceived grievances and unmet demands from the Customs Officers Union on various issues, the National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka (NCE) is quoted as saying in a press release.

The release adds: ‘Jayantha Karunaratne, president of the National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka highlighted the significant disruptions caused by these actions. He emphasized that the work-to-rule approach has resulted in substantial delays in clearing imported goods at ports and checkpoints, causing disruptions in production schedules and logistical operations. These delays have particularly impacted exporters, who face stringent deadlines to fulfill international orders, leading to strained relationships with overseas buyers and potential financial penalties for missed deliveries.

‘Additionally, these disruptions have imposed additional costs on businesses. Importers have incurred demurrage charges due to extended delays in clearing shipments, impacting profitability and operational efficiency. For exporters handling perishable goods like seafood and fresh produce, delays have posed substantial challenges, sometimes resulting in significant financial losses and resource wastage from spoiled goods.

‘The NCE underscored Customs’ critical role in facilitating trade and economic activity in Sri Lanka, stressing that efficient and predictable Customs processes are crucial for maintaining the competitiveness of Sri Lankan businesses globally. Given that exports are pivotal to Sri Lanka’s economy, disruptions to Customs operations can have far-reaching impacts on economic growth, employment, and overall national prosperity.

‘Expressing serious concern about potential escalations, the NCE warned that prolonged strikes or ongoing disruptions could further destabilize business confidence and investor sentiment. They urged swift and constructive dialogue between the Customs Officers’ Union and relevant authorities to address grievances and find mutually beneficial solutions. Restoring normalcy and reliability to Customs operations, they emphasized, is imperative to support the resilience and growth of Sri Lanka’s export sector amid challenging global economic conditions.

‘In addition to operational disruptions, exporters are increasingly voicing frustration and concerns about Sri Lanka’s future business environment. Many are contemplating relocating operations to countries offering more stable and predictable trade conditions. This potential exodus poses significant economic risks, including job losses, reduced export revenues, and diminished investor confidence.

‘Shiham Marikar, Secretary General/CEO of NCE, stressed the urgent need for Sri Lanka to address these challenges promptly to retain and attract businesses. He emphasized the importance of creating a supportive environment for exporters characterized by efficient Customs processes, regulatory stability, and supportive government policies. Such an environment is crucial for retaining existing exporters and attracting new investments, thereby fostering economic growth and enhancing competitiveness in global markets.

‘Highlighting the competitive nature of the global economy, the NCE emphasized the necessity for Sri Lanka to maintain a reliable and efficient trade infrastructure to remain competitive internationally. Addressing exporter concerns and ensuring a stable business environment should be a top priority for policymakers and stakeholders alike.

‘It is crucial for the government to take swift action to prevent recurring disruptions caused by the Customs Officers’ Union. The recent disruptions have disproportionately affected Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), which are the backbone of Sri Lanka’s economy. SMEs, operating with smaller margins and less flexibility, are particularly vulnerable to delays and uncertainties in trade operations.

‘These disruptions not only impact daily SME operations but also undermine their competitiveness in domestic and international markets. Many SMEs rely heavily on timely imports and efficient exports to sustain operations, making disruptions detrimental to their growth and viability. Prolonged instability in trade operations risks SMEs relocating or downsizing operations in Sri Lanka, posing significant threats to employment, economic growth, and overall stability.

‘The NCE urged the government to implement robust measures to prevent future disruptions, including constructive dialogue with Customs officers and reforms enhancing Customs efficiency and predictability. Creating a stable and supportive business environment is crucial for protecting SMEs and fostering their growth, thereby contributing to Sri Lanka’s economic resilience and prosperity’.

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Elevating customer experiences, Sampath Bank partners with Royal Colombo Golf Club

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The team from Royal Colombo Golf Club, including Amrith De Soysa – Captain, Gehan Siribaddanan – Vice Captain, Ms. Geera Gajamugan – Director of Administration and Shiran D. Rahuman – Manager of Marketing & Membership Services, stands on the left. De Soysa is seen receiving the main sponsorship from Ms, Ayodhya Iddawela – Managing Director of Sampath Bank PLC, surrounded by Tharaka Ranwala, SDGM – Marketing, Customer Care and Card Centre, Pujitha Rajapaksa, Chief Manager – Marketing and Shantha Kalawitigoda, Manager – Events & Activations.

Sampath Bank is pleased to announce its sponsorship of the prestigious July Monthly Medal Event at the Royal Colombo Golf Club (RCGC), scheduled for the 12th and 13th of July 2024. The sponsorship was formalised during a cheque-handing ceremony on the 10th of July, marking a significant collaboration between Sampath Bank and the RCGC.

The July Monthly Medal Event is a highlight on the golfing calendar, attracting over 300 golfers from across the country. The event will be held over two days, culminating in an award ceremony on the second day. Sampath Bank’s involvement acknowledges its commitment to fostering customer satisfaction and providing exceptional experiences for its valued customers.

Participants in the event will enjoy a variety of activities, including a golf practice session with coaching, the main golf tournament, and an exclusive Cheese & Wine evening on the first day for Sampath Bank customers. Following the two-day tournament, there will be a grand award ceremony and a cocktail event to honour the winners. This initiative not only promotes golf but also provides a unique platform for high-net-worth individuals to engage in a distinguished social setting.

Commenting on the sponsorship, Tharaka Ranwala, Senior Deputy General Manager Marketing, Customer Care & Card Centre, said, “Sampath Bank has always been a strong supporter of all sports, though golf has traditionally been less highlighted, despite its popularity among elite and high-net-worth customers within the banking industry. Sponsoring this event aligns perfectly with our new vision and strategy, which emphasises a greater focus on corporate customers and high-net-worth individuals. Although this is our first partnership with the Royal Colombo Golf Club, we bring extensive experience from our previous collaborations with the Tamil Golf Association’s events in the UK and Canada.”

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Asiri Hospitals and NITF sign landmark agreement to provide tangible healthcare benefits for all Agrahara members

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Asiri Group of Hospitals, trusted for high standards in patient-centered care has signed a landmark agreement with the National Insurance Trust Fund (NITF), to provide comprehensive concessions to all government employees through the Agrahara Medical Insurance scheme.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by Dr. Manjula Karunaratne, Director/Group CEO of Asiri Hospitals, and Gamani N. Liyanarachchi, CEO of NITF, during a ceremony held recently.

The event was attended by several distinguished participants from both organizations. Representing NITF were Sagala Abhayawickrama, Chairperson, Samil Thushara, AGM Operations, Nimali Pathirana, AGM Insurance, Prathibha Welikanna, Asst. Manager Legal, Nuwan Dissanayake, Asst. Manager Marketing, Dammika Weerakoon, Acting AGM Finance.

Asiri Hospitals was represented by Nihal Ratnayake, Director Operations Asiri Central Hospital, Indresh Fernando, Chief Process Officer, Bhathiya Jayasinghe, Group Head, Business Development, Dhananjaya Bandara Dela, Head of Business Development, Government Sector.

The enduring partnership aims to offer tangible healthcare benefits and the renowned comprehensive healthcare services offered by Asiri Hospitals to all NITF Agrahara members. It marks a major milestone in Asiri Hospitals’ commitment to build long-term collaborations that benefits the community. It also reaffirms Asiri Hospitals’ position as a trusted healthcare provider ensuring healthcare is more accessible, affordable, while uplifting the living standards of the public service.

Importantly, Agrahara members are eligible to seek treatment from any hospital in the Asiri group or its laboratories. The agreement also introduces a cashless admission scheme for NITF members, simplifying the process and enabling seamless access to Asiri Hospitals’ services without the need for upfront payments. Members can benefit from waived admission fees, reducing the financial burden for those seeking medical care. Room rates are also heavily discounted.

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