While group profits have grown, a loss posted at company level
LOLC Holdings PLC, the highly diversified conglomerate quoted on the Colombo Stock Exchange, has in its just published annual report told its shareholders that the publication of its results for 2019/20 was, in the words of its Deputy Chairman Ishara Nanayakkara, “an apt occasion to announce the good news……that LOLC has achieved the distinction of being the most profitable listed entity in Sri Lanka for two years in a row.”
While an after tax profit of Rs. 19.79 billion, up slightly from the previous year’s Rs. 19.64 billion, has been posted by the group, at company level there was a loss of 9.09 billion, up from a loss of Rs. 3.2 billion a year earlier. LOLC last paid a dividend of 50 cents a share in 2013 but its share closed the year at Rs. 88.90 and was trading at over Rs. 120 last week.
Nanayakkara said that LOLC had total assets of USD 7.083 billion “and a considerable footprint overseas.”
“Reflecting this strength, the audited financial statements I place before you for the year under review mirror the resilience of the group, which was able to record a marginal increase in profit after tax….notwithstanding the dismal economic and political climate that prevailed during the period,” he said.
He attributed his optimism to the fact that 80% of their profit before tax is derived from overseas. This will assure their partners and shareholders that their diversified business interests will always enable the group to achieve growth regardless of challenges in their Sri Lanka operations.
The LOLC group is into financial services, construction, agriculture and plantation, manufacturing and trading, leisure and renewable energy and is expanding overseas. It also has some other strategic investments in its portfolio.
The report said that the group had rapidly evolved into being the biggest non-banking financial institution in the country and one of its biggest and most diversified conglomerates.
“Our footprint in Sri Lanka spans every district, from the rural hinterland to major cities and we have enduring business partnerships with a host of financial and developmental organizations across the world,” the report said.
“We have significantly successful financial services investments in Cambodia,, Myanmar, Pakistan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Nigeria and Zambia; business operations in Maldives and Sierra Leone as well as corporate offices in Singapore, UAE and Mauritius and we continue to expand our international presence by actively seeking new opportunities in the region.”
Discussing the financial services sector, Nanayakkara said they had performed to the best of their ability against the backdrop of multiple shocks including the Easter bomb, the presidential election and the Covid pandemic “which fortunately did not impact the year under review in any significant manner although it will cast a shadow on how the local and global economy will recover in the next financial year.”
The 2018 debt waiver by the then government had caused irrevocable damage to the country’s microfinance sector. The concession was granted only to arrears clients discouraging regular clients, adversely affecting the healthy recovery ratio of over 90% maintained up to that point.
StrEdge calls for SMART restructuring of businesses
In a climate of unprecedented economic challenges, restructuring of businesses, from public enterprises to SMEs is critical, says the leadership of the StrEdge Group of Companies. In a press statement, StrEdge Group, which is a cluster of home-grown enterprises covering consultancy in Processes, People, Finance and Technology, notes that Business Process Reengineering (BPR), Human Resource Restructuring, Financial Restructuring and Automation are crucial not merely to support rebuilding the country but also from a long-term sustainability perspective.
“Multi-dimensional restructuring is a prudent and a tested method to come out of the difficult circumstances the entire country is facing right now. This will create results in national interest if all can adopt SMART methodologies, from entrepreneurs to government hierarchy,” Group Director /CEO StrEdge Advisory, Sumedha Wijesekera notes in the press statement.
StrEdge which brings hands-on experience restructuring multiple businesses from corporates to SMEs, believes that a proper analysis of the existing banking finance structures of a business cannot be undermined. “The rising finance costs and all the macroeconomic constraints coupled with prevailing uncertainties have warranted restructures from both the business perspective as well as that of the bankers’,” observes Wijesekera. From a business perspective, such restructuring would enable solutions for cash flow constraints, save bank interest cost, promote sustainable growth and more importantly, businesses to be future-ready to capture the market potential in the next upward curve of the economy, he says.
From the bank’s perspective, restructuring helps to offer better structures with effective monitoring to match the business requirements, prevent NPLs and build up strong and more profitable relationships by being able to act as an advisor in this setting.
Furthermore, it is very important to revisit the costing of goods and services in any organisation in view of increased raw materials prices, exchange rates, finance cost, loss of sales, diminishing margins and loss of capacity. Introductions of dynamic price mechanisms for each product and service channel of today’s businesses, will give a lot of clarity for the leadership to manage them successfully.
The StrEdge Group which has in depth experience in BPR covering multiple industries including both banks and non-banking financial institutions, believes that SMART restructuring will help organisations re-align their processes with present and future demands, says StrEdge Group Director, Janaka Epasinghe. The current demand to achieve more with less resources, has triggered this as a need, he adds. “Eliminating waste, increasing the service levels, reduction in costs, increased visibility, internal and external customer satisfaction and future-readiness are few of the results that can be derived with this activity. Furthermore, this will strengthen the sustainability of any organisation,” Epasinghe remarks.
Current economic constraints have taken a huge toll on the human resource which is the heart of any organisation, compelling to revisit the HR pillar for sustainability and growth, observes Epasinghe who notes that if organisations are not in a position to compensate with economic benefits, it’s always important to bring other interventions to maintain productivity.
“The biggest bonus here is that even the workforce is ready to embrace changes despite the current challenging environment with a resilient mindset, which the leadership needs to capitalise on,” says the StrEdge Director.
The foreign currency constraints and the lack of resources due to the brain drain in the IT industry have pushed certain organisations to successfully opt for less expensive technology solutions with the help from external and internal experts. “These interventions will give results within a shorter period of time with a very low budget. Empowering the staff, cost reductions, visualisation, better service standards and increased profitability are some of the major benefits of these SMART technology interventions within a company,” observes StrEdge Tech Solutions Director/CEO, Udaya Samaradivakara. It will also help them to address multiple urgent needs from a people-process-finance and technology perspective, without waiting until times get better and this certainly will be a SMART option, notes Samaradivakara.
Oil demand forecasts aren’t as bullish as they seem
Oil has become an attractive alternative fuel because gas prices have soared. But Europe is rapidly replenishing its natural gas stockpiles.Recent revisions to oil demand forecasts aren’t as bullish as they might appear. Don’t get too excited about prices going up just yet.
The International Energy Agency, the US Energy Information Administration and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries all updated their short-term outlooks in the past week. Two of them cut their demand estimates for both this year and next, with only the IEA breaking ranks to increase its forecasts. And it wasn’t just a minor tweak from the Paris-based agency. It revised oil demand higher for this year by a whopping 520,000 barrels a day, with most of that rolled forward into 2023 as well. On the face of it, that’s very bullish for oil.
But there are plenty of reasons to be cautious. First, let’s compare the actual outlooks from the three sets of analysts and put them in their historical context. The IEA’s revision sets its new demand number for 2022 roughly halfway between those of the other two agencies. It also brings its outlook pretty much back to where it saw things in March. So, although the IEA’s revision was big, it’s not out of line with others.
The other noticeable feature in the forecasts is that oil demand growth is disappearing fast, as the chart below illustrates. Global oil demand grew year on year by about 5 million barrels a day in the first quarter of the year — all three sources agree on that — but that increase is now evaporating.
That’s not entirely unexpected when you consider year on year comparisons. Oil demand at the start of 2021 was still adversely affected by the Covid pandemic, so a rebound at the beginning of this year was entirely reasonable. Then economic activity and travel eventually picked up later in 2021, so we would expect demand growth in the corresponding quarters of 2022 to ease.
Digital Marketing Association of Sri Lanka hosts its 1st AGM
The Digital Marketing Association of Sri Lanka (DMASL), Sri Lanka’s national body of digital marketers hosted its 1st Annual General Meeting on the 4th of August 2022. Umair Wolid was ceremoniously inducted as the new President of DMASL for the year 2022/2023 at the event. Additionally, a new Executive Committee was also appointed during the course of the event.
The DMASL was formed in 2021 in an effort to drive the growth of the digital marketing industry. The association plays a pivotal role in recognizing, representing, and supporting Sri Lanka’s digital marketing professionals. Since its inception, the DMASL has implemented professional standards, ethical guidelines and ensured best practices for Sri Lanka’s digital marketing industry.
The newly elected President of the DMASL commented on the event: “I am truly honoured and grateful to have been selected as President of the DMASL. I look forward to working with the entire digital marketing fraternity to help uplift the digital marketing industry in Sri Lanka. The DMASL was created as a platform for individuals to expand their knowledge and provide guidance on running digital businesses in an ethical manner. I look forward to the upcoming year and all the opportunities and challenges it will bring”.
The newly elected EXCO committee for the year 2022/23 includes; Kabeer Rafaideen, Muhammed Gazzaly, Niranka Perera, Rajitha Dahanayake, Jaque Perera, Prasad Perera, Udara Dharmasena, Lalinda Ariyaratna, Infas Iqbal, Amitha Amarasinghe, Sanjini Munaweera, Umair Wolid, Gayathri Seneviratne, Arjun Jeger, Shalendra Mendis and Shehan Selvanayagam.
Over the next year, the DMASL is looking to improve upon its previous efforts and continue implementing training sessions, knowledge sharing, and networking activities which will bring together different sectors in the industry.. The association will also be looking into integration of digital marketing into businesses, as it is an important element in Sri Lanka’s economic recovery. Another key area of focus for the DMASL is working in tandem with selected Government Organisations to help strategize Digital firsts and Digital marketing driven projects.
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