The MMBL-Pathfinder Group, a pioneer investor in the private civil aviation sector in Sri Lanka, through its associate, Pathfinder Capital (Pvt.) Ltd., last week announced it was entering the field of commercial drone operations here.
It said in a news release that having examined the vast array of drones in the market, it had chosen Israel based Airobotics Ltd., which has developed an ideal solution for commercial drone applications, to supply the eqipment necessary for the business.
“The variety of services provided by Airobotics includes perimeter security, HSSE monitoring, emergency response, 2D/3D mapping, survey & analytics, asset inspection etc. Drones developed by Airobotics cover a range of business applications, including public safety, construction, real estate, utilities, ports and airports, and industrial facilities, to name a few,” the release said.
“The management of Pathfinder Capital (Pvt) Ltd will seek to go through the application process with the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka (CAASL) and work closely with local companies interested in utilizing the state-of-the-art drone system offered by Airobotics Ltd.”
The release explained that airobotics infrastructure allows for fully automated data collection through flights beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS). This ability to fly remotely enables operators in various industries to operate an aircraft with minimal training or background in aviation.
It added that in homeland security, police officers used the system to reduce response time, in industrial facilities to conduct their inspection work along power lines and railway lines for maintenance work, and in agricultural farmland to observe the health of plantations and check on other aspects of commercial properties.
The release further said drones are usually operated by pilots specially trained for the job. However, with the deployment of advanced technology, autonomous flight capability would render drone operators redundant.
“Airobotics became the first company in the world to receive authorization for unmanned commercial drone operations, granted by the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel way back in 2017. Since then, Airobotics has received regulatory approval for additional countries and has been operating in the US, Singapore and Dubai with multiple clients and rapidly expanding their global unmanned operations. Most recently, Airobotics has entered urban areas and has deployed its infrastructure to fly over millions of people in the UAE,” the release said. It continued:
“Most have heard of drones in the context of military aircraft engaging in warfare or small drones deployed by children and adults alike for recreational purposes. However, drones are increasingly being developed, marketed and used for commercial purposes. It is estimated that since 2012 over US$ 1.5 billion has been invested by commercial drone startups. Looking at the new trends in the drone market, it appears that in the future, drones will represent a significant segment of commercial applications due to their efficiency and capability in gathering and analyzing data.
“With the Covid 19 pandemic sweeping across the world, many countries considered the option of using drones to move medical items required for fighting the pandemic. Sri Lanka Civil Aviation Authority also recognized the utility of drones for surveillance and delivery purposes, revised the regulations that controlled licensing and operation of drones, and invited those interested in registering their drones that could help fight against the pandemic.
“The drone market was expected to grow steadily in the consumer, commercial, and military sectors. In a 2016 report, Goldman Sachs estimated that drone technologies would reach a total market size of $100 billion between 2016 and 2020. The commercial business component of this growth forecast was projected to reach $13 billion. Meanwhile, it was estimated that consumer drone shipments would reach $ 29 million in 2021.
“Practical application of drones includes delivering health-related products and consumer items, mainly the last-mile delivery helping to keep transportation costs low. Another application is drones’ ability to inspect hard to reach places within a fraction of the duration taken by visual inspection undertaken manually. Thus, interested parties could deploy drones for aerial analysis of large construction sites and buildings, pipelines, solar panels, electric grids, commercial plantations, and offshore platforms. The ability of drones to gather high-quality images will save time and money for ports, airports etc., and support perimeter surveillance of large commercial projects.”
Seylan Bank records Rs. 1.5 Bn PAT for 1H 2022
Seylan Bank recorded a Profit after Tax of Rs. 1,504 Mn for the 6 months ended 30th June 2022 against Rs. 2,105 Mn reported in the corresponding period of 2021. This has been seen by financial analysts as commendable given the extremely challenging and adverse conditions the Bank operated in, with Sri Lanka facing its worst economic crisis since Independence, especially in Q2 this year.
Net Interest income increased from Rs. 10,971 Mn to Rs 16,851 Mn, a growth of 53.60% over the previous year for the 6 months ended 30th June 2022. The Bank’s net fee based income increased by 27.36% from Rs. 2,180 Mn to Rs. 2,776 Mn during 1H, mainly due to an increase in debit and credit card related income, commission income on e-banking, service charges on deposits and commission on remittances which were partly offset by decrease in guarantees related income and loans and advances related income. Other income captions comprising net gains from trading activities, net gains from de-recognition of financial assets, net gains on foreign exchange transactions and other operating income increased by 37.20 % a net gain from Rs. 1,526 Mn from the correspondent year to a net gain of Rs. 2,093 Mn during 1H 2022. The net increase is mainly due to increase in mark to market net gain on derivative financial instruments and impact from net revaluation losses on FCY assets and liabilities.
Total expenses recorded an increase of 7.43 % from Rs. 6,750 Mn in the 1H of the previous year to Rs. 7,251 Mn for the 6 months ended 30th June 2022. Personnel expenses increased by Rs. 287 Mn mainly due to an increase in the staff benefits based on the collective agreement. Other operating expenses and depreciation and amortisation expenses too increased by 7.35% due to increase in prices of purchases and services as a result of higher inflation and local currency depreciation. However, the Bank will continue to take relevant measures to curtail costs with various cost initiatives.
CSE turnover exceeds Rs. 6 billion as bullish trend accelerates
By Hiran H.Senewiratne
CSE activities were extremely bullish yesterday as market turnover exceeded Rs 6 billion after seven months and the All- Share Price Index surpassed 9000 points for the first time since March 31 this year, stock market analysts said.
All blue chip company shares appreciated by more than five per cent, driven mainly by Lanka IOC and Hayleys. The reason for the market being upbeat was the relative political stability which has come into being under President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who spearheads an effort to establish a national government with some other political parties in parliament, together with the gradual movement of the economy despite all odds, stock market analysts opined.
Observers are of the view that Sri Lanka stock market is still one of the most attractive emerging stock markets in the region. It is said that during 2011/12 the stock market was at the 7000 points level and after ten years, i.e. 2022, the stock market is at 9000 points level. Besides, Sri Lanka’s equity market is ranked as one of the top most of such markets.
Amid those developments both indices moved upwards. The All- Share Price Index moved up by 321 points or 3.69 per cent and closed at 9027.48 points and the S and P SL20 rose by 159.5 points. Turnover stood at Rs 6.3 billion with four crossings. Those crossings were reported in Melstacorp, which crossed 5.2 million shares to the tune of Rs 280 million, its shares traded at Rs 54, JKH 500,000 shares crossed to the tune of Rs 64 million, its shares traded at Rs 128, Kahawatte Plantations one million shares crossed to the tune of Rs 27 million and its shares fetched Rs 27 and Hayleys 200,000 shares crossed for Rs 22 million; its share price stood at Rs 110.
In the retail market, top seven companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were, Lanka IOC Rs 1.4 billion (8.7 million shares traded), Expolanka Holdings Rs 720 million (3.3 million shares traded), Browns Investments Rs 339 million (41.7 million shares traded), Hayleys Rs 326 million (2.8 million shares traded), JKH Rs 294 million (2.3 million shares traded), Melstacorp Rs 235 million (4.4 million shares traded) and Dipped Products Rs 199 million (4.3 million shares traded). During the day 209 million share volumes changed hands in 47000 share transactions.
Lanka IOC and Hayleys drove the market. Lanka IOC shares moved to Rs 27.75 or rose by 20 per cent. Its share price rose to Rs 172.50 from Rs 144.75 and Hayleys share price gained by 11 per cent or Rs 11.75. Its share price moved to Rs 119.75 from Rs 106.25.Yesterday, the Central Bank announced the US dollar buying rate as Rs 357.24 and the selling rate as Rs 368.56.
Sampath Bank remains vibrant, backed by strong capital and liquidity positions
Sampath Bank continued to maintain a solid capital base and stable liquidity profile in the first half of 2022 notwithstanding multiple economic challenges. The Bank remains vigilant in identifying the current economic issues and has continued to implement in a proactive manner the required countermeasures, clearly demonstrating its strength and stability.
In line with that objective and in order to improve the foreign currency liquidity position, the Bank continues to focus and promote inward remittances as well as to encourage the inflow of export proceeds. The Bank further reinforced its commitment to all its stakeholders by continuing to support all affected segments to sustain their respective businesses in order to ride out the current economic crisis.
Despite the prevailing economic turmoil, the Bank posted a commendable PAT of Rs 7.1 Bn and PBT of Rs 9 Bn for the period ended 30th June 2022, reflecting a minor increase of 0.3% and slight decrease of 5.5% respectively compared to the figures declared in 1H 2021. In the meantime, the Group declared a PAT of Rs 7.4 Bn and PBT of Rs 9.6 Bn, denoting a decline of 2% and 5.5% respectively over the first half of 2021.
Key financial highlights declared by Sampath Bank for 1H 2022:
Strong NIM of 4.85% on the back of rising AWPLR.
323% growth in exchange income stemming from the sharp depreciation of LKR against USD by 80% or by Rs 160.25.
Sizable 69.9% increase in net fee and commission income during the period, driven by cards and trade-related operations.
Higher impairment provisions on loans and investments to capture possible economic uncertainties.
A surcharge tax of Rs 2.67 Bn recognized against the opening retained earnings of the Bank.
Fund Based Income
Total interest income increased by 41.1 % year on year to Rs 59.2 Bn in the first half of 2022, compared to Rs 41.9 Bn in the same period of the previous year. This significant increase in interest income is due to the upward trend in interest rates in the first half of 2022. The AWPLR at the end of the reporting period reached 22.62%, which is 1,711 bps higher than the rate reported on 30th June 2021. Furthermore, the current AWPLR surpassed the end 2021 figure by 1,401 bps. At the same time, the interest rate on a one-year treasury bill climbed by 1,861 bps from the treasury bill rate reported at end of 30th June 2021 and stood at 23.84% at the end of 30th June 2022.
Interest expenses increased by 22.6% compared to the corresponding period of last year due to rising interest trend. The Bank’s total interest expense was Rs 27.8 Bn at the end of the current reporting period compared to Rs 22.7 Bn reported in 1H 2021. Prudent asset and liability management however ensured that net interest income grew by 63% in 1H 2022. This trend is reflected in the NIM growth of 124 bps reported for the period.
Non-Fund based income
The Bank recorded a significant increase of 69.9% in its net fee and commission income (NFCI) in 1H 2022 compared to the same period of the previous year. NFCI is made up of income from a variety of sources, including loans and advances, credit cards, trade, and electronic channels. In the period under review, significant growth was noted in card-related business volumes and as well as fee and commission income from trade-related activities.
During the first half of 2022, net other operating income increased to Rs 16 Bn, an unprecedented 378% increase compared to Rs 3.4 Bn recorded in the corresponding period of the previous year. This was mainly due to the 80% depreciation of LKR against US Dollar. Meanwhile, the Bank posted a net trading loss of Rs 2.5 Bn, compared to the gain of Rs 46 Mn reported during the corresponding period of the previous financial year. Total exchange income for the first six months of 2022 was Rs 13 Bn compared Rs 3 Bn registered in 1H 2021.
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