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REITs set to offer new avenues of growth for property owners and investors

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The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (CA Sri Lanka) and the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) recently conducted a webinar titled “REITs: The way Forward and Opportunities”, focusing on the newly introduced Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) Framework. The discussion also highlighted key features of this opportunity that can be a catalyst for multiple benefits for property owners, investors and the economy at large.

The webinar featured capital market and financial services experts including the chairman of CA Sri Lanka Manil Jayesinghe, CSE CEO Rajeeva Bandaranaike, Director Corporate Affairs at the Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka (SEC) Dr. Harshana Suriyapperuma, CSE Chief Regulatory Officer Renuke Wijayawardhane, Principal for Tax and Regulation at KPMG Sri Lanka Suresh R. I. Perera and Group Director Candor Holdings Ravi Abeysuriya.

Director Corporate Affairs at the SEC Dr. Harshana Suriyapperuma during his remarks noted the importance and significance of the introduction and provided the audience with a comprehensive understanding of the framework to issue and manage REITs in Sri Lanka. “Upon the SEC issuing the gazette notification, the Sri Lankan capital market can now formally accept applications for creating REITs not only for commercial & residential properties meeting the criteria but also for infrastructure projects. It’s important to note that Sri Lankan REITs are allowed only as a listed security, mainly to promote transparency and to facilitate retail investor participation. In Sri Lanka the attractiveness of REITs is expected to be further enhanced owing to the tax incentives included in the national budget. Checks and balances are included within the regulation framework to safeguard the interests of our investors whilst facilitating flexibility for the business case of REITs as an investment vehicle.”

It has been made mandatory within the framework that a REIT be managed by a managing company licensed by the SEC and meet the basic criteria stipulated within the listing rules to qualify for a listing on the CSE. The real estate assets owned by the REIT would be required to meet the minimum threshold of Rs. 500 million at the point of listing, it is mandatory that all units issued pursuant to a REIT be listed, a 30% stake to be held by the sponsor or strategic investor which will be locked-in for a period of 06 months and 20% of the units issued be held by a minimum of 100 shareholders are some of the basic requirement that need to be met at the point of listing a REIT.

Sharing remarks at the webinar, the CSE Chief Regulatory Officer Renuke Wijayawardhane highlighted the steps involved with Listing a REIT on the CSE and the overview of the process. To provide a perspective on the regulatory environment upon issuing and listing a REIT, Renuke also elaborated on the numerous compliance requirements that a REIT would be subject to at the point of listing as well as on a continuous basis. “Similar to a listed company, REITs would be subject to compliance requirements in the best interest of all stakeholders involved and with focus on investor protection and maintaining a fair and orderly market.” Commenting on the timeline for issuing a REIT and the approval process, Renuke noted that initial approval for the REIT would have to be obtained through the SEC and the listing application should be forwarded to the CSE within a month of obtaining approval. Renuke also highlighted the process with listing a REIT on the CSE and noted that it would only take around 50 days from the point CSE grants approval for the listing application up to the point of listing the units and be made available for trading on the CSE.

(CSE)

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HNB promotes cashless transactions; joins CBSL’s ‘Rata Purama LANKAQR’ campaign

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Chief Guest for the event Money and Capital Markets and State Enterprise Reforms State Minister Ajith Nivard Cabraal, CBSL Deputy Governor and National Payments Council chairperson Yvette Fernando, and CBSL Payments and Settlements Director D. Kumaratunge with HNB Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer Dilshan Rodrigo as he completes a transaction via HNB SOLO at a merchant stall

HNB PLC, partnered with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka to promote the Colombo-leg of ‘Rata Purama LANKA QR’ campaign at Diyatha Uyana, to raise awareness and encourage the public towards cashless payments.

Having already linked LANKA QR to its digital payment app HNB SOLO, the bank was among other financial institutions and telecommunication partners in joining efforts to make cashless QR-code based payments the standard for mobile phones and digital payments countrywide, in moving towards a cashless and digitally-savvy Sri Lanka.

“We are entering a new era of financial technology, where almost all of our daily transactions will require no physical banknotes, but just a smartphone and internet connection with our bank account integrated to a digital payment app.

The Central Bank’s national directive for banks and financial institutions to adopt and integrate LANKA QR into their existing digital payment solutions has prompted an aggressive onboarding of merchants to the new payment solution across the country. With our extensive customer base, SOLO is no doubt a significant contributor to this innovative initiative,” HNB Deputy General Manager – Retail and SME Banking, Sanjay Wijemanne said.

The Colombo-leg of the ‘Rata Purama LANKA QR’ campaign raised awareness regarding SOLO’s many facilities, including zero human interaction, efficiency, and eliminated risks that influenced many vendors to come on board.

 

(HNB)

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Sri Lanka Insurance posts a staggering revenue of Rs. 55.2 billion during 2020

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Amidst the turbulent and challenging year Sri Lanka Insurance has closed year 2020 on a positive note recording phenomenal revenue growth with exceptional service innovations.

Sri Lanka Insurance the premier insurer to the nation recorded stellar performance in 2020 to record Rs. 55.2 billion revenue for the year, a marked improvement on the Rs.48.6 billion in the year 2019, a press release said.

It adds – In the year of 2020 Sri Lanka Insurance reported 30 % growth in life insurance premium increasing to Rs.19.2 billion whilst general insurance reported 7% growth in premium grew to Rs. 20.1 billion. The company achieved a combined Gross Written Premium (GWP) growth rate of 17 % during the year. General insurance contributed 51% towards the total GWP whilst Life Insurance contributed 49 %.

‘In continuing with its tradition of leadership, Sri Lanka Insurance in 2020 surpassed its own record to declare a sum of Rs.8.2 billion as bonus to policyholders. The cumulative life insurance bonus paid out during the past 10 years tops a massive Rs.54 billion making the SLIC bonus payout unmatchable.

‘As the national insurer we have witnessed yet another challenging year and the consequences brought out by pandemic outbreak urged us to conduct our business operations in a more empathetic manner. SLIC has always taken the lead to protect the nation and during this difficult time Sri Lanka Insurance launched many initiatives to sustain country’s health defenses while ensuring our customers receive uninterrupted insurance service.

‘As the pioneering insurance company in Sri Lanka we are in the forefront to inculcate the importance of insurance to the masses as a national responsibility on our shoulders. We will further strengthen internal capabilities to serve the nation through innovative and affordable insurance solutions which cater to all Sri Lankans under the ‘Insurance for All” concept. Even though the times are defining we will continue protecting our nation turning obstacles into opportunities.’ noted .Jagath Wellawatta, chairman of SLIC.

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Bank of Ceylon empowering nation with Lanka Q

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The Bank of Ceylon in its mission to assist the government initiative to empower Sri Lanka through digital technology is joining the customer awareness campaign of Central Bank of Sri Lanka’s Lanka QR digital platform.

Bank of Ceylon had its most recent major awareness programs in Borella and Maharagama along with the other branches in Colombo District in line with the Central Bank’s main program held in “Diyatha Uyana” with the participation of all Lanka QR certified banks on the same day.

Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) has organized a series of awareness and promotion campaigns for popularizing Lanka QR with the participation of all Lanka QR certified financial institutions throughout the country with the aim of speeding up the customer adaptation process towards digital banking.

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