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.
DFCC Bank facilitates the continued growth of Sri Lankan SMEs amidst the COVID-19 pandemic
The unprecedented surfacing of the COVID-19 pandemic has left a lasting scar on the global population and economy. With no precise warning on the horizon, businesses everywhere were thrown into the deep end, and survival seemed uncertain during the peak of the pandemic. In Sri Lanka, a nation where SMEs form the integral backbone of the economy, the ill effects have been taking a heavy toll on businesses both fiscally and mentally.
However, we as Sri Lankans are resilient at our core, and with the integral support of frontline workers, officials, and essential services such as our banking partners, we set forth on a journey to assess, adapt and survive. One such story about perseverance through a valuable relationship comes from K.S.K. Menan of Star Food Store (Pvt) Ltd, and his trusted banking partner, DFCC Bank.
Emerging from humble beginnings, Menan’s story is one that inspires patriotism, and reaffirms the importance of giving back to your motherland. As a self-made entrepreneur, Menan was successfully engaged with the departmental store industry in the United Kingdom, when one day, he decided to leave everything there and come back to his home, Sri Lanka. He was on a mission to give back to the country that had given him so much, and that led to the birth of ‘Star Food Store’ in Kokkuvil, a supermarket equipped with all the necessary household essentials. DFCC Bank had been by his side throughout the entire journey until the opening of his outlet, and even more when the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
“When Imoved back to Sri Lanka in 2016, the very first account I opened was with DFCC Bank, and with their support, I was able to open the first‘Star Food Store’ in November 2019. However, when COVID-19 struck, everything came to halt. When restrictions were relaxed, I faced multiple problems with bringing things back to how they were. DFCC Bank stepped in and gave me overdraft facilities, helped clear my cheques, and provided additional funds at a low interest rate”.
Today, Menan has been able to open a second Star Food Store outlet at Achchuveli in August 2020, and a third at Idaikkadu in February 2021. He states that expansion is the last thing most businesses consider during this turbulent time, however, the X factor that has allowed him to do this is his banking partner.
“The confidence an entrepreneur gains with the right banking partner is immeasurable, and I have been able to find that with DFCC Bank. They have always gone out of the way to ensure my venture’s continuity, from sending someone from the branch immediately if there is an issue with the card machine during business hours, or even understanding that loose change is important for a supermarket and sending bags of coins from the Colombo branch for business use. I now have plans of constructing a state-of-the-art shopping complex in Jaffna, and look forward to working with DFCC on this project”.
Covid-19 third wave fears dampen stock market
By Hiran H.Senewiratne
The CSE witnessed a steep decline following worries over the possible outbreak of a Covid 19 third wave in the country and the continuation of selling pressure for certain stocks in the market, stock market analysts said.
CSE investors worried over 52 new cases being detected in two retail stores at Pamunuwa and at a state bank in Colombo at the end of the April holidays. Sri Lanka’s Health Ministry warned of a possible surge in COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks, market analysts said.
Consequently, the All Share Price Index declined by 2.9 percent and S and P SL20 dropped by three percent. Major companies sought after by investors negatively contributed to both indices during the day. According to market analysts, these companies were: LOLC (27 negative points), Expolanka (19 negative points), Vallibel One (12 negative points), Hayleys (11 negative points) and JKH (10 negative points).
All Share Price Index went down by 198.39 points and S and P SL20 down by 93.89 points. Turnover stood at Rs. 3.7 billion with a single crossing. The crossing was reported in Ceylon Cold Stores (CIS), which crossed 60000 shares to the tune of Rs. 35.4 million, its shares traded at Rs. 594.
In the retail market, five companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were: Browns Investments Rs. 717.6 million (114 million shares traded), Expolanka Rs. 480 million (9.8 million shares traded), Hayleys Rs. 392 million (five million shares traded), Dipped Products Rs. 389 million (6.9 million shares traded) and LOLC Rs. 193 million (587,000 shares traded). During the day 197 million share volumes changed hands in 31305 transactions.
Sri Lanka rupee quoted firmer around 192/194 levels to the US dollar in the spot market on Tuesday, while bond yields slightly eased, dealers said. Sri Lanka rupee last closed at 194/198 levels to the US dollar in the spot market on Monday. The Central Banks Telegraph Transfer rates stand at 187.93/191.97 levels below the spot rates on Monday.
Sri Lanka’s rupee has come under pressure amid money printing and low-interest rates, despite the worst import controls since the 1970s, observers said.
SAT launches F5 portfolio to deliver secure digital experiences
(At left) : Edgar Dias, Regional Vice President of Channels and Partnerships, Asia Pacific, F5. (At right) : Sanjaya Padmaperuma, CEO of SAT.
South Asian Technologies (Pvt) Ltd, announces its appointment to be a distributor for F5 within Sri Lanka and Maldives to deliver secure digital experience to enterprises.
The cutting-edge technology is a portal for delivering applications and data with greater agility, security, availability, performance, and scalability.
F5’s portfolio of automation, security, performance, and insight capabilities empowers customers to create, secure, and operate adaptive applications that reduce costs, improve operations, and better protect users.
“With the increasing necessity for digitalisation in the workspace, now more than ever, organisations need proven solutions to help secure their businesses. Adding F5 to our existing portfolio gives South Asian Technologies, a more omniscient opportunity to equip our partners and customers with best-in-class application security and delivery solutions. As F5 enables adaptive applications, the SAT team is ecstatic at the prospect of securing our clientele with robust security offerings that have a proven history with Fortune 500 companies across the globe,” said Sanjaya Padmaperuma, CEO of SAT.
Every company today is in the digital experience business. In the wake of COVID-19, customer expectations are higher than ever, as the experiences garnered are the primary way that people interact and transact with just about every organisation at present.
F5 helps organisations deliver and secure the premium digital facilities that customers demand by enabling adaptive applications which, like living organisms, will naturally adapt based on their environment – growing, shrinking, defending, and healing themselves.
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