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Singapore Airlines not to join Tata Group in bid for Air India



by S Venkat Narayan

Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, January 30:

Singapore Airlines (SIA) is not keen to join India’s Tata Group in its bid for state-owned Air India, The Economic Times has reported quoting informed sources.

The Tata Group had hoped to rope in SIA and make the bid by way of their Vistara three-way partnership. The SIA has waived their no-compete clause, permitting the Tata Group to go forward with a solo bid for the ailing Air India.

Tata had been attempting to influence SIA to affix it on the Air India bid for months. A key cause for SIA’s reluctance is alleged to have been the long-term funding that Air India might need to return to viability.

Tata Sons, the holding firm of the conglomerate, cannot bid without SIA’s approval and its waiver of the no-compete clause. Tata may bid by itself or by way of its AirAsia India unit, in which it has been rising its stake, decreasing that of three-way partnership companion AirAsia Bhd.

While there are some challenges relating to this latter avenue, the group can work round them, executives said.

The Indian government is expected to take the process forward after shortlisting bidders for the airline by the end of the month.

“Putting in a bid through a particular entity is just a formality and not a challenge,” said a group executive. “The real work starts when EY will begin the due diligence on the bid once the government gives us the access to the data room.”

SIA declined to comment. “Singapore Airlines does not comment on investment opportunities, including in India,” said a spokesperson.

Like its global peers, the SIA too has been hit by the pandemic, forcing it to cut pay and retrench employees. The airliner will need to pump funds into itself rather than commit funds to Air India.

The Tata Group had been eager to make the bid by way of Vistara, which is also a full-service airline, and would have meant operational synergies. Tata Sons holds 51% of Vistara and SIA owns 49%. The firm is registered as Tata SIA Airlines Ltd.

AirAsia Bhd is understood to have released Tata from their no-compete clause, leaving the latter free to bid for Air India.

The Air India privatisation programme additionally consists of Air India Express, its regional worldwide low-fare arm. Tata Sons is elevating its stake in AirAsia India to 87% from 51%. The companions have been in talks to part ways as AirAsia Bhd plans to exit loss-making companies in India and Japan.

The Air India divestment has obtained expressions of interest from three entities, including the Tata Group. One of the choices being thought-about is getting a new group entity to bid for the enterprise. The Tata Sons M&A workforce and CFO Sourav Agarwal have been examining the financial contours of a possible transaction.




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New building extension for William Angliss Institute @ SLIIT



The William Angliss Institute @ SLIIT, a joint venture between William Angliss Institute, Melbourne and the SLIIT campus, Malabe, recently expanded their footprint in Sri Lanka by declaring open a new building extension with the participation of six Australian Board Members of the William Angliss Institute. Chairman and board members of the Sri Lankan franchise and other distinguished invitees too were present at the event. Judith Slevison – Board Secretary, William Angliss Institute, Australia declared open the building by cutting the ribbon, following which the distinguished guests were ushered to the Hot Kitchen, situated at the third floor of the institute where they lit the traditional oil lamp in accordance with the local customs.

Addressing the students at the Institute, Nicholas Hunt – Chief Executive Officer, William Angliss Institute @ SLIIT and Anuk Weerasinghe – Managing Director spoke of the exciting opportunities before them as tourism across the world rapidly recovers from the pandemic. The contributions of Chairman Errol Weerasinghe, Management and Staff of the William Angliss Institute @ SLIIT were also lauded by Hunt and Weerasinghe. Following the opening ceremony, the guests were taken to the second floor Patisserie Kitchen where they were served with Sri Lankan morning tea. The event concluded with a celebratory lunch for all guests, that followed a tour of the building. The new Building Extension contains two kitchens (Hot Kitchen and Patisserie) that are equipped with latest European culinary equipment.

Other facilities include three classrooms, larger food stores, and modern washrooms/ changerooms. The institute is currently putting the last touches to a Roof Top Training Bar/ Student Recreation area. The new facilities enhance the teaching capacity of this center dedicated for Hospitality, Culinary Arts, Tourism Studies, and Events, as well as the quality of student life, which in turn helps the institute reach its objective of creating career ready graduates.

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Dialog enables Digital Stock Trading on CSE via its Genie Fintech



=First platform in Sri Lanka to enable end-to-end digital onboarding and trading

Sri Lanka’s premier fintech app, genie, powered by Dialog, has launched an innovative feature that allows its users to set up a Central Depository Systems (CDS) account, add money, place orders to buy and sell stocks on the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) and withdraw funds from their trading account maintained with the broker, and manage their stock portfolio, all from the convenience of their mobile phone. Softlogic Stockbrokers Pvt Ltd [SSB] is the first broker to partner with genie in providing these brokering services within the app.

Customers can trade in shares listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) by using the buying and selling features on the Genie app during market hours and also they can place orders during off-market hours. Any trades input to genie after the market is closed will be placed on the CSE order book on the next trading day. Genie provides customers with simple and easy input screens to place the orders to buy and sell stocks by entering the price and quantity of each trade.

“As Sri Lanka’s premier Fintech app, we are pleased to have contributed to the widening of the retail investor base in Sri Lanka and to enable investors to gain access to the stock market and start investing and trade in stocks.” Renuka Fernando, Group Chief Digital Services Officer of Dialog Axiata PLC said. “We are confident that as we widen access, there will be better understanding and participation in our Capital markets. We will continue to foster good investment habits and educate our customers with easy access to market information. Self-directed investing is the logical extension of the genie platform which aims to democratize financial products and wealth management”, she further stated.

“We are pleased to have partnered with genie, Sri Lanka’s premier Fintech app, where customers can experience end to end digital journey from opening a CDS account to trading. We look forward to work with Genie in expanding our reach in the digital economy of Sri Lanka, whilst providing the best customer experience.” Dihan Dedigama, Director / Chief Executive Officer, Softlogic Stockbrokers said.

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Unilever Sri Lanka wins Youth Focus Corporate Award



Recognized for its commitment to empower Sri Lankan youth at the New Generation Awards 2022

Colombo, November 25, 2022: Unilever Sri Lanka was recently honoured with the Youth Focus Corporate Award at the New Generation Awards 2022, for making the biggest youth impact in the country during 2021-2022, as a corporate entity. The event was organised by the New Generation Chapter of Women in Management (WIM), in partnership with the National Youth Services Council in Sri Lanka. This was the only corporate award category presented at the event.

The New Generation Awards aim to identify, nurture and groom young, talented Sri Lankans and celebrate their contribution to the nation. The event comprised of over 50 Awards being presented across 20 award categories, including awards for schoolchildren, young entrepreneurs, schools, institutions and corporates.

Commenting on the award, Ananya Sabharwal, HR Director of Unilever Sri Lanka said “We are truly humbled to receive this award in recognition of our efforts to upskill the youth of the country. At Unilever, we offer flexible and short-term youth initiatives that cater to undergraduates. So, by the time they graduate, they have already gained vital skills and corporate exposure that are necessary to lay a strong foundation for their career. Our talent scouts who are our own employees collectively contribute to Unilever’s youth investment by volunteering their time to conduct campus sessions and share experiences with undergraduates. This kind of real-time industry experience sharing, really enables youth in deciding the kind of career they want to have”.

Unilever Sri Lanka has committed to empower and equip 100,000 Sri Lankan youth with essential skills by 2025 and has already enabled 30,000+ local youth to become more employable over the last five years through its campus engagements, strategic industry – academic student partnerships and career opportunities. Some of its youth initiatives include its SPARKS Student Ambassador Programme which invites undergraduates from top Sri Lankan universities to become Unilever ambassadors within their universities; the Unilever Challenge which is a real time brand centered case study competition that gives first-hand experience in working with leading brands and building disruptive thinking; the Unilever Leadership Internship Programme which offers internship opportunities to undergraduates across all functions; and many others. It is noteworthy to mention that this year, 48% of the company’s contractual employees were absorbed into the management cadre.

The company has also partnered with John Keels Holdings and London Stock Exchange to launch ‘Fast-Track’, a cross-industry Summer Internship for Sri Lankan students studying locally and abroad; and has partnered with CIMA, the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT), General Sir John Kotelawala Defense University (KDU), AIESEC Sri Lanka and Gavel clubs, to help support dynamic capability building in Sri Lankan youth. (Company news release)

About Unilever

Since its inception in 1938, Unilever Sri Lanka has established itself as one of the largest fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies in Sri Lanka. Its current product portfolio includes 30 market leading brands in categories such as Home Care, Personal Care, Beauty & Wellbeing and Nutrition. 96% of its products are manufactured locally, in compliance with the strictest manufacturing standards.Over the past 84 years, Unilever has been deeply rooted in Sri Lankan society, curating a landscape that preserves and nurtures the true Sri Lankan way of life. Enhancing the livelihoods of the communities it operates in, will continue to be at the forefront of this effort as it continues to set industry standards.

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