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Talks ongoing on several mergers and acquisition deals in the finance company sector

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Cabraal welcomes Softlogic-Abans deal saying “that’s the way to go”

Former Central Bank Governor, Ajith Nivard Cabraal, now State Minister for Money, Capital Markets and State Enterprise Reform Friday welcomed the announcement earlier in the week that the Softlogic Group was acquiring a controlling interest of Abans Finance acquiring approx 33.06 million shares at a price of Rs. 30.10 per share.

Concurrently Abans announced that the transaction, which will be followed by a mandatory offer of the same price to minority shareholders, would earn it a capital gain which was not quantified. Abans Finance has been in business since Aug. 2007 as a registered finance and leasing company and later listed on the CSE in 2011.

“This is a good way to go,” said Cabraal, who as Governor of the Central Bank long advocated the merger of smaller finance companies with the bigger entities. “I am happy to see this happening and would encourage other companies too to follow the example.”

Cabraal said that such mergers and acquisitions would strengthen the entire finance industry where many companies are in distress and others have failed. It would also be a way for the smaller companies, required by the regulator to infuse substantial capital into their businesses, to be able to meet the requirement.

The Central Bank, both during Cabraal’s tenure and later, has been urging this strategy. CBSL initiated a Financial Sector Consolidation Plan in 2014.

Well informed sources said that many companies are in talks to make deals similar to the Softlogic – Abans arrangement but they could not say how soon they would materialize.

“I know of one example for sure and have heard of many other parties that are in talks,” this source said.

Following the acquisition, Softlogic which is also in the finance company business through Softlogic Finance PLC will amalgamate this company with Abans Finance and will remain the surviving entity.

Minority shareholders of Abans Finance will also have the option of swapping their holdings with every six Abans Finance shares qualifying for 11 ordinary Softlogic Finance shares.

 



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CBSL, regulatory authority of value transfer service providers

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Currently, institutions providing money transfer services in Sri Lanka such as banks and nonbank financial institutions, are regulated by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) or other relevant authorities to ensure financial system stability. However, some entities providing similar services operate outside the formal system, potentially disrupting the money transfer system and not being subject to Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regulatory framework.

To address this, the Minister of Finance, Economic Stabilization, and National Policies issued the Money or Value Transfer Service (MVTS) Providers Regulations, No. 1 of 2024 dated April 20, 2024, under the provisions of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, No. 28 of 2005. Accordingly, effective from June 3, 2024, these regulations require all MVTS providers to be registered and be monitored, offering unregistered or unlicensed MVTS providers the opportunity to formalize their operations and engage in the money transfer business through formal channels.

For the purpose of these Regulations, MVTS is defined as “financial services that involve the acceptance of cash, cheques, other monetary instruments or other stores of value and the payment of a corresponding sum in cash or other forms to a beneficiary by means of communication, message, transfer, or through a clearing network to which the registered

MVTS Provider belongs. Such transactions may involve one or more intermediaries and a final payment to a third party, and may be from place to place, within, to or from Sri Lanka or any other country”.

As per these Regulations, a person shall engage in the business of or function as an MVTS Provider only under the authority and in accordance with the terms and conditions of a Certificate of Registration issued by CBSL. However, any person who is already engaged in or is eligible to engage in the business of or function as an MVTS Provider under any other licence, permit or authorization issued by CBSL, or any other Regulator or Government entity is exempted from the aforementioned regulation.

Further, existing MVTS Providers who are already providing services without any licence, permit or authorization issued by CBSL, or any other Regulator or Government entity shall apply for a Certificate of Registration from CBSL, within one year from the effective date of these Regulations, June 3, 2024.

The key requirements under the Regulations for a person to engage in the business of or function as an MVTS Provider are as follows:

a. Shall be a company registered under the Companies Act, No. 7 of 2007 having an unimpaired capital of at least Rupees Twenty Million (20 Mn) or such other amount determined by CBSL.

A company limited by guarantee, an offshore company or an overseas company within the meaning of the Companies Act, No. 7 of 2007 is not eligible for registration under these Regulations.

b. Exclusively carry out businesses and activities of an MVTS Provider.

c. Maintain/operate a system or well-defined mechanism for providing MVTS.

An eligible person who intends to engage in the business of an MVTS Provider should submit the duly filled prescribed application to CBSL and obtain a Certificate of Registration. A company issued with such Certificate of Registration will be referred to as a “Registered MVTS Provider” and will be entitled to engage in the business of or function as a MVTS Provider as defined above.

Further, during this business process, transmission of money between Registered MVTS Providers and their Agents shall be by way of bank transfers. Further, they are required to maintain records of Agents, associates, employees engaging in MVTS related activities, and transactions including details of Transmitter, Beneficiary, Agent, the method of transfer, period of safekeeping, etc.

https://www.cbsl.gov.lk/sites/default/files/cbslweb_documents/laws/cdg/psd_reg_2024__1_e.pdf.

For further clarifications, the Payments and Settlements Department of CBSL can be contacted through Tel: 011 2477642or by email:mvts@cbsl.lk.

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ComBank donates milestone 300th IT Lab to Nalanda Boys School Minuwangoda

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Commercial Bank Chairman Sharhan Muhseen, Deputy Chairman Raja Senanayake and Managing Director/CEO Sanath Manatunge at the formal opening of the 300th IT Lab donated by the Bank.

Commercial Bank of Ceylon’s nationally-significant campaign to boost digital literacy in Sri Lanka has reached an impactful milestone with the completion of the 300th IT Lab donation by the Bank.

Commercial Bank Chairman Sharhan Muhseen, Deputy Chairman Raja Senanayake, Managing Director Sanath Manatunge, Chief Financial Officer Nandika Buddhipala and Deputy General Manager Retail Banking & Marketing Hasrath Munasinghe, who are Trustees of the Bank’s Corporate Social Responsibility Trust, led the Bank’s representation at the beneficiary school – Nalanda Boys Central College, Minuwangoda, at this momentous event.

Every IT lab donated by Commercial Bank is equipped with new computers and accessories, and furniture, and is maintained and upgraded by the Bank periodically to ensure that the labs are used by multiple batches of students over many years. The Bank estimates that the IT labs it has donated to schools have already benefitted more than 300,000 students.

Funded as a flagship corporate social responsibility initiative of its CSR Trust, Commercial Bank’s IT education programme is aligned with the country’s Sustainable Development Goals, one of which is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for everyone.

Commercial Bank’s largest commitment in the sphere of corporate social responsibility is to digital technology education in Sri Lanka. Besides the 300 IT labs donated, the Bank has committed itself to be a key partner in the national Smart Schools initiative where 165 schools have been equipped with digital learning facilities. The Bank has also funded digitized school curriculum content complete with practical videos and presentations to facilitate easy learning for students, donated 170 STEM Classrooms and 120 Math Labs to improve critical thinking of students, supported 3,000 students to get qualified via CISCO Networking Academy and launched a software learning platform in government schools by establishing coding clubs to impart coding ability to students.

In 2023, the Bank launched a new project to promote science education in 50 schools in collaboration with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Science Branch of the Ministry of Education. The project is one of a series of initiatives supported by the Bank to take science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education to schools across the country.

Sri Lanka’s first 100% carbon neutral bank, Commercial Bank is the largest private sector bank in Sri Lanka and the first Sri Lankan bank to be listed among the Top 1000 Banks of the World. The Bank is the largest lender to Sri Lanka’s SME sector, and is a leader in digital innovation in the country’s Banking sector.

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Softlogic Life Insurance launches share buyback plan amidst profit-takings in some counters

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By Hiran H. Senewiratne

Softlogic Life Insurance announced a share buyback plan as part of their strategic initiatives. Under this plan the company will purchase five shares per every 32 shares held, market analysts said.The price per share would be Rs 102.4 and the maximum shares to be purchased will be 58.59 million. Meanwhile, Serendib Engineering group announced that it would be delisting from the CSE.

Although the stock market initially positively reacted to the IMF approval granted to Sri Lanka, it later moved to negative territory due to profit- takings. The All Share Price Index went down by 25.02 points, while S and P SL20 declined by 10.40 points. Turnover stood at Rs 1.83 billion with five crossings.

Those crossings were reported in Commercial Bank, which crossed 3.5 million shares to the tune of Rs 390 million and its shares traded at Rs 110, HNB 325,000 shares crossed for Rs 66.5 million; its shares traded at Rs 204, JKH 200,000 shares crossed to the tune of Rs 40.6 million; its shares traded at Rs 203, NTB 180,000 shares crossed for Rs 23.4 million; its shares sold at Rs 130.50 and Sunshine Holdings 310,000 shares crossed for Rs 20.1 million; its shares traded at Rs 65.

In the retail market top seven companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were; Softlogic Capital Rs 128 million (16.8 million shares traded), Hayleys Rs 101.9 million (950,000 shares traded), Commercial Bank Rs 86 million (782,000 shares traded), Softlogic Life Insurance Rs 85.5 million (1.2 million shares traded), Hayleys Fabrics Rs 83.6 million (1.8 million shares traded), Sunshine Holdings Rs 67.8 million (1 million shares traded) and Sampath Bank Rs 43.4 million (543,000 shares traded). During the day 57.3 million share volumes changed hands in 11000 transactions.

During the day the banking and financial sector firms performed well, especially Commercial Bank and Sampath Bank. Manufacturing sector counters also performed well.

Yesterday, the rupee was quoted at Rs 303.90/304.05 to the US dollar in mid-day trading, while bond yields were broadly stable, and stocks opened 0.13 percent higher, dealers said. The rupee closed at Rs 303.80/304.00 to the greenback.

In the secondary market, yields were broadly stable during the auction, dealers said. A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 was quoted at 10.05/20 percent, up from 10.05/15 percent. A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 was quoted at stable at 10.70/85 percent. A bond maturing on 01.07.2028 was quoted at 11.10/15 percent, down from 11.10/20 percent. A bond maturing on 15.05.2030 was quoted at 11.80/95 percent down from 11.80/12.00 percent.

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