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The Stock Market identified as a willing and able source to fund digital transformation

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The Federation of Information Technology Industry Sri Lanka (FITIS), the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) and the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) recently conducted a webinar titled “Financing Digital Transformation: Is Going Public the Next Step?”, focusing on how companies in the IT industry can now consider a stock exchange listing in view of the recent changes to CSE listing eligibility.

The discussion focused on the expansion of the eligibility criteria for an initial listing of shares on the Main Board and the Diri Savi Board which will now enable a wider spectrum of companies to qualify for a listing.

The webinar featured capital market and tech industry experts including Chairman of FITIS Abbas Kamrudeen, Director/legal Adviser of ICTA Jayantha Fernando, CSE CEO Rajeeva Bandaranaike, CSE Chief Regulatory Officer Renuke Wijayawardhane and Founder/CEO of Pickme Jiffry Zulfer.

Director/Legal Adviser of ICTA Jayantha Fernando said that global success stories have helped catalyze a shift among private-company leadership toward viewing public markets as a more welcoming place to raise capital.

The stock market engine should be recognized as a tool within this ecosystem which, if correctly used, could pave the way for not only companies to grow but for the economy at large to grow as well, he noted.

Sharing his thoughts at the webinar, the Chairman of FITIS Abbas Kamrudeen said, “When it comes to financing, there are many options companies can evaluate from bootstrapping, Angel investors, debt capital, Venture Capital to private equity. But my belief is that for those companies that have matured to some extent, there is no better option to financing than going public. The reason being, it not only gives you flexibility and speed in future rounds of financing, but it will also allow you to understand the true value of your organization.”

The CEO of CSE Rajeeva Bandaranaike shared the perspective on the rationale for the CSE to revamp its listing requirements to cater to an ever-evolving business landscape in Sri Lanka consisting of modern and dynamic business models, which are particularly seen in the technology space.

He outlined that these new changes are now well placed to attract a wave of tech companies to the local stock market.

The Chief Regulatory Officer of CSE Renuke Wijayawardhane, highlighting these new avenues for companies stated, “Companies that ideally could not look at a listing on the main board as a result of the three consecutive year profit requirement now have other options. Companies with positive net assets for two financial years could list on the CSE with an aggregate net profit after tax for three years, an alternate which does not require companies to be profitable for three consecutive years.”

He added: “To broaden the entry routes, we have also introduced revenue and cashflow options in addition to the two profit-based routes. Companies could now demonstrate either an aggregate revenue of Rs. 3 billion for three financial years or positive operating cashflow after adjusting for working capital for two consecutive years. The revenue and cashflow route could be explored by companies capable of demonstrating a market capitalization of Rs. 5 Billion or more at the point of listing.”

Companies have also been given the opportunity of listing on the Diri Savi Board by demonstrating a revenue of Rs. 350 million for the financial year immediately preceding the date of the initial listing application and a market capitalization of Rs. 2 billion at the point of listing”, he added.

Speaking from an Investment Bank’s perspective, Head – Corporate Advisory at NDB Investment Bank, Nilendra Weerasinghe noted the progressive steps taken by the CSE to encourage tech companies to raise capital in the public markets.

“We need more private capital flows to support SMEs and startups to make it to the big league. In doing this, policies which incentivize private capital investments into angel and venture capital fund like structures could catalyze this space having a significant impact on the broader economy”, he further said.

Renowned tech entrepreneur and CEO of Pickme Jiffry Zulfer identified the stock market listing as an ideal exit option for investors and private equity firms investing in start-ups.

He went on to note that having the stock market listing as an option and a possible exit mechanism will help the growth of the start-up ecosystem in Sri Lanka by attracting a wider audience of investors who see the value of a market-based exit mechanism.

Companies are invited to connect with the CSE to discuss how they can now tap into public funding to spur on the company’s growth agenda. Details on eligibility of listing and the process could also be obtained through www.cse.lk or by sending an email to maalik@cse.lk



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Govt. MP Wijeyadasa strikes discordant note on Port City Bill

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… alleges bid to turn Port City into Chinese territory

Over 12 petitioners move SC against proposed law

By Shamindra Ferdinando

SLPP lawmaker Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe PC, yesterday (15) alleged that the proposed Bill, titled ‘Colombo Port City Economic Commission,’ would transform the reclaimed land, adjacent to the Galle Face Green into a Chinese territory.

Addressing the media at the Abhayarama temple, under the auspices of Ven Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera, the former President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL), Rajapakshe, warned of dire consequences if the government went ahead with what he termed the despicable project.

Sixteen parties had filed action against the Bill. Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda thera was among the petitioners.

The ruling party had placed the Bill on the Order Paper on April 8, just 15 calendar days after the publication of the Bill in the Gazette. In terms of the Constitution a citizen intending to challenge the constitutionality of a Bill had to do so within one week from the Bill being placed in the Order Paper of Parliament, Dr. Rajapakse said.

Among those who moved the SC were the General-Secretary of the UNP and the Chairman of the UNP. The Attorney-General has been named a respondent in the petition. The BASL, too, moved SC against the Attorney General. Three civil society activists, Oshala Herath, Dr. Ajantha Perera and Jeran Jegatheesan also filed action.

Lawmaker Rajapakse explained how the proposed Bill, if enacted, could allow independent status to USD 1.4 bn Colombo Port City. Former Justice Minister alleged that the Colombo Port City project was far worse than the selling of the strategic Hambantota port to the Chinese by the previous administration.

The Colombo District MP said the Parliament wouldn’t have financial control over the Colombo Port City Project whereas its independent status would legally empower those managing the project to finalise agreements with external parties

Referring to the previous administration, the former UNPer alleged that China had bribed members of Parliament. MP Rajapakse questioned the rationale behind China providing computers to all members of Parliament and officials as well as jaunts to China.

Rajapakse said that Sri Lanka shouldn’t give in to Chinese strategies aimed at bringing Sri Lanka under its control. The former minister explained the threat posed by the growing Chinese presence including the Colombo Port City, a terminal in the Colombo harbour and at the Hambantota port.

 

 

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Sooka pushing UK for punitive action against Army Commander

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An outfit, led by Yasmin Sooka, a member of the UNSG Panel of Experts’ (PoE), has urged the UK to take punitive measures against the Commander of the Army, General Shavendra Silva, who is also the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).

The Army headquarters told The Island that the matter had been brought to the notice of the relevant authorities. It said that it was all part of the ongoing well-funded campaign against the Sri Lankan military.

Issuing a statement from Johannesburg, the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) said it had compiled a 50-page dossier which it has submitted to the Sanctions Department of the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office on General Shavendra Silva. The Submission argues why Silva, who is Sri Lanka’s current Army Commander, should be designated under the United Kingdom’s Global Human Rights (GHR) Sanctions Regime established on 6 July 2020.

“We have an extensive archive of evidence on the final phase of the civil war in Sri Lanka, meticulously collected by international prosecutors and lawyers. The testimony of victims and witnesses – many now in the UK – was vital in informing this Submission, and making the linkages to Shavendra Silva and those under his command,” said the organisation’s executive director, Yasmin Sooka.

The ITJP Submission details Shavendra Silva’s role in the perpetration of alleged gross human rights violations including of the right to life when he was 58 Division Commander during the final phase of the civil war in 2009 in the north of Sri Lanka. It draws on searing eyewitness testimony from Tamils who survived the government shelling and bombing of hospitals and food queues in the so called No Fire Zones, many of whom now reside in the UK as refugees. The Submission also looks at Silva’s alleged involvement in torture and sexual violence, including rape, which is a priority area of the UK Government’s foreign policy.

“The US State Department designated Shavendra Silva in 2020 for his alleged role in the violations at the end of the war but the remit of the UK sanctions regime works is broader and includes his role in the shelling of hospitals and other protected civilian sites during the military offensive. This is important in terms of recognising the full extent of the violations, as well as supporting the US action,” commented Ms. Sooka. “UK designation would be another significant step forward in terms of accountability and would be in line with the recent UN Human Rights Council Resolution passed in Geneva for which Britain was the penholder,” she added.

Political will in applying the UK’s new sanctions regime to Sri Lanka was apparent in a recent parliamentary debate which saw 11 British parliamentarians ask why the UK government had not applied sanctions against Sri Lankan military figures, including Shavendra Silva, who was named six times in this context.”

 

 

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Ten lives snuffed out in road accidents during festive period

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Road accidents had snuffed out 10 lives during the Sinhala and Tamil New year, police spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said yesterday, adding that 121 accidents had been reported on April 14 alone.

Twelve of the accidents took place on the Southern Expressway.

DIG Rohana also said that 758 drunk drivers had been arrested on April 14. He added that such drivers would not be released on police bail.

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