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



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 or by sending an email to

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SJB MP slams police double standards



“Why one law for Ponnambalam and another for Gamage?”

The police have failed to display the same efficiency they displayed in arresting Jaffna District MP Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam with regard to arresting State Minister Diana Gamage, who should have been spending her time at the Mirihana Immigration Detention Centre, Kurunegala District SJB MP Nalin Bandara Jayamaha told Parliament on Friday.

“If the police had displayed the same efficacy, Diana Gamage should have been at the Mirihana Detention Centre at this time. Instead she comes to parliament and issues threats to other MPs. The courts have clearly stated that the CID could take her into custody because she had been using two passports.

“The Immigration Controller himself has reported to the courts that she had been a UK citizen since 2004 and using a UK passport since then. She has not revoked her UK citizenship. In addition she has obtained anther passport through the Secretary General of Parliament. The Speaker too should have a responsibility to prevent a foreign citizen sitting unlawfully in the House,” he said.

Jayamaha said that Gamage had no right to sit in parliament. “The case against her regarding her having forged passports is postponed again and again. The law is not implemented. My colleague Mujibur Rahuman tabled a document in this House that the Defence Secretary had been informed of the illegality of Gamage’s presence in Parliament. I tabled the same again today.

“She recently told a TV talk-show that she had applied for the revocation of her UK citizenship. We do not know whether she has two tongues,” the MP said.

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Sarath Weerasekera opposes SLT share sale on security grounds



Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT), which owns a fixed and mobile telecom group, which is partly foreign owned and listed should not be privatized, the head of a parliamentary committee on national security has said.

Government MP, Retd. Admiral Sarath Weerasekara who chairs the Sectoral Oversight Committee on National Security told parliament Friday that divestment of the 49.5 percent stake in SLT held by the government could “expose the country’s strategic communication infrastructure and sensitive information to private companies that are motivated by profit, which could pose a threat to national security”.

Weerasekara also said that any individual or organization proscribed or otherwise that “aided terrorists or extremists” must not be allowed to purchase shares or control Sri Lanka’s national assets.

The claim comes despite satellite links and international cables connecting the country being built and managed by foreign conglomerates in which many connected countries are also shareholders. SLT is also a shareholder in some global cable companies.

Weerasekara suggested that the government retain the right to repurchase shares held by the majority shareholder of SLT.SLT’s second biggest shareholder, behind the Sri Lanka government, is Malaysia-based Usaha Tegas Sdn Bhd with a 44.9 percents take in the company.

Most Sri Lanka’s mobile firms were also built and owned not just by private firm but foreign ones. SLT’s own mobile network, Mobitel was a build operate transfer project by Australia’s Telstra.

Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers in March 2023 listed Sri Lanka Telecom among several state companies to be re-structured.SLT currently enjoys market leadership in fixed-line services and is the second-largest operator in mobile. It also owns an extensive optical fibre network.The company was placed on watch for a possible rating upgrade by Fitch Ratings in March 2023 after the government announced the restructuring. (EconomyNext)

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Cardinal hits out at government demanding local elections



By Norman Palihawadane

Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has urged the government to hold local elections to secure the democratic rights of the people.

“Voting is a right of the people that we must all enjoy. It is a right that every person over 18 -years of age is entitled to to determine the future of the country,” he said on Thursday.

“Today justice as been turned into injustice, governance to dictatorship and law into lawlessness,” the 75-year-old cardinal told a gathering of hundreds of people at a function at St. Anthony’s College in Kochchikade.

Local polls to elect 340 councils were slated for April 25 but the election commission postponed it, citing a lack of funds.

“The government said earlier that it doesn’t have money to hold an election, now it’s saying that it has money. If the government has the money, please give an opportunity to the people to vote and let the people express their wishes. How much of what came from the IMF was used for agriculture? How much for the fishing industry? And what about education?” the cardinal queried.

Rather than improving the lives of people, “politicians import goods, and bring in what we need and what we don’t need, destroying our economic independence, leading us to depend on foreign countries,” he said.

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