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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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Economic crisis: 100,000 families already starving

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Govt. to provide monthly assistance package – official

By Ifham Nizam 

Plans are underway to assist an average needy family of  four with a monthly package of Rs. 15,000, a senior adviser to President Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday, adding that the move was expected to help ameliorate the plight of nearly 65,000 families.

Food Security Committee Chairman Dr. Suren Batagoda told The Island yesterday that at present some 100,000 families across the country were starving.

He said financial assistance would be provided to those families for three months. Within three months, the government would design a package in the form of food stamps, etc.

Dr. Batagoda said the World Food Programme, UNICEF, the World Bank, and state agencies would also team up to strengthen food security, focusing especially on needy pregnant mothers and pre-school children.

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GR govt. ignored Chinese lenders’ request for debt restructuring

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Gotabaya Rajapaksa government had ignored suggestions by Chinese lending institutions that Sri Lanka to restructure the debt in 2021, Prof. Samitha Hettige said yesterday.

“The Rajapaksa government started talking of debt restructuring earlier this year. The Opposition had been asking for this before,” he said.  By 2021, before the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration decided on debt restructuring, the Chinese institutions that had given Sri Lanka loans suggested that a restructuring process should start since Sri Lanka would have trouble repaying the loans, the Strategic Studies scholar said.

However, the request had gone unheeded, and if the government had started discussions then, Sri Lanka would not have been in crisis, Prof. Hettige said.

The Sri Lankan foreign policy, in the last few years, had also been misguided, Prof. Hettige said. A number of Indian and Chinese companies faced unnecessary issues by the behaviour of the government, he said.

Prof. Hettige said that the government must focus on establishing free trade ports and reducing negative lists for investments.

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SJB dissociates itself from SF’s call for protest

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By Chaminda Silva

MP Sarath Fonseka’s call for people to join anti-government protests was not a decision taken by the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), party MP J.C Alawathuwala said.

The SJB believed that they had to help President Ranil Wickremesinghe stabilise the country, economically and politically, he said.

MP Alawathuwala said the President must be given some time to solve the problems faced by the people and that the SJB was holding discussions with the government to guide it on a people-friendly path.

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