Carson Cumberbatch PLC, the 107-year old Colombo incorporated conglomerate had suffered a group loss of Rs. 2.65 billion in the year ended Mar. 31, 2020, down 349% from a profit of Rs. 1.07 billion a year earlier. according to the company’s just released annual report.
Despite possibly the worst challenges faced during its long history, Carson’s Chairman Tilak de Zoysa said he was proud to report that none of their group employees lost their jobs or had to take pay cuts on account of the Covid impact – something they considered a key corporate social responsibility.
Carson’s are among the world’s major players in palm oil with extensive plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia and substantial processing capability. The business had been impacted in the year under review by two consecutive years of low prices for crude palm oil (CPO), de Zoysa reported.
“(Prices) started recovering during the third quarter, and were yet again pushed down by the demand downturn following the spread of the pandemic,” he said. “In addition global crude petroleum prices were not incentivising vegetable oil during the year.”
These remained range-bound at the USD 50-60 level, subsequently crashing since Jan. 2020 despite the emergence of an industry benevolent bio-diesel programs in Indonesia. Also adverse weather hurt crops impacting the fresh fruit bunch production.
In addition to growing and processing palm oil, Carson’s are into the ancillary oils and fats industry, beverages (being the dominant stakeholder in the Lion Brewery), portfolio and asset management, controlling the wealthiest investment company quoted on the Colombo Stock Exchange, leisure (Pegasus Reef and Giritale Hotels) and real estate owning prime commercial properties in Colombo.
The chairman said their three main areas of activity were oil palm plantations, beverages and portfolio and asset management with a value of Rs. 7.2 billion.
Despite the negative results resulting from a variety of factors including the Easter bomb and the pandemic, de Zoysa said that as a “resilient conglomerate, the group remained focused and positive by looking ahead despite the immediate economic and operational strain created by the pandemic on markets and businesses.”
He vowed to move forward achieving a balance of utmost health and safety of their operations and the optimum level of business and customer satisfaction.
Carson’s has a strong balance sheet with total assets totaling Rs. 172.9 billion and total liabilities Rs. 117.7 billion. A revenue reserve of Rs. 23.1 billion is also carried in the books. An interim dividend of 75 cents per share was paid during the year under review, down from one rupee a share a year earlier.
Bukit Darah PLC, a member of the Carson’s group, is the single largest shareholder of the company where there is a total if 1,997 shareholders in the register including the EPF (2.85%) and several non-resident investment funds. The Selvanathan family, founders of the Sri Krishna Corporation, is the ultimate controlling shareholder.
The directors of the company are: Messrs. T. de Zoyza (chairman). H. Selvanathan (Deputy Chairman), M. Selvanathan, DCR Gunawardena, SK Shah, VP Malasekera, F. Mohideen, R. Theagarajah, Ravi Dias, AS Amaratunga and Ms. Sharada Selvanathan. Mr. K. Selvanathan is alternated for Mr. M. Selvanathan and Mr. S. Selvanathan for Mr. DCR Gunawardena.
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Unlimited music streaming platform in Sri Lanka
SLT-Mobitel, the nation’s ICT and Telecommunications Service Provider recently partnered with Spotify, to mark their launch in Sri Lanka. Spotify is a paid premium music streaming app which allows subscribers to listen to music to their hearts content. Both, SLT-Mobitel Post-Paid and Pre-Paid customers will now be able to enjoy Spotify by activating a monthly recurring subscription or one-time subscription plan and access unlimited music streaming and downloading facilities.
The subscription charges will get added to the user’s customary billing, where payment will be deducted in real time. Starting from the payment date, the user will be able to access Spotify and download their favourite songs, for the next 30 days. Users who sign up for their first monthly subscription will receive an additional one month, courtesy of Spotify. The one-month subscription plan is not applicable with one-time subscription plans. SLT-Mobitel data rates, depending on the user’s respective broadband charges, will apply.
Spotify also has some exciting features that will provide SLT-Mobitel customers with the opportunity to listen to ad-free music, access millions of uninterrupted music under one platform, play any song they like, anywhere they go, and also be able to enjoy their music offline.
SLT-Mobitel customers can select their preferred premium package under four categories; Individual, Duo, Family, Student. Each category has recurring and non-recurring plans. After one month of free streaming, the package will activate once the offer period terminates. While both, the Individual and Student premiums are limited to one account user, the Duo package offers two accounts and the Family premium is accessible through six accounts. To view Spotify plans, users can log on to https://spoti.fi/3aLWvce
Sri Lanka using ‘sovereign power’ over economy: CB Governor
by Sanath Nanayakkare
Anyone conversant with the elements of a political economy would know that Sri Lanka is using its ‘sovereign power’ to manage the different dynamics of the economy in a sustainable manner, Professor W. D Lakshman Governor of the Central Bank said on Wednesday.
“Some critics are saying that we adopt a so-called modern monetary theory. That’s not the case. In fact, Sri Lanka is using its sovereign power in a number of economic aspects to honour its external debt repayment commitments as well as to reduce its debt burden in the medium term as well as achieve resilient growth in the medium to long term, he said.
“We make policy decisions to boost our gross foreign reserves, meet our external debt servicing, to facilitate monetary expansion, to boost our GDP growth, to strengthen our current account balance and manage our domestic and external economic variables in a sustainable manner. This is not a modern monetary theory. This is an age-old tool used by central banks around the world when the circumstances demand it, he said.
“Certain trade-offs will be necessary when dealing with an economy which has a big fiscal gap to bridge. There are efforts to push Sri Lanka towards the IMF again which would in turn have influence on our policymaking. We have taken policy measures to stabilize the economy and we have adequate reserve levels to meet our debt repayments. Meanwhile, we are in negotiations with overseas central banks and multilateral agencies to further boost our reserve level and it would materialise within a matter of weeks,” he noted.
“One of the tools the Central Bank has introduced is in respect of repatriation of export proceeds into Sri Lanka and conversion of such proceeds into Sri Lankan rupees in order to strengthen the foreign exchange situation of the country,” he said.
The Governor made these remarks while delivering the keynote speech at a webinar organised by the Veemansa Initiative led by its Managing Director Luxman Siriwardene – the former Executive Director of Pathfinder Foundation.
The webinar revolved round the topic ‘External debt situation in Sri Lanka: Are we heading for a resolution or crisis?’
Professor Sirimal Abeyratne, Prof. Sumanasiri Liyanage, Dr. Nishan de Mel and Dr. Ravi Liyanage were the other speakers on the panel.
CSE on the rebound; indices close positive
By Hiran H.Senewiratne
CSE produced signs of a rebound yesterday with both indices closing positive, though turnover remained low. Central Bank Governor W.D Lakshman’s recent statement on managing foreign reserves gave some boost to the market yesterday, stock market analysts said.
The index experienced a zigzag movement within the early hours of trading; thereafter, it recorded a slight up-trend as it reached its intraday high of 7,439. Later, the market witnessed a down-trend at mid-day, followed by a sideways movement and closed at 7,372, gaining 43 points during the month of February, market sources said.
It is said the banking sector dominated turnover with a contribution of considerable parcel trades in Sampath Bank, Commercial Bank and HNB.
Further, the Commercial Bank’s impressive quarterly results during the recent turbulent period also built investor confidence. Commercial Bank was able to register a18 percent net interest income when other banks were reporting a decline. Its share price increased by Rs. 3 or 3.5 percent. On the previous day, its shares started trading at Rs. 85 and at the end of the day they moved up to Rs. 88. Due to the positive growth results, the bank announced a Rs. 4.40 dividend per share, plus a Rs. 2 script divergent for every share.
Further, Sampath Bank shares also appreciated in both crossing and retail. In crossings its shares appreciated by Rs. 1.At the end of the day they moved up to Rs. 154.50. In the retail market, its shares moved up by Rs. 2 or 1.3 percent. Previously, its shares fetched Rs. 154 and at the end of yesterday they moved up to Rs. 156.
Amid those developments, both indices moved upwards. The All Share Price Index went up by 104.48 points and S and P SL20 rose by 67.78 points. Turnover stood at Rs. 3 billion with four crossings. Those crossings were reported in Sampath Bank, where 3.9 million shares crossed for Rs. 602.2 million, its share price being Rs. 154.50, HNB 375,000 shares crossed for Rs. 39.4 million, its shares traded at Rs. 105, Pan Asia Power 9.5 million shares crossed for Rs. 33.2 million, its shares traded at Rs. 3.50 and Access Engineering 1.2 million shares crossed for Rs. 28.2 million; its shares traded at Rs. 24.
In the retail market top five companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were, Expolanka Rs. 450 million (10 million shares traded), JKH Rs. 205 million (1.3 million shares traded), Browns Investments Rs. 199 million (34.9 million shares traded), Sampath Bank Rs. 191 million (1.2 million shares traded) and Dipped Products Rs. 137.7 million (2.8 million shares traded). During the day 101 million share volumes changed hands in 18046 transactions.
During the day, Expolanka, the biggest contributor to the turnover, saw its share price appreciating by Rs. 6.20 or 15 percent. Its share price quoted on the previous day was Rs. 41 and at the end of trading yesterday it moved up to Rs. 47.
Sri Lanka’s rupee quoted wider at 193.50/195.50 levels to the US dollar in the spot next market on Thursday while bond yields remained unchanged, dealers said. The rupee last closed in the spot market at 194.50/195.00 to the dollar on Wednesday.