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Ceylinco Insurance Tops SLIM People's Awards

Ceylinco Insurance, was selected as the Most Preferred Insurer by the people of Sri Lanka, for the third consecutive year, at the recently concluded People's Awards, conducted by the Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing, in association with Neilsen, a world renowned market research agency.

The People's Awards recognise companies for their standing and stature in the minds of the people.

Chief Executive Director of Ceylinco Insurance General Ajith Gunewardena, collects the Award.

It was an honour for Ceylinco Insurance to be recognised as being the preferred choice of the people, the Assistant General Manager for Marketing of Ceylinco Insurance - General, Senaka Rajapakse, said. "For us, it is a clear indication of our ability to be close to the people, understand and speedily respond to their needs.

Also, having won the award for three consecutive years, we are assured of the immense trust the Sri Lankan people have placed in us, as a Sri Lankan company.

We have always strived to maintain customer focused, innovative thinking, in developing our products and services.

The On The Spot Claim Settlement methodology, which is now recognised as an industry standard setter, is one such product.

We believe the award was made possible through our key strengths - the high level of service standards we maintain, and the speed with which we serve our customers, which enable us to stay very close to the hearts and minds of the public. We take this opportunity to thank our customers, shareholders, and the people of Sri Lanka for this magnanimous gesture,". Rajapakse added.

Ceylinco Insurance has many laurels among its long list of accolades - as recently, the Ceylinco Insurance Brand was selected as the most valued insurance brand in Sri Lanka, with a brand value of Rs.6.9 billion, and an enterprise value of Rs.25 billion. The Ceylinco Insurance Brand was also selected as the sixth most valued brand in the entire country and the company was assigned a Brand rating of AA- by Brand Finance PLC of UK.

Ceylinco Insurance also happens to be the only company to receive the much coveted award for the Most Innovative Insurance Company in Asia; not once, but twice - in 2003 and in 2006.

Rajapakse said the very basis of the On The Spot Claim Settlement methodology had the customer keenly in focus.

Today, On the Spot Claim Settlements, introduced by Ceylinco Insurance, has proven tremendously beneficial to the people of Sri Lanka.

In addition, he added that Ceylinco Insurance operated the widest network of branches for both Life and General Insurance, with distribution points numbering over 410 key locations; offering yet another convenient benefit for customers, who can pay their premiums and easily access all the other services provided at these locations.

Chief Executive Director of Ceylinco Insurance - General, Ajith Gunawardena, said that under the guidance of the Chairman of Ceylinco Consolidated, Ceylinco Insurance Dr Lalith Kotelawala, had gone on to achieve outstanding results as a truly, entirely Sri Lankan company, committed to fulfilling the diverse insurance needs of Sri Lankans.

He also recalled that the high level of public confidence in the company was evident in the success of its recently concluded share issue.

Moreover, taking its innovative solutions beyond our shores, Ceylinco Insurance - General, has grown tremendously, in recent years, in the South Asian and Middle Eastern regions.

Ceylinco Insurance was also rated as the Most National Minded Company in Sri Lanka by the LMD, in a reflection of the company's strong Sri Lankan heritage.


'Top Properties' launched

The publication which is one of the leading real estate magazines available in the market has just completed one successful year and is proud to announce its new branding as "Top Properties".

Lara de Zoysa and Natalie J. Atilla

As the name suggests, the magazine focuses on the different aspects of fabulous properties both in Sri Lanka and overseas. Irrespective of whether you are looking to buy a home, or furnish your home this magazine can help you, especially with the vast number of classified advertisements that help you get a glimpse of what is available in the market Lara de Zoysa said.

The content of the magazine is well planned and executed, giving readers interesting reading material along with visuals that are pleasing to the eye. The magazine is owned and managed by Lara De Zoysa and Natalie J Atilla who have now successfully established themselves as respected publishers and Real Estate agents in the country. An experienced team of writers and contributors help to bring about well thought of editorial substance to the magazine!

The Real Estate Company, Top Property Group is run with professionalism and expertise offering their clients the best possible properties whether it is to buy or sell. Their database has over a 1000 properties which are available on the market and the magazine works as a marketing tool to aid in the entire process.

Why the Real Estate market? "Well at times like this, it is rather challenging, but nevertheless it is also a time to take advantage of the specials deals which are available and that is what we strive to do," said Natalie J Atilla.


MBSL seminar on 'Global Credit Crisis'

Merchant Bank of Sri Lanka PLC (MBSL) is organising a seminar on a more appropriate topic in the current arena "Current Global Credit Crisis" which will be held at Trans Asia Hotel's - Earl's Court today, from 4.00 p.m. to 7.00 p.m.

The seminar will enrich the participants on the current global crisis faced by many economies and organisations, root causes to it and the means of managing the impact by governments, organizations and individuals. It would enable many decision makers to be cautious in their future direction either as an individual or towards the organisation which employs the individual.

The credit crunch, downturn in financial and capital markets and the collapse of investment banks have driven the importance on macro factors of many economies.

It has also increased the importance of crisis management and risk management within organisations. Therefore, skill and good understanding in these aspects would be a definite advantage.

Financial stress, economic slowdown or even the recession has been inevitable for large economies that have dominated global markets in the past. It is also evident the global credit crisis will have an impact within Sri Lankan banking system and the capital market structures.

Evaluating the global economic stress factors and impact to the locality would enable many decision makers to be cautious in their decisions and directions of their organisations.

Similarly, the collapse of financial markets in the recent past increases the importance of investment decisions and lending decisions which will be a key sustaining factor on the future direction of Investment Banks, Lending Institutions, Banks and other organisations.

The seminar organised by MBSL is a unique opportunity to learn and understand on the Impact on the Sri Lankan Economy, Global Credit Crisis and Impact on Commodities, Interest Rates and Exchange Rates in the international and Sri Lankan Market.

Key speakers to the event are Dr Ranjith Bandara, MBS Co-ordinator of University of Colombo, Director of Merchant Bank of Sri Lanka PLC and Sujeewa Mudalige, Partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers (Chartered Accountants) and Prins Perera.
 


Virtusa revenue increases by $44 million

The Company generated cash from operations of $5.4 million during the second quarter of fiscal 2009.

Virtusa Corporation ,a global information technology (IT) services company that provides IT consulting, technology implementation and application outsourcing services through an enhanced global delivery model, reported financial results for the second quarter of fiscal year 2009, ended September 30.

Revenue increased 9% year-over-year and 3% sequentially, to $44 million, in the second quarter of fiscal 2009.

Kris Canekeratne,
Virtusa’s Chairman
and CEO

On a constant currency basis, which converts current period revenue using the corresponding prior period's foreign exchange rates, revenue increased 13% year-over-year and 6% sequentially.

Virtusa reported income from operations of approximately $0.7 million for the second quarter of fiscal 2009, compared to $4.7 million for the second quarter of fiscal 2008 and break even in the first quarter of fiscal 2009.

Net income for the second quarter of fiscal 2009 was $1.3 million, or $0.05 per diluted share, compared to $4.6 million, or $0.20 per diluted share for the second quarter of fiscal 2008 and $0.8 million, or $0.03 per diluted share, for the prior quarter.

Earnings per share for the second quarter of fiscal 2009 reflects a 5% year-over-year increase in diluted shares outstanding primarily due to the successful completion of the Company's initial public offering in August of 2007. The Company ended the second quarter of fiscal 2009 with $91.9 million of cash and cash equivalents, short-term investments and long-term investments.

The Company generated cash from operations of $5.4 million during the second quarter of fiscal 2009. During the second quarter of fiscal 2009, pursuant to the Company's Share Repurchase Program, the Company repurchased 456,719 shares for approximately $3.4 million at an average price of $7.44.

Virtusa's Chairman and CEO Kris Canekeratne, stated "our second quarter performance which was driven by our established clients expanding with us and by increased contribution from new clients we have added over the past year."

Canekeratne continued, "In these challenging economic times, our platforming approach is a key differentiator in new client acquisition and continues to resonate well across our client base because we improve internal efficiencies, accelerate time-to-market and reduce overall IT costs."

"Second quarter results demonstrate our ability to execute against our goals of improving utilisation and expanding profit margins," said Tom Holler, Chief Operating Officer. "Our current guidance for fiscal 2009 reflects general economic weakness as well as the impact of foreign currencies," Holler concluded.


Exchange rate creates uncertainty for Dankotuwa

The recent appreciation of the rupee against the Euro and Pound is causing substantial revenue losses to the Company. For the past 25 years, the cost escalations driven by high inflation in Sri Lanka was mitigated by the depreciation of the rupee. The Company suffered a significant hit when the rupee appreciated against the major currencies, particularly the Euro soon after the tsunami when the massive inflows appreciated the Sri Lanka rupee.

However, the GSP+ came to the rescue and we were able to obtain some price increases with the argument that for the European customers the duty was reduced to zero.

The Company has been doing its best to cut cost, improve productivity and improve quality and obtain higher prices and emerged to a breakeven level in the third quarter of this year. However, if the current appreciation of the rupee is not reversed the future would be uncertain. Dankotuwa produces one of the finest porcelains in the world and therefore, markets it only to quality conscious customers at relatively high prices. However, there are emerging competitors in the Asian Region who are gradually challenging the Dankotuwa quality and for whom energy is much cheaper.

While worldwide energy prices have come down and for many manufacturers energy costs have reduced, it is only in Sri Lanka that energy is still at high prices. This too erodes the competitiveness of Sri Lanka's competitiveness particularly export oriented Ceramic Industry.


The Reggies in its 5th year!

The Reggie Candappa Craft Awards are back to celebrate and recognize the genius of craft in creativity. This marks 5 years of the awards ceremony organized by the Reggie Candappa Foundation for the Arts and will be held on the 3rd of December this year.

The Reggie Candappa Craft Awards are targeted at rewarding committed and inspired individuals passionate about achieving excellence in their respective fields. The awards are conducted by The Reggie Candappa Foundation for the Arts and serve as a fitting tribute to the godfather of the local advertising industry, the late Reggie Candappa, a man whose influence on, and contribution to the advertising field, lives on in the generation of advertising professionals who trained under his inspirational guidance and who today, pass on his high standards of creativity and commitment to perfection.

Neela Marikkar, daughter of late Deshabandu Reggie Candappa and the Managing Director/Chairperson of Grant McCann Erickson said "Creativity is an attribute that needs to be nurtured and nourished; Reggie Candappa was someone who knew just how to do this. He was a true lover of both the art and the artist. For everyone who came into contact with him in the field of advertising, it was an opportunity of learning and he had a hand in fashioning the early footsteps of some of today's creative greats' in the industry. As such the RC Awards is one way to continue the wonderful legacy that he left behind."

The Awards were conceptualized by Reggie Candappa's family on the first anniversary of his passing and have been showcasing the crafting talent and artistic ability of the advertising industry in Sri Lanka since 2004. The awards place emphasis on highlighting the talent and ability of the local industry in the print and electronic mediums, embracing both above and below the line advertising. While other shows look for creativity in general or effectiveness or both, the Reggie's have created categories never judged in Sri Lanka before.

These categories seek the true art of the industry and will encompass a television category with awards being presented for Concept and Art Direction, Cinematography and Direction, and in the vein of last year, this year too there will be a category for Radio for best Concept, Direction, original composition, and use of sound effects. The Above and Below The Line print ads category will see awards being presented for typography, logo usage, use of illustration, photography, copywriting and art direction, and the Graveyard Category, for best copywriting and art direction in print, recognizes exceptional creative efforts which have not had the opportunity to be executed. Bringing the total number of categories to 17 under the first three segments; TV, Radio and Print - plus 2 grand awards; Best in Copywriting and Best in Art Direction.

Entries, which close on the of November, 14 are now open to all agencies, production houses, individuals and freelancers involved in advertising and allied fields to present and be recognized and rewarded for their most skillfully crafted advertising art forms. Submissions can take any form of ads created and published in the past year - 01st November 2007 to 31st October 2008 - in all three national languages. Entries will be judged by 15 local specialists in their relevant craft, experts from both print and electronic media drawn from the ad industry in Sri Lanka.

Last year's Reggies attracted a record number of participants, a total of 550 in all, and the phenomenal growth in the number of participants is proof of the confidence that is placed in the 'Reggies' by those involved in the advertising industry. And so this year too the Awards promises to live up to its well earned reputation as a dynamic, one of a kind celebration of the talents and accomplishments in the sector.


Lifebuoy educates children on hand washing

Unilever Sri Lanka's largest health brand, Lifebuoy, has been at the forefront of many country-wide hygiene promotion programmes, and their most recent achievement, Global Hand Washing Day, has put Sri Lanka on the pathway to saving the lives of the most precious members of our society - our children.

Lifebuoy was the co-founder in Sri Lanka of the first ever Global Hand Washing Day, which was commemorated on October 15 spearheading the largest community service effort ever seen.

The campaign, organized in collaboration with the Health Education Bureau and Ministry of Healthcare and Nutrition along with the Global Public Private Partnership for Hand washing (PPPHW) saw one million children and 1500 schools in Sri Lanka join 20 countries worldwide in promoting what is now regarded as the simplest and yet least practiced life-saving habit - washing hands.

Assistant Brand Manager for Lifebuoy at Unilever Sri Lanka Hasha Hisham, says, 'Lifebuoy has for over a century promised households a life without fear and it's time parents are able to let their little ones enjoy the fun of childhood without the fear of falling prey to two of the largest child killers - diarrohea and acute respiratory infection - both of which are caused by poor handwashing habits and claim the lives of over 3.5 million children worldwide per year.'

Both these diseases are transmitted by pathogens in human faeces. There are around 100,000,000,000 viruses and 10,000,000 bacteria in a person's faeces and in fact one gram of faeces can contain up to one thousand parasite cysts and a hundred worm eggs. When children ingest these pathogens they are prone to various illnesses, such as diarrhoea, pneumonia, cholera and dysentery. UN studies have revealed that up to 160 classrooms of children die from diarrohea every day, which amounts to a mortality rate of approximately one child per 15 seconds!

On Global Handwashing Day, Lifebuoy reined in a team of hygiene experts consisting of 1500 Public health institute officials and the Unilever Mehewara volunteer group to create awareness among one million children on the importance of handwashing in stopping the transmission of diseases.

Starting at Uggalboda Maha Vidyalaya in Kalutara, the team visited over 1500 schools across the country, making this Unilever's biggest community service project to date.

'Schools are one of the most influential and accessible environments for habit-building and behaviour change among children.

Children spend up to 8 hours of their day and 8 months of their year in schools and the remainder of the time involves interaction with school peers.

That's why we thought targeting schools on the importance of handwashing will literally drive home the hygiene message, in that once the handwashing habit is inculcated in school, children are more likely to practice it even in their homes,' said Nilantha swaris, Activation Manager for Lifebuoy Unilever Sri Lanka.


Sampath Bank drops rights issue

Samapth Bank Board of Directors has decided not to proceed with the proposed rights issue at the Extra Ordinary General Meeting held on 29th.

Due to the crisis in the world financial markets Sampath Bank Board proposed on the strength of the proxies received from the share holders, not to proceed with the rights issue, also at this meeting share holders voted not to go-ahead with the rights issue.

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