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Ceylinco Insurance revenue surpasses Rs.20b

Ceylinco Insurance, the island's leading insurer, announced that the company's turnover had exceeded Rs.20 billion, recording a total premium income of Rs. 20,050 million, signalling a growth of 16.5% during 2008.

Ajith Gunawardena

Ceylinco Insurance - General, the market leader in General Insurance, announced an unprecedented growth during the year ended December 31, 2008, with the total premium income for the year standing at Rs.11,793 million (Rs.11.8 billion), indicating a growth of 14.5%, which records an increase of Rs.1,443 million, over the previous year.

Similarly, the Life Division of Ceylinco Insurance recorded an annual premium income of Rs. 8,257 million (Rs.8.2 Billion), which is an increase of Rs. 1,400 million, over 2007. The figures indicate a growth of 21 per cent over the previous year. The Chief Executive Director General Ajith Gunawardena, said: "This performance becomes all the more significant, as we have achieved these impressive results in a recession scenario, where all global financial markets are direly affected, and in a situation where Sri Lanka is also gradually feeling the ill effects of it.

We are grateful to our loyal customers for their confidence, trust and unwavering belief in us.

It is their confidence in us that has enabled us to remain on top, as the market leader, for the fifth consecutive year, which is in itself, another remarkable achievement.

I am also truly proud to lead a great team whose continued commitment and support make things happen"

"As a policy, Ceylinco Insurance only retains the services of the best re-insurers in the world, and we will continue to deal with the top rated entities in this sphere.

This very fact has enabled us to provide the most comprehensive solutions and services to our faithful clientele, while guaranteeing, in absolute and total terms, the protection for the property and lives we insure, he said.

The technical reserves of the General Division stands at over Rs. 5,225 million, while the Life Fund has increased to Rs.21.2 billion as at November 2008, which in turn reflects the prudent management measures adopted by Ceylinco Insurance, even within the context of one of the toughest financial market environments imaginable he also said.

Bartleet insists on prudent credit policies

Bartleet Finance Ltd insisted that a prudent credit policy and clean lending would allow any Company to overcome the business barriers.

Susantha Fernando

Managing Director, Bartleet Finance Susantha Fernando said so at the company's Silver Jubilee celebration held in Colombo recently. He further emphasized that extreme caution is necessary in lending, particularly in view of the fact that all money lent by Finance Companies are public deposits.

He said according to current laws, the Governor of the Central Bank recently places the entire liability on the Board of Directors totally. "His statement is reflected in the Company's Non Performing Loan (NPL) which is a mere 3.2 against the lending portfolio of 3.2 billion, but according to CB statistics the industry average is 6 per cent."

The Bartleet Finance Managing Director also emphasized that his Head Office and two branches at Embilipitiya and Bandarawela are maintaining the NPL level below 1 per cent. He praised the senior managers, particularly in these two branches for their efforts in minimizing bad debts.

He indicated that Sri Lanka would soon come out of it in spite of the company exports suffering badly due to the current world situation.

He also indicated that the recent depreciation of the Rupee would help the exporter to some degree, but said that the rupee should be kept at the current levels for the benefit of the common masses. The Bartleet Finance also emphasized the necessity of proper screening of credit and said there is no serious downward trend in their lending portfolio.

"However, lending to certain sectors at present could be risky and was hopeful of the Government could assist the lending institutions to minimize this risk," he said.

Union Bank retains MTI

Union Bank, has retained the services of MTI Consulting for the development of a 3-Year Strategic Business Plan (2009 to 2012).

Union Bank, with 14 Branches across the island, offers corporate and retail banking services including personal credit, leasing, pawning, asset management, bills of exchange, correspondent banking, documentary credits, foreign exchange, guarantees, international settlements, internet banking, letters of credit, money markets, syndicated loans.

MTI, a globally acclaimed strategy consulting firm with extensive experience in the Financial Services Industry across the Middle East and South Asian region is undertaking this strategic assignment.

MTI Consulting has worked on over 300 client-specific assignments across 33 countries.

MTI's consulting solutions include core business strategy solutions such as Strategic Planning and Re-Structuring with consulting assignments undertaken in the Financial Services Industry for banks like American Express, Citigroup, Standard Chartered, National Bank of Bahrain, The Bahrain Saudi Bank, Arab Insurance Group, Bahrain Kuwait Insurance, Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Bank of Ceylon, National Savings Bank, Colombo Stock Exchange, LOLC Group and HNBA.

MTI Consulting also offers specialized solutions in Marketing, Brand Management, Internationalization and Partner Identification, Sales and Channel Management, and Service Quality, Web Strategy and Technology Optimization.

Local investments in Maldives

Few leading local entrepreneurs have expressed willingness to invest in Maldives.

President Nasheed with CCC members

"We are making inquires from various sources in Maldives. The results so far received are favourable," a potential investor said.

This move is in response to a request made by the President of the Republic of Maldives Mohammed Nasheed.

Recently the President Nasheed called on the Sri Lankan entrepreneurs to invest in Maldives businesses at an event organized by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce in association with the Sri Lanka - Maldives Bilateral Business Council, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the High Commission of the Republic of Maldives in Sri Lanka.

"We have come here, not only to open the country for business but also to thank the people of Sri Lanka, its business community and its government," added President Nasheed, thanking Sri Lanka, its institutions, the Government and non-governmental-organizations for assisting them in numerous ways while they were at the formative stages of implementing a good governance system in the Maldives.

China's net population grows

China's Internet population swelled to nearly 300 million by the end of last year, with the penetration surpassing the global average for the first time, according to a quasi-government organization.

The number of Internet users in the country reached 298 million by the end of 2008, representing a 41.9 percent growth compared to the previous year, said a report by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC). More than 90 percent of the Internet users surf the Web via broadband access, CNNIC said. The penetration stood at 22.6 percent by Dec 31, compared to a global average of 21.9 percent. - China Daily

How IT changed my life - IV:

IT best field to explore new avenues

Ashan Kumar met Asanga Marasinghe, Manager Software Development IFS Research and Development to understand How 'IT' changed his life...

A naturalist and an adventurer with a desire to explore wildlife, spending his leisure taking part in safaris at the Yala and Wasgamuwa is how I can describe young Asanga Marasinghe who is currently the Manager Software Development at IFS Sri Lanka, a global enterprise solutions company.

Manager Software Development, IFS Asanga Marasinghe

He recalled his school days at Nalanda College, Colombo, where his aim was to become a civil engineer, following the mathematics stream, as advised by his parents. His father is a retired draughtsman and mother a retired teacher. "While I was schooling I haven't heard of the term "Software Engineer" said Asanga. He said "My life changed completely as I strived hard to get into Informatics Institute, after my A/Ls. I had to complete five tests to get into the application process. And I succeeded." He added "I aspired to become a software engineer, as this was the time the country was facing an Information Technology revival, the IT boom in Sri Lanka, made a vast change in my life".

He said "I completed my degree in information systems from Manchester Metropolitan University UK, and started working at Informatics as a trainee developer while continuing my studies. After a while with hands on experience I was transferred to IFS. The exposure from IFS is a little different from a software development company. Implementing business solutions is a daunting task, where I constantly need to think out of the box, and I love this challenge".

When I asked him why he chose Information Technology as his future he told, "There are many reasons, I found IT a very challenging area, you can learn very much as the scope is undefined".

I asked him the impact IT has made on him. He was onwared "Working in the IT industry for over 10 years has helped me grow both personally and professionally. Not only I think different, the way I speak and even the attire tells that I am an individual who's employed in the IT industry when compared to my friends".

"If an individual is driven by targets Information Technology is the best field to explore new avenues while building your traits. If you are committed for delivery IT will provide you with the best reward". Sri Lanka understands the necessity of IT, and ICT. We see a brisk development in many organisations in terms of IT adaptation and usage. companies, government organisations needs and will continue to research and produce established business solutions entirely IT integrated. I wouldn't be surprised to see in 10 years time children carrying a laptop to school instead of heavy school bags", he said.


Nortel files for bankruptcy

Nortel Networks, a large telecommunications company, filed for bankruptcy protection Wednesday in Canada and the United States.

The filing was accompanied by promises of yet another restructuring for the business. Nortel has struggled to recover from the collapse of technology stocks early in the decade as well as an accounting scandal that led to criminal charges against its former management.

The Nortel board unanimously approved the bankruptcy filing at a meeting Tuesday in Toronto, where it is based. It appears to be an attempt to avoid $107 million in interest payments that are due Thursday. That amount equals about 5 percent of the company's rapidly depleting cash reserves.

"Nortel must be put on a sound financial footing once and for all," the president and chief executive, Mike Zafirovski, said in a statement issued shortly after the company submitted its filing in Delaware for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. "These actions are imperative so that Nortel can build on its core strengths and become the highly focused and financially sound leader in the communications industry."

Since the beginning of the decade, Nortel has carried out a series of restructurings that have included 16 rounds of layoffs.

Some analysts, however, question whether the company will be able to persuade its creditors and the courts that it now has a formula for success, raising the prospect that its operations might be broken up or the company liquidated.

Investors appear to have little faith in the company whose shares once reached 123.10 Canadian dollars, or $98.87 at current exchange rates, on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Adjusted for a 10-to-1 consolidation, they were down 26 Canadian cents, or 67.5 percent, at 12.5 cents Wednesday afternoon.

A further ominous sign for the company is its apparent inability to sell a business unit that makes Internet-related equipment, which Nortel put up for sale in September.

In November, Nortel announced a third-quarter loss of $3.4 billion, much of that related to write-downs in the value of several operating units.

The government of Canada has offered Nortel some support. Export Development Canada, a government-owned bank and insurer, has agreed to provide the company with up to $30 million in loans for the next 30 days. Nortel said in its statement that it was negotiating a longer-term arrangement.

About 6,000 of Nortel's 26,000 remaining employees are based in Canada, many at its research laboratories in Ottawa. But it is unclear how far the Canadian government is willing to support the company. Unlike, say, automakers, it is possible that Nortel may shift many of its jobs now in Canada to low-cost labor markets like India and China.

The bankruptcy filing will also make it more difficult for Nortel to close sales in an already difficult market. Neither telecommunications companies nor large corporate clients, which Zafirovski had focused on as Nortel's great hope for sales, are likely to trust their communications systems to a company with an uncertain future.

Ceylinco Diabetes Centre promotes foot care

Visitors to the Ceylinco Diabetes Centre now have the opportunity to experience the benefits of a new comprehensive foot care package that the Centre has introduced in the new year.

The package includes a comprehensive foot examination and treatment by an in-house doctor and specially trained panel of nurses for fungal infections, cones, calluses, ingrown toe nails, an examination for protective sensation with a 10 g monofilament, vibration perception with a biothesiometer (checking joint position sense), temperature discrimination using a thermal tip, an assessment of distal pulses (manually and using a Doppler) and also includes wound dressing if necessary.

A Fasting Blood Sugar test or a Random Blood Sugar test is also included in this package which is priced at Rs. 1500, the Centre said. "We cannot overemphasize the importance of foot care for diabetics," said the Ceylinco Diabetes Centre's Senior Medical Officer Dr. Charuky Weerasuriya. "People with diabetes face a much higher risk of foot problems and if not treated promptly, foot injuries can worsen to the point when amputation and prosthetic limbs may become necessary."

The Ceylinco Diabetes Centre's Podiatry Clinic is equipped with facilities to screen for Neuropathy, Vasculopathy, foot deformities and other risk factors with a view to preventing serious foot-related complications linked to diabetes.

Sri Lanka Tourism signs MoU with Gujarat to promote tourism

Sri Lanka participated at the Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors' Summit at Ahmadabad this week January 12 to 13 and was received by the Chief Minister of Gujarat.

Minister of Tourism
Milinda Moragoda

The Sri Lanka delegation headed by Minister of Tourism Milinda Moragoda was welcomed by the Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi who is the chief architect of the Vibrant Gujarat event and Minister Moragoda was invited to address the forum on three different occasions during the two day event. The Investors' Forum brought a large number of investors both local and foreign who showed interest in investments ranging from oil, gas, port projects and power generation to manufacture of widely acclaimed TATA's Nano car, in the state of Gujarat. Forty five countries in total sent more than 600 delegates for the forum, among them were the Prime Minister of Kenya, Vice President of Uganda, senior members of cabinet and parliament from Malaysia, Singapore the United Kingdom, Canada etc.

Sri Lankan Tourism kicked off its promotional campaign in Ahmadabad with a dinner attended by over one hundred local travel agents, who received a rare treat of the Sri Lankan version of Ramayana dance performance.

The inauguration of the Investors' Summit on January 12 was attended by an audience of over four thousand five hundred both local and foreign, where Minister Moragoda spoke on the role of tourism bringing people of different cultures together. Later in the afternoon he addressed the Convention on Tourism during which a Memorandum of Understanding on Tourism providing for cooperation on tourism related fields between the State of Gujarat and Sri Lanka was signed.


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