29 July 2011

Susantha Ratnayake Elected as the Chairman of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce

29th July 2011, www.dailynews.lk

John Keells and the Sri Lanka Tea Board Chairman Susantha Ratnayake was elected as the Chairman of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce at the 172nd annual general meeting held yesterday. He took over from Dr Anura Ekanayake.

Lion Breweries Director and CEO Suresh Shah was appointed as Deputy Chairman and CIC Managing Director and CEO Samantha Ranatunga was elected Deputy Vice Chairman.

Ratnayake takes over as the 21st Sri Lankan Chairman of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. In the 172 year history of the Chamber, the early Chairmen were from amongst the British-origin businessmen in Sri Lanka, until Mallory Wijesinghe took over in 1965.

Several young industry leaders make their appearance in the new committee for 2011/2012. Among them are Husein Essufally (CEO, Hemas Holdings PLC), Sriyan De S Wijeyeratne (Country Manager, Microsoft Sri Lanka (Pvt) Ltd), Vidyani Hettigoda (Director, Hettigoda Group of Companies), Anushman Rajaratnam (Managing Director, Lankem Ceylon PLC), Amanda Weerasinghe (Managing Director, Almar Trading Co. (Pvt) Ltd, Vish Govindasamy (Group Managing Director, Watawala Plantations PLC) Ravi Dias (Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer, Commercial Bank of Ceylon), Manjula de Silva (Managing Director, HNB Assurance Ltd) and Krishan Balendran (President -Corporate Finance, John Keells Holdings PLC).

World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka and Maldives, Diarietou Gaye was the chief guest.

Related Info :

Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, CCC Completes 172 Years. The First Chamber Established in Sri Lanka

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Colombo Land Prices to Go Up on Benchmark Set by Shangri-La and CATIC Land Sales

28th July 2011, www.island.lk

The sale of land to Shangri-La and CATIC has set new benchmarks for land prices in Colombo, a senior businessman said.

John Keells Holdings Chairman Susantha Ratnayake said the land prices in Colombo has surged after the sale of land to the two international hotel firms who would developing star class hotels and shopping complexes in the city.

Several key investors are investing in Colombo land and it is expected to increase further, while the existing land owners are looking at large scale projects.

The government last December sold six acres of land followed by four acres in March to Shangri-La at US$ 125 million while selling 10 acres to CATIC at US$ 136 million.

Each firm would be investing more than US$ 300 million to develop star class hotels facing the Gall Face Green.

Recently Deputy Economic Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said that the Chinese investment would be followed by an influxe of Chinese tourists which will help Sri Lanka to achieve its ambitious goal of 2.5 million arrivals by 2016 and five million by 2020 increasing the foreign exchange earnings through the tourism sector ten fold.

The tourism sector revenue increased 50 percent during the first half of this year attracting 381, 538 visitors which reflecting a growth of 36.9 percent.

According to Central Bank data the earnings reached US$ 370 million, up 50 percent compared to US$ 245 million a year ago.

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Shangri La Finalizes Agreement to Construct a Seven Star Hotel in Colombo

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Colombo City Centre to be Developed into a Pedestrian Only Area for Tourist Attraction

SriLankan Airline Gets $ 500mn for Expansion. Budget Airline Mihin Lanka too to Benefit

29th July 2011, www.dailynews.lk

The government will be infusing US $ 500 million over the next five years for national carrier, SriLankan Airlines and budget airline Mihin Lanka to enable these carriers to acquire new aircraft.

Addressing a media briefing, Information Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said a consortium of state institutions will give away the capital and this amount will be around one percent of gross domestic product.

SriLankan Airlines and Mihin Lanka are managed together and capital injection would curtail the interest cost of the two carriers.

At present, the SriLankan Airlines fleet consists of 17 aircraft and it is expected to increase the fleet upto 23 by 2014.
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Finco to Construct 3 Additional Hotels at Rs 2.2bn Investment that Couples Extensive Use of Solar Power

29th July 2011, www.dailynews.lk, By Shirajiv Sirimane

Uga Resorts (Pvt) Ltd, a fully-owned subsidiary of the Finco Group of companies will invest a further Rs 2. 2 billion to construct three additional hotels. Finco Vice President Priyanjith Weerasooria said in addition they have already invested Rs 800 million for their first boutique property investment, Ulagalla Resort, in Thirappane, Anuradhapura.

He said they acquired a property belonging to Associated Developers in Pasikudah three months ago to construct a luxury resort in the Tourism zone next to Malu Malu.

“In addition we have also leased a property in Kuchchaveli for another luxury hotel.”

Both projects are scheduled to be completed by mid 2012.

The company is also looking to build a 30-room property in the South.

He said that out of the investment 75 percent would be equity and 25 percent from borrowings.

They are looking at the niche market and hope to market the rooms for over US $ 325. “We are looking at the US, Canada, India, UK, and Chinese markets,” he said.

Uga Resorts Head of Marketing Subandu Perera said they paid emphasis in developing eco-friendly resorts, and intends on positioning itself in the ‘Luxury’ segment.

Ulagalla Resort, the first luxury hotel in Anuradhapura consists of 20 artistically designed luxurious Chalets scattered over an unrestricted area of 58 acres.

This was opened one year ago. “In keeping with our “Go Green” concept, 50% of the energy requirement of the resort is generated through solar power; the resort has the largest solar farm in the country with a capacity of 125 KVA and is proud to be the only supplier of Solar Energy to the National Power Grid,” he said. The concept of ‘Jungle Beach Resort’ in Pasikudah the first hotel in the zone is to create an experience of both jungle and beach in one location.

Finco Group is one of Sri Lanka’s leading private sector organizations with a solid business reputation and sound financial standing.

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Eastern Sri Lanka Tourism Takes Off with 1,000 Star Class Rooms in Pasikuda

Tourist City to be Set up in Katana, North of Sri Lanka's Capital Colombo

07th July 2011, www.lankabusinessonline.com, By Jayantha Kovilagodage

Sri Lanka will build a new 'tourist city' in the Western coastal city of Katana north of the capital Colombo, which may draw 1.5 billion US dollars in foreign investments in its first phase alone, a government minister said.

The development will have four 5-star hotels with 2,300 rooms, an exhibition and convention centre and two shopping malls and be sited on a 80 hectare block of state land.

A firm called Asian Resorts & Consortium has been given approval by the cabinet of ministers to conduct a feasibility study.

Information minister Keheliya Rambukwella said it was probably a foreign firm, but exact details were not available with him at the time.

Sri Lanka's tourism development authority has also offered a series of islands off the Western coastal city of Puttalam for private investment. Land has also been offered in the east coast in Kuchchaveli.

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27 July 2011

NAMAL Unit Trust Management Company Launches IPO Fund to Capture Potential Upside and to Benefit from Preferential Allocation of 10pct

27th July 2011, print.dailymirror.lk

National Asset Management Ltd (NAMAL), the pioneer Unit Trust Management Company in Sri Lanka announced the launch of the NAMAL IPO Fund. The Fund has been launched to capture potential upside on mispriced IPOs (initial public offerings) as well as to benefit from the preferential allocation of 10% of the offered shares to the Unit Trust Investor Category.

The fund will invest at the IPO offering stage and in post-IPO securities for a period of one year.

The Fund is targeted at retail investors with a minimum investment of Rs. 10,000 and will enable retail investors to obtain a meaningful allocation without the hassle of applying for each individual IPO and obtaining bank guarantees.

Avancka Herat, Executive Director of NAMAL, stated that “Retail investors have faced a significant challenge in evaluating IPOs in recent times.

With many IPOs in the pipeline in the next few years, Investors in the Fund will benefit from the professional selection of IPO securities and portfolio management by NAMAL’s experienced fund management team”.

Unique features of the NAMAL IPO Fund are that it would invest in the post-IPO stage and in other equities in the market if the managers think that IPOs are not properly valued thus ensuring equity exposure for investors. The NAMAL IPO Fund will not charge an exit fee to investors even if they redeem within a short period of the initial investment. The NAMAL IPO Fund is licensed by the Securities & Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka as an open-ended Unit Trust.

Charana Jayasuriya, Head - Sales & Structuring stated that “NAMAL IPO Fund joins the portfolio of open-ended unit trusts managed by NAMAL with different markets strategies and risk return objectives. NAMAL will continue to launch new opened ended funds to increase the range of individual investment options.”

Established in 1991, as the first Unit Trust Management Company in Sri Lanka, NAMAL has a 20-year track record of successfully investing in the Sri Lankan equity and debt markets. The flagship National Equity Fund has generated 16.9% annualised return for the last 19 years. NAMAL operates eight Unit Trusts including NAMAL Acuity Value Fund, the only listed Unit Trust, and the NAMAL Amana Fund, the only Shari’ah compliant Unit Trust.

In February 2011, Union Bank of Colombo PLC purchased 51% of NAMAL with Ennid Capital (Pvt) Ltd, an investment arm of Singapore based BP De Silva Holdings purchasing 19%. With founding shareholder DFCC Bank retaining a 30% shareholding, NAMAL is backed by the financial strength and stability of two of the leading banks in Sri Lanka. S Jeyavarman, CEO, stated that NAMAL Unit Trusts are now available from all Union Bank branches, as part of the strategy to offer new investment products to suburban and rural investors.

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NAMAL Acuity Value Fund Declares First Dividends

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Other Links on Funds and Unit Trusts

26 July 2011

Sri Lanka Tourism Revenue up by 51pct in the First Half of 2011

25th July 2011, www.lankabusinessonline.com

Sri Lanka's tourism industry has earned 370.1 million US dollars in revenues in the first half of 2011, up 50.9 percent from a year earlier, amid a strong increase in arrivals, official data showed.

In the six months to June arrivals had grown to 381,538, up 36.9 percent from a year earlier, according to data released by the state tourism promotion agency.

The Central Bank data showed that tourism revenues had climbed to 41 billion rupees (370 million US dollars) from 27.9 billion (245 million US dollars) a year earlier.

Foreign visitors have been flocking to the country since the end of a 30-year war in 2009 and room rates have also moved up.

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Sri Lanka Interbank Payment System SLIPS clears Rs 346bn

26th July 2011, www.dailynews.lk

The volume of transactions through the Sri Lanka Interbank Payment System (SLIPS) operated by LankaClear (Pvt) Ltd. (LCPL) grew by a significant 32 percent from the financial year 2009 and 10 to 2010 and 11 the value of transactions grew by 19 percent during the same period.

The total value of transaction cleared through SLIPS during the financial year 2010 and 2011 was Rs 346 billion.

SLIPS is currently more commonly used for salary payments, pension payments, customer account to account fund transfers, standing orders, insurance payments, credit cards settlements, dividend payments and IPO refunds. LankaClear Sri Lanka’s premier catalyst for facilitating progressive payment systems infrastructure, has over the years introduced numerous advanced infrastructure systems to the country’s financial landscape.

The Sri Lanka Interbank Payment System (SLIPS) is one such technology that transformed the banking landscape, introducing new and enhanced levels of efficiency, security and cost effectiveness to the interbank fund transfer system.

SLIPS is an online interbank electronic fund transfer system which eliminates the need for paper work in the fund transfer process.

Catering mainly for low-value retail payments - upto Rs 5 million, the system enables the electronic movement of funds from one account to another without the corresponding physical documentation. “The system therefore enables increased levels of security by eliminating the physical movement of paper documentation, faster transfer times and lower infrastructure requirements, ensuring greater revenue generating capabilities, operational efficiencies and cost savings to banking institutions and customers,” the company’s CEO Sunimal Weerasooriya said.

Using SLIPS for payment and recovery of payments will bring tangible benefits to customers.

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Sri Lanka Expands Rubber Cultivation in the Face of Synthetic Rubber Price Increase

25th July 2011, www.island.lk, By Steve A Morrell

Natural rubber is facing a bright future with the price of petroleum based synthetic rubber increasing rapidly. Therefore Sri Lanka would expand its acreage under rubber by planting 5000 hectares in Monaragala, Plantation Industries Minister Mahinder Samarasinghe announced recently.

Addressing the 92nd Annual General Meeting of the Colombo Rubber Traders’ Association as the Chief Guest the Minister said it would increase to 10,000 hectares as the demand grew for natural rubber.

He said plantation trials were also being conducted by the Rubber Research Institute in the Jaffna district and other northern areas.

Minister Samarasinghe said the present estate management lease agreement would lapse in 35 years and he posed an open ended question; would it be that the plantations would revert to the people of this country or continue to be sustained in its present form ? He brought to bear the intensity of small holders who had contributed significantly circumventing all odds and they were significant partners in the progress of the sector.

Exports of value added products are now in the region of 63 million SLR, and growing with 2010 being a record year.

He said 1.5 billion SLR was cost of fertilizer for totality of rubber holdings. It was therefore imperative that simultaneous increase of production was essential if the rubber industry was to progress.

The subsidy was increased and plantation companies too were subsidized for use of panel guards to intensify increased production.

Colombo Rubber Traders’ Association Chairman M.S.Rahim said that Planters and Regional Plantation Companies had to be credited with high standards they maintained.

He said product standards plus their sustained production drive had sequentially resulted in Rubber being an important plantation crop which had proved its worth and its impact on the economy. Production had increased 12 %, but the small holder sector, of about 125,000 cultivators contributed substantially to boost production levels which were about 153, 000 tons annually.

Latex crepe contributed to natural rubber exports, but value added products gaining in exports had also contributed to plus factors to enhance importance of rubber contributing to export inventories surpassing all past records. Rahim said in summing up 2010 as a good year.

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New Vehicle Registrations in Sri Lanka up by 55pct in June 2011

25th July 2011, lankapuvath.lk

Latest statistics indicate that new vehicle registrations in June 2011 reached 48,157 units, up 55.8 percent compared to 30,905 units in the same period 2010.

The Central Bank giving latest statistics indicated the biggest increase has been in three-wheelers which have increased from 8007 to 13,753 this year and accounts for a 71% increase.

The registration of Motor cars has been the second largest, showing an increase from 606 last year to 5,069 this year and accounts for a 736% increase.

Motor Cycles have also shown a significant increase from 18,725 last year to 22,690 this year and accounts for a 21% increase.

New registrations for all other motor vehicles such as buses, dual purpose vehicles, lorries and other transport vehicles for goods, tractors, hand tractors and other land vehicles, have also risen, the new data indicates.

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24 July 2011

Fitch and Moody's Upgrade Sri Lanka's Sovereign Rating due to Key Factors

24th July 2011, www.sundayobserver.lk

Fitch Ratings has upgraded Sri Lanka's Long-Term Foreign and Local Currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) to 'BB-' from 'B+'. The outlooks on these ratings are 'Stable'.

Further, Fitch has upgraded the Country Ceiling to 'BB-' from 'B+' and affirmed the Short-Term Foreign-Currency IDR at 'B'.

Meanwhile, Moody's Investors Service has upgraded outlook of Sri Lanka's B1 foreign currency sovereign rating from 'Stable' to 'Positive' due to the key factors - increasingly evident peace dividend reflected in greater macroeconomic and financial stability; policy orientation of fiscal reform and economic growth, supported by a successful IMF program; improving external payments position; and reduction in political event risk following the end of terrorism in 2009.

Fitch's decision to upgrade the ratings was based on the stabilis ation and recovery of the economy and increased efforts by the Government to bring down the budget deficit.

Moody's has said that augmented investor confidence and the increase in investments along with the falling inflation, the economy is expected to expand sustainably by 8-9 percent in the medium term.

The Central Bank has welcomed the upgrade and is confident that the measures taken towards macroeconomic stability and economic improvement would yield further favourable results.

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SriLankan Airlines Air Taxi Offers Bird's Eye View of Sri Lanka's Scenic Beauty

24th July 2011, www.sundayobserver.lk, By Lalin Fernandopulle

Do you want a bird's eye view of Sri Lanka's plush green land and the scenic beauty of beaches? A cruise on SriLankan Airlines air taxi will provide that unique experience. A journey on a bright sunny day provides a clear view of the panoramic diversity of the country.

A traveller could reach his destination without any hassle within half an hour on a air taxi that flies to 12 key locations from Colombo. The flight takes off from the Kelaniya River from a location adjacent to a historic temple in Peliyagoda.

Manager Product Development, Commercial Division, Airline Centre, SriLankan Airlines, Sanjeeva Jayatileke said that locations and landing spots have been identified to operate domestic flights.

"We hope to retain the location at Peliyagoda while considering the Beira Lake as an alternative spot for landing and take off", he said.

The air taxi flies to Bentota three days a week. Plans are afoot to increase the number of flights to the South.

The 17-seater air taxi operates flights to Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Bentota, Koggala,Dickwella, Tissamaharama, Hambantota, Arugam Bay, Passikuda, Trincomalee and Jaffna.

He said they hope to resume flights to Nuwara Eliya which have been suspended due to bad weather.

There is a big demand for flights to Nuwara Eliya which is the most preferred location among tourists. We have identified two locations in Kandy and hope to operate flights on a daily basis.

Jayatileke said that there are more tourists today in hotels due to the air taxi which flies to 12 key locations on a daily basis.

"We hope to issue tickets at the dockside for the convenience of travellers and facilitate a speedy service", he said.

"Dambulla is the latest addition to the locations of the domestic flight operation. Plans are afoot to launch charter flights to Passikuda, Arugam Bay and Jaffna this year", a SriLankan Airlines official said.

He said plans are under way to launch charter flights to Tissamaharamaya and Ampara. "We are looking at launching a flight to Castlereigh soon."

The speciality of the air taxi operations is that a traveller could reach his or her destination within an hour.

The tourism industry has been anxiously anticipating the resumption of domestic air flights which provides a turbo boost to the travel industry.

The sea plane operation will help promote the destination and support the endeavour of the tourism industry to reach the target of attracting 2.5 million visitors by 2015.

The sea plane operation in Sri Lanka resumed late last year following a temporary suspension in 2008 for security reasons.

"There is a tremendous demand for domestic air flights which ward off the hassle of a long cumbersome journey by road.

We hope to raise the standard of service to international level which would woo more travellers to the country", Jayatileke said.

SriLankan Airlines hopes to develop a sea plane airstrip at Ja-ela shortly to facilitate a quick transit to any key location in the country.

"We hope to introduce more aircraft, increase the number of flights, pilots and stewards to offer a unique service.

The airline has commenced training airforce pilots who will be absorbed to the operations soon", Jayatileke said.

SriLankan Airlines currently operates two aircraft from Kennborek Calgery, Canada on a two-year wet lease agreement which will expire in December 2012.

The original plan, to commence operations from the Negombo lagoon came to a halt due to opposition from the fisherfolk in the area. The project was opposed due to adverse environmental impact envisaged by operating, sea planes, on marine life.

"We have obtained clearance from the Central Environmental Authority to operate flights at 12 locations which we hope to increase it to 20 this year. Steps have been taken to ensure that there is no adverse impact on the environment", an official said.

Sea plane operations have given a new dimension to tourism in Sri Lanka which has revived rapidly since the dawn of peace.

It will entice more tourists to the country which has a host of attractions to offer the traveller.

The air taxi service is still not a profit making venture though there is much hype about domestic flights.

"We hope to turn the operations into a profitable venture by introducing more services to attract tourists", a SriLankan Airlines official said.

Flight Operations Administration and Technical, Project Manager, Safety and Quality Auditor, SriLankan Airlines, Pulasthi Jayasinha said that the air taxi service has a value to transportation and added that float planes will be a boost to develop the tourism industry.

The water level in reservoirs is a vital factor to operate sea planes which require a 4000 feet runway and four feet depth to berth.

Jayasinha said that the dawn to dusk operation of the air taxi service will be manned by professional local crew who will offer an unmatched service to passengers.

The air taxi flights are manned by a Canadian crew. "It is exciting to be in Sri Lanka and we enjoy every bit of the stay in the country. We will offer our best service to promote tourism in Sri Lanka," a crew member said.

The sea plane is a popular mode of transportation in many tourist destinations.

Image: The SriLankan Airlines De Havilland Twin Otter aircraft Pix: Sulochana Gamage

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23 July 2011

Yala is God’s Patch of Land for Leopards Says World Renowned Wildlife Celebrities Jonathan & Angelina Scott of Sri Lanka's Yala National Park

21st July 2011, www.ft.lk

“If ever God created a patch of land for the leopards in this world, it must be Yala National Park in Sri Lanka” said the world renowned wild life celebrities Jonathan and Angelina Scott addressing the audience at a special event held to present their work on leopards at Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel on 09th July. Expressing their views on this Jonathan and Angie Scott further said that “In other wild life parks around the world, leopards are under the threat from predators like Lions and hyenas. But in Sri Lanka they don’t face such situation, they are free to move about and more secured in the wild than other leopards in the world “.

Sri Lanka’s Yala National Park is recognized of having one of the highest densities of leopard population in the world and this comment made by Jonathan and Angelina is certainly going to compliment this position held by the national park.

The two celebrities were touring in Sri Lanka for the first time and spent twelve days experience the Local culture, rich history and heritage of Sri Lanka and studying the Leopards of Sri Lanka at the Yala National park. Lead by the Head of Wild Life Tourism for John Keells Hotels Chitral Jayatilake and the Nature Trails team, Jonathan and Angela were able to make seventeen sightings of leopards in Yala and captured tremendous images of their behavior in the wild, which is said to be one of the best collection of leopard photographs ever taken in their natural environment. These photographs will no doubt showcase the most sought after animal of Sri Lanka in the wild as one of Sri Lanka’s tourism icons to the world.

Jonathan and Angie Scott live in Kenya in Africa and spend much of their time in the company of African wildlife. Their wildlife photography, wildlife pencil drawings, and wildlife books have won awards and recognition for their work throughout the world.

Big cats have been the focus of much of Jonathan and Angie’s work and the basis for a number of books including three titles accompanying the hugely popular BBC television series Big Cat Diary or Big Cat Week that Jonathan co-presents.

Angie takes the production stills for the series and is a game spotter.

John Keells Hotels together with Nations Trust Bank and American Express have organized the special event held for Jonathan & Angie Scott to present their work at Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo and share with the audience their latest film, shot in Africa about the secret leopard.

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Sri Lanka Raises $ 1bn 10yr Sovereign Bond Riding on the Country’s Recovery Story and Positive Reviews by Rating Agencies

22nd July 2011, www.financeasia.com, By Denise Wee

Markets have hardly been conducive to new debt issues recently, but Sri Lanka took advantage of a brief calm early yesterday morning to successfully price a $1 billion 10-year global bond.

Sri Lanka is used to dealing with bigger problems than volatile financial markets, and the once war-torn country’s ability to raise such a large amount of money at a competitive yield is testament to just how far it has come since the civil war ended in 2009 — and contrasts sharply with the experience of its embattled European peers.

Bank of America
, Merrill Lynch, Barclays Capital, HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland were joint bookrunners for the deal. Bank of Ceylon acted as a co-manager.

The leads kicked off roadshows on July 11 and decided to push ahead with pricing slightly ahead of schedule as they saw a window to launch a transaction amid relatively stable markets. They released initial guidance in the area of 6.5% on Wednesday morning ahead of officials wrapping up one-on-one meetings with investors in London later that day.

During midday London time, the leads revised guidance to 6.25% to 6.375%. Momentum for the transaction continued to build and the order book reached more than $5 billion before the US opened. The bonds eventually priced at the tight end of that final guidance, offering a spread of 332.2bp over US Treasuries.

While it was on the road, Sri Lanka also received a vote of confidence from the rating agencies. Fitch upgraded its rating on Sri Lanka to BB- from B+ on July 18, citing the country’s stabilisation and economic recovery under the IMF programme, as well as its efforts to address its budget deficit. Moody’s and S&P both revised their outlooks on Sri Lanka to positive but kept their ratings at B1 and B+ respectively.

“Sri Lanka has come a long way,” said one person familiar with the deal. “We are getting bad news out of Europe on an almost daily basis, so we were pleasantly surprised when the deal was done at a coupon of 6.25%,” he added.

The deal appealed to the US emerging market and global funds, which saw rarity value in the deal. Sri Lanka tapped the market just 10 months ago, but has fewer outstanding bonds than Indonesia and the Philippines.

The final book stood at $7.5 billion, with orders from 315 accounts. US investors were allocated 43%, Europe was allocated 30% and Asia 27%. Fund managers were allocated the biggest share with 86%, banks/private banks were allocated 8%, corporates 3% and insurers 3%.

The rush of fund flows from the US into emerging market sovereigns — which started in 2009 and accelerated last year — has tapered off slightly this year as investors have turned defensive. However, Sri Lanka has shown that there is still ample demand in the US for the right credit.

Malaysia’s $2 billion sukuk global bond, in contrast, attracted a more muted response from US investors, who were allocated just 4% of the five-year tranche and 15% of the 10-year tranche.

Sri Lanka’s bonds traded at 101.5 in the secondary market yesterday morning, rising 1.5 points from the par issue price.

The deal is Sri Lanka’s second 10-year issue. The sovereign priced its debut $1 billion 10-year global bond in September last year via arrangers Bank of America Merrill Lynch, HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland. That deal paid a similar coupon of 6.25% but offered a higher spread of 373.1bp over Treasuries. As a spread over Treasuries, Sri Lanka paid roughly 40bp less in its latest deal.

According to one person familiar with the deal, the Sri Lanka bonds maturing October 2020 were trading at a yield of 6.1% while the new bonds were being marketed. Taking into account the US Treasury yield curve, the nine-month extension was worth about 14bp. This put the theoretical value of the new 10-year bond maturing July 21, 2021 at about 6.24%, which meant that the new bonds came with hardly any new issue premium. Following the pricing of the deal, the existing Sri Lanka October 2020s rallied and were quoted at 102.5 and a yield of 5.9%.
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Sri Lanka's $ 1bn 10yr Sovereign Bond May Yield 6.5pct and Expected to be Comfortably Oversubscribed

Moody's Gives Sri Lanka B1 Sovereign Rating with a Stable Outlook

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S&P Raises Sri Lanka’s Ratings. B+ for Foreign Currency Debt with a Stable Outlook

India Sri Lanka Sign Deal to Develop Kankesanturai Port in the Northern Jaffna Peninsula that was Damaged during the War

22nd July 2011, www.island.lk

India is to provide Sri Lanka with grants and soft loans to rebuild Kankesanturai port in the northern Jaffna peninsula that was damaged during the ethnic war, under a deal signed Thursday.

India has already committed 20 million US dollars for the work which involves a hydrographic survey, wreck removal and dredging, along with rehabilitation of the breakwater and construction of a new pier and attendant port facilities, a High Commission statement said.

The agreement signed is part of the package of assistance India promised among other infrastructure projects in the Northern Province.

Indian High Commissioner Ashok K Kantha said the project would contribute towards reconstruction efforts, restore traditional domestic and regional linkages and give a fillip to economic activity by encouraging trade and generate employment.

Total expenditure on the project will be determined by the ‘Detailed Project Report’ (DPR) that is to be prepared.

But India has already committed about 20 million dollars (2.2 billion rupees) for the preliminary hydrographic survey, geotechnical investigations and DPR preparation and wreck removal and salvage.

"In addition to this, the Government of India will provide additional grant funding for the dredging of the harbour and concessional credit for the rehabilitation of the breakwater and construction of a new pier and attendant port facilities," the statement said.

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Hambantota Port to Handle car carriers & Break Bulk Cargo at 30pct Discount on all Items except Pilot Fees & Tug Charges

23rd July 2011, www.dailynews.lk, By Ravi Ladduwahetty

The Hambantota Port will now handle vessels carrying motor cars due to the berthing delays in the Colombo Port.

“The Hambantota Port is now capable of handling ships and at our last meeting with the Sri Lanka Ports Authority it was decided that if possible to divert the car carriers to Hambantota Port as they are subject to berthing delays at Colombo, Ceylon Association of Ships’ Agents Nimal Ranchigoda told the 45th CASA Annual General Meeting at the Hilton Colombo on Wednesday.”

“It was agreed that CASA members who handle car carriers discuss this aspect with their Principals, the Ceylon Motor Traders’ Association and if consensus is reached, then to go proceed with the berthing of car carriers at Hambantota,” he said.

He also said the SLPA Chairman has advised CASA that all geared vessels handling bags and break bulk bargo could be handled at Hambantota. He also confirmed that the current SLPA tariff will be applicable with a 30% discount on all items except the Professional Pilot Fees and the Tug Charges. Commenting on the Colombo Port, he said the port has experienced a total growth of 4% to date in 2011 when compared to 2010.

The CASA Chief also noted that shipping lines did recover financially in the second half of 2010 from the very serious financial and economic crisis they did encounter during the last quarter 2008, 2009 and the first quarter of 2010.

But however all shipping lines did end 2010 making profits. The start of 2011 due to a decline in world trade volumes and low freight rates made all shipping lines incur losses in the first quarter 2011 but they were nothing when compared to the losses suffered in the first quarter 2010.

He said that he referred about newspaper reports in his address last year saying that the shippers in the Asian Region have raised objections to some so called anti-competitive charges levied by shipping lines.

Subsequently in November 2010, President Mahinda Rajapaksa in his capacity as the Finance Minister made special reference in his budget proposals to Sri Lanka’s export industry which is said to be hampered by anti competitive practices of shipping lines and as a result that Sri Lankan exporters were subject to various charges imposed by the shipping lines.

He also stated that these charges resulted in a serious drain of foreign exchange and tax evasions.

The CASA executive committed having very carefully studied the position conveyed by the budget proposal have officially conveyed CASA response to the relevant authorities.

The CASA position is that there was no drain of any foreign exchange nor any tax evasions whatsoever. The charges levied by shipping lines in respect of imports are universally applied in all countries these shipping lines serve.

“While some charges are a cost recovery and others are applied as a deterrent, to ensure the trade comply with the documentation and other requirements of shipping lines therefore such charges are not peculiar to Sri Lanka,” he said.

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Sri Lanka & Philippines Sign Air Deal for Direct Flights between the Two Countries

21st July 2011, www.news360.lk

Sri Lanka and Philippines have signed a new deal on Tuesday to increase flights between the two countries.

This deal, reports say may pave the way for the launching of the first direct flight between Philippines and Sri Lanka.

At present, there are no direct flights between the two countries.

“The new agreement is expected to make any services that the respective airlines of both countries may plan to operate in the future more viable,” Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) executive director of Philippines Carmelo Arcilla has told the Philippine media.

Under the new deal, flights between Manila and Colombo will be increased to four from two a week.

Both air panels have also agreed to remove restrictions on the number of flights to points outside Manila.

Philippines also have granted Sri Lanka “fifth freedom” rights from points outside Manila to Bangkok, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur.

“This means Sri Lankan airlines will be able to pick up passengers from these secondary routes and bring them to the said Southeast Asian cities” added a media report.

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SriLankan Airlines Pro 2011 Surf Contest Brings Best Surfers to Arugam Bay with ASP

17th July 2011, www.sundaytimes.lk

Sri Lanka’s eastern coastal resort Arugam Bay plays host for the second consecutive year, to the ‘SriLankan Pro Surf 2011’ - one of the world’s top-rated surfing events, as part of SriLankan Airlines’ multi-pronged strategy to position the island as one of the world’s most sought after travel and sporting destinations, the airline said.

With two principal events – the LongBoard Men’s Championship Event and the ShortBoard Women’s World Qualifying Series Event - the ‘SriLankan Airlines Pro 2011’ tournament will attract top stars of the surfing world to Arugam Bay from 30th August to 4th September, with over a 100 competitors from around the world. The women’s event is also a Six Star World Qualifier and will be held in Sri Lanka for the first time with nearly 60 participants from Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Hawaii, South Africa, Peru, Chile, Japan, UK, Indonesia and France, billed to ride the waves off Sri Lanka’s east coast, the airline statement added.

Organized by the Australian Surf Professional ASP, the SriLankan Airlines Pro 2011 is an important event for professional surfers. It has the highest rating of ‘Six Stars’ on the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Tour by which competitors qualify to contest for the World Title. ‘SriLankan Airlines Pro 2011’ will showcase the picturesque southeast resort of Arugam Bay aka A-Bay, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, positioning it as a destination for all types of beach lovers, and not just for surfers. It will also bring high exposure to Sri Lanka as a leisure island.

SriLankan Airlines’ Chairman, Nishantha Wickremasinghe said, “Sri Lanka is firmly back on the world travel map and has proved its ability to host mega events such as this. Having been associated with the sport of surfing for nearly a decade, SriLankan Airlines is happy to bring this top level competition to our shores once again, thus showcasing both Sri Lanka as a holiday destination and the stunning A-Bay in particular.”

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Commercial Diving in Sri Lanka Has Potential

17th July 2011, www.sundayobserver.lk

There is huge potential for commercial divers and I would like to invite the educated young to become divers, said Managing Director DeepSea Commercial Ltd Buddhi Wickramanayake.

He said that most youngsters don’t think there is potential in diving but there is huge potential and the young and educated should take to it as a profession.

He said that the peaceful atmosphere in the country will make many ships call at Colombo and therefore we should be ready to provide services needed by them in a timely and efficient manner.

If we don’t provide a good service to ships they will go to another port.

DeepSea Commercial is the only commercial diving operator in the country to reach depths of 350 feet. High altitude dives are conducted at locations upto 8,000 feet from sea level. “We are the only mixed gas decompression dive team in the country”, he said.

The team at DeepSea Commercial is certified by the Association of Diving Contractors International (ADCI) and Technical Diving International, USA.The company is the pioneer in offering side scan sonar services to monitor the seabed, subsea infrastructure and subsea engineering structures.

Wickramanayake said that they are the sole service provider for SEA-ME-WE-4 (Southeast Asia-MiddleEast-West Europe-4) optical fibre cable system and a preferred service provider for DSCN (Dhiraagu Submarine Cable Network) Optical fibre cable systems in Sri Lanka and in the Maldives. SEA-ME-WE4 is a 20,000 km long network running from France to Singapore carrying Internet, voice and data among 16 nations.

DSCN network runs from Colombo to the Maldives and inter-islands. Wickramanayake has a dive record of 341 Feet (104 metres), done with Trimix and Nitrox gases. The dive was in Thailand, for a cave exploration project. He is a mixed gas commercial diver as well as a Hyperbaric Chamber Operator. Wickramanayake is also a commercial pilot with multi engine and instrument rating.

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First Ever Census of Elephants in Sri Lanka to Help Protect the Endangered Species against the Loss of Habitat

13th July 2011, in.news.yahoo.com, By Bharatha Mallawarachi - Associated Press

Sri Lanka is preparing for its first census of elephants in the island's forests to help protect the endangered species against the loss of its habitat.

The head of the Wildlife Department, Chandrawansa Pathiraja, said the census will run over two days starting on the full moon of next month, which falls on Aug. 13.

Elephants will be counted as they come to drink from water holes, reservoirs and tanks.

With the survey, Pathiraja said he hopes to find out the minimum number of elephants, distribution of the population and the composition of herds, including males, females, babies and tuskers.

It will also help the government determine whether it needs legislation to regulate the elephant population.

"The census we do can be used for many years for the policymakers and government authorities in order to prepare policies and projects aimed at conservation of elephants," Pathiraja said.

Elephants are considered sacred animals in Sri Lanka. Costumed and decorated pachyderms are used in Buddhist ceremonies as they parade through streets carrying the sacred relics of the Lord Buddha.

In the past, elephants were the country's trucks, taxis and even battle tanks.

But human encroachment and development have eaten into their habitats, and wild elephants are increasingly entering villages in search of food, rampaging through houses and destroying crops and killing people.

Around 250 elephants are killed every year, mostly by farmers. About 50 people are killed in elephant attacks each year too.

The only count available now dates back a century when an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 elephants roamed wild in Sri Lanka. But habitat loss and poaching are believed to have roughly halved their numbers.

Wildlife officials estimate Sri Lanka's elephant population at between 5,000 to 6,000.

Previous head counts by the Wildlife Department were confined only to certain regions and in 1993, one such census found 1,967 elephants but it excluded the island's north and east where a civil war was raging at the time.

With the war's end in 2009, wildlife officials have gained access to the former war zones. The Wildlife Department has already opened up some parks that were closed down during the quarter-century strife.









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Ayurvedic Expo 2011 Promotes Sri Lanka's Indigenous Medicine

16th July 2011, www.onlanka.com, By Janaka Alahapperuma, Pix By Chandana Perera

Ayurvedic Expo 2011 International Indigenous Health care Exhibition, Trade Fair and Symposium was ceremonially inaugurated by President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Bandaranayaka Memorial International Conference Hall at BMICH, Colombo today on 15 July.

The three day mega Exhibition & Symposium will showcase and promote local and foreign Ayurvedic products and services from over 20 participating countries including India, Canada, Singapore, Pakistan, the Netherlands, Japan, China, the United Kingdom, Germany and South Africa.

Ayurvedic EXPO 2011 jointly organized with the Chamber of Commerce, Sri Lanka Tourism, Ministry of Indigenous Medicine, Export Development Board and the Ministry of External Affairs. The exhibition geared to promote tourism, trade and preservation of Indigenous Medicine in Sri Lanka. It also promote natural Ayurvedic medicine something is unique to Sri Lanka and treatments along with different forms of medication.

Local and foreign exhibitors have maximum exposure, publicity for their products and services with an excellent brand image and ample opportunities to interact with foreign and local clients. Visitors will have the opportunity to know from A – Z about indigenous health care products, services and treatment methods practiced in Sri Lanka and other Countries. There are stalls of products and services from sectors such as eco- friendly health food, acupuncture, homeopathy, beauty care products and a host of other sectors connected with Ayurveda.

President Rajapaksa presented awards to many institutions which had worked for the well being of the indigenous medical sector.

Prime Minister, D.M. Jayaratne, Minister of Indigenous Medicine, Salinda Dissanayaka, Deputy Minister Pandu Bandaranayaka, Deputy Minister Jayaratne Herath Chairman of the Sri Lanka National Chamber of Commerce, Ashoka Hettigoda and Chairman of the Sri Lanka Export Development Board, Janaka Rathnayaka were also present on the occasion.

The Exhibition will continue until Sunday 17 July.

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15 July 2011

First Phase of Sigiriya Renovation Project to Ease Congestion & Improve Visitor Safety Completed

15th July 2011, www.dailynews.lk, By Disna Mudalige

The first phase of Sigiriya renovation project carried out by the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau (GSMB) to ensure the safety of visitors while easing the congestion has now been completed, said GSMB chairman Dr N P Wijayananda.

He said that the Bureau has been carrying out renovation work for the last one and half years with Rs 52 million in funds received from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).

He said that the narrow staircase running from the Lion's paw to the top of the rock was broadened and reconstructed using stainless steel. "Now there are two pathways to climb up and down. Four people can pass each other with ease after the broadening of the steps" he observed.

A section of the platform built to see frescoes had been closed for safety reasons for a long period. This section has now reopened to the public after reconstructing and widening using stainless steel. About six frescoes appear on the surface of the rock in this section.

The GSMB Chairman noted that local technology, consultancy and labour had been used for all the renovation work carried out in Sigiriya.

He said that technology developed by mining engineers in the Kahatagaha Graphite Mine was used as a low cost option without building scaffoldings from the base of the rock to carry out the renovation work. Wijayananda also said that six identified places in Sigiriya, where the rock has loosened due to the natural process of decaying, were anchored and stabilized using steel bars to ensure the safety of visitors. "All these were done manually to avoid any damage to the plaster of frescoes from vibration coming out of machines"noted Dr Wijayananda.

Sigiriya has become one of the major tourist attractions and the number of local and foreign visitors has been on the sharp increase after the dawn of peace. The renovation work was carried out to ensure necessary facilities to all visitors, he said.

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