Mano first Lankan to get India’s Pravasi Bharatiya Samman award

Tuesday, 11 January 2011 00:35 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Recognition for advancement of business and community relations between India and Sri Lanka

A Sri Lankan business leader has been honoured by India for his contribution to the advancement of business and community relations between the two nations with the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman award, the country’s highest recognition for people of Indian origin.

The award presented by Indian President Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil to Deshamanya Mano Selvanathan, Group Director of Carson Cumberbatch Plc places him in an extraordinary group of eminent global citizens of Indian ancestry whose efforts in their countries have benefited local communities and helped forge stronger ties with India.

Selvanathan is the first Sri Lankan to receive the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman award, presented at the valedictory session of the 9th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (Non-resident Indian Day) Convention at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi on 9 January 2011, 96 years to the day Mahatma Gandhi returned to India from South Africa.

Sir Anand Satyanand GNZM QSO, Governor General of New Zealand, another distinguished non-resident Indian, presided as Chief Guest at the Convention which was inaugurated by Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.

Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi announced the names of the winners at the concluding day of India’s annual convention to connect with its 27 million diaspora in 150 countries, which also included the Indian Community Benevolent Forum in Qatar.

 Among past recipients of the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman award are Shri Sibarata Roy, Sir Shridath Ramphal, Lord Navnit Dholakia, Lord Meghnad Desai, Lord Diljit Rana, Lord Karan Bilimoria, Shri Shashi Tharoor, Dr. Sam Pitroda, M. Night Shyamalan, Professor C. K. Prahalad, Bharat Jagdeo, Shri Yesu Persaud, Dr. Hari N. Harilela, Rt. Hon. Sir Anerood Jugnauth and Dato Seri S. Samyvellu.

Another distinguished Sri Lankan to be honoured by India was Sarvodaya founder Dr. A. T. Ariyaratne who in 1990 received the Jamnalal Bajaj award for propagating Gandhian values outside India, and was presented the Mahatma Gandhi Peace Prize in 2006.

Selvanathan, a third generation Sri Lankan citizen, was Chairman of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce from August 1996 to August 1998, President of the Indo-Lanka Chamber of Commerce & Industry from September 2006 to May 2010 and served as President of the Association of Sri Lanka India Economic Development from January 1994 to September 2006. In 2005 he was conferred the title of Deshamanya for services to the country by the President of Sri Lanka.

His current business interests encompass management of Carson Cumberbatch Plc, the second largest public quoted company in Sri Lanka with interests in brewery, plantations, property development, investment portfolio management, mutual funds, hotels and tourism. Selvanathan is also a director of business ventures in brewery, commodities trading, and oil palm plantation in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and India.

A past president of the Rotary Club of Colombo North, Selvanathan also serves as the Hon. Consul of the Republic of Chile in Sri Lanka. In his capacity as Chairman of the Indian Heritage Foundation he was instrumental in the publication of a 336 page pictorial record titled ‘The Indo-Lankans – Their 200 year saga.’ The book narrates the history of people of Indian origin in Sri Lanka.

The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention is organised by India’s Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi announced the names of the winners at the concluding day of India’s annual convention to connect with its 27 million diaspora in 150 countries.

Selvanathan joined an eminent group with other awardees being Prof. Veena Harbhagwan Sahajwalla (Australia), Lata Pada (Canada), Harindrapal Singh Banga (Hong Kong-China), Mohammad Munir Nazir Hassan Ansari (Israel), Upjit Singh Sachdeva (Liberia), Tan Sri Dato Ajit Singh (Malaysia), Saleh Wahid from (Netherlands), Mohiaddin Syed Karimuddin (Saudi Arabia), Mohan Jashanmal (United Arab Emirates), Baroness Sandip Verma (United Kingdom) and Ashook Kumar Ramsaran and Rajiv Shah (United States).

Carson Group to invest Rs. 249.6 m in Expo Lanka

Watapota Investments goes for Rs. 503.2 m Rights Issue

Carson Cumberbatch Group is to invest Rs. 249.6 million in Expo Lanka Holdings Ltd., one of Sri Lanka’s successful but unlisted family owned companies.

The investment is to be made by Carson’s subsidiary Watapota Investments Plc., which has announced plans to change its name to Guardian Capital Partners Plc.

The investment company said that it has evaluated an unlisted investment in shares of Expo Lanka Holdings which amounts to Rs. 249.6 million and intends to take up this investment.

Analysts said the Watapota is participating in a private placement by Expo Lanka and the stake is estimated to be around 2.5%.

Since this intended investment falls within the category of “major transactions” as defined by Section 185 of the Companies Act No. 7 of 2007, Watapota will be seeking shareholder approval at an EGM to be convened shortly.

Carson Cumberbatch owns 87% stake in Watapota and recently decided not to entertain unsolicited or voluntary bids for Watapota by several parties.

In a related development, Watapota’s Board has also resolved to raise Rs. 503.2 million via a 75 for two rights issue at Rs. 20 each. Its current stated capital is Rs. 10.39 million comprising 671,008 shares and the Rights Issue will entail issuance of 25.1628 million shares.

The Rights Issue which is subject to shareholder and regulatory approval is to raise capital for Watapota to carry out its planned investment activities.

Highly illiquid stock, Watapota last week closed down Rs. 100 to Rs. 800, its 52-week lowest. In September last year its share price zoomed to Rs. 1900 as at least five different parties vied for its control despite it being almost a shell company having liquidated most of its investments and reserves distributed among shareholders.

Among parties which vied for control of Watapota were Capital Alliance (at Rs. 40.60 per share), a client of IIFL Securities at Rs. 81.20 per share, K.V. Vignarajah at Rs. 83 per share, a client of Acuity Stockbrokers at Rs. 89.40 per share, and a client of Taprobane Securities at Rs. 95 per share. The offers were conditional upon different stakes ranging from 57% and entirety of Carson’s holding.

Watapota’s Investment Managers Guardian Fund Management Ltd., said in the second quarter interim accounts released in November that the investment climate in Sri Lanka has been positive during the last financial year and the current year. Therefore the Investment Managers are of the view that given a sufficient capital base, that the company could engage in lucrative investment related businesses in the medium and long term.

Carson Group also in December relaunched the only open ended US$ denominated country fund the Sri Lanka Fund to woo global investors including those in the Diaspora to ride on the post-war economic momentum via investments in the stock market.

The net asset value of the company as at 31 March 2010 amounted to Rs.152.80 per share, out of which Rs.132.00 was declared as dividend following shareholder approval at the last Annual General Meeting. This would have resulted in a net asset value of Rs.20.80 approximately remaining behind in the books of the company. The six months accounts enclosed herewith indicates an enhancement in this net asset value to Rs.21.37 per share by 30 September 2010.

However, the investment managers noted that there still appears to be a discrepancy between the price at which the share trades in the market and the net asset value of the Company.