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Residential properties Sri Lanka

“Altair will define Colombo’s skyline”: Shapoorji Pallonji CEO

June 20, 2019

“Cities must have iconic buildings and structures; this is key to a city’s uniqueness and character,” says Mohandas Saini, Managing Director and CEO of Shapoorji Pallonji International. Akin to how Manhattan is defined by the Empire State Building, Kuala Lumpur by the Petronas Towers and Dubai by the Burj Khalifa. Saini made these remarks on one of his periodic visits to Colombo to review Altair’s progress, scheduled to complete in end-2019.

S & P CEO Mohandas Saini

Shapoorji Pallonji & Co. Ltd., regarded as one of India’s most valuable private companies with a legacy spanning over 150 years, is no stranger to such iconic construction projects. The company was the main contractor of the tallest residential development in India, the 60-story ‘Imperial Towers’ in Toledo Mumbai, completed in 2010. Other iconic projects by global construction giant include the palace of Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said of Oman, Park Towers Dubai, Taj International Hotel Mumbai and the Hilton Riyadh.

Altair, adjudged the best condo in Asia for architectural design at the 2018 Asia Property Awards, was designed by Moshe Safdie, a pre-eminent architect of our time. Safdie’s works can be found across the globe and have become revered regional and national landmarks, including Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, Jerusalem; Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Kansas City; United States Institute of Peace Headquarters, Washington DC; and Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort, Singapore.

The unique design of Altair incorporates a 63-story inclined tower connected to the 69-story vertical tower via a strong outrigger at the 39th level. At the height of 240m, the vertical tower is now the tallest residential building in Sri Lanka

The inclined tower utilises structural steel diagonal grids on the exterior of the building giving a permeable surface for expansive floor to ceiling windows as well as acting as a load bearing membrane, minimising the use of interior columns. According to Mohandas Saini, these unique design features led to a particularly complex project from a construction standpoint due to the high degree of precision work required to maintain uniformity that cannot be achieved through traditional fast-tracked methodologies that are commonplace now in high-rise construction in Sri Lanka. Despite the challenges, the superstructure construction work was carried out at a commendable speed with ‘one floor added almost every week’, notes the CEO.

Commenting on the outcome of the superstructure works Saini remarks, “The entire weight distribution was so well engineered, and the workmanship is of such good quality that the level of deviation from original specifications were substantially lower than allowable structural engineering tolerances.”

Structural engineers to this project have been Dubai based Predag Eror of Derby Design, and well known Sri Lankan structural engineer, Deepal Wickremesinghe. Structural elements of the building were independently verified by the University of Moratuwa.

The CEO also says that Shapoorji Pallonji has earned their global reputation not only for their expertise in construction, but for their enduring commitment for the projects they undertake. “We believe in long-term value-added relationships with all stakeholders, often investing our own money in projects we undertake, as we have done so in Altair.” The main shareholder of this $ 250 million project is Kolkata based South City Group, a consortium of firms which has collectively delivered over 150 real estate projects consisting of more than 15 million square feet.

Along with Altair, Shapoorji Pallonji is involved in four other projects in Sri Lanka, including an office building and a water supply project. The CEO remarked that his company is considering engaging in a public-private partnership with the Government with regards to another key project and are open for further investment opportunities in the country.

Speaking of his experience of working in Sri Lanka, Saini says that local engineers have excellent skills and expertise. However, the company had to resort to employing a large foreign workforce due to the shortage of skilled labourers and specialised technicians in the domestic market.

Taken from Daily FT

Debunking the real estate bubble

August 16, 2017

  • Top industry expert rejects concerns over luxury apartment sector

Amid concerns of a real estate bubble forming in the high-end segment, Indocean Developers Director Pradeep Moraes spoke to Daily FT on industry prospects, possible policy assistance and rejected concerns of unsustainable growth. Given below are excerpts of the interview:

Q: What are your reasons for saying there is no property bubble?

A: A property bubble occurs when there is a profusion of credit, when credit is easily obtainable and when credit is cheap. None of these are true where Sri Lanka is concerned. Getting credit is very difficult because our banks are very prudent, and thankfully so, and all of us know that credit is not cheap at all. What happened in places like UK post-Northern Rock is not something that can happen here, neither is there the frenetic euphoria about the real estate market that happened in Dubai where people were literally queuing to purchase and in certain instances reselling while still in the queue. In Dubai, most of the buyers were foreign and developers were local, in Sri Lanka the reverse is reality. Those are the type of phenomena that lead to a bubble. Another example is the toxic credit that was very easily available in the US; none of those things are here. When you look at the data, less than 10% of the luxury apartment market in Colombo is financed through loans. It is over 90% equity financed. So there is no pressure of financial payments, there is no case of immediate resale, and it is not speculative purchasing. To give a small example, we have sold 270 apartments, from 404, to our knowledge, (and we would be involved in such a process), only two have changed hands so far. Moreover, about 60% of the buyers are domiciled Sri Lankans, about 30% are expatriate Sri Lankans, and only the rest for foreign buyers. This has a dual advantage because the buyers are far more rooted in Sri Lanka and not considering the property purely as an investment. As foreign buyers are less than 10%, the potential for expansion is massive. We have literally not even scratched the surface of the international interest that could be generated into Sri Lanka as a real estate destination. Also, Sri Lanka has a very low ratio of urbanisation – Wikipedia puts us at 15%, the UN at 18% and the Government estimate is 48%. Even if we are to use an average of 27% as an example, it is way below global figures which are over 50% with smaller countries showing higher ratios. So the only way forward in terms of residential development is up.

Q: You said that as much as 90% of the purchases are equity. How do you feel this impressive amount   of money is generated? Is it a case where people are selling land outside of Colombo to finance the purchases?

A: I suppose these are top professionals and businessmen who have gathered savings over time and regularly earn well. When you move around Colombo, it is obvious that there are plenty of people with substantial amounts of money and they are free to invest where they wish. We feel that the segment least vulnerable to a bubble is the luxury one because those who buy apartments, for the most part, do not borrow. They have ample funds, so they can weather it out, even in the very unlikely event of a market downturn. They don’t have the banks sitting on their tails with higher interest rates, and having to finance those banking loans. Developers who go into luxury are huge, very well established companies. We have Fortune 500 companies investing in the luxury segment along with top local blue chip companies like John Keells Holdings, Abans and with respected builders. These are all well entrenched, sound companies that do not necessarily have to come into Sri Lanka. They come here because they obviously do not have to worry about volatility and they don’t need credit to fuel their operations. There is no exposure.

Q: About 90% of buyers are Sri Lankan. Do you think this trend will continue or moving forward, will the industry see more foreign buyers moving in?

A: I have, over the last decade, seen quite a number of repeat buyers. It is a natural progression of wealth and the broadening of that base, which happens in any well set economy. I’m reluctant to use the word thriving but Sri Lanka is growing and the ripple effects of that is seen in the wealth that is available for distribution.

Q: Is there not a danger of repeat buyers driving up prices and limiting accessibility for young, first-time buyers trying to find a price point they can afford on a middleclass salary?

A: I think that phenomena would occur when you talk about restricted land availability. There is a finite amount of land and this would push away aspirational buyers, but that would happen in terms of real estate because prices are linked and land prices are a component of that. The only redeemer in this situation would be the condominium, because if you do not have it, then quite opposite to what is feared, the land prices would go far higher. On two acres of land we are building 404 apartments. If we build houses the maximum number would be 53 houses, which would not be possible because the construction can only cover about 65% of the land and there have to be access roads. That would reduce the number to about 34 houses. Condominiums are really the answer to the land problem. The city of Colombo has narrow roads and traffic is a massive problem. We are seeing a trend where people are even keeping apartments for weekday living, and we are seeing families coming back from the suburbs.

Q: Are you concerned about the affordability of apartments?

A: That is more of a generic national problem. The cost of land is high. Therefore, if people buy land outside central Colombo then the cost of transport and time is high. If you try to build a 2000 square foot house in Colombo that would cost you more than an apartment. Our apartments started at $ 400,000, now because we have sold 70%, the cheapest available is $ 525,000. Reason for the steep increase is twofold. One is availability, because the apartments are at higher levels and therefore they are more expensive and secondly, we have been pushing our prices higher. Altair is, I would say, among the best, but our prices are actually better than many other developers that are considered mid-range.  Sometimes the larger developers help economies of scale filter down.

Q: Since the Government is the largest holder of land, several companies have appealed for the release of more land to build mid-range housing for middleclass or upper middleclass people. Would you agree with this observation?

A: Yes, this is a very valid request as there is a dire need for middleclass and upper middleclass housing within Colombo City limits or its’ immediate suburbs, and with well-designed condos, it will not take an overabundance of land to provide at least a modicum of a solution. For example, as little as 20 acres (even in separate blocks) could conservatively cater to as many as 9000 middleclass apartments or 7000 upper middleclass apartments. Of course there would have to be a rational in releasing lands to selected developers; perhaps “a Swiss challenge” method of selection. Quite apart from the delivery of a civic obligation, the Government would also save traffic infrastructure and lessen fuel wastage.

Q: Coming back to the luxury segment, don’t you feel that there are doubts regarding its sustainability?

A: My concerted belief at the moment is that it is sustainable. We have met with the Central Bank Governor and raised our concerns. According to real estate analyst JLL, of the available condominiums as much as 98% of what is available has been absorbed and 47% of what is in the pipeline till 2022 has also been sold. The Central Bank in a preliminary study has found 99% has been absorbed and 70% of the pipeline has also been bought. So in that case where is the issue? I don’t quite agree with the 70% figure, I personally feel that is high, but it still means the industry is doing well.

Q:  Do you feel apartments coming up in Port City would lead to a change in prices?

A: That is a different dimension altogether. The Port City is a different animal and it is not going to prey on or absorb the existing demand, necessarily. There vision is for it to be a nodal hub for the whole of South Asia and it is their challenge to put the different legislation, frameworks, and ramifications into play that will support that. Going by the way the Port City company is going about things, and the expertise they are tapping into both locally and overseas, and the seriousness and maturity with which they are approaching the project, you feel pretty comfortable they will achieve that. That does not mean our existing buyers will also not look at Port City but they will bring a different offering to the table. They will enhance the offering and broaden the field of play.

Q: Concerns have also been raised on ownership as some companies refrain from giving title deeds above a certain floor, particularly in areas such as Wellawatta. How do you view these issues?

A: That may be the case but that is the due diligence each buyer is entitled to. If you buy a car, you check to see if everything is okay. For Altair, our agreement with the Urban Development Authority (UDA) is a 99-year lease and that lease converts to freehold upon us completing the building and transferring ownership. We jointly, together with the UDA, transfer the ownership to the buyer. The 40,000 sq.ft. of retail space does not become freehold but can become freehold with another signoff by the UDA. We have not applied for that yet. From the sixth floor upwards its freehold.

Q: There have been reports developers are reducing prices to get pre-build deposits or are slashing prices. Have you seen such a trend?

A: I hope not. The stakes are too high. You have to have some real conviction that you are going to benefit out of the entire thing by dropping prices or discounting on a thing like an apartment. I think that is foolish and hope we will not see that happening, any vestige of desperation or tinkering with sales policy because of the fear of any bubble would be counterproductive.

Q: There have also been charges that large developers buy defaulted property directly from banks without going to the market and thereby get lower prices. What do you think of this?

A: I’m not sure of that. If that were the case, I don’t see a problem. If I really want land, then I should have the ingenuity to figure out banks hold premium land and approach them and see what I can negotiate. That is a negotiating tactic any developer can employ.

Q: Many international cities bring in laws to improve equal access to apartments in prime areas of a city such as regulating the number of vacant apartments and imposing rent controls. This is to ensure that people of modest incomes also have access to the same spaces and can enjoy the same standard of life. Do you feel similar steps could be taken in Colombo to create a more equitable city?

A: I don’t think the market has matured to the point that we need to bring in those kinds of controls. There have not been malpractices that push for such controls to be brought in at this point of time. However, in the future as the market develops and different sectors form and if there are concerns there is nothing wrong with doing that, but I don’t think there is an immediate need. It could be premature overregulation that could undermine growth. If the industry felt such regulations are necessary and if the controls were supportive and judicious, then we may support such measures, but if authorities get very rigid and unreasonable then there will be the natural resistance that any commercial industry would have towards unwarranted regulation.

Q: Experts have said a high percentage of private sector credit growth is directed at the construction industry and may need to be controlled for macroeconomic needs. Do you agree?

A: Such a situation needs to be carefully studied. We don’t know if there has been a proper identification or if it is an assumption. If it is the latter then we must find out what sections of the construction industry are being fuelled and it is the responsibility of the banks to also exercise due diligence in ensuring that the credit they dole out is used for the purpose that it is supposed to be. I think it would be very useful if banks go into this and indentify which segment, the luxury, middle, or low, could be vulnerable. Also, is it going to the developers or is it going to the purchasers?

Q: What policy measures do you see that would benefit the industry?

A: Granting resident visas was passed in the Budget but has not been implemented. We are contending with places like Malaysia, half the Middle East, the whole of the West Indies, Greece, Portugal, Malta, and Spain, where reasonable investment gives them residency. We are not even asking for permanent residency, we are asking for a reasonable resident visa. An investment in real estate is the most tangible of investments so what is the danger that we are afraid of? There is no vulnerability. This is a ghost that is being created. There was also a proposal for 40% mortgage but I don’t think that much is necessary because these people are not going to come and borrow at our high rates. However, if we can give about 20%, then it shows a bank or financial institution has done due diligence for development. That is the assurance and hand holding that foreign investors require and they are used to. Once they get to know there is no local bank willing to do that little bit of ground work for them, they walk away. Real estate could attract significant FDI for Sri Lanka. A back of the envelope calculation shows that high end real estate can attract a very conservative estimate of $ 150 million per year; that is around 25% of last year’s FDIs. So it is clear that real estate can be a key player in generating inflows, and in our view, demands to be looked at by the Government. What we should be doing is comparing Colombo with any other capital city, rather than Colombo with what it was 10 years ago. The reality is real estate in Sri Lanka has never gone down. Even through the height of the war, prices continued to grow; that has been demonstrated in the luxury segment, selling even at triple what they were bought for.

 

Taken from Daily FT

 

‘Luxury apartments boom not a bubble’!

March 27, 2017

Shangri La Group Vice Chairman Madhu Rao speaks at the recent Finance Asia organised Sri Lanka Investment Summit in Hong Kong. Others from left are Jones Lang LaSalle Sri Lanka Head of Transactions Sunil Subramanian, Indocean Developers Director Pradeep Moraes and CHEC Port City Colombo Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Liang Thow Ming

 

  • Altair says bulk of purchases equity based and mostly by Sri Lankans so far

  • Sri Lanka shows second-highest growth in Ultra Rich Community (above $ 30 m) as per global real estate consulting firm Knight Franks

  • Luxury apartments have offered capital gains of 12%-15% year-on-year while rental yields have been 6%-8% per annum but critics caution over too many units, pricing, affordability and yields

  • Annual Lankan market is 600 sold units

  • Positive ranking such as Colombo as fastest-growing city and most livable city in South Asia boosting demand

  • Port City targeting its planned 21,000 units for affluent South Asians

  • Says high net worth individuals in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh to double to 600,000 in 10 years

  • 2017 Budget moves such as foreigners allowed to buy from first residential floor and 5-year residency visa for apartment purchases above $ 300,000 to enhance industry prospects

The apparent boom in the luxury apartments market is not a bubble the industry claims, with future buildings pointing to great potential and investments despite some concerns.

The success so far and the optimistic future outlook of the Sri Lankan real estate market was shared among prospective investors in Hong Kong and Australia by leading promoters Indocean Developers (Altair) and the upcoming CHEC Port City Colombo as well as Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts’ The Residences at One Galle Face.

“There is no gearing or bubble to burst,” an emphatic Indocean Developers Director Pradeep Moraes told the Finance Asia-organised Sri Lanka Investor Summit in Hong Kong, followed by the Colombo Stock Exchange-organised Invest Sri Lanka conferences in Sydney and Melbourne.

“Ninety percent of luxury condominium purchases in Sri Lanka are equity-based,” Moraes added. According to him, at present 60% of the sales thus far are for domiciled Sri Lankans and a further 30% to Sri Lankan expatriates. He said factors driving domestic growth include changes in lifestyle, accessibility/convenience, relative affordability, traffic – reversed urban migration, security and difficulty in finding domestic help.  Furthermore, Sri Lanka has the second-highest growth in the Ultra Rich Community (above $ 30 million) as per global real estate consulting firm Knight Franks.

Another significant feature is the fact that the bulk of the investments for luxury apartment development has been from overseas. “The fact that buying has been largely from Sri Lankans and development has been from foreign parties, gives greater stability to the luxury condominium market. This is diametrically opposite to what has happened elsewhere such as Dubai,” Moraes added.

Indocean is investing over $ 250 million in 404-apartment complex Altair, in Colombo 2, comprising two tower blocks, one of 63 storeys, which leans onto a taller, 68-storey tower.

Shangri-La is investing $ 450 million on two residential towers of 51 floors containing 390 residential units and the company said half of the units have already been sold.

China’s CHEC is investing $ 1.4 billion to reclaim 269 hectares for the Port City project which will bring in a further $ 13 billion in investments for various projects including 21,000 apartments.

IN-1.224

From left: Indocean Developers Director Pradeep Moraes, CHEC Port City Colombo Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Liang Thow Ming and Shangri La Hotel Sri Lanka Head of Sales and Marketing (Residential) Neluka de Alwis speak at the Colombo Stock Exchange organised Invest Sri Lanka conferences in Sydney and Melbourne last week.

Given that 90% of the sales are driven by Sri Lankans, Moraes told the investment promotion events in Hong Kong and Australia “this shows only 10% has been bought by foreigners hence the great future upside in the market.”

CHEC Port City’s Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Liang Thow Ming, also speaking at Hong Kong and Australian investment promotion events, said that currently 600 luxury apartments were sold annually as per industry specialist Jones Lang LaSalle.

“When completed the Port City Colombo will add 21,000 units. We are largely looking at the India, Pakistan and Bangladesh markets which have a combined population of 1.7 billion. According to KPMG research, these countries have 300,000 High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) and this number is expected to double in 10 years,” Liang said. “This is why we are saying we are building a world-class city for South Asia,” he added.

Altair’s Moraes also said luxury condominia projects completed thus far such as Emperor, Empire, Monarch, 7th Sense, 110 Parliament and Fairmount have been sold out 100% while those under construction including Shangri-La, CCC, Cinnamon Life and Clear Point have had a near 50% absorption rate.

Speaking of Altair’s own sales status, he said in terms of units 66% have been sold and in terms of area it was 73%.

He also said construction was progressing well with the sloping tower nearing its 55th floor and the vertical tower close to its 60th floor.

The industry veteran told prospective investors and buyers in Hong Kong and Australia that Sri Lanka was the fastest-growing city as per the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index and the Most Livable City in South Asia.

Furthermore, 2017 Budget moves such as foreigners being entitled to purchase condominia on a freehold basis from the first floor onwards as opposed to the current rule of above the 4th residential floor, and a five-year resident visa for purchases of apartments over $ 300,000 were also highlighted along with hassle-free repatriation of capital and profits.

The industry’s optimism exists despite some expressing concern over a bubble on the belief that most purchases are funded by bank credit. Another concern is over the market being flooded by too many apartments, pricing and affordability as well as falling rental yields.

Chamber of Construction Industries CEO/Secretary General Nissanka Wijeratne was recently quoted as saying: “In real estate, I think we need to be a bit careful because there are currently 49 towers being built. I don’t know whether we have reached the bubble. For the ongoing ones, there’s demand. Most are sold out but we have to see whether there’s demand beyond that.”

Additionally, Candor Group Director Ravi Abeysuriya was also quoted as saying rental yields of luxury apartments, which have been experiencing downward pressure recently, will face further complications given the introduction of value added tax from April.

Perhaps alive to possible concerns even from foreign investors/buyers, Altair’s Moraes told the Hong Kong and Australian investor conferences that the industry has offered capital gains of 12%-15% year-on-year whilst rental yields have been 6%-8% per annum, suggesting at a peak level the returns had been over 20%.

For the full article visit FT.lk

Sri Lanka makes strong case to woo Hong Kong investor interest

March 24, 2017

 

 

  • Nearly 250 attend full-day Sri Lanka Investment Summit showcasing country’s progress and potential for new growth in key and emerging economic sectors
  • Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake highlights unity Govt.’s success so far in improving macroeconomic fundamentals and ongoing and future measures to achieve high quality inclusive growth
  • Invites Hong Kong-based investors to harness win-win growth opportunities in South Asia’s hub Sri Lanka

 

 

Sri Lanka yesterday made its strongest effort to woo interest from Hong Kong-based companies, fund managers and investors, highlighting recent macroeconomic progress as well as measures to boost higher inclusive growth from which foreign firms could benefit.

The concerted effort by the private and public sector was made at the full-day Sri Lanka Investment Summit in Hong Kong, organised by the influential Finance Asia magazine in partnership with multiple stakeholders including Standard Chartered Bank and Asia Securities.

Nearly 250 representatives from Hong Kong-based companies, fund managers and investors attended the summit held at the iconic Ritz-Carlton Hotel, the world’s tallest. Hong Kong, which itself is a hub and economic success, boasts of an economy worth over $ 300 billion, over four times that of Sri Lanka, with a per capita income of

$ 36,000. Chief Guest Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake and Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in China Dr. Karunasena Kodituwakku as well as a host of private sector business leaders, public sector officials and existing foreign investors spoke at the event.

They made a compelling case as to why Sri Lanka must be considered a new destination for investments from Hong Kong-based companies.

Karunanayake, who headed straight to the summit from the airport after arriving in Hong Kong only last morning, in his speech highlighted some of the salient democratic and macroeconomic achievements of the unity Government led by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. He pointed out that despite differences of opinion as expected in a coalition, the two parties were working together for the collective good with consensus-oriented politics and policies.

As proof of success so far, the Minister read out a host of positives from Fitch’s recent action by which it revised Sri Lanka’s rating outlook from negative to stable as well as the IMF’s statement following the recent review mission.

“We are proud of the progress made and we will ensure to be a partnering nation of the success stories unfolding in the Asian region,” Minister Karunanayake added.

The unity Government’s success in improving fiscal and financial discipline leading to a lower budget deficit was emphasised as well as the aggressive efforts to reduce the massive debt burden brought upon by the previous regime. Reforms as well as the restructuring of some of the loss-making national projects such as the Hambantota Port and Airport as well as state-owned enterprises were also touched upon by the Minister.

“We are aggressively promoting Public Private Partnerships and a greater private sector role in generating future growth,” Karunanayake told the Hong Kong summit.

“We are on course to achieving economic prosperity through accelerating growth with social inclusion. Our aim is to achieve a high quality growth which is central for sustainable development,” said the Finance Minister, assuring that the Government would not hesitate to initiate appropriate policies and measures as and when required to usher in the required development.

“We have done what we have said so you can believe the country and the Government and more importantly its policies,” Karunanayake said, adding that the time was opportune for foreign investors to secure diverse opportunities in Sri Lanka.

The Government’s efforts to enter into FTAs with China, Singapore, Japan and Korea, apart from expanding an existing deal with India, were emphasised to drive home the point among Hong Kong investors that geographically, the strategically-located Sri Lanka would be a very attractive hub to tap into opportunities in South Asia and Southeast Asia.

The impending return of the GSP Plus benefit to better serve European markets was also highlighted. The planned Colombo International Financial Centre and Dedicated Economic Zones in Hambantota were among other initiatives shared with participants of the Hong Kong summit.

Minister Karunanayake said potential new investors would have a “crucial role to play” in the overall effort to create a prosperous Sri Lanka and assured the Hong Kong summit’s participants that Sri Lanka’s future offered a “win-win” situation for investors and the Government.

“We will continue to support the private sector in whatever possible way so that private sector economic activities will foster,” the Finance Minister added.

He also revealed that the Government was envisaging Foreign Direct Investments of around $ 4 billion this year.

Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in China, Dr. Kodituwakku, called for greater investments, pointing out that FDI and an export-led growth strategy were key for Sri Lanka’s future. He also spoke about how Hong Kong FDIs gave a big initial boost to China to open up its economy.

“Just like many other Asian countries have transformed their economies with the back of FDIs, Sri Lanka too wishes to transform its economy with the support of the FDI into a strong economy in which all Sri Lankans are able to enjoy a high standard of living,” the Ambassador emphasised.

Excellent investment destination

IMF Resident Representative in Sri Lanka Eteri Kvintradze, who figured in a panel discussion, said Sri Lanka was a compelling story and was at a critical juncture hence more private sector-led growth was needed.

She also listed several key achievements of the Government aided by the structural reforms under the IMF’s ongoing $ 1.5 billion support program as well as future challenges to further improve Sri Lanka’s growth prospects.

The Board of Investment’s Director General Duminda Ariyasinghe also made a very strong case why Sri Lanka must be seriously considered by Hong Kong investors.

Summit co-chairman Standard Chartered Bank Sri Lanka CEO Jim McCabe described Sri Lanka as one of the fastest-growing economies and an excellent destination for investments. The other co-chairman Asia Securities Chairman Dumith Fernando also pitched for more Hong Kong investments.

The summit involved a large number of Sri Lankan business leaders and professionals as well as longstanding and new foreign investors in Sri Lanka such as Singer Asia, apparel giant Courtaulds, World Bank private sector investor arm IFC, the Shangri La Group, Indoocean Developers Ltd/Altair, China Merchant (CMPort)/Colombo International Container Terminals, China Harbour/CHEC Port City Colombo Ltd., BPO operator WNS Global Services, Creation Investments  and ADM Capital, as speakers or panellists as well as participants to reinforce the message that the time is right for global investors to consider Sri Lanka.

Some of the companies represented include Hemas Holdings, MAC Holdings, Commercial Bank, Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation, Commercial Credit and Finance and Lynear Wealth.

Standard Chartered Bank was the international lead sponsor of the summit. Asia Securities adds its special brand of insight to the summit as lead sponsors and CHEC Port City Colombo, Altair and MAC are all onboard as distinguished corporate sponsors.  The Daily FT is the official media partner. Supporting organisations include the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, the American Chamber of Commerce and the Oxford Business Group. Cathay Pacific was the official airline. This is the second summit by Finance Asia, an influential industry magazine, with the previous one held in Singapore last year.

CSE forum tells Sydney time to invest is now

March 22, 2017

National Policies and Economic Affairs State Minister Niroshan Perera (right) answers a question during the Invest Sri Lanka forum held at Sydney’s Shangri-La Hotel yesterday. Others from left: CSE CEO Rajeeva Bandaranaike, Fitch Ratings Lanka MD and CEO Maninda Wickramasinghe, Central Bank Director of Economic Research Dr. (Mrs.) Yuthika Indraratne, CSE Chairman Vajira Kulatilaka and SEC Director General Vajira Wijegunerwardane

 

• Participants urged to recognise ‘promise and potential’ of new SL

• Capital market policies to improve transparency

• Over 150 Australian citizens and companies, other firms as well as diaspora attend forum

• Sri Lankans in Aussie told their investment crucial for driving country forward

Australia’s most populous city Sydney was told yesterday that it was time to invest in Sri Lanka given the future upside supported by progressive policies in place or planned under a unity Government.

This message was conveyed at the ‘Invest Sri Lanka’ forum organised by the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) in partnership with several stakeholders at the Shangri-La Hotel in Sydney. Over 150 Australian citizens, companies, other firms and representatives based in Sydney as well as Sri Lankans living in Australia attended the forum.

It was the first in a series of investor promotion conferences to be carried out this week in Australia and New Zealand, a key initiative undertaken for the first time in 12 years.

Chief Guest National Policies and Economic Affairs State Minister Niroshan Perera told the Sydney forum that Sri Lanka was set to enter new territory as it was poised for a renewed drive of growth and progress.

He said the country under the unity Government had progressed in recent times as a result of the commitment to economic and social reform. “The present Government envisions a globally competitive, export-led economy driven by revolutionary thinking and bold policies. We expect to drive the nation towards achieving middle income status, while maintaining a strong focus on sustainable economic growth and good governance,” he said.

“The Government has implemented a number of business friendly policies with a view to strengthening our local economic and business environment,” State Minister Perera added.

Noting that ineffective regulation for the longest time had stifled the economic and business climate as well as employment growth, he said the new Government was well in the process of replacing such regulations.

The forum was told that a new set of investment incentives based on Capital Allowances and a low tax regime were introduced through the 2017 Budget aimed at broadening the scope of Lankan businesses and having a significant impact on investment sourced through domestic and international channels. He also said the targeted outcome was to bring Sri Lanka within the top 70 nations of the Ease of Doing Business Index by 2020.

The importance of Sri Lanka as an Indian Ocean hub in the realm of global logistics and commercial activities was also stressed. The State Minister said an increasing number of businesses and investors are once again looking to Sri Lanka as an investment destination. He also referred to projects such as the Western Megapolis Development and the Colombo International Finance Centre to step up foreign investments, harness Sri Lanka’s strategic geographic location and achieve higher economic growth.

Focusing on capital markets, State Minister Perera said the Government was keen on maintaining integrity and quality by setting a policy framework that will lead to the operation of an open, secure and transparent marketplace.

“Through the 2017 Budget, the Government introduced a number of initiatives that, we believe, are likely to develop the capital markets in the coming years,” he said.

The Sydney forum was also told about Government’s announced plans to introduce a number of non-core businesses to the capital markets and these listings are likely to have a positive effect in terms of sparking market interest among investors and boosting market liquidity.

“A key priority of the present Government headed by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is to regain the confidence of the international community. We are pleased to see a number of positive developments in this regard,” Perera pointed out, highlighting the impending return of GSP Plus benefits from the European Union and rising tourist arrivals.

The State Minister also sent a strong message to the Sri Lankan Diaspora in Sydney in particular and Australia in general.

“Many Sri Lankans who left our motherland during the conflict are actively looking to improve their association with Sri Lanka. The present construction boom driven by Sri Lankans living abroad is an example of such interest and involvement,” he said.

“Such progress is exactly why forums of this nature are of importance, because they play an important role in assisting the Government to reach out to our large and diverse Sri Lankan community overseas. Your ideas and your support are important to our country as we drive the future of our country forward,” the State Minister told the Sydney forum.

He urged participants to recognise the enormous promise and potential of an “emerging new Sri Lanka” built on the foundation of the Government’s new agenda of administrative and economic reforms and ease of doing business.

In that context Perera promised the Government’s continued commitment to facilitating investments and stimulating the establishment of transparent and well-governed institutions.

The Sydney forum and Thursday’s event in Melbourne are timed in the backdrop of Sri Lanka and Australia celebrating 70 years of diplomatic ties.

Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in Canberra, Australia S. Skandakumar said Australia and Sri Lanka have long shared strong historical ties, common values and interests with trust which has resulted in multiple forms of economic and social cooperation over the years.

Skandakumar said economic and social progress in Sri Lanka seen in recent times has been complemented by a renewed confidence in the country among the international community, especially in Australia.  The High Commissioner invited members of the audience to visit Sri Lanka to experience first-hand, the benefits of playing a part in a resilient growth story.

CSE Chairman Vajira Kulatilaka and SEC Director General Vajira Wijegunerwardane in their presentations were also emphatic that the time was opportune to invest in Sri Lanka.

Central Bank Director of Economic Research Dr. (Mrs.) Yuthika Indraratne offered insight into the economic policy direction of the country while Fitch Ratings Lanka MD and CEO Maninda Wickramasinghe presented a macroeconomic overview.

The Sydney forum also featured several leading real estate developments in Sri Lanka contributing in the capacity of event sponsors, including the Colombo Port City (Platinum Sponsor) One Galle Face by Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts (Platinum Sponsor) and the luxury apartment development by Altair (Corporate Sponsor).

The main presentations will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by CSE CEO Rajeeva Bandaranaike and a question and answer session with the audience.

The initiative is being held in association with several organisations including the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Sri Lanka High Commission in Canberra, Australia, Consul General in Sydney Lal Wickremetunga and Melbourne Prasanna Gamage, the Sri Lanka and Australia Chamber of Commerce and the Sri Lankan New Zealand Business Council.

The last CSE-led investor promotion was held in Australia in 2005. Post-war, the CSE has conducted road shows in New York, London, Singapore, Dubai and Mumbai.

On Wednesday two events will be held in Melbourne at the International Chamber House Melbourne and at the Novotel Melbourne Glen Waverley while another will be staged at the Fickling Convention Centre in Auckland, New Zealand on Saturday.

For the full article visit FT.lk

 

Altair builds Hindu shrine with facilitation of Gangaramaya Temple Chief Incumbent

December 28, 2016

image_1481809126-7c410f64e9

Altair, the property development that is transforming the Colombo 2 neighbourhood with its iconic twin-tower high-rise, has responded to the request of a leading Buddhist prelate to build a Hindu shrine at the intersection of Union Place and Sir James Peiris Mawatha at Kompanña Veediya as a service to the community.

The request, from the Ven. Galboda Gnanissara Thera, Chief Incumbent of Gangaramaya Temple, the monastic leader of Colombo Nawakorala, was to make the busy intersection which already has a Buddhist temple, a Catholic church and a mosque in close proximity to it, a symbol of inter-religious amity with the addition of a shrine at which Hindu devotees may venerate. The 20-foot high shrine dedicated to Lord Ganesh was consecrated recently at a ceremony attended by Ven. Galboda Gnanissara Thera, Ven. Dr. Kirinde Assaji Thera, Shivasri Baskara Kurukkal of the Sri Muthu Vinayagar Swami Kovil, Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs Minister D. M. Swaminathan and the board of Altair led by Joint Chairman R.S. Goenka.

The shrine was constructed on the lines of typical Indian Hindu architecture on a portion of land belonging to the Gangaramaya temple.

Taken form Daily Mirror

 

Development Progress – November

November 10, 2016

The latest images of Altair, soon to grace Colombo’s skyline with luxurious living. Scheduled to open in 2018.

Development Progress – September

September 27, 2016

The latest images of Altair, soon to grace Colombo’s skyline with luxurious living. Scheduled to open in 2018.

Development Progress of Altair luxury apartment in Colombo

September 29, 2015

The unique design of Altair will set new benchmarks for luxury apartments in Sri Lanka. It includes a diagrid structure design which enhances the building’s overall strength by distributing weight equally. The diagrid architecture has also enabled the use of floor to ceiling glass windows which provides occupants with an abundance of natural light and a spectacular view of the city.

Building up to be the finest luxury apartment in Colombo, Altair is on schedule for its completion on 2018. See the project development images here..

Altair awards construction contract to Shapoorji Pallonji

February 27, 2014

Iconic twin-tower luxury condominium project on Beira promenade begins next phase

Colombo, 11th February 2014: Construction giant Shapoorji Pallonji, the US$3 billion construction company whose contributions to the skylines of planet earth include India’s tallest residential towers
— the Imperial of Mumbai –and several skyscrapers of Dubai, has been appointed the main

contractor for Sri Lanka’s Altair residential twin tower in Colombo.

The contract awarded to Shapoorji Pallonji International operating out of Dubai, covers construction of the foundations, superstructure and civil works and overseeing finishes for the unique diagrid- supported towers of Altair;a 63-storied tower leaning into a 240 metre, 68-storied vertical tower that will be the centrepiece of South Asia’s first promenade development, on the lake front of the Beira.

Construction of the 400 luxury apartment development designed by the international celebrity architect Moshe Safdie is to be completed in 2017.

Announcing the award of the construction contract to Shapoorji Pallonji, Altair President Sales & Marketing Pradeep Moraes said the choice of a company with a 149-year lineage in construction is in keeping with its promoter’s philosophy of bringing together industry leaders in every sphere required for the challenging build of a breath-taking development whose unique design and distinctive structure will firmly place Sri Lanka on the architectural map of the world.

“In terms of building truly iconic high rise structures that redefine concepts of architectural design and push the boundaries of shape, there is probably no match for Shapoorji Pallonji,” Altair Director Jugal Khetawat concurred. “In the Middle East and India in particular, numerous buildings that endure in memory for their aesthetic brilliance have been built by Shapoorji Pallonji.”

Among the many architectural landmarks built by the company are the Park Towers Dubai, the Palace of Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said of Oman, The Taj Intercontinental Hotel Mumbai and the Hilton Riyadh. At 68 stories, Altair will be one of the tallest residential towers in South Asia, equalling the Imperial Towers of Mumbai, which were also built by Shapoorji Pallonji, Mr Khetawat said.

The appointment of Shapoorji Pallonji as main contractor also brings significant synergistic benefits, he disclosed. The owners of Shapoorji Pallonji are the single biggest stakeholders in the Tata Group.

Altair Director Pradeep Sureka added: “In structural terms and in design, Altair will be unique. In Shapoorji Pallonji we have a construction giant with time-tested credentials and creative construction in its DNA.”

In the choice of main contractor, one of the principal considerations was the builder’s ability not only to execute the architect’s design, but to meet the extremely high expectations of the owner and promoter of the development in all aspects, and to deliver all stages contracted to schedule, Mr Sureka said.

Speaking on behalf of Shapoorji Pallonji International, M.D.Saini, the company’s Managing Director

& CEO said: “We are delighted to be awarded the construction of what promises to be another architectural icon, and look forward to partnering a reputed Group such as South City, the promoter of Altair. Building a design of Moshe Safdie, the architect responsible for Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, is an exciting challenge and one that our team is eager to grapple with.”

A Mumbai based business conglomerate with interests in construction, real estate, textiles, engineering goods, home appliances, shipping, publications, power and biotechnology, the Shapoorji Pallonji Group is regarded one of India’s most valuable private enterprises. The Group has an engineering and construction pedigree spanning 149years and a project portfolio covering multi- asset class developments in India, the UAE, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Iraq, Kuwait Libya, Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia, and Sri Lanka. Shapoorji Pallonji Engineering & Construction has 12 global offices, 16,000 staff, 2,500 engineers and more than 200,000 technicians and labourers.

All Piling work for the Altair development at Sir James Peiris Mawatha, Colombo 2 has been completed and Shoring, entrusted to Sincon International of Singapore, is nearing completion. Among the other leading contractors involved in the project are Derby Design, the Structural Design

Consultants for the famed Dubai Mall – the largest shopping Mall in the World, the 83-storey Ocean Heights Dubai, the National Library and Drama Centre Singapore and the Manila Airport among others; Barker Mohandas – USA, the Vertical Transport specialists whose projects include Visionnaire New York, AlRiyadh Tower Saudi Arabia and Shenyang IFC China; andRWDI Wind Analysis Consultants whose work includesBurj Khalifa – the world’s tallest building, Petronas Towers, Freedom Tower New York at the WTC location and the London Millennium Bridge.