Mobitel to buy Sri Lanka medical dotcom amid competition from rival

ECONOMYNEXT – Mobitel, a unit of publicly traded Sri Lanka Telecom, is offering to buy, a firm that pioneered online channelling of doctors for Rs732 million in the wake of a rival helping build a competitor.

Mobitel said it was buying 87.5 percent of the dotcom from Senior Marketing System Asia Pte Ltd, a firm ultimately controlled by Japanese investors, and the same offer was made to all other shareholders, its investment advisors said in a stock exchange filing.

Echannelling, Sri Lanka’s first listed dotcom, now has competition from, a firm set up by Dialog, Sri Lanka’s largest mobile firm, and Asiri Healthcare group.

E-channelling revenue fell 22 percent from a year earlier to Rs39.9 million in the June 2016 quarter, and profits fell from Rs19.7 million to Rs15.6 million.

"Echannelling is no longer the cash cow it once was," says Indika Hettiarachchi, head of Jupiter Capital Partners, a Colombo-based Venture Capital firm. He had been a director of Channelling, representing another venture capital firm.

"But it has value for a telco. Its platform could be broadened to other areas that need appointments and bookings."
Hotel bookings are one of the biggest growth areas online. Others include beauty care or even car servicing, analysts say.

E-channelling was expanded with venture capital finance and was headed by Sidath Chandrasena, its youthful chief executive who later left the firm.

Mobitel is buying the stock for Rs6.0 a share, sharply lower from the Rs14 paid by Senior Marketing Systems for the firm in July 2014. (Colombo/September06/2016)

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