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Sunday May 19th, 2024

Sri Lanka’s Dialog Axiata and Airtel unit merger given nod

ECONOMYNEXT – Dialog Axiata Group and Bharti Airtel have signed a Definitive Agreement to merge operations in Sri Lanka, Airtel announced in a stock exchange filing on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

“Under this agreement, Dialog will acquire 100% of the issued shares in Airtel Lanka, in consideration of which Dialog will issue to Bharti Airtel, ordinary voting shares which will amount to 10.355% of the total issued shares of Dialog by way of a share swap.

“The Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) has granted its approval for the proposed merger, underscoring its vision to advance the adoption of telecommunications services across Sri Lanka.”

The trading of Dilaog Axiata shares on the Colombo Stock Exchange was temporarily halted Thursday before Dialog made its Colombo Stock Exchange filing.

The trading halt was lifted at 11.55 am, and the share resumed trading. On Wednesday the share saw foreign buying interest, market participants said, and closed up at 11.70. (Colombo/Apr18/2024)

The statement in full:

Dialog, Axiata Group and Bharti Airtel sign Definitive Agreement to Merge Operations in Sri Lanka

Combined Strengths to deliver superior experience to customers and improve returns to shareholders

18th April 2024 – Dialog Axiata PLC (“Dialog”), Axiata Group Berhad (“Axiata”) and Bharti Airtel Limited (“Bharti Airtel”) (collectively “the Parties”), signed a Definitive Agreement to combine their operations in Sri Lanka. Under this agreement, Dialog will acquire 100% of the issued shares in Airtel Lanka, in consideration of which Dialog will issue to Bharti Airtel, ordinary voting shares which will amount to 10.355% of the total issued shares of Dialog by way of a share swap. The transaction is subject to the approval of Dialog’s shareholders and is pending the completion of specific conditions outlined in the Share Sale Agreement, including clearance from the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) and completion of other applicable legal, corporate and regulatory compliance procedures.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) has granted its approval for the proposed merger, underscoring its vision to advance the adoption of telecommunications services across Sri Lanka.

This consolidation will enable the merged entity to garner economies of scale and reduce duplication of infrastructure, achieve synergies in technology and capital expenditure leading to enhanced high speed broadband connectivity, voice and value added services, cost savings and operational efficiencies.

Vivek Sood, Group CEO and Managing Director of Axiata Group Berhad said, “The merger between Dialog and Airtel Lanka is aligned to Axiata’s strategy of market consolidation and resilience. The merger will create value for Shareholders of Dialog Axiata PLC and of Axiata Group through achievable synergies. We have the utmost respect for Airtel Lanka and its employees and look forward to working together as we integrate the two companies”.

Commenting, Dr Hans Wijayasuriya, CEO Telecommunications Business and Group Executive Director of Axiata, added “This merger brings together the strengths of two leading telco groups and bodes well for the Growth and Sustainability of Sri Lanka’s flagship Telecom Sector. We look forward to the new frontiers in Customer Experience and innovation the company will deliver to Sri Lankan Consumers and Enterprises.”

Gopal Vittal, MD & CEO Bharti Airtel Limited Said, “We are happy to merge our Sri Lanka operations with Dialog. Given the scale and unique propositions they offer, we are certain that our customers will continue to enjoy cutting edge services on a seamless network.”

“It is a privilege to welcome the team at Airtel Lanka to the Dialog family and together we take a significant
step forward in our commitment to delivering superior telecommunications services in Sri Lanka”, remarked Supun Weerasinghe, Director / Group Chief Executive Officer of Dialog Axiata PLC.

“The integration of Dialog and Airtel Lanka operations will unlock new opportunities for innovation and growth, and this will lead to benefit consumers.” Ashish Chandra, Chief Execusive Officer, Bharti Airtel Lanka (Private) Limited.

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Sri Lanka seeks to draw youth into agri-entrepreneurship with 1.6bn funding

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Agriculture and Plantation Industries has earmarked 1.6 billion rupees for the establishment of 160 model farms across the island, that are to be owned and operated by youth agri-entrepreneurs.

“The Ministry of Agriculture and Plantation Industries has taken steps to allocate 1,600 million rupees to establish 160 villages in 25 districts with 6 youth agri entrepreneurship villages in each district,” Minister Mahinda Amaraweera was quoted in a statement.

“Arrangements have been made to provide an amount of one million rupees to each village under the first phase.”

The Minister said the aim of the program is to attract youth to agriculture and to introduce them to new agricultural technology, so they could target local markets and exports.

Under the initiative vegetables, fruits, plantation crops, and fish are to be harvested, and livestock products are to be produced in the villages. (Colombo/May18/2024)

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Sri Lanka Navy nabs fishermen engaged in illegal fishing

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Navy apprehended eight persons engaged in illegal fishing in the seas off Ambalanpokkanei, Mullaitivu, Poduwakattu, and Trincomalee, this week.

“The operations also led to the seizure of 3 dinghies and unauthorized fishing gear employed for these illegal acts,” it said in a statement.

“The Sri Lanka Navy remains vigilant and conducts operations to combat illegal fishing in its sea and coastal areas, with a view to supporting legal fishing activities.”

The fishermen were engaging in light-coarse fishing and using unauthorized fishing nets.

They were intercepted by the SLNS Gotabaya and SLNS Walagamba of the Eastern Naval Command.

The individuals were identified as residents of Mullaitivu, Kuchchaveli and Poduwakattu, aged between 21 to 53 years.

The fishermen, dinghies and unauthorized fishing gear were handed over to the Assistant Directorate of Fisheries – Mullaitivu, and the Fisheries Inspector of Trincomalee for legal action, the Navy said. (Colombo/May18/2024)

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Fifteen years after the end of the war, victims still await justice at Mullivaikkal: Amnesty

ECONOMYNEXT – Speaking at a commemoration marking the 15th anniversary of the end of Sri Lanka’s internal armed conflict on 18 May 2009, which culminated in the brutal Mullivaikkal offensive where countless civilian lives were lost, Secretary General at Amnesty International Agnès Callamard said:

“Today’s anniversary is a grim reminder of the collective failure of the Sri Lankan authorities and the international community to deliver justice to the many victims of Sri Lanka’s three-decade-long internal armed conflict.

It is sobering to stand in the same place where, 15 years ago, countless civilian lives were lost during the last days of the war.

Ahead of this event, we have witnessed clampdown on the memory initiatives, including arrests, arbitrary detentions and deliberately skewed interpretations of the Tamil community’s attempts to remember their people lost to the war. Authorities must respect the space for victims to grieve, memorialise their loved ones and respect their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

UN investigations have found credible evidence of crimes under international law and other violations of international human rights and humanitarian law committed by those on both sides of the conflict, yet there has been little in the way of an independent or impartial national inquiry into such serious crimes.

Meanwhile, the families of those who were forcibly disappeared during the conflict have been left to search desperately for their loved ones. It is truly heartbreaking to hear from victims how long they have been demanding justice in vain.

The Sri Lankan government is best placed to provide answers to the victims, however numerous domestic mechanisms to establish accountability in the last 15 years have been mere window dressing.

The report by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released earlier this week too reiterates the gaping deficits in Sri Lanka’s accountability initiatives that has contributed to impunity remaining deeply entrenched.

Tens of thousands of victims and their families continue to suffer in anguish as they await truth, justice, and reparations. We stand in solidarity with them here in Mullivaikkal today.”

Background:

During the internal armed conflict from 1983 to 2009, Sri Lankan government forces and their armed political affiliates committed extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and acts of torture against Tamils suspected of links to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The LTTE also launched indiscriminate suicide attacks on civilian targets like buses and railway stations, assassinated politicians and critics, and forcibly recruited children as fighters.

Violations of international human rights and humanitarian law peaked in the final months of the conflict, most notably in May 2009 when some 300,000 displaced civilians were trapped between the warring parties.

It was at Mullivaikkal, a small village in Mullaitivu district in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka, where the final offensive between the Sri Lankan forces and the LTTE took place, killing at least 40,000 civilians according to UN estimates.

Each year, on 18 May, a memorial event at Mullivaikkal brings together thousands of war-affected Tamils to commemorate those lost to the war and demand justice and accountability.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) this week released a report on accountability for enforced disappearances in Sri Lanka.
(Colombo/May18/2024)

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