PLC CEO D.P Kumarage (centre) ringing the CSE bell. From left: PLC Director M.A.M. Rizwan, CSE CEO Rajeeva Bandaranaike, PLC Deputy Chairman Pradeep Amirthanayagam, CSE Chairman Vajira Kulatilaka, PLC Director N. Vasantha Kumar and PLC Director Johnson Fernando.
Pic by Kithsiri De Mel
By Chandeepa Wettasinghe
The country’s largest non-banking financial institution, People’s Leasing and Finance PLC (PLF), is currently in an expansion mode both locally and internationally, company officials said at the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) bell ringing ceremony to commemorate PLF’s 20th anniversary.
“Our next phase is the foray into South East Asia. That will be a key milestone in the next few years,” PLC Deputy Chairman Pradeep Amirthanayagam said.
He noted that the company is in the preliminary stages of looking at the region, and more details will be announced over the next 2 months.
When asked which country PLC will be expanding to, both Amirthanayagam and PLC Managing Director D. P. Kumarage said the company is looking at entering several countries.
A number of Sri Lankan banks are currently operating in countries like India, Myanmar and Cambodia, while fellow finance company LOLC PLC expanded into Cambodia last year.
Meanwhile, Kumarage said that People’s Insurance PLC—owned by People’s Bank and managed by PLC—which became a publicly listed company late last year, will see major growth domestically.
“Until now we were only servicing internal customers. We were giving them insurance with very low premiums. Even then we had such strong operations. Now we’re looking at outside clients, and all our IPO proceeds will go towards expansion. We’ll be doing some marketing as well,” he added.
Kumarage said that the group was forecasting a growth between 10-15 percent in the coming years, and added that the two main finance companies of the group will merge for better synergy as well.
“We’re going for a merger with People’s Merchant Finance,” Kumarage said.
He noted that there was no sense in having two financial companies that had similar operations within the group.
PLC and its parent People’s Bank regained control of People’s Merchant Finance PLC (PMB) during the latter part of 2015, after a Central Bank directive placed PLC as the managers of PMB due to mismanagement.
“We’ve been rebuilding since we took over,” Kumarage said.
Despite People’s Bank’s position as the largest shareholder of PMB, a consortium of investors had held control of PMB until July 2015.
Following the Central Bank directive, the investors divested their shares to People’s Bank and PLC, triggering a mandatory offering, after which People’s Bank and PLC owned 87.22 percent of PMB.
The past regime attempted to forcibly merge several banks and finance companies in Sri Lanka, which included a merger of PLC and PMB. However, the strategy was dismissed by the incumbent regime, which felt that mergers should be left up to market forces.