Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sri Lankan Pioneer Businessman Dhammika Perera Life Story

Businessman Kulappuarachige Don Dhammika Perera’s story is somewhat similiar to the success stories of entrepreneurs of the calibre of Maliban Mudalali.
Venturing out into business at the tender age of 19 with no entrepreneurial background and not having the right connections nor the right social background as it were, and starting-out with only Rs 500 in his pocket, now, 15 years later, and in his prime of life at 34, his investments include banks, power projects, casinos, hotels and ships, worth several hundred millions, if not billions of rupees.
Perera’s achievements are many. He operates three successful casinos in the heart of Colombo, owns two cargo ships, is the single biggest shareholder of NDB with a 9% stake, has a 10% stake in PAB Bank (formerly Pan Asia Bank), a 29% stake in Royal Ceramics, a 20% stake in LB Finance, a 51% stake in Connaissance- in addition to serving in the main boards of those companies, owns two power projects, and the list goes on.
‘My investments in the stockmarket (his investments in NDB, Royal Ceramics, LB Finance and Connaissance were all made last year and this year) were possible in part, if not wholly, due to the support I received from Seylan Bank and Ceylinco consolidated chairman Lalith Kotelawala and Sampath Bank chairman Edgar Gunatunga and its managing director Anil Amarasuriya,’ says Perera.
‘When I wanted Rs 60 million from Seylan Bank to invest in NDB and Royal Ceramic shares last year, Kotelawala offered me Rs 240 million-a four fold increase,’ he said. And this year, when I wanted Rs 50 million from Sampath Bank, they offered me Rs 150 million instead, added Perera.
He invested in NDB by buying those shares at prices ranging from between Rs 20-60 a share. At present those shares command a price of Rs 90 a share. He further said that virtually all of his investments were providing him with a return higher than the interest charged by the banks on his loans. ‘I have no foreign partners. All of these monies required for my investments have been generated locally,’ he says. Perera attributes his success to hard work.
His life story is something like reading a story from one of those fairy tale books. ‘When I was 19, this was in 1987, my mother gave me Rs 500 to buy me a pair of shoes. At that time I had qualified to follow an NDT course on electrical and electronics at Moratuwa University.
But by then the JVP troubles had broken out and Campus was more closed than open. I’m from Paiyagala, Kalutara, having had my education at Taxila Vidyalaya, Horana. At that time I was living with my uncle who was running a cafe at Pettah.
There was a pavement hawker operating in front of my uncle’s restaurant. Instead of buying a pair of shoes, I lent him that Rs 500 on the understanding that he conducts his business on a profit sharing basis with me.
The life of a pavement hawker is a hard one. He starts his work early in the morning and continues till evening. He does not have time to relieve hinself nor does he have time to have his meals while hawking his goods. The only time he is free is when dusk sets in. Then he winds up his business for the day, said Perera.
So, this tie-up with this hawker brought me a return of Rs 200 on a daily basis, while my capital inveetment of Rs 500 remained in tact. This operation went on for three months, during which period I made a clear profit of Rs 74,000.
Then, I turned my hand to slot machines or jackpot machines as they are commonly known. I borrowed five such machines from Lal Wijeratne of Grayline Group.I had them installed at my uncle’s cafe in the Pettah-it was called Isurugiri Hotel.
My arrangement with Wijeratne was that I would keep 30% of the takings, while the balance 70% was for him. This was a successful business partnership. ‘But I was restless.’ I wanted to learn the technology of these slot machines.
Therefore I took wing to Taiwan to follow a six month technical course. This was in 1988 and I was 20 yearl at that time. By then I had dropped out from Moratuwa University.
But I returned from Taiwan in three months.Because it took me only that much of time to assmilate that technology. Then I started making my own slot machines and had them operable in his uncle’s cafe. As a result, all of the takings made from these machines were for me. There was no question of giving 70% of the share to the landlord, because I was now the landlord.
By then I had made enough money, enough to buy over my uncle’s cafe. And at 23, that was in 1991, I had millions and millions in my kitty, with 285 machines in operation.
But disaster struck in 1991. Ranasinghe Premadasa who was the president at that time imposed a ban on jackpot machines.Then What did you do? ‘I opened a car sales centre at my home in Paiyagala,’ said Perera. I called it Anuradha Traders. Currently we have four showrooms-at Kirullapane, Negombo, Kandy and Peliyagoda. I also ventured out into property development.
In 1993 I started my own casino business at Isurugiri. I called it Capricorn.
You see there are four major games played in a casino. Three of them are card games-Black Jack, Baccarat and Porker, and the other Roullete. Then in 1995 I opened up the MGM casino in Colombo-Iwas 27 at that time and followed it up by opening Ballys in 1996 and Bellagio in 1998.
The reason I have restricted entry into my casinos to only foreigners is because it is messy when the doors are also open to locals. ‘You know that shooting incident at the Carlton in 1998 which resulted in the death of Fijian ruggerite Joel Pera? So I feel that it is better to be safe than sorry. Therefore I have imposed these restrictions.
Most of the foreigners who patronise my casinos are Chinese, either from the mainland or Hong Kong or Singapore, says Perera. Meanwhile, with the government’s plan to create a Casino City at Bentota under the ‘2002 Tourism Masterplan,’ and ‘clear’ Colombo of all Casinos, I asked Perera whether he was ready to meet this change.
‘We are ready for it’? he said. I shall be startng a casino at Bentota. It will be called Ballys. It will be equipped with all the modern technology, he said. Referring to his other business ventures, Perera said that in 1998 he started his shipping business, investing $ 1.8 million in two cargo ships.
‘One does the Colombo-Tuticorin run and the other the Dubai-Indonesian run,’ he said. And the two power project? a 10 mega Watt (mW) hydro electric power project (HEPP) costing Rs 600 million at We Ganga in the Kahawatte Plantations. This project is expected to be commissioned in another 11 months time.
For this purpose, Perera has floated a company called Didu, of which Vallibel Holdings, a company wholly owned by Perera, has a 90% stake.’I got this name Vallibel from a friend in Singapore,’ says Perera.
‘My aim is make Vallibel, a public quoted company,’ he says. And I’m working towards achieving this goal in a couple of years time. The two power companies, Didu and the other Erathana Hydro Power Company will be floated by the end of next year, added Perera.
The Erathana project is located at Erathna Kuru Ganga in the Kuruwita area. Erathna too is a 10 mW HEPP and is 100% owned by Vallibel. It is being funded by a consortium of banks comprising DFCC Bank, Private Sector Infrastructure Development Corporation, Sampath Bank and Commercial Bank.
In addition, Perera also runs a retail clothing store called Beverly Street at Duplication Road, Colombo, which is open 24 hours of the day. With regard to his investment in Connaissance, which owns the La Kandyan and the Culture Club hotels, Perera feels a restructuring is necessary to make them viable concerns.
‘We also have plans to open up hotels down South and at Trincomalee (capitalising on the peace dividend). But our scouting around down South to find a property for our hotel project has so far been disappointing. A main reason for this is the shanties that litter the beach. ‘One cannot expect a tourist to pay $ 100 for a room, if, when, he looks out from his window he sees a row of shanties with people relieving themselves on the beach,’ said Perera.
On his investments in the stock market? I don’t believe in holding onto my investments. if they don’t provide me with an adequate return I shall exit from such investments, he says. ‘Like I said earlier, my investment cost in investing in shares in NDB were in the region of Rs 30-Rs 60 a share. And now those shares command a price of Rs 90. As an example, not that I’m saying that I will do it. But if I do wish to, I can always exit from such a company at a profit if I feel that I’m not getting an adequate return,’ said Perera.
Royal Ceramics? It is a profitable venture, yielding a monthly turnover of Rs 100 million. Failures? Having to close an electronics company in 1995 and the poor performance of another company located at Mutwal which manufactures computer forms.
Regrets? Of not studying enough. Plans? Period of consolidation. On the current economic situation? The government is on track and the economy will kick-off with the peace process seemingly working. Drawbacks? Too many holidays. People don’t work hard.
What is needed is for people to think positively. Government can’t go on giving hand-outs. We have to work. ‘I don’t think most of those employed in the public sector in particular work eight hours a day, he says. And from the government’s side? Greater transparency is required.

Source : The Island

Friday, August 19, 2011

RIP TouchPad: HP To Shut Down WebOS Operations

After confirming that it is looking into spinning off its PC business, Hewlett-Packard made a more shocking announcement Thursday: it is going to “discontinue operations for webOS devices.” And that’s the end of the line for its just-launched tablet, the HP TouchPad.
HP, the world’s largest computer maker, has had limited success with mobile devices. In April 2010, HP purchased Palm for $1.2 billion, largely because of the potential of the webOS platform.
So HP’s about-face on webOS comes as a surprise, especially coming six weeks after the TouchPad went on sale.
In the press release detailing its preliminary Q3 2011 financial results, the company had this to say:
HP reported that it plans to announce that it will discontinue operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and webOS phones. HP will continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward.
The webOS-based TouchPad was seen by many (including Mashable) as a real competitor to Apple’s iPad. Our initial review of the device was lukewarm, but the device (and webOS itself) seemed full of potential.
Earlier this week, AllThingsD reported that Best Buy had sold at best just 10% of its TouchPad inventory, leaving more than 225,000 units in warehouses.
In recent weeks, HP has tried to entice customers to the device by dropping the price by $100 — to $400 and $500 for the 16GB and 32GB versions, respectively. Evidently, that wasn’t enough.
Unknown as of this moment: what HP’s timetable is for shutting down webOS operations, or what that means for the current Palm/webOS team. We’ll be listening in to HP’s earnings call this afternoon for more details.


Monday, July 11, 2011


The Modern Bus stand of Galle, in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka, built at a cost of Rs. 405 Million was declared open this morning by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
  This two storied bus stand is the longest bus stand in Sri Lanka and its length is 161 meters with a width of 10 meters.  Funds for this project were allocated by the Ministry of Economic Development.
It consists of  16 shops, one restaurant and 4 stalls for selling newspapers.  It has also 2 resting lounges for male and female passengers and one resting lounge dedicated for the disabled persons.  The bus stand will cater to 692 buses daily and 165,680 passengers are using this bus stand daily.  The new bus stand also has an overhead bridge of 41 meters connecting it with the nearby Galle Railway Station. The bridge also has an overhead roof to protect the passengers from rain.
The bus stand that existed earlier was totally destroyed by the 2004 Tsunami, together with several numbers of busses and killing as well as washing away passengers.  However, despite  many appeals made by people, no concrete action was taken to build a bus stand. The government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa realizing the need to have a fully fledged bus stand drew up plans for the construction of a new bus stand and laid the foundation stone on 3rd October, 2010. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Google’s +1 Button Already More Widespread Than Twitter’s Tweet Button

Google’s +1 buttons have only been out for about a month, but they’re already more common than the tweet button on major web destinations.
BrightEdge, an enterprise SEO platform provider, analyzed the 10,000 largest sites on the web and found a 33% surge in placement for Google’s +1 button during the past few weeks. The company foundthat +1 buttons are now on 4.4% of those sites, up from 3.6% in June. Meanwhile, Twitter’s plug-ins are displayed on 3.4% of the sites.
Both Google and Twitter trail far behind Facebook, whose plug-ins, most notably its “Like” button, are on about 20% of the sites’ front pages. Note: Although the chart below lists Twitter’s plug-in as a “Twitter Share,” BrightEdge CEO Jim Yu says it refers to the Twitter tweet button.

Read More on Marshable

Sunday, June 5, 2011


The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) today announced that India will be the global host of World Environment Day 2011 (WED) on 5 June.
This year's theme 'Forests: Nature at Your Service' underscores the intrinsic link between quality of life and the health of forests and forest ecosystems. The WED theme also supports this year's UN International Year of Forests.
India is a country of 1.2 billion people who continue to put pressure on forests especially in densely populated areas where people are cultivating on marginal lands and where overgrazing is contributing to desertification.
But the Indian Government has also found solutions. While the socio-economic pressures on the country's forests are tremendous, India has instituted a tree-planting system to combat land-degradation and desertification, including windbreaks and shelterbelts to protect agricultural land.
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said: "Over close to the 40-year history of WED, India's cities and communities have been among the most active with a myriad of events undertaken across the country each and every year—so it is only fitting that this rapidly developing economy is the host in 2011."
"India is famous for its culture, arts, movies and world-beating Information Technology industries. Increasingly it is at the forefront of some of the 'green shoots' of a Green Economy that are emerging across the globe," he said.
The celebrations in India on 5 June will be part of thousands of events taking place around the globe. WED 2011 will emphasize how individual actions can have an exponential impact, with a variety of activities ranging from school tree-planting drives to community clean-ups, car-free days, photo competitions on forests, bird-watching trips, city park clean-up initiatives, exhibits, green petitions, nationwide green campaigns and much more.
This year UNEP plans to make WED 2011 into a bigger celebration than ever before, building on the unprecedented success of WED 2010 - when people in more than 112 countries registered activities on the WED website and WED was thrust into the blogo-sphere with the first-ever WED- blogging competition.
The WED 2011 website will inspire, inform and involve people through unprecedented interactivity, offering daily tips, information and statistics on forest conservation, a platform where people around the world can register their activities, social networking campaigns and competitions to get people on every continent involved. See:
Anyone can organize an event and register it on the WED website, and each of these individual actions when taken collectively will go a long way to securing important forests services for generations to come.
Greening the Blue will be working closely with the WED team and encourages UN staff across the world to get involved.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Christchurch lost 65 of Population by the Earth-quack.

At least 65 people have died after a 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit New Zealand.  The country's deadliest natural disaster in 80 years struck at 1251 (2351 GMT on Monday), 10km (6.2 miles) south-east of the city.
  City Mayor Bob Parker told the BBC: "This is a terrible, terrible toll on our city."
"There is no power in most of the city; there is no water in most of the city," he added.

PM John Key said: "It is just a scene of utter devastation. We have to work as fast as we can to get people out of environments where they are trapped.

Monday, February 21, 2011

England had a narrow victory over Canada winning by just 16 runs, mainly thanks to fast bowler Stuart Broad’s match winning performance.

England had a narrow victory over Canada winning by just 16 runs, mainly thanks to fast bowler Stuart Broad’s match winning performance.
Canada’s chase of 244 runs was in tatters early on as first five wickets fell for mere 28 runs. None of the top order batsmen could cross ten figure mark as Broad ripped through the top order. Broad took five wickets in  the match and struck at every moment whenever his team needed him the most.
Veteran batsmen Rizwan Cheema (93) and Zubin Surkari (22) steadied the innings and added quick 68 runs for sixth wicket. Rizwan Cheema in particular was ruthless throughout his innings. He smashed English bowlers all over the park, hitting five sixes and ten fours.
He added 70 runs for seventh wicket with Khurram Chouhan (36). Chouhan went on to add crucial runs along with other lower order batsmen and took his team close to victory.
In the end, Canada could reach 227, agonizingly close to an upset win. Ajmal Shahzad took two and Michael Yardy, James Tredwell and Paul Collingwood took one wicket each.