Sri Lanka Spence profits boosted by Maldives resort sale

Thursday, 12 February 2009 08:32

lankabusinessonline.com

Sri Lanka's Aitken Spence group said December 2008 quarter profits grew 38.4 percent to 473 million rupees, helped by a 163 million gain from the sale of a Maldivian resort.

Without the sale, consolidated profits fell to 310.6 million rupees from 342.3 million rupees. Before minority interest the sale brought profits of 218 million rupees.

Spence sold out of Bathala Island Resort, which it acquired in 1993, making it the first Sri Lankan run resort in the Maldives.

An official said the firm got a good price and the sale was concluded shortly before its lease expired. Aitken Spence runs seven resorts in the atolls. It also manages hotels in India and the Middle East.

Revenues of the group, which has operations in shipping, power, plantations and leisure increased 26.8 percent to 8.7 billion rupees.

The group said its Sri Lankan tourism business was hit by falling arrivals due to travel advisories, while in the Maldives high energy costs and refurbishment and new investment increased the interest burden.

In recent months, tourist traffic to Maldives has also slackened with the global tourism industry tapering off.

But Aitken Spence said its port management services, especially in South Africa as well as its power projects had done well.

"In power generation we are expecting future growth in renewable energy and in overseas expansion opportunities," Aitken Spence managing director J M S Brito said in a statement.

Aitken Spence plantations were also hit by falling global commodity prices. Sri Lanka tea and rubber prices have fallen steeply in the last quarter, though tea prices have since recovered somewhat.

In the 9-months to December 2008, revenues grew 21.4 percent to 23.4 billion rupees while group net profits grew 15.1 percent to 1,266 million rupees.

Without the resort sale net profits were flat at 1,103 million rupees against 1,099 million rupees.

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