Nov 28, 2016

Aloysius attempts to take over ‘Swarnavahini’ Featured

Attempts are being made to takeover ‘Swarnavahini’ as the television channel of the media network that is to be launched by multi-millionaire businessman Arjun Aloysius, reports say.

This is being done with the mediation of a top government personality, who has asked the Central Bank to find legal provisions for the takeover citing the financial problems faced by EAP Group, which owns the TV channel.

Also, the Group’s chairman Mano Tittawella will not be given an extension of service, and will be in the position only until March 2017.

Tittawella has told the media that the institution was now earning profits under him, and that he has therefore decided to leave after the end of his term.

Stressing that he was not under duress to take the decision, he also said that he was not aware of attempt to takeover ‘Swarnavahini’ by another party.

He said that as the chairman, he should have been made aware of any discussion that has taken place in that regard.

Depositors’ money at risk

Meanwhile, if any takeover or sale of an institution coming under the EAP Group should be done with CB approval.

The CB got involved in its financial management after EAP affiliate ETI Finance had faced a financial crisis, with Rs. seven billion of its money unaccounted for and Rs. 37 billion of depositors’ money was at risk.

As a result, top official Jeevaka Edirisinghe had to leave his position and go overseas, after which Tittawella was appointed to head the Group with CB intervention.

Due to the Rs. seven billion being unaccounted for at ETI Finance, the institution is in financial trouble, and Aloysius is planning to make a major investment in the institution through his Perpetual Treasuries, in order to get his shares increased in the Group.

Law comes in the way

However, a law introduced during the Rajapaksa regime to prevent a takeover of Siyatha television has come in his way.

That law wants the Media Ministry and the TRC approval for a director board change or a transfer of ownership of an electronic media institution.

A government minister noted the approval of the president is essential, but due to differences of opinion in the government over the CB bond issue, the president wanted Aloysius to settle that matter first, and the president would not want to face any more allegations of corruption.

The objectives

The objective of Aloysius’ media network is to seize the popularity presently enjoyed by Sirasa TV and ‘Lankadeepa’ newspaper, for which the prime minister and the finance minister have given their blessings, reports say.

Already, the new media network’s top officials have discussed with several producers in Sirasa TV.

It has already recruited print media chiefs and for two of them, the monthly salary has been fixed at Rs. one million, while the journalists will get a salary of nearly Rs. 100,000.

The final objective of this billion rupee media venture is to promote Ranil Wickremesinghe to become president in 2020, ‘Sathhanda’ reports.