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ZONG 4G PARTNERS WITH XIAOMI FOR LAUNCH IN PAKISTAN

Zong CMPak, Pakistan’s leading 4G network, and Xiaomi, one of the world’s largest smartphone makers, have joined hands to launch Xiaomi products in Pakistan

Zong is the only cellular network in Pakistan to have entered into a partnership with Xiaomi. Xiaomi’s decision to enter into this partnership with Zong is based on Zong 4G’s fastest internet speeds and the widest 4G coverage in the industry. The partnership is geared to give a considerable boost to Xiaomi in their business venture in Pakistan.

Following this partnership, customers will be able to access top-of-the-line Xiaomi handsets, including 4G smartphones and accessories at Xiaomi display centers at Zong’s Customer Service Centers. In addition to this, Zong is also giving special data offers for customers purchasing Xiaomi phones anywhere in Pakistan.

This launch is in line with Zong’s vision to develop a complete 4G eco-system in the country, as it has partnered with leading companies including Huawei, Q-Mobile, Oppo, HTC, Samsung and e-commerce platform Daraz.pk.

The official launch event of Xiaomi will be taking place on 20th February 2017 in Islamabad.

Zong is currently expanding its 4G coverage to over 300 cities nationwide and has the largest 4G subscriber base of over 2 million as of December, 2016. Zong has recently announced its plans to invest over $200 Million in Pakistan for 4G network expansion.

TEAM-PSO SWEEPS ’CHOLISTAN DESERT CHALLENGE’ JEEP RALLY

Pakistan State Oil-sponsored team has successfully clinched top positions at the ’Cholistan Desert Challenge’ Jeep Rally 2017 organized at Derawar Fort, Southern Punjab. Five PSO-branded vehicles participated in the rally on behalf of Pakistan State Oil of which three bagged the top positions. Mian Shakeel and Zafar Khan Baloch bagged first positions in A-Stock category and D-Prepared category respectively, while Anas Khan Khakwani stood third in A-prepared category. PSO has been lending great support to promotion of motor sports in the country where the company sees great potential for revival of tourism and economy. Company’s stalls were also set up at the venue for discounted sale of lubricants and distribution of PSO-branded T-shirts and caps.

GAS THEFT BECOMES A MAJOR THREAT

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Unaccounted-for-Gas or UFG is a menace that all the stakeholders including the general consumers of natural gas have to wage a decisive war against.

This was reiterated by Amin Rajput, Acting Managing Director, SSGC, in a seminar entitled ’UFG – A major threat’ organized by Mehran University of Engineering and Technology, Jamshoro, in collaboration with SSGC at the University Auditorium.

Defining UFG as the difference between total gas purchased and total gas sold to customers, Mr. Rajput stressed that this phenomenon is a major threat for the Company since it takes away a large chunk of profits away from the Company’s balance sheet. He said that one of the contributory factors for the rising tide of UFG are cases of gas theft in SSGC’s franchise areas of Sindh and Balochistan. The Acting MD said that as a responsible citizen one must refrain from committing gas theft more so since it is now a serious crime by legislation. He said that to bring repeat gas theft offenders to book, an SSGC-backed dedicated Police Station.

Mr. Rajput said that the University students and faculty members must pass on the message conveyed to them about the menace of UFG including gas theft to their colleagues and neigbourhood so that each stakeholder can play a constructive role in clamping down on UFG and discouraging gas theft as well as meter tampering.

Saeed Larik, Acting SGM (Distribution-South) dilated on some of the factors that contribute to UFG. He cited that while gas theft is a major factor, overhead and underground leakages, meter tampering and measurement errors also result in increasing volumes of UFG. He said that the Company is totally focused towards reducing UFG by taking steps such as rectifying underground and overhead line leakages, conducting gas theft raids, replacing defective meters and installing cyber locks at industrial premises.

Shahbaz Islam, Head of Corporate Communications earlier gave a very interesting presentation on Personal Branding and stressed that university students aiming to develop themselves career-wise and as well rounded individuals, need to stand out by applying this concept of self-packaging in their ever day lives.

Earlier, Professor M. A. Uqaili, Vice Chancellor, MUET and Dr. Farman Ali Shah, Chairman Chemical Engineering welcomed the guests and stressed on consistent collaboration with corporate sector organizations such as SSGC to facilitate them in achieving objectives with spillover benefits for the general public.

At the end of the seminar, S. Imran Ahmed, Chief Manager, Corporate Communications took a pledge from all the students and faculty members about taking a collective stand against the menace of UFG.

SSGC holds and participates regularly in such symposiums that highlights on pressing issues such as the need to conserve natural gas and controlling UFG.

NBP SIGNS HOME REMITTANCE AGREEMENT WITH CANADA’S U REMIT

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Tremendous growth in the area of home remittances and establishment of new remittance corridors in the US, UK, Pacific and Far East calls for proactive approach and the capacity to grasp the emerging developments worldwide.

Global Home Remittances Management Group has always responded to this call in a timely manner by continually increasing its overseas representation during the last five years. NBP now has the fastest growing overseas correspondent base for home remittances and in a very short span of time, the Group has made alliances with almost all leading exchange houses and money transfer companies including financial institutions that have been using our trusted and streamlined services in order to facilitate overseas Pakistanis across the globe.

Keeping its reputation of forming alliances with world’s leading banks/financial institutions/money service business, the Group has recently signed home remittance agreement with Canada-based U Remit International Corp. This collaboration will further boost remittance business and will give choice to remitters to send their money to their loved ones from the US and Canada.

U Remit is considered to be a leading player in their respective jurisdiction and will help NBP to extend its reach over a large number of countries by utilizing their large customer base, state of the art technology and professionally qualified and experienced management.

The amount remitted from U Remit can be collected from any of the NBP nationwide 1,443 branches. In order to receive Cash Remittance, it can instantly be collected via NBP Foree Cash, even without having a bank account. NBP Foree Transfer offers credit to the individual accounts in 1,443 online branches.

PAAPAM APPEALS TO GOVERNMENT

Completion of Development Work before Pakistan Auto Parts Show 2017

Chairman of the Pakistan Association of Auto Parts and Manufacturing, Mashood Ali Khan, has appealed to the Government to take immediate action to repair both access roads leading to Karachi Expo Centre.

In an attempt to draw the attention of the authorities, Chairman PAAPAM has appealed to the Governor of Sindh, Chief Minister of Sindh, Mayor Karachi, and the Provincial governments to take notice of the two main roads leading to the Expo Center, Shahra-e-Faisal and University Road which are in shambles and undergoing a long overhauling process.

The three-day auto show, under the brand name of PAPS 2017, will host more than 130 foreign participants from China, Korea, Germany, Turkey, Holland, and other European countries. For these international delegations, the terrible road conditions would give a poor representation of an otherwise booming economy.

PAAPAM’s organizing committee of the Pakistan Auto Show, has announced that their PAPS 2017 event will be held in the first week of March at the Expo, and they fear that the conditions of the roads coupled with the poor management of traffic on above avenues, will give negative signals about Pakistan to the large number of foreign industrialists and overseas delegations, who will attend the Auto Show.

PAAPAM appeals to the authorities to immediately improve the condition of these roads, so that transport to and from the exhibition for the international delegates can be made safer and convenient, and a good image of our country can be presented to the foreign delegations.

TPL MAPS AND NUST INK AGREEMENT TO INTRODUCE VOICE-BASED NAVIGATION

TPL Maps, Pakistan’s first digital mapping solution, part of TPL Trakker, joined hands with School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (SEECS) at National University of Sciences and Technology Islamabad to launch a speech-based navigation software for TPL Maps.

This feature will enable consumers to create route via simple voice commands. Considering the in-app typing proficiencies and spelling errors, this feature will be a game changer for usage of map applications in Pakistan. The new technology is equipped to handle voice commands in various dialects of English and Urdu suited for Pakistani language speaking styles. The human speech-based navigation system will be installed as a value added service to the existing TPL Maps application.

Speaking about this latest addition to TPL’s map application, Adeel Hashmi, Head of TPL Maps, stated, “Consistent innovation is integral to our philosophy of providing customers the best possible mapping solutions. Such additions to our existing products allow us to establish ourselves as a high-end technology company looking to offer convenience and ease of use to the end users.”

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Principal SEECS said, “We are delighted to be part of the innovation in Maps in Pakistan. This collaboration with TPL has given our students and faculty the opportunity to experiment and explore a domain that has never been touched upon in Pakistan. Machine learning and AI are the future of technology and we believe this is the first partnership between the two organizations which will result in fantastic tech development in the country”.

The application will ensure a smooth user interface enabling users to add their specified destination via on-screen keyboard, based on which the system will calculate the route and transit time, giving consumers the convenience to locate various locations.

The feature itself will be the first of its kind to be introduced in Pakistan, offering voice-based facility in both Urdu and Pakistani English accent, thus adding innovation to the product and perhaps giving it an edge over its competitors.

 

MEEZAN BANK POSTS STRONG FINANCIAL RESULT CONTINUES GROWTH MOMENTUM

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The Board of Directors of Meezan Bank in its meeting held in Karachi approved the audited unconsolidated financial statements of the Bank and its audited consolidated financial statements for the year ended on December 31, 2016. The meeting was presided by Mr. Riyadh S.A.A. Edrees -Chairman of the Board, Mr. Faisal A. A. A. Al-Nassar – Vice Chairman of the Board also attended the meeting.

By the Grace of Allah (SWT), Meezan Bank has continued its growth momentum and recorded good results for the year 2016. Profit after tax increased to Rs 5,562 million as compared to Rs 5,023 million last year, a growth of 11% even in the backdrop of lower interest rates and despite intense competition in the Banking Industry. The Bank recorded Earnings per Share (EPS) of Rs 5.55.

The Board recommended the final cash dividend of Rs 1.25 per share (12.5%) for the year 2016. This declaration, together with the earlier interim cash dividend of 17.5% paid in the third quarter of 2016, brings the total payout for the year to Rs 3.00 per share (30%). The Bank has maintained its unbroken payout record since the date of listing on the Stock Exchange.

A significant achievement during the year was the impressive increase in the financing portfolio of the Bank that increased by 50%, from Rs. 208 billion to Rs. 312 billion. This growth in financings has outpaced the 17% average financing growth of the Banking industry in the same period. The Bank’s focused remained on successfully capturing quality credit opportunities in a relatively stagnant private sector market and actively pursued growth in financings in all segments especially in SME/Commercial and Consumer Financing (primarily Car Ijarah and Easy Home) that grew by 62% and 66% respectively over last year. Advance to Deposits Ratio (ADR) of the Bank now stands at an impressive 55%, as compared to 44% in 2015. Another significant achievement is the reduction in the Bank’s ratio of non-performing financings to total financing (NPL ratio) that now stands at 2.14%, down from 3.27% in 2015 as a result of major recoveries made by the Bank during 2016 which highlights quality of Bank’s portfolio. Meezan Bank’s NPL ratio is one of the lowest in the banking Industry and bears testimony to the Bank’s prudent financing strategy backed by a sound risk infrastructure and rigorous remedial and recovery efforts. The average NPL ratio for the banking industry is 11%. The focus remains to build a high quality and well-diversified portfolio targeting top tier corporate, commercial and retail clients.

The Bank’s equity closed at Rs 28.15 billion and the Bank’s Capital Adequacy Ratio (“CAR”) sits at comfortable level of 12.91% as compared to 10.98% in 2015. The Bank’s CAR is well above the minimum mandatory level of 10.65%. During the year, the Bank successfully issued of Sub-ordinated Sukuk (Tier II) amounting to Rs. 7 billion that has further strengthened the CAR and will support the future growth strategy of the Bank. The issue received an overwhelming response from investors as a result of which the Bank exercised its Green shoe option and accepted offers Rs. 3 billion more than the initial issue size of Rs. 4 billion. The Bank was able to issue the Sukuk at a very attractive price and this is indicative of the strong brand value and standing of Meezan Bank. The Sukuk has been rated AA- (Double A-), by JCR-VIS Credit Rating Company Limited, an affiliate of Japan Credit Rating Agency, Japan.

Notwithstanding the overall decline in country’s exports, the trade business (both import and export) handled by the Bank crossed half a trillion benchmark and grew by an impressive 20% to Rs. 552 billion in 2016 as compared to Rs. 461 billion in 2015. An extensive network of correspondent banks and significant foreign exchange lines with international banks has allowed the Bank to compete aggressively for trade business. On account of this increased trade business volume, and enhanced service quality, the fee, commission and brokerage income grew by 38%.

There have been only two new issues of the Government of Pakistan Ijarah Sukuks during the year. Moreover, the issue size was so small as compared to the demand for such instrument that it led to a price war and the cut-off yield was lower than the equivalent instrument available for conventional banks. This has negatively impacted the Islamic Banking industry.

The Bank reported 20% growth in deposits which increased by Rs. 92 billion, closing the year at Rs. 564 billion from Rs. 472 billion – in line with the average deposit growth rate in banking industry. More importantly, the Bank has successfully re-aligned its deposit mix and achieved a lower cost of funds through strong relationship management and customer – centric approach. The current account in the deposit mix improved to 35% in the 2016 from 32% in 2015: accordingly, the

Bank’s CASA (Current and Saving Account) mix improved to 75% as compared to 72% in 2015.

Administrative and other expenses increased to Rs. 15.6 billion from Rs. 13.8 billion, a rise of 13%. The rise in expenses is primarily due to increase in staff expenses, rent and associated costs as a result of addition of 123 new branches during 2015 – an investment which has reaped fruits for the Bank, as is evident from the strong growth in deposits and profits over the years. The Bank remained focus on deepening the existing branch network and converting newly opened branches into profitable ventures as early as possible.

The Bank maintained its position as the leading Islamic bank in Pakistan (amongst both Islamic as well as conventional banks) with a branch network of 571 branches in 146 cities. The JCR-VIS Credit Rating Company Limited, an affiliate of Japan Credit Rating Agency, Japan has reaffirmed the Bank’s long-term entity rating of AA (Double A) and short-term rating at A1+ (A One Plus) with stable outlook. The short-term rating of A1+ is the highest standard in short-term rating. Meezan Bank is the only Islamic bank in Pakistan with AA and A1+ credit rating.

LKMWT ORGANIZES FAMILY FUN FESTIVAL AT SINDBAD

Latif Kapadia Memorial Welfare Trust [LKMWT] recently held a family festival at Sindbad’s Wonderland in Karachi, the festival attracted both parents and children. Chief Guest, Mr. Shamim Ahmed Firpo, President Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) graced the occasion along with Mr. Ateeq-ur-Rehman, renowned Trader and Member KCCI, and famous TV actor and model Mr. Hasan Ahmed.

Ms. Manahil Kapadia, Trustee, LKMWT welcomed the guests and participants of the event and outlined the importance and mission of the welfare trust.

“Latif Kapadia Memorial Welfare Trust (LKMWT) is a purely non-business organization which was established in 2007 in loving memories of renowned stage and television actor”, said Manahil while addressing the guests.

She added that it was by virtue of LKMWT, that many deprived families residing in the less-developed areas of Karachi are being provided with better education and health facilities, while patients are also receiving free treatment and medication based on the nature of their illness.

Mr. Shamim Ahmed Firpo, the chief guest of the festival cherished the invaluable time spent with late Mr. Latif Kapadia (late), and shared a few aspects of the philanthropist’s life with the guests. While appreciating the efforts put in by LKMWT towards various projects, he assured his complete support for the organization.

Mr. Ateeq-ur-Rehman while commenting on the life of Mr. Latif Kapadia (late) said that helping humanity was a part of his nature.

Mr. Hasan Ahmed also praised the efforts and contribution of LKMWT towards the well being of humanity, and extended his complete support for the Trust.

Families participated in good numbers to enjoy 4-D movies, hi-tech electronic games, joy rides and water slides along with other entertaining activities. The safety measures for the participants and guests were also well taken care of, as free medical stall under Medi-Lab [a project of LKMWT] was also arranged to provide free medical check-ups, blood pressure and sugar tests, BMI, etc. All participants and guests also praised the enduring efforts of LKMWT and assured their all-out support towards keeping LKMWT’s mission alive which was to serve humanity in the best possible manner.

FWBL AND MASTERCARD TO LAUNCH INNOVATIVE PAYMENT SOLUTIONS

First Women Bank Limited and Mastercard, a leading technology company in the global payments industry, have signed an agreement that will pave the way for the introduction of Mastercard’s innovative payment solutions to provide a safe, simple and secure payment experience to cardholders while creating a significant impact in the market in terms of financial inclusion through the only women’s bank in Pakistan.

The signing ceremony took place at the FWBL Head Office, where Ms. Tahira Raza, President & CEO – FWBL, and Mr. Aurangzaib Khan, Country Manager, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Mastercard, officially kicked off the project.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Ms. Tahira Raza, said: “We are pleased to have started 2017 with this initiative as FWBL has always strived to stay true to its roots and provide convenient banking services to its customers. With Mastercard’s advanced technology, we aim to move further towards that vision with full use of the digital banking platform.”

“We are delighted to collaborate with FWBL to bring Mastercard’s innovative services and solutions to women in Pakistan and offer them a safer and more secure payment experience,” said Aurangzaib Khan.

ENGRO FACES DECLINED REVENUE

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Engro Corporation (PSX: ENGRO) posted a consolidated profit-after-tax (attributable to owners) of PKR 69,107 million compared to PKR 13,784 million during 2015. Engro Corporation finished 2016 with revenue of PKR 157,208 millionvs. PKR 181,652 million in 2015 representing a decline of 13%, mainly on account of intense competition in the dairy sector coupled with lower Urea off-take at subsidized prices due to poor agronomics.

The Company also announced a final cash dividend of PKR 4/share for the year ended December 31, 2016, aggregating to Rs.24/share for the full year. The increase in profit is attributable to one-off gain amounting to PKR 58,680 million, recognized in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards, due to partial divesture of equity stake in Engro Foods.

“I’m pleased to report Engro Corporation’s results have come in at the higher end of our expectations,” said Ghias Khan President & CEO of Engro Corporation. “Our ability to consistently execute means we made the most of a year in which we faced some unexpected regulatory headwinds. Decisive actions against our strategic priorities have resulted in a strong foundation for future growth and competitiveness. For 2017 we remain focused on adding shareholder value through a combination of internal alignments and external initiatives.”

Engro Fertilizers’ decline in sales is mainly on account of lower urea off-take at subsidized prices. Engro Fertilizers’ profitability was similarly impacted by lower urea off-take in the first half of 2016, and market expectation of price reduction through subsidy. Urea demand improved significantly in second half after subsidy announcement by the Government. Engro Fertilizers continued to excel operationally and operated both of its plants with full gas availability.

Engro Foods’ sales declined due to a challenging competitive environment in the dairy sector. This also affected Engro Foods’ profitability this year. Changes in taxation regime also resulted in an increase in cost of sales affecting profitability.

Engro Elengy Terminal delivered an incredibly strong year as it hit peak operational capability with an average utilization of 99.4%. This meant handling 44 cargoes during 2016 versus just 17 cargoes in 2015.

The petrochemicals business(Engro Polymer) also excelled operationally with its highest everproduction and strong volumetric growth in sales. Cost efficiency measures instituted this year, while maintaining focuson high HSE standards, translated into profits of PKR 660 million for the year as opposed to a loss of PKR 644 million during 2015.

Within Engro’s energy assets, the Qadirpurplant performed well as per guidance. In a major milestone for Thar, the business was able to satisfy all conditions under financing agreements and achieved financial close for the Thar Coal Power Project on April 4, 2016. The project has made substantial progress on all engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) fronts. Overall project progress is on course and development initiatives for local communities are underway. We expect to have commercial production from September 2019.

Similarly, SECMC achieved financial close on April 4, 2016 as a result of which notice to commence was issued to EPCcontractors (China Machinery Engineering Corporation and China-East Resources Import &

Export Company)who have now been mobilized on the site. Round the clock overburden materials removal began in May and current progress is ahead of schedule with ~15 M BCM (billion cubic meters) of overburden removed as of Dec 31, 2016. This is in addition to the 4 M BCM that was removed prior to financial close. Major milestones have also been achieved on the dewatering infrastructure projects related to the mine. Drilling of all 27 wells has been completed which has enabled SECMC to start dewatering of 3 aquifers by first quarter of 2017.

Improved credit metrics have resulted in Engro Corporation’s long-term rating beingmaintainedat AA and short-term rating at A1+. We remain steadfast in our mission to growing better together with our stakeholders and the communities our businesses touch.

BANK ALFALAH ASSIGNED AA+/A-1+ ENTITY RATINGS BY JCR-VIS

JCR-VIS Credit Rating Company Limited (JCR-VIS) has assigned initial entity ratings of ‘AA+/A-1+’ (Double A Plus/A-One Plus) to Bank Alfalah Limited (BAFL). Outlook on the assigned ratings is ’Stable’.

The assigned ratings reflect the Bank’s diversified operations, healthy financial risk profile, strong sponsors and existing market presence. BAFL has exhibited sustained improvement across key performance areas including asset quality, liquidity, capitalization and profitability. Majority owned by the Abu Dhabi Group (ADG), comprising some of the prominent members of UAE’s ruling family and leading businessmen, BAFL is the fifth largest private sector bank in the country with a market share of 5.8% in domestic deposits at end-September’ 2016. Presence in the overseas market (Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Bahrain) represents around 6.4% of total assets. BAFL also enjoys a sizeable Islamic footprint with 16.4% contribution to total assets. Product portfolio of the Bank is extensive while key focus areas, going forward, include SME lending, transaction banking and shift towards digital banking.

Major portion of the Bank’s assets comprise exposure towards the sovereign/public sector. Aggregate exposure to the sovereign /public sector by way of investments & advances represents over half of total assets. Corporate loan book continues to remain the mainstay of the Bank’s lending operation with growth being also noted in consumer and SME lending. Overall credit risk profile of the Bank has improved significantly overtime with reduction in infection ratio (9M16: 5.4%, 2012: 8.9%), improved provisioning coverage (9M16: 87.5%, 2012: 65.0%) and higher proportion of public sector exposure in advances portfolio.

Market share of BAFL has strategically been adjusted downward temporarily to improve deposit profile and manage spreads in a low interest rate environment in the backdrop of intense competition for lending rates. Liquidity profile of the Bank has posted improvement as reflected by a diversified deposit mix and increase in liquid assets carried on the balance sheet. Proportion of non-remunerative current account in deposit mix is the highest amongst peers while depositor concentration levels are improving. Capitalization indicators have strengthened over time with increase in equity base on account of retained profits; resultantly Tier-1 and overall CAR have increased.

Profit after tax increased by 3.7% during 9M16 on account of lower provisions and higher capital gains. As per management, higher efficiency ratio vis-a-vis peers is a function of additional products and services offered by the Bank and greater proportion of retail portfolio in financing mix. Going forward, the existing share of high yielding PIBs in investment portfolio and decline in cost of deposits bodes well for profitability of the Bank.

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