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Zameen Expo 2019-Lahore concludes successfully

Zameen Expo 2019-Lahore, hosted by Zameen.com, the biggest name in Pakistan’s real estate, concluded successfully. Numerous families streamed into the venue on the second day, and lauded Zameen.com for its efforts. Speaking at the occasion, Zameen.com CEO said that he was grateful to Allah for the successful conclusion of the event. Our team has worked around the clock for days on end to make this event possible, and is also ready for Zameen Expo 2019 – Islamabad, happening on the 9th and 10th of March at the Pak-China Friendship Centre. He added that the organisation has always strived to serve Pakistan’s real estate sector and will continue to do so, and our events are just one part of its widespread efforts.

Country Head (Sales) Ahmed Bhatti said that after this extremely successful event in Pakistan, we are ready for Zameen Expo 2019 – Islamabad. He added that the Islamabad event would also be on a grander scale than before and will bring all the major players of the property market under one roof for the general public.

On the second day of Zameen Expo 2019-Lahore, technological innovations in the real estate sector were also introduced to the audience. This included the demonstration of a 3D walkthrough, high-res imagery, and Pakistan’s first architectural visualisation. The next Zameen Expo will be held in Islamabad at the Pak-China Friendship Centre on the 9th and 10th of March, 2019.

Nestlé comes out of a tough year with 2pc growth in sales

Nestlé Pakistan posted a yearly sales revenue of PKR 124.6 billion for 2018, an increase of about 2% compared to previous year despite increasingly difficult economic conditions. Export sales during the same period stood at PKR 2.3 billion. The annual results were announced following a Board of Directors’ meeting at the company’s head office.

Operating profit for the year is PKR 20.3 billion vs PKR 23.6 billion in 2017. During the year 2018, higher commodity and fuel prices coupled with devaluation of PKR impacted the operating profit margin of the Company. However, the focus of the company remained on cost efficiencies to offset the increasing commodity prices and forex impact.

The major new product launches during 2018 included: NESTL… FRUITA VITALS PET, NESTL… MILKPAK 500ml, NESTL… NIDO Organic, NAN 2 BIB, NANGROW 3 BIB, NAN 1 with HMO, NESTL… CERELAC Savoury Spinach & Pumpkin, NESTL… LACTOGEN 1.2 Kg (new SKU), NAN HA and MILO 125ml.

Standard Chartered Pakistan Posts Highest ever profit of Rs. 18.5bn (before tax)

Standard Chartered Bank (Pakistan) Limited announced its Annual Results for 2019. The Bank performed exceptionally well in 2018 and delivered a Profit before tax of PKR18.5 billion. This is 37per cent higher than corresponding period last year and the highest ever profit.

Overall revenue growth was 12per cent, whereas client revenue increased by 13per cent year on year with strong contribution from transaction banking, financial markets and retail deposits. In-country operating expenses increased by only 5per cent year on year on account of spending, mainly in the Bankís products, services and people to grow the franchise.

All businesses have positive momentum in client income with strong growth in underlying drivers. This is evident from pickup in net advances, which grew by 23per cent during the year. This was a result of targeted strategy to build profitable, high quality and sustainable portfolios. With a diversified product base, the Bank is well positioned to cater for the needs of its clients.

On the liabilities side, another milestone was achieved whereby the Bankís total deposits crossed PKR 400billion. Total deposits grew by 13per cent, whereas current and saving accounts registered a growth of 15per cent during the year and are now 94% of the deposits base.

The optimal funding structure of the balance sheet continues to support the Bankís performance.

Final cash dividend of 15 per cent (PKR1.50 /- per share) has been recommended by the Board of Directors for approval at the 13th Annual General Meeting of the Bank’s shareholders. This is in addition to 7.5per cent (PKR 0.75/- per share) interim cash dividend announced / paid during the year.

Commenting on the results, Mr. Shazad Dada, Chief Executive Officer, Standard Chartered Bank (Pakistan) Limited said,

“I am delighted to announce that the Bank has performed exceptionally well and has delivered the highest ever profit. These results further demonstrate our commitment to delivering a consistent and sustained performance while leveraging our unique capabilities, digital strength and network presence. This year another historic milestone has been achieved whereby the Bankís total deposits crossed 400 billion.

While challenges in the external environment persist, there is an optimistic enthusiasm for the coming year. We are fully committed to sustained growth by consistently focusing on our clients and bringing to them a best in class product suite and services.”

Shell Sees need for cleaner air driving strong lng demand growth

Strong demand for cleaner-burning fuel in Asia continued to drive rapid growth in liquefied natural gas (LNG) use in 2018, with global demand rising by 27 million tonnes to 319 million tonnes, according to Shell’s latest annual LNG Outlook. Shell expects demand to reach about 384 million tonnes in 2020.

Global LNG supply is set to rise by 35 million tonnes in 2019. Europe and Asia are expected to absorb all this additional supply. A rebound in new long-term LNG contracting in 2018 could revive investment in liquefaction projects. Based on current demand projections, Shell still expects supplies to tighten in the mid-2020s.

Ongoing efforts to improve urban air quality saw China’s imports of LNG surge by 16 million tonnes in 2018, up by 40% from 2017.

On the supply side, Australian LNG exports caught up with those of long-time leading supplier Qatar towards the end of 2018 and are expected to rise by 10 million tonnes in 2019. Both countries are well-positioned to supply rapidly developing economies across Asia with gas they need to improve air quality by displacing coal-fired power and heating.

“The continued surge in Chinese LNG imports has helped improve air quality in some of its biggest cities over the last few years. China’s success in making the air cleaner for millions of people shows the critical role that natural gas can play in providing more and cleaner energy around the world,” said Maarten Wetselaar, Integrated Gas and New Energies Director at Shell.

“We saw Asian LNG demand growth exceed expectations again in 2018 and we expect this strong growth to continue. Investment in new supply projects is picking up, but more will be needed soon.”

LNG has played an important role in the global energy system over the last few decades, as an increasing number of countries have turned to natural gas to meet their growing energy needs. LNG trade increased from 100 million tonnes in 2000 to 319 million tonnes in 2018.

New long-term contracts may spur investment

New LNG projects typically require long-term sales agreements to secure financing. From 2014 through 2017, LNG buyers had increasingly been looking to sign shorter, smaller and more flexible contracts. Shell warned in its 2018 LNG Outlook that this mismatch between suppliers and buyer needs would have to be resolved to enable developers to go ahead with new projects.

Encouragingly for the long-term health of the global LNG market, the average length of contracts signed more than doubled from around 6 years in 2017 to about 13 years in 2018. Meanwhile, the total contracted volume more than doubled to almost 600 million tonnes in 2018.

See Shell’s full LNG Outlook for 2019 at www.shell.com/lngoutlook

Nestlé Pakistan partners with Clean Green Pakistan Movement

Nestlé Pakistan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Ministry of Climate Change, Pakistan to partner with the Clean Green Pakistan movement launched by the Prime Minister of Pakistan in October 2018. Clean and Green Pakistan Campaign is a much-needed initiative for Pakistan considering the low forest cover in most of the areas and poor cleanliness in rural/urban areas alike.

The Clean Green Pakistan is a comprehensive movement kicked-off by the Ministry of Climate Change which focuses on Liquid Waste Management; total Sanitation and Hygiene, including Hygiene Awareness; Access to Safe Drinking Water; Tree Plantation to include a country-wide afforestation campaign; Solid Waste Management including commitment to clean public spaces, streets and schools.

Through this initiative, Nestlé Pakistan will be partnering with the key components of this movement by launching an awareness campaign on hygiene as part of its Nestlé Healthy Kids Program and Healthy Women initiative. As part of Nestlé Pakistan’s Employee Volunteer Program (EVP), a cleanliness drive will be launched which will include cleaning of public spaces across major cities of Pakistan. This campaign also includes plantation of 50,000 trees across various sites. Under Nestle Pakistan’s “Caring for Water” initiative; access to clean drinking water is provided to 60,000 people.

Speaking at the occasion, Waqar Ahmad, Head of Corporate Affairs, Nestlé Pakistan said, “The Clean Green Pakistan initiative reflects the Prime Minister’s pledge towards addressing the climate change challenge. Our partnership with this movement is aligned with our commitments of safeguarding the environment which includes: global commitment of using 100% recyclable or reusable packaging for all our products by 2025; preserve natural capital, including forest cover; and reduce food loss and waste. We are also aligned towards attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including Clean Water and Sanitation, and Life on Land.”

Whilst, addressing the MOU ceremony, Malik Amin Aslam, Adviser to Prime Minister on Climate Change, added, “Clean Green Pakistan drive will InshaAllah shape the country’s sustainable future. We welcome the support from Nestlé for this drive and it reflects on their role as an environmentally responsible business entity in Pakistan.”

NBP launches EMV/Contactless Debit Cards and Mobile Banking App

National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), one of Pakistan’s largest commercial banks, has launched next generation payment system, including Mobile Banking App and EMV/Contactless Debit Cards powered by UnionPay international. The launch of these technology tools will enable NBP customers to use best in class banking services and also usher a new era of digital banking in Pakistan.

Talking on the occasion, Mr. Arif Usmani, President National Bank of Pakistan said, “This is the era of digital banking and NBP being the market leader has come up with out-of-the-box solutions that can significantly enhance customer experience. NBP’s progress in technology is rapid and the role being played by our technology partners is outstanding.”

NBP President also emphasized that digital disruption was shaping the future of banking in Pakistan and management is fully cognizant of future banking needs. He further stated that NBP has embarked upon various technology initiatives aimed at providing multiple delivery channels. The launch of NBPs first EMV & Contactless Debit Card and Mobile Banking App are a part of the journey of providing state-of-the-art solution to our customers.

NBP is working closely with the Government of Pakistan and State Bank of Pakistan. NBP will also shortly be able to open bank accounts within 15 minutes by making the entire process seamless. Other digital initiatives also being rolled out in quick succession not only facilitate the accountholders but also help boost remittances manifold and increase financial inclusion in the formal banking system.

Also speaking at the occasion, Mr. Muhammad Farooq, Group Head Payment Services & Digital Banking stated that the launch of EMV/Contactless Debit Cards and Mobile Banking App were important milestones for NBP. These initiatives would further provide customers the choice of leading card schemes based on their unique transactional requirements coupled with NBPs unparalleled branch and ATM footprint across the length and breadth of Pakistan.

Nishat Group explores avenues of business with Rungis Market

Mian Mohammad Mansha, Chairman of Nishat Group, one of the leading business conglomerates in Pakistan, was in Paris on February 28, 2019 & March 1, 2019 for meetings with Chairman / CEO of Rungis Market to discuss potential avenues of mutual cooperation in the agriculture sector.

Rungis Market is the global leader in wholesale agricultural markets with annual turnover of c. USD 10 billion & 12,000 employees. Mr. Mansha visited Rungis Market Paris & met top management of Rungis to explore the possibility of a joint venture in Pakistan. Such a project would be hugely beneficial for all stakeholders in the agriculture sector in Pakistan, specially the small farmers as a project of this nature will improve efficiency and limit wastage.

Mr. Mansha also met senior officials of the Foreign Ministry of France led by their Executive Director for economic development. The officials indicated interest of the French government to help in establishing this potential joint venture between Rungis Markets and Nishat Group.

Mr. Mansha also met Mr Moin ul Haque, Ambassador of Pakistan in France and other officials of the Pakistan embassy in Paris. The embassy assisted in coordinating the meetings with Rungis Market.

Mr. Mansha is one of Pakistan’s most prominent businessmen and Head of the Nishat Group of companies. He has led Nishat Group’s growth to become one of the most diversified business conglomerates in South East Asia, now widely recognised as a leading Pakistani business house which is one of the largest private sector employers, exporters and tax payers.

JS Bank To Launch Branchless Banking in AJK and GB

Working towards financial inclusion, JS Bank, one of the fastest growing financial institutions of Pakistan has partnered with Special Communication Organization (SCO), the leading telecom operator in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJ&K) and Gilgit Baltistan (GB) for provision of branchless banking services in these areas.

Catering to some 6 Million people, this collaboration will provide state-of-the-art, convenient and secure branchless banking services to individuals in far flung areas. Undertaken under the direction of the State Bank’s National Financial Inclusion Strategy, this agreement promises to cater to the needs of the unbanked population by offering them formal financial services at the click of a button.

Noman Azhar, Head of Branchless Banking & Digital Initiatives – JS Bank stated, “This partnership with SCO is another step in JS Bank’s efforts to empower the people of Pakistan through provision of innovative and efficient financial services for bolstering economic and social opportunities. We will jointly undertake all efforts to make this project and success as well as explore opportunities for future mutually beneficial business associations.”

Sharing his thoughts on the development, SCO’s spokesperson said, “We are delighted to have partnered with JS Bank to make Mobile Financial Services accessible to the people of AJ&K and GB. S-Paisa will not only bring ease to the lives of millions of people but also prove to be a great contributor to the region’s socio-economic development in the longer run.”

JS Bank is currently providing branch-less banking services including money transfer, utility bill payment and mobile accounts nationwide under its brand name J-Cash. The Bank is known for its innovative products and offerings that caters to the needs of a diverse customer base.


Jazz cements its position as the fastest mobile network following a second Ookla Award

For a second time running, the Speedtest® Award from Ookla® has gone to Jazz, Pakistan’s leading digital communications company. To win this award, Jazz achieved a Speed ScoreTM of 16.01, with average speeds of 17.13 Mbps for download and 10.74 Mbps for upload. The results are confirmed by Ookla® who analyzed results of user-initiated tests taken on the Speedtest iOS and Android mobile apps from all major mobile operators in Pakistan during Q3-Q4 2018.

Jazz is the country’s fastest mobile network. This is significant because not only is Jazz the largest operator of the country, but also has the largest mobile internet user base of over 20 Million customers. Now, as Pakistan’s fastest mobile network provider, Jazz consistently looks to offer subscribers the best online experience.

CEO of Jazz, Aamir Ibrahim said about the Speedtest® award, “Ookla’s Q3-Q4 2018 report reaffirms Jazz’s commitment to delivering the best mobile broadband experience to masses nationwide. This consecutive Speedtest® award is a testament to the work being carried out by the Jazz family in not only ensuring exceptional service, but constant innovation in network optimization, so our customers can enjoy lightning fast, reliable internet connections.”

“With millions of tests taken using Speedtest every day, Ookla has developed a robust and comprehensive view of worldwide internet performance. It is our pleasure to recognize Jazz as the fastest mobile network in Pakistan based on our rigorous analysis. This award is a testament to Jazz’s exceptional performance, as experienced by their own customers during Q3 and Q4,” said Jamie Steven, Executive Vice President of Ookla.

Pakistan’s fastest network by a huge margin

Jazz’s Speed ScoreTM of 16.01 is significantly higher than other competing networks during Q3-Q4 2018. This Speed ScoreTM incorporates a measure of each operator’s download and upload speed to rank network speed performance. For this result period, Jazz’s average download speed was clocked at 17.13 Mbps with an upload speed of 10.74 Mbps.

I. A. Rehman speaks at CEJ’s Memorial Lecture inauguration

Veteran journalist and former HRCP Chairperson, I. A. Rehman will be the speaker at the First Razia Bhatti Memorial Lecture held at the Institute of Business Administration, Centre for Excellence in Journalism (CEJ-IBA), city campus on Monday, March 4, 2019.

The annual lecture series aims to highlight issues in the media and give students and young journalists the opportunity to meet experienced editors and journalists, and question them about their experiences.

This year’s lecture will focus on the challenges that media outlets and individuals face today as compared with the situation under a declared state of censorship, such as martial law or a state of emergency.

The lecture series was set up last year by CEJ-IBA and the Razia Bhatti Memorial Initiative to honor the pioneering editor Razia Bhatti. Bhatti, a former editor of the Herald, founded Newsline with her editorial team in 1989 and was the winner of a number of national and international awards recognizing her professionalism and commitment. She died in March 1996.

CEJ is an initiative for the professional development, training and networking of Pakistani journalists and media professionals. In January 2018 it launched a Masters in Journalism program, the first of its kind in the country, and currently has 27 students enrolled in it.

Paigham-e-Pakistan session held at the IBA

The Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi, in collaboration with the Ministry of Defence, Pakistan organized a session Paigham-e-Pakistan – Pakistan’s counter-terrorism narrative at the IBA, main campus. The event was attended by religious/research scholars, IBA students, faculty and staff.

The speakers of the session were Professor of Shariah and Islamic Law, Director General, Islamic Research Institute, International Islamic University, Islamabad, Dr. Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq; Director, Public Relations and External Affairs at Jamia tur Rasheed, Dr. Ayaz Shah and Assistant Professor, Iqra University, Dr. Salima Ahsan Tejani.

The event started with a welcome address by Dr. Huma Baqai. She discussed the importance of Paigham-e-Pakistan and Dukhtaran-e-Pakistan initiative in Pakistan. She added that these sessions have been organized in different universities across all provinces to create awareness regarding the true meaning of Islam and Pakistan.

“Pakistan for a very long time has suffered a lot from an image gap both internally and externally. So, this is a small effort to address this image gap. And to address this image gap we need to understand what is wrong, and how do we go about resolving it; this initiative is all about it,” Dr. Baqai mentioned.

Dr. Haq introduced the document Paigham-e-Pakistan to the attendees and spoke about the “orientation to Paigham-e-Pakistan – an indigenous peace building effort.”

Dr. Haq shared the background of the effort and said, “Over the last 10 years, Pakistan suffered an immense damage… caused by an illusion created by the distortion of Islam; with religion being mixed with extremism, terrorism and hate, due to which our educational institutes, including universities became the target of the narrative (and that was when) the need of a national narrative was felt (to) counter violence, extremism, radicalism and create awareness about the fundamental issues of Islam in public.”

He encouraged the youth to read the document in order to avoid any confusion related to the national narrative.

Dr. Tejani delivered a session on stress and stress management. She mentioned, “It is not possible to change the mindset of the society without changing an individual’s mindset.”

Dr. Shah explained the structure of the state of Medina and further pointed out the articles of the constitution of Pakistan which mirrors the same ideology as that of the constitution of Medina.

Bank Alfalah engages IFC on Green Business Facilitation!

Bank Alfalah held a formal signing ceremony with International Finance Corporation (IFC) to formalize commencement of Diagnostic assessment on Green Business Facilitation.

Background: In October 2017, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) announced its Green Banking Guidelines for banks to study and implement. One pillar of SBP’s Green Banking guidelines is ’Green Business Facilitation’. It entails allocation of funding resources to those businesses, which directly or indirectly want to reduce their carbon foot-print, be more resource efficient and use other means to reduce their environmental impact.

International Finance Corporation (IFC) will assess the current state of readiness for Bank Alfalah to embark on a sustainable Green Banking business. In this project, IFC and Bank Alfalah will carry out a diagnostic exercise jointly on the existing portfolio to identify potential sectors where the Bank may introduce green financing solutions to its clients.

Mr. Faisal Rabbani, Chief Risk Officer at Bank Alfalah, said on the occasion, “Bank Alfalah is a highly customer-centric organization while IFC has global track record on Green Business Facilitation. This partnership will eventually help Bank Alfalah to provide innovative green financing to its valued customers.”

Mr. Bilal Asghar, Group Head – Corporate, Investment Banking and International Business Group, at Bank Alfalah also shared his thoughts on the arrangement saying, “It’s a great partnership between Bank Alfalah and IFC on this Green initiative. This is a key agenda for the Bank and we look forward to build this through with IFC’s assistance on this program in a sustained manner”.

On occasion of the ceremony, Ms. Rachel Freeman, Manager IFC Financial Institution Group Advisory for Asia and Pacific signed the engagement letter while Mr. Faisal Rabbani, Chief Risk Officer, signed on behalf of Bank Alfalah.

IFC is a global leader in green banking, and, is a pioneer in the green bond market and one of the largest global issuers of green bonds. To date, IFC has worked with around 150 clients, and provided PKR 7 billion climate financing volume since 1997. Around 50 clients have had Advisory support with IFC to build capacity in Green Banking/Climate Finance.

“Green Banking is a key priority for IFC globally, and, through this engagement IFC is excited to leverage its global experience in Green Banking to support Bank Alfalah in building capacity in green banking. IFC is committed to supporting Green Banking in Pakistan, including providing both investment and advisory support to the banking sector for Green Banking. Green banking is a win – win for the financial sector because it makes both commercial sense while being good for the environment,” said Ms. Rachel Freeman Manager Financial Institutions Group Asia and Pacific.

ACCA Pakistan welcomes new members, celebrates 208,000 member milestone

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Pakistan welcomed its new members and recognised its high achievers from across the country in glittering ceremonies in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad on February 18, 19 and 21, respectively.

Themed ‘Strategic Business Leaders 1 Capacity & Character’, the New Member Ceremonies celebrated the achievement of ACCA members who attained the membership milestone from January 01, 2018 till December 31, 2018 as well as national and global place winners during the same period. The new members are part of the vibrant global ACCA community of more than 208,000 members in 183 countries.

The British High Commission Islamabad joined ACCA as a co-organiser for the all three ceremonies.

The ceremony was graced by distinguished guests from Government, public-sector businesses, leading organisations and think tanks. These celebratory evenings were also a useful networking opportunity for new ACCA members to meet senior members and renowned employers.

The Honourable Governor Sindh, Imran Ismail attended the ceremony in Karachi, Senator Walid Iqbal graced the event in Lahore and Shafqat Mahmood, Federal Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training, National History and Literary Heritage was the Chief Guest of the evening in Islamabad.

Mr. Robert Stenhouse, President, ACCA formally welcomed the newly-inducted ACCA members in his address and reminded them that becoming a member of the ACCA meant full support from a professional accountancy body with global reach. He said that ACCA fully understands the important roles accountants play in both the private and public sectors and seeks to provide members with access to resources that will ensure they develop into future strategic business leaders and can reap the full benefits of what he called an exciting profession.

“ACCA-qualified accountants are integral to ensuring economies around the world continue to stay on track. Employers recognise us as trustworthy, ethical and highly professional. Our qualification is seen as the preferred qualification for employers around the world, who appreciate the practical approach and flexible delivery which allows them to hire well-rounded financial professionals.” he said. “A career in the finance profession can be immensely satisfying: it is rewarding, challenging, sustainable and can eventually provide a path to leadership where you continue to contribute to and effect change.”

Sajjeed Aslam, head of ACCA Pakistan also delivered a passionate keynote address and reminded ACCA members, “The world needs a finance profession that provides value; makes a positive contribution; fosters sustainable growth; and problem-solves new challenges. So when you join this immensely rewarding profession, you also take on our common purpose and shared responsibility. It is up to all of us to provide this and more to businesses, societies and economies. This concept of the public value of accountancy is at the heart of everything ACCA stands for. Our mission, our vision, and the various things we do around the world are centred on the concept of ’doing the right thing’.”

During Sajjeed’s speech, a short video was played presenting ACCA Pakistan’s vision for an emerging Pakistan and its members’ commitment to country’s social and economic wellbeing.

The Association also presented awards to notable member advocates and public value champions for their outstanding performance in their field of work, recognizing them for going beyond in expressing public support for the accountancy profession, embodying ACCA’s values, delivering public value and displaying ethical professionalism.

“The Advocacy Awards are not about career achievement; but about the way that ACCA members give back to their communities, and help ACCA to develop the next generation of professional accountants.” – Haroon A. Jan, Regional Head of Member Affairs, ACCA.

At the ceremonies, ACCA also formally welcomed organisations who’ve recently joined ACCA under its ’Approved Employer programme’ – a recognition of high standards of staff training and development. Moreover, ACCA Practical Experience Supervisors were also recognised for their mentorship to ACCA trainees at various organisations.

ACCA holds the New Member Ceremonies every year to commemorate the achievement of its new members with fanfare. This year’s ceremonies were special because ACCA is globally celebrating the successful launch of its Strategic Business Leader case study based exam, requiring students to demonstrate the right blend of technical, ethical and professional skills.

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