Suresh Shah to head proposed SOE restructuring Unit

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Suresh Kumar Shah, the founding CEO of Lion Brewery, the current Chairman of the Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC (CTC), and a veteran chartered accountant, has been nominated as the head of the proposed State-owned enterprise (SOE) restructuring unit.

When asked about his prospective position, he told Ceylon Today that he couldn’t say anything. He did, however, emphasise the significance of restructuring SOEs.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe stated in Parliament while presenting the Interim Budget 2022 that the Government has decided to establish a SOE Restructuring Unit with a Rs 200 million budget.

Some SOEs have been losing money for a long time due to structural issues, he said, adding that the Treasury cannot continue to fund these entities and a mechanism to make them more effective must be found.  Significant fiscal risks arise from a few SOEs, President Wickremesinghe said, naming SriLankan Airlines, Ceylon Electricity Board, and Ceylon Petroleum Corporation.

Suresh Sha worked as Chief Executive and Board Member of the listed firms Ceylon Beverage Holdings PLC and Lion Brewery (Ceylon) PLC, according to his LinkedIn page. During his 30 years as CEO, he converted a tiny, domestically oriented brewery into an aggressive and competitive FMCG firm that is now one of Sri Lanka’s most successful corporations. Not only does the corporation dominate the beer segment, but also the larger alcobev industry. Lion is the most valuable FMCG brand in the country (Brand Finance, LMD rankings) and its balance sheet is rated AAA by Fitch. Lion and Carlsberg, the Company’s multi-award winning, world-class brands, are produced at a state-of-the-art brewery and reach the trade and consumers via a highly efficient and effective route to market system. Approximately eight per cent of the Company’s output is exported to 27 other nations. Lion Brewery is the third highest taxpayer in Sri Lanka. Suresh constructed an empowered, closely knit, performance-focused organization throughout his tenure that has successfully produced growth possibilities, acquired its key rival, and surmounted various hurdles.

He also served as Chairman of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Sri Lanka’s apex trade chamber, and is a Past Chairman of the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon. He has also served as a Commissioner on the Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka, and was a member of the Monetary Policy Consultative Committee with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and of the Council at the University of Moratuwa.

By Ishara Gamage