Fresh push to woo UK investors to SL

  • CSE/SEC-organised ‘Invest Sri Lanka’ Forum in London today; in Edinburgh on Wednesday 
  • 13 Listed Companies to pitch for more foreign portfolio investments
  • State Minister of Finance Eran Wickramaratne to enlighten foreign investors on Sri Lanka’s economic policy and outlook, with expectations of a more growth-stimulating 2019 Budget 

By Nisthar Cassim in London

Capital market stakeholders will make a fresh push this week to woo new investments from Europe into listed Sri Lankan companies via two forums in London and Edinburgh

The popular ‘Invest Sri Lanka’ Investor Forum will be held today at the London Stock Exchange, with the city being the financial hub of Europe, whilst in Scotland, it will be held at the capital Edinburgh’s Waldorf Astoria on Wednesday.

The two key events are organised by the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), in partnership with the Sri Lanka High Commission in UK and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) UK and Sri Lanka.

A high-powered delegation of officials and private sector shareholders will attend both events.

There will be 13 listed Sri Lankan companies participating: John Keells Holdings PLC; Commercial Bank PLC; HNB; Sampath Bank; Dialog Axiata PLC; Melstacorp PLC; Peoples Leasing and Finance PLC; Nations Trust Bank PLC; Aitken Spence PLC; Tokyo Cement Company PLC; Sunshine Holdings PLC; Union Bank PLC; and Resus Energy PLC.

State Minister of Finance Eran Wickramaratne, who will give leadership to the promotion effort and the delegation, will enlighten European investors at both events on Sri Lanka’s economic policy and outlook.

At the London event, speakers include CSE Chairman Ray Abeywardena, SEC Chairman Ranel T. Wijesinha, LSE CEO Nikhil Rathi and Monetary Board member Nihal Fonseka. Lynear Wealth Management Managing Director Dr. Naveen Gunawardane will make a presentation on capital market opportunities in Sri Lanka.

These speakers, along with CSE Chief Executive Officer Rajeeva Bandaranaike, SEC Director General Vajira Wijegunawardane, and LSEG Sri Lanka Head Dee Liyanwela, will also join a panel discussion.

In the smaller forum in the Scottish capital, former Steuart Investors Portfolio Manager Angus Tulloch will make a presentation on ‘Investments: A Perspective from Scotland’. A second panel discussion will also take place on Wednesday, involving Minister Wickramaratne and all key officials.

The investor response for both events has been encouraging, CSE sources told Daily FT in London. The representatives of the 13 listed companies will be involved in one-on-one and group meetings with prospective investors and fund managers.

The fresh attempt to woo capital market investors based in London and Edinburgh comes when the Colombo Bourse is experiencing a negative run, on weak sentiments and foreign outflows to more attractive options. This year to date, the All Share Index is down 7.6% and the more active S&P Sri Lanka 20 Index is down 18%. Net foreign outflow from CSE so far this year is Rs. 6 billion.

However, most analysts opine that it is the best time to buy, given the low prices and the Price Earnings Ratio being at 9 times, one of the lowest in the region. Expectation of a more growth-stimulating 2019 Budget next month is another factor that could make CSE attractive.

In the past, ‘Invest Sri Lanka’ Forums held in UK, US, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, India, and the Middle East have helped to trigger foreign investor interest.

Foreign investors indicated a strong renewed interest in Sri Lankan stocks in 2017. Net foreign inflows amounted to Rs. 17.7 billion, compared to Rs. 0.38 billion in 2016, driven by 48% growth in foreign purchases, and foreign investor participation improved to 47% compared to 42% in 2016.

Courtesy: Daily FT

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