17 March 2012

Malaysia's Sovereign Wealth Fund Khazanah Buys 8pct of Sri Lanka's Keells Holdings for $ 114mn

16th March 2012, www.lankabusinessonline.com

Malaysia's Khazanah Nasional Berhad, a sovereign wealth fund has bought an 8.8 percent stake in Sri Lanka's John Keells Holdings in a deal valued at over 14 billion rupees (114 million US dollars), officials said.

Khazanah had bought 74 million shares at 194 with Sri Lanka's Employee's Provident Fund, a state-managed fund of private sector workers' retirement money, among key sellers.

"It is a very positive signal for John Keells and it adds to our very stable long term shareholder base," JKH deputy chairman Ajit Gunewardene said.

Sharhan Muhseen, director investment banking of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which arranged the purchase, was in Sri Lanka to wrap up the deal, sources said.

The EPF sold 71 million shares at 194 rupees, bringing a capital gain to the fund, Kalyani Gunatilleke, superintendent of the Employees provident fund said.

"It has shown the confidence foreign investors have in the economy," she said.

"It has brought liquidity to the stock exchange and boosted transactions. It has brought foreign exchange into the country."

Central Bank governor Nivard Cabraal said the deal was part of the several into equity and bond markets that will help stabilize a currency peg. The rupee opened stronger Friday below 124 to the US dollar, from a close of 125.00/25 a day earlier.

"We have seen some fairly strong inflows and that trend seems to be continuing," he said.

"All these will stabilize the currency as we have consistently maintained."

Khazannah Nasional manages over 36 billion US dollars in assets and owns parts of Telekom Malaysia, Axiata and other state enterprises in Malaysia, as well as overseas investments.

John Keells Holdings has interests in ports and shipping, leisure, financial services, commodity broking and food processing.

Its leisure interests include hotels in the Maldives. JKH had assets of 119 billion rupees by end 2011.

The group posted profits of 5.6 billion rupees in the nine months to 2011 unchanged from a year earlier giving earnings of 6.70 per share.

Related Info :

John Keells for a Mega Development on Glennie Street & Ceylon Cold Stores Land

John Keells Holdings Posts Highest Ever Profit After Tax of Rs9.06bn with a Revenue of Rs60.5bn
Sri Lanka John Keells Raised Stake in Union Assurance to 95.6pct

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