28th March 2013, www.lankabusinessonline.com
Pakistan's Arif Habib group which has a stock brokering unit in Sri Lanka is planning to expand into commodities and trade consultancy which can boost bi-lateral trade, an official said.
In Pakistan he said there was a strong push from authorities for Pakistani businesses to go to Sri Lanka.
"As one of the largest Pakistani groups there are a lot of opportunities," Beg said. "Pakistan and Sri Lanka have had very strong ties.
"The political relationships are very strong, the bureaucratic relationships are very strong. And in every way possible both countries have supported themselves.
"So why can't there be a strong commitment on trade as well."
Beg, who is the son of a group director took over the reins at Serendib Stockbrokers last year and says Arif Habib group is also putting money into stockbrokering, which was the first business, the group when it started.
He says fresh capital has been injected, the balance sheet has been cleaned and the group will continue to put resources to build the business, including with expanding research capacity which will allow Sri Lankan stocks to be marketed through the group's sales desks.
The group has put an application to start a physical wholesale commodity business and bring in one million US dollars.
"We have written to the Central Bank to bring in money to start a wholesale commodity business," Naushervan Beg, who heads Serendib Stockbrokers, a unit of Arif Habib group said.
"We have dedicated commodity specialists in Pakistan who would handle that."
Arif Habib group which started as a stock brokering firm in 1994 in Pakistan has later expanded into asset management, corporate finance and has acquired interests in cement and fertilizer plants and real estate and grown into a 600 million US dollar business.
The idea was still in the preliminary stages, and the commodity business if permission is given, would involve physical storage and trading, will be a separate business, if authorities give permission, he said.
A related group company, Thatta Cement is planning a cement bagging plant in the Hambantota port.
Beg says Sri Lankan exporters have lost some of the markets in they previously had in Pakistan and opportunities existed provided they had the right parties to deal with.
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