The first ever capital market investor forum held in Switzerland on 28th October 2015, proved to be an outstanding success. Titled “Invest Sri Lanka“ and organized by the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) in association with the Swiss Asian Chamber of Commerce (SACC), attracted a full house for the Breakfast Meeting at The Widder Hotel in Zurich.
The event saw the participation of major institutional investors surpassing the initial expectations of attendance and the interest in Sri Lanka was evident from the lively interaction, the participants had with the Sri Lankan delegation at the Question and Answer (Q&A) session, with topics ranging from opportunities in the stock market, foreign investor participation in future infrastructure developments, the ease of investing in the Sri Lankan stock market and the future economic potential of Sri Lanka.
The Hon. Minister of Finance, Mr. Ravi Karunanayake, in his Keynote Address, called on Swiss investors present on the occasion to invest in the future investment destination that is Sri Lanka. He said that since the change of the new government in January 2015, there is a strong national oriented government in place ushering in sustainable political stability for Sri Lanka. Now that the process of political stabilization has taken place, the government is laying emphasis on the economic stabilization of the country. He stated that they have de-politicized the running of the administration through independent commissions appointed to look after the financial system, law and order, human rights etc.
The Minister invited the participants to visit Sri Lanka and see for themselves the positive reforms that are taking place in Sri Lanka. He assured the investors that investing in Sri Lanka would bring them better returns than investing in traditional European markets.
His Excellency, Mr. Ravinatha Aryasinha, Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva in welcoming the participants stated that Sri Lanka and Switzerland have enjoyed a long relationship between the two countries and recalled that economic ties between the two countries go as far back as 19th Century.
The Chairman of the CSE, Mr. Vajira Kulatilaka spoke about the potential of the stock market and emphasised that the time to invest is now, given that the market was relatively cheaper than most markets in the region. He also cited how the CSE has significantly outperformed most regional markets. He cited Sri Lanka`s low market cap to GDP ratio against other markets as a growth opportunity. He further stated that the low co-relation with major global indices provided an excellent diversification opportunity for global institutional investors. Mr. Kulatilaka also spoke about the future developments of the capital market in relation to strengthening and improving the regulatory framework, addressing risk management, diversification of product range, governance, improvement of market infrastructure and institutional building.
Mr. Chanakya Dissanayake, Country Head, Copal Amba in his presentation emphasized that the Sri Lankan stock market carries attractive valuations versus its peers specially in the context of Sri Lanka`s growth profile and stated that 2015 political reset augurs well for a robust investment climate in 2016.
Mr. Vajira Wijegunawardane, Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka, outlined the measures that the SEC was taking to strengthen the regulatory framework of the capital market with the objective of creating an enabling environment for issuers to raise funds and instill adequate safeguards to protect investors and maintain professionalism in the industry.
A few of the investors present shared their investment experience in Sri Lanka which they described as a rewarding experience and expressed confidence of the future growth potential.