Merchant Bank of Sri Lanka diversifies into property, personal loans

May 16, 2007 (LBO) – Merchant Bank of Sri Lanka, a subsidiary of Bank of Ceylon, is considering diversifying into property development to boost its profitability and revenue composition. MBSL also commenced granting personal loans apart from its leasing and hire purchase portfolio, the bank said in a statement on its debenture issue that opened last month.

It plans to raise 600 million rupees to fund its growing loan base and to repay debts that have to be repaid in 2007.

The bank has planned an initial 300 million rupee debenture issue, to close on October 26, 2007, with an option to issue up to a further 300 million in the event of an oversubscription.

Investors have the choice of a fixed annual effective rate of 16 percent and a floating rate of three percent above the one year weighted average treasury bill rate.

The MBSL statement said floating rate has a maximum of 17 percent and a minimum of 13 percent, producing a higher yield if interest rates increased.

The fixed rate will be advantageous if interest rates were to come down.

The debenture issue has received AA3 rating from Lanka Ratings Agency.

In the year to December 2006 MBSL had earned a net profit of 210 million rupees helped by a favourable interest rate structure and an expanding hire-purchase portfolio.