(PRESS RELEASE) – The RIU (Research Intelligence Unit) Investor Forum, geared towards facilitating cross border investment between Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom was held at the Sri Lanka High Commission in Hyde Park Gardens, London on Friday the 7th October.
The special focus of this event being on real estate and related investment facilitation between the United Kingdom and Sri Lanka the organizers were honored to feature a world premier launch of the Iconic Galaxy luxury apartment project in Rajagiriya. Despite her busy schedule, HE Amari Wijewardena, High Commissioner for Sri Lanka in London graced the occasion and welcomed the audience to what promised to be a very stimulating evening of presentations and discussion.
The evenings proceedings, series of presentation called by, William Rezel, a senior consultant at the RIU London office, commenced with Nimal Karunatileke, Minister for Trade at the High Commission, making a presentation on the impressive economic achievements that have been made in the island economy of Sri Lanka over recent years.
Next up, Roshan Madawela, Founding Director and CEO of RIU, presented the audience with some of the findings from RIU’s latest research on the residential and commercial real estate market in Sri Lanka. The presentation demonstrated the phenomenal growth in residential apartments in the capital Colombo over recent years, particularly at the high end of the market that has witnessed the emergence of many thousands of new luxury apartment projects. In his presentation, Roshan mentioned that despite RIU having a property database that dates back over ten years, event their research team has had to continually revise their forecasts due to the sustained influx of new projects.
The evening was also graced by Rohan Parikh who spoke very positvely about a Investing in Sri Lanka from a foreign investor’s perspective as well as initiating their global launch of the Atlantis Project in Colombo.
Mahesh Jayanarayan of Emed Pharma in London spoke on investing in complimentary medicine whilst the founding Director of Lankaproeprty, the islands leading property website, also shared some findings from the latest study that was completed recently in partnership with RIU. Eroshan Meewela from White Box London shared some of his industry insights into the post Brexit London Property market.
According to a recent report from Saville in London, the prime London market is yet to show its response to the Brexit vote. The report claimed that the swift appointment of the new Prime Minister served towards removing a major source of potential uncertainty in the market. Moreover, a weaker sterling combined with a further 0.25% cut in interest rates has served to bolster demand from both overseas and domestic sources respectively. The underlying message is that London will remain to be viewed as a safe haven investment destination in the global context despite some level of short-term uncertainty that was triggered by Brexit. According to Savile, a US$2 million property in London remains very competitive on the global stage when the cost of purchasing, holding and selling property is considered as compared with New York, Hong Kong, Paris, Tokyo and Singapore.
During the discussion , many of the attendees who represented a mix of London based real estate companies and investors, heads of small businesses, and a large spread of UK based Sri Lankan professionals also asked us for clarification regarding the prospect of investing in Sri Lanka and the regulations that govern repatriation of funds back to the United Kingdom. In this regard, RIU promised to meet with the relevant authorities in Colombo as well as work with the authorities in London in order to provide further clarity in this regard.
According to recent studies, there are more than 600,000 Sri Lankan’s living in OECD countries. However, when we account for second and third generation Sri Lankans living overseas, along with students who stay back and work, we are actually facing a much higher population of (NRSLs). According to RIU’s own primary research, bankers have confirmed that they have records of fund transfers from Canada, UK and Australia that indicate a very much higher number of NRSL’s who have an active interest in the Sri Lankan market. Speaking to delegates at the event, CEO of RIU, Roshan Madawela, said that “if we only consider the Blue Color workers and not the White Color workers, mainly located in the Middle East, RIU’s own estimate of NRSL’s who still have some connection to Sri Lanka is over 2 million”.
In concluding his presentation , Roshan Madawela of RIU noted that Sri Lanka has the proud heritage of being a developed nation since ancient times with a recorded history of 2500 years show there existed developed cities with proper infrastructure and advanced livable spaces. Buildings were advanced in terms of maximizing airflow, sustainability and comfort and still continue to inspire modern architecture today. However, he noted that less impressive period of horizontal real estate development in the post-independence period has resulted in the emergence of challenges and externalities that are typical for developing economies. However, he noted that there are now signs of re-emergence of well-planned cities in the island.
The RIU UK investor forum in October started with the sponsorhip of the Mecial Association Charity Ball at the Radisson Edwardian hotel in West London and concluded with the sponsorship of the Rajans Ball at the Grange City Hotel. The RIU Investor Forumseries will continue with the next two scheduled in London for December 2016 and March 2017.
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