Sri Lanka bank debt sale hit by racing rates

April 19, 2012 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s listed Commercial Bank of Ceylon, the island’s largest privately owned bank, said there were no takers for a five-year bond offered at a fixed rate, as interest rates rose sharply. The five-year debt, rated AA- by Fitch Ratings Lanka opened for subscription on March 27 offering a fixed rate of 12.75 percent. The issue closed on Wednesday.

On Thursday risk free five-year government bonds were quoted at 12.50/75 percent and three year bonds were quoted around 12.35/55 percent.

In April, the central bank hiked policy rates by 75 basis points to 9.75 percent on the back of a 50 basis point hike in February “The issue is not subscribed at all due to sharp increase in market interest rates, subsequent to obtaining of CSE (Colombo Stock Exchange) approval and opening of the debenture..,” chief financial officer, Nandika Buddhipala said in a stock exchange filing.

The bank may not re-price the debt and offer it to the market, as the bank has a strong balance sheet and is not in urgent need of additional capital, sources familiar with the matter said.

Interest rates in Sri Lanka have been rising steadily as authorities sought to check a balance of payments crisis triggered by high credit growth and low interest rates.

The banks sought to raise at least a billion rupees to boost its Tier II capital from the debt sale.