Sri Lanka Pelwatte Sugar parent trims stake

Mar 24, 2011 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Master Divers (Pvt) Ltd, the parent of Pelwatte Sugar Industries said it had sold down 2.66 million shares at prices ranging from 37.10 to 40.10 rupees. By December 2010, Master Divers had 81.74 percent of Pelwatte Sugar and Master Divers chairman Ariyaseela Wickramanyake had a 3.24 percent stake.

Pelwatte stock has been active in recent days amid speculation of a possible sale to Distilleries Corporation of Sri Lanka.

Pelwatte also has a distillery.

Wickramanayake said there had been offers from several parties for the firm but no decision had been made to sell out.

This week’s sell down only involved about 3.2 percent of the firm.

In the December 2010 quarter the firm lost 168 million rupees down from a loss of 573 million rupees a year earlier. Quarterly profits fluctuate in the firm as harvests are seasonal.

Sri Lanka’s production costs are high. Unless world sugar prices go to high levels, domestic sugar producers do not make profits and are largely sustained by tariff protection.

Sugar production was started in Sri Lanka as an ‘import substitution’ industry and is sustained with tariff protection.

Pelwatt