Sri Lanka shares barely changed

Dec 17, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lankan shares were barely changed Wednesday, with the indices marginally firmer and almost half the trading volumes coming from transactions in parcels of John Keells Holdings, brokers said. Meanwhile, Hotel Services, owners of the Ceylon Continental Hotel said in a stock exchange filing that the major shareholders were willing to sell out if the price was right.

“The major shareholders have made it known to their brokers from the inception in dealing with the many inquires that have come their way; the shares owned by them would be available for sale in the event that a satisfactory offer is received.”

Among the parties interested had been the Sri Lanka Ports Authority in July but the statement said that “subsequently the interest had waned and lapsed. There have been no definitive discussions or negotiations with SLPA thereafter.”

Hotel Services was responding to a stock exchange inquiry regarding media reports that the SLPA was interested in buying the Continental Hotel.

“The fact that there has not been any price movement or trading activity consequent to the aforesaid newspaper article, may go on to show that the news was not of any significance to the market,” it said.

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The All Share Price Index ended marginally firmer, up 0.09 percent (1.33 points) to close at 1,525.52 while the more liquid Milanka edged up 0.37 percent (6.28 points) to end at 1,691.52. Turnover was 76 million rupees.

Yadhavan Jayaram of Bartleet Mallory Stock Brokers said trading was relatively quiet except for the JKH parcels.

Market activity was likely to remain low owing to the Christmas holidays coming next week.

John Keells Holdings closed up 75 cents at 57 rupees with 522,300 shares traded mostly at 57.75 adding about 30 million rupees to the day’s turnover.

Bartleet Mallory Stock Brokers said in their market report that foreign interest remained fixed on the purchasing side Wednesday but with a thinner net inflow of 39 million rupees.

Price losers dominated the trading floor over price gainers numbering 52 to 31, it said.

Dialog Telekom was up 25 cents to close at 6.25 while Sri Lanka Telecom gained 50 cents to close at 31 rupees, both on small volumes.

Brokers said there were also some transfers in Kotmale Holdings, Kshatriya Holdings and First Capital Holdings.