Sri Lanka stock market turnover soars on hotel deal

April 09, 2008 (LBO) – The sale of a controlling stake in Ceylon Continental hotel pushed up turnover in Sri Lanka stock market to over 1.3 billion rupees although the market closed lower Wednesday. The benchmark All Share Price Index lost 10.77 points or 0.41 percent to end at 2,606.97 while the more liquid Milanka Price Index slumped 19.15 points or 0.58 percent to close at 3,269.90.

The turnover went up to 1,367 million rupees, largely owing to the sale of a 53 percent stake (9.4 million shares) in Hotel Services, which operates the Ceylon Continental.

The stake was sold for 138 rupees a share by its former owner U K Sharma for 1.3 billion rupees, dealers said.

Sharma owned 17.1 million out of 17.6 million shares of the firm or 97.3 percent, while a further 0.7 percent was registered in the name of S R Sharma.

The buyer was believed to be entrepreneur Nahil Wijesuriya, known for some savvy timing in buying property in prime locations, brokers said.

“In spite of high trading on selective counters, the market witnessed a day with very low
Activity,” Bartleet Mallory Stockbrokers said in a market report.

Price losers outnumbered price gainers at 61 to 41.

Foreigners were heavier on the buying side bringing in a net inflow of 9.58 million, the brokers said. .