Sri Lanka stocks enlivened by JKH deals

Feb 20, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lankan market was boosted Friday with conglomerate John Keells Holdings increasing control of Union Assurance, Ceylon Cold Stores and brokerage John Keells Ltd. by buying stakes held by Carson Cumberbatch, brokers said. A crossing of 4.36 million CCS shares was done at 115 rupees. CCS was up three rupees to close at 90, while 13.86 million UAL shares amounting to 37 percent changed hands at 72.

UAL shares moved up 7.50 rupees to close at 68.50.

JKH also bought 1.65 million John Keells Limited shares at 60 rupees.

In a stock exchange filing JKH said that after the acquisitions its holdings in UAL would increase to 73.9 percent, CCS to 80.5 percent and John Keells Limited to 86.5 percent.

“The market might remain steady with a little bit of movement in the coming weeks as high net worth investors and foreign funds will be looking at liquid counters,” said Thakshila Hulangamuwa of Asha Phillip Securities.

Ceylinco Insurance was up three rupees to close at 175, while Commercial Bank was up one rupee to close at 90.

Dialog Telekom, a subsidiary of Telekom Malaysia, closed 4.90 flat, while fixed line giant Sri Lanka Telecom edged up 50 cents, to close at 35.25.

The All Share Price Index gained 0.58 percent (9.99 points) to end at 1,734.41 while the more liquid Milanka was up 0.35 percent (6.40 points) to close at 1,843.72.

Turnover was 1.68 billion rupees of which 1.6 billion rupees was generated from JKH transactions.

Carson Cumberbatch shares went up 4.50 rupees to close at 121, while JKH shares closed flat at 65.25.

“Carsons exited in JKH, CCS and UAL, as they wanted to re-structure their investment portfolio and concentrate on their core businesses, which is palm oil,” said Danushka Samarasinghe, who heads equity research at Asia Securities, the stock broking arm of investment bank Asia Capital.

“This deal will effectively make UAL a fresh subsidiary of the JKH group.”

John Keells is one of the largest diversified companies in Sri Lanka and has business interests in transport, leisure, finance and retail business.

“This displays the confidence that the JKH management has placed in the local finance sector amidst an appalling global credit crunch,” Bartleet Mallory Stockbrokers said in a report.