Sri Lanka stocks perk up as control of AMW changes hands

July 28, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lankan stocks closed higher Monday on gains in heavyweight stocks with the take over of Associated Motorways (AMW) by a Dubai construction firm driving turnover to 7.7 billion rupees. JKH, AEC and state funds which owned AWM stakes sold at a premium.

“Any premium would be considered quite advantageous these days,” said Tissera.

The deal gave an unexpectedly exciting start to a week that was expected to see sedate trading, as a security clampdown ahead of a summit of south Asian leaders in Colombo slowed business activity.

The market has been sliding for several weeks on thin volumes owing to fears record inflation and high borrowing costs would erode corporate earnings.

In Monday’s trading Sri Lanka Telecom rose 4.07 percent to 44.75 rupees, Dialog Telekom was up 1.89 percent to 13.50 and John Keells Holdings up 1.50 percent at 101.50.

In another big deal, just over two million shares of Hayleys were traded with the stock gaining 1.70 percent to end at a volume weighted average price of 149.25 rupees.

Businessman Dhammika Perera has been buying into the firm and now owns about 20 percent.

Vallibel Power Erathna gained 4.65 percent to 4.50 with 5.2 million shares traded while Janashakthi Insurance, which debuted last week, was up 9.52 percent to 11.50. The All Share Price Index gained 1.41 percent (33.49 points) to close at 2,403.59 while the more liquid Milanka went up 1.66 percent (46.80 points) to 2,859.97.

AMW gained 2.65 percent to close at 174.50 with almost 41.7 million shares traded as the Dubai-based Al-Futtaim Engineering acquired control of the motor firm.

Al Futtaim Engineering said it bought 39.6 million shares or a 71.15 percent stake of AMW at 174.50 rupees per share for 6.91 billion rupees and that it would make an offer for the remaining shares.

It bought almost 28.5 million shares or a 51.15 percent stake of AMW owned by Associated Electrical Corporation (AEC) and a 20 percent (11.1 million shares) stake owned by John Keells Holdings (JKH).

Associated Electrical Corporation fell 2.88 percent to 1,599.50 rupees with 26,300 shares traded.

Both AMW and AEC had seen active trading last week on speculation of a pending deal.

JKH said in a stock exchange filing that it made a capital gain of about 1.03 billion rupees on the sale while AEC is sitting on a cash pile of 4.9 billion rupees.

“This makes AEC an extremely cash-rich company,” said Nikita Tissera of SC Securities.