Sri Lankan shares driven up by big banking deals

Mar 18, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lankan stocks closed up Wednesday boosted by large sales of blue chip bank stocks believed to have been divested by Sri Lankan born fund manager, Raj Rajaratnam’s, New York-based Galleon Fund, brokers said.

The All Share Price Index was up 0.40 percent (6.51 points) to end at 1,618.84 while the more liquid Milanka gained 0.56 percent (9.40 points) to close at 1,681.06.

Turnover was 1.16 billion rupees.

Brokers said Galleon Fund divested its sake in Development Finance Corporation of Ceylon (DFCC) Bank, National Development Bank (NDB) and John Keells Holdings (JKH).

Analyst said one block consisting 9.72 million DFCC shares crossed at 68.25 rupees in a foreign-to-foreign deal and 3.3 million shares of conglomerate JKH changed hands at 56 rupees, in a foreign-to-local transaction.

There was also a crossing (a negotiated off-the floor deal) of 2.1 million NDB shares at 95 rupees in a foreign-to-local transaction.

“Out of the day’s 1.1 billion turnover a high proportion of it was foreign transactions,” said Thakshila Hulangamuwa of Asha Phillip Securities.

“There was considerable interest shown by retailers today which helped the market to close on a positive note.”

Brokers said the buyers of the shares sold by Galleon Fund were not known at the time of the trade but market speculation indicated Rajaratnam had transferred the shares from Galleon Fund to Galleon Technologies, another firm.

“Some fund managers shift their stakes between funds especially at the last quarter of the financial year to spruce up their portfolios,” said a broker.

“There is another rumor that chairman of Stassen Group, Harry Jayawardena, has brought the DFCC stake today.”

Foreign buying for the day was 682 million rupees, while foreign selling was 1.1 billion.

JKH was up 25 cents to close at 56 rupees, while DFCC was down 25 cents to close at 68.25.

NDB shares closed flat at 95 rupees. Also, 89,000 Hatton National Bank shares changed hands at 78 rupees.

HNB was up 25 cents to close at 78.