Sri Lankan shares up on JKH deal

Mar 25, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lankan stocks ended higher Wednesday, pushed up after a foreign investment fund divested a five percent stake in the island’s biggest conglomerate John Keells Holdings (JKH) to a local insurance company, brokers said.

The All Share Price Index gained 0.72 percent (11.75 points) to end at 1,637.23 while the more liquid Milanka went up 2.16 percent (36.69 points) to close at 1,733.40.

Turnover was 2.17 billion rupees.

Analysts said 31 million JKH shares were traded at 62 rupees each in three crossings (off-the-floor negotiated deals) with 17,485,354 shares selling for 1,082.4 million rupees, 10,000,000 shares selling for 620.0 million rupees and 3,117,831 shares going for 193.3 million rupees.

The three JKH crossings were foreign-to-local and accounted for a cumulative turnover of 1.92 billion rupees.

JKH ended up five rupees at 63.50.

Unlisted Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation, a part of the Stassen group controlled by businessman Harry Jayewardena through listed Distilleries Corporation, was the buyer, brokers said.

Two funds controlled by foreign investor Raj Rajaratnam were believed to have sold out. Galleon Technology Offshore Limited held 17.4 million shares in JKH as of March 2009 and Galleon Diversified held 13.1 million shares.

“The JKH deal pushed the bourse up as it’s the third largest capped company at the Colombo Stock Exchange,” said Geeth Balasuriya of Acuity Stockbrokers.

“Investors were seen actively trading in other selected blue chips such as Commercial Bank as market sentiment improved.”

Commercial Bank was up 1.50 rupees to close at 78.50.

Mobile giant Dialog Telekom was up 10 cents to close at 4.80 rupees, while Sri Lanka Telecom was down 25 cents to close at 34.25.

Investment bank Asia Capital lost 50 cents to close at five rupees.