Switching Places

Consumer goods retailer Singer (Sri Lanka) Ltd plans to switch some of its expensive short-term debt with a Rs. 400 mn four-year debenture issue in April. As at end 2004, Singer’s long-term debt stock stood at Rs. 1.3 bn, but the company is keen to lock in inexpensive funds taking advantage of present low interest rates.

Short term interest rates have remained at 7.5 percent for the fourth consecutive month, though inflation continues to head north. February inflation raced to 15.9 percent, while last year’s trade deficit had also widened to US$ 2.2 bn, according to Sri Lanka’s Central Bank.

Treasury Secretary P B Jayasundara said early March that the authorities will not tinker with its key short-term interest rates for the next three months as government plans to tame galloping inflation during the second half of this year.

“With interest rates remaining steady at current levels, we are looking for bank financing in addition to a Rs. 400 mn unlisted debenture, to raise our long-term borrowings to Rs. 2.3 bn,” Singer’s Finance Director, Asoka Pieris said.

The unlisted debt paper will be rated and placed primarily among institutional i