Wide Interest

Jan 07, 2008 (LBO) – Five potential investors have expressed interest in Sri Lanka’s Seylan Bank including two foreign buyers, after its controlling Ceylinco group said it would sell its stake, an official said. Pasqual says he expects the Ceylinco group to sell its entire holdings, which will give the new owner control of the bank once a sale is cleared by authorities.

“The vibes are very positive. They are keen on Seylan,” he said.

Analysts say that listed John Keells Holdings, a Dubai based firm which already has a foothold in the country and Sri Lanka’s Sampath Bank could be interested in Seylan.

Seylan’s large deposit base which topped 119 billion at the end of the September quarter and its over 100 branch network could attract buyers.

A new buyer would have to top up its capital.

Analysts say Seylan could also be a good match for well-capitalized Sri Lankan banks which have only a few branches, provided the price was right.

Seylan voting shares which closed trading at 30 rupees late Wednesday values the bank’s stock at 1.3 billion rupees.

Nonvoting shares which accounts for three-fourths of Seylan’s issued stock closed Wednesday at 5.75