Ashok Pathirage buying controversial NDB shares after 1 year hiatus

Ashok Pathirage

August 28, 2018 (LBO) – Softlogic Chairman and CEO Ashok Pathirage has started buying NDB shares in the open market according to a Colombo Stock Exchange disclosure.  His last purchases of stock in the bank were approximately one year ago at significantly higher prices.

These new purchases amount to a few million rupees worth of shares between approximately 111-112 rupees per share.  According the the shareholder list as of June 30, Pathirage controlled entities owned close to 8% of the outstanding shares of the bank.

According to the banking act, no individual entity, or entities working in concert can own more than 10% of the shares of a listed bank without Monetary Board approval.

In addition to being the controlling shareholder of the Softlogic group of companies, Pathirage is the non-executive Deputy Chairman of NDB. Insiders have long said that his ambition is to be Chairman of the bank, however in the past these ambitions have been thwarted.  Pathirage and his companies are some of the largest borrowers in the country.

NDB has been the subject of controversy with rumours of groups of large shareholders aiming to collude and exert control over the bank.  These attempts have been apparently thwarted by the government which has roughly a 30% stake through various state controlled entities. The bank’s former CEO Rajendra Thiagarajah was also forced out in a contentious exit early this year.

The government has supported the appointment and installation of Ananda Atukorala as an Independent Non-Executive Chairman.  He is an experienced banker much respected in the financial industry in Sri Lanka.