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Sri Lanka shares driven up on SLT trades ahead of court ruling

Mar 04, 2008 (LBO) - Sri Lankan stocks extended gains on Monday to close higher Tuesday, pushed up by speculative trading in index-heavy Sri Lanka Telecom, brokers said.

The All Share Price Index gained 28.

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71 points or 1.13 percent to close at 2,562.25 while the more liquid Milanka went up 41.
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08 points or 1.29 percent to 3,213.95 with turnover being 502 million rupees.

SLT closed up two rupees at 37 rupees with 3.

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2 million shares traded mainly by retail and high net-worth investors, said Prashan Fernando of DFCC Stockbrokers.

The investors are speculating a court decision on March 10 would go in favour of the government and send the stock price higher.

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Japan's NTT, which holds a 35.2 percent stake in SLT, is negotiating to sell a 25.

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3 percent stake of the telco to the Usaha Tegas group of Malaysia controlled by billionaire Ananda Krishnan.

NTT has a contract to manage SLT which expires as soon as its stake falls below 10 percent.

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The government, which owns 49.5 percent of Sri Lanka Telecom, has appointed a committee to work out a new management agreement with the Malaysian group.

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Sri Lanka Telecom trading was the highest contributor to the day's turnover, adding 118 million rupees.

Brokers said a lot of trading was also seen in John Keells Holdings with 920,000 shares changing hands, believed to be a foreign crossing at 120 rupees.

There was also a lot of retail activity in Touchwood Investment which closed at 108.

25 rupees, up 12.50 rupees or 13 percent, with 591,700 shares changing hands during the day.


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