By Nisthar Cassim in London
Sri Lanka yesterday urged UK-based investors to partner and profit from new resurgence and opportunity in the country under better governance and supportive policies.
The message was conveyed at the Invest Sri Lanka Forum organised in London by the Colombo Stock Exchange in association with the Sri Lanka High Commission in UK and Bloomberg.
“We have a new Sri Lanka. Have confidence in the new Government led by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. We deliver on what we promise and we will have consistent and coherent policies. Come and partner and profit from this transformation in Sri Lanka,” Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake told the Forum held at The Savoy Hotel in London.
Nearly 150 London-based fund managers, investment advisors and investors attended the event.
The Forum updated participants on some of the recent positive political changes in Sri Lanka and broadly outlined the future direction and new opportunities as well as highlighted how attractive the Colombo stock market is as against other regional exchanges.
Minister Karunanayake said that future direction of the country would be outlined by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe next week followed by a more detailed articulation in 2016 Budget to be presented on 20November.
He told the London Forum that already improved good governance and greater democracy had been ensured since the change of regime on 8 January. He said improved fiscal discipline and greater liberalisation with the opening of several sectors and conducive policies were on the cards.
“Sri Lanka will see a greater role for the private sector, both local and foreign, whilst there will be a more sustainable and inclusive approach to generate higher socio-economic growth,” the Finance Minister said at the Forum, the first to be held since the assumption of the new Government.
Acting High Commissioner Dr. Chanaka Talpahewa in his opening remarks said that the large number of participants confirmed growing interest and confidence in Sri Lanka and its stock market. He said that new Government was in the process of finalising a well-integrated economic policy to boost development, hence the Forum was timely.
Copal Amba Sri Lanka Country Head Chanakya Dissanayake highlighted the macro-economic overview for Sri Lanka whilst CSE Chairman Vajira Kulatilaka recapped performance of the Colombo Bourse vis-à-vis global and regional markets as well as prospects for the future. SEC Director General Vajira Wijegunawardane gave a snapshot of some of the ongoing and planned reforms in the capital markets regulatory arena.
Providing an international perspective of experience in investing in Sri Lanka were London Stock Exchange CEO Nikhil Rathi and Stewart Investor’s Ashish Swarup.
The Forum included a panel discussion involving Sri Lanka speakers and was moderated by Bloomberg’s Head of Corporate and Investor Access Tom Tyler.
As part of the Forum, over 10 leading Sri Lankan listed companies are participating and yesterday began a series of one-on-one meetings with interested fund managers in UK. Over 140 such meetings have been scheduled for two days.
The participating Lankan firms are John Keells Holdings PLC, Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC, Hatton National Bank PLC, National Development Bank PLC, Dialog Axiata PLC, Carsons Cumberbatch PLC, Lion Brewery (Ceylon) PLC, People’s Leasing & Finance PLC, Softlogic Holdings PLC, Tokyo Cement PLC, Singer Sri Lanka PLC , MTD Walkers PLC and Sunshine Holdings PLC. These firms are represented by either at chairman, managing director or director levels.
The ‘Invest Sri Lanka’ Forum in London was held a day after a Breakfast meeting in Zurich on Wednesday to promote Sri Lanka’s new investment profile.
The Zurich meeting at The Widder Hotel was organised by the CSE in association with the Swiss Asian Chamber of Commerce (SACC), also attracted a full house. Minister Karunanayake delivered the keynote at the Zurich meeting whilst presentations were made by CSE, SEC and Copal Amba officials. Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ravinatha Aryasinha also spoke.
The CSE said the Zurich event saw the participation of major institutional investors, surpassing the initial expectations of attendance, and the interest in Sri Lanka was evident from the lively interaction the participants had with the Sri Lankan delegation at the Q&A session, with topics ranging from opportunities in the stock market and foreign investor participation in future infrastructure developments to the ease of investing in the Sri Lankan stock market and the future economic potential of Sri Lanka.
The last Sri Lanka Invest Forum in London was a major success and was part of several roadshows held covering cities such as New York, Singapore, Mumbai and Dubai. The Zurich event was a first of its kind as part of the CSE’s initiative to promote Sri Lanka and its capital market.
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