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Citi fund buys stake in Sri Lanka’s John Keells Holdings from Malaysia’s Khazanah

ECONOMYNEXT- The Citi Group’s Global Markets Limited has bought a 22.6 billion rupee stake in John Keells Holdings Plc from Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Berhad on Thursday, market sources said.

Sources said the Citi Group had bought the shares on behalf of a long-term global institutional investor. CT CLSA had brokered the transaction, a market disclosure said.

The 141.9 million shares, totaling 10.8 percent, had been bought at 160 rupees, 1.10 rupees below the opening level, and the John Keells Holdings (JKH) share shot up to 164 rupees following the trade.

Khazanah had invested in JKH through the investment vehicle Broga Hill Investments Limited and had held the second largest stake, behind Sohli Captain’s 11.4 percent.

The trade marked the highest turnover in over 11 years, after Global Telecommunications Holdings NV, a Dutch firm, bought 44.8 percent of shares in the state telco SLT from Japan’s NTT Communications Corporation for 32 billion rupees on April 1, 2008.

The sale on Thursday follows a market correction on Wednesday after a 7-month rally, when Colombo’s stocks fell 2.64 percent. The JKH share fell 1.80 rupees to 161.10 on Wednesday.

The share had risen from 135 rupees a share in mid-May, at the tail end of the retreat following the Easter Sunday bombings.

JKH is Sri Lanka’s largest listed firm. The firm is well diversified, with its largest operations in travel and hospitality, property, logistics, finance, information technology, food and beverage and retail trade.

Khazanah had entered JKH in 2012, buying an 8.8 percent stake or 74.5 million shares at 194 rupees a share for 14.5 billion rupees.

Most of the shares had been bought in 2012 from the state-managed pension fund, the Employees’ Provident Fund.

Market sources said since the Khazanah investment, the JKH share had peaked at 298.60 rupees on May 20, 2012, prior to rights and warrants issues which followed to fund the group’s flagship mixed development property Cinnamon Life.

Following Mahathir Mohamed’s re-election to office as Malaysia’s Prime Minister in 2018, Khazanah has been restructuring its portfolios under a new strategy unveiled in 2019.

Khazanah has been selling foreign investments to deliver cash to the government to help reduce a fiscal deficit and balance the scandals in the state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, foreign media had reported.
(Colombo/Jan09/2020)

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