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Friday August 19th, 2022

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.

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Sri Lanka schedules 3-hour power cuts for Aug 20, 21: regulator

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will impose power cuts of up to three hours on Saturday August 20 and Sunday August 21, Public Utilities Commission (PUCSL) Chairman Janaka Ratnayake said.

All areas (A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V and W) will have power cuts of 1 hours and 40 minutes between 10.30 am and 06.00 pm and 1 hour 20 minutes from 06.00pm to 10.00 pm.

Click here for a detailed schedule.

The state-run Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) said supply interruption time and restoration time will vary within 30 minutes as indicated above.

Sri Lanka’s daily scheduled power cuts that were reduced to one hour in July with power generation from hydro power plants contributing more than 50 percent to the main grid reducing thermal power plant use was extended to three hours last week due to a breakdown at the Norochcholai coal power plant.

According to officials, the breakdown happened in Unit 1 of Norochcholai which will take around two weeks to repair.

The Minister of Power & Energy said Unit 2 is undergoing scheduled maintenance work while Unit 3 will continue to operate. West Coast and other fuel power pPlants will be used to manage the supply, the ministry said. (Colombo/Aug02/2022)

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Sri Lanka guidance peg edges T-bond yield edge down

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka Central Bank’s guidance peg for interbank transactions edged down on Friday (19), while yields in Treasury bonds picked up slightly and in T-bill remain unquoted in dull trade, a day after the Central Bank announced the policy rates will remain stable, dealers said.

A bond maturing on 01. 06. 2025 closed at 27.95/28.05 percent on Friday, slightly up from 27.90/28.00 percent on Thursday.

No T-bills were quoted on Friday, dealers said.

Meanwhile Sri Lanka’s central bank announced a guidance peg for interbank transactions further weakened by three cents to 361.00 rupees against the US dollar on Friday from 360.97 rupees.

Data showed that commercial banks offered dollars for telegraphic transfers between 368.00 and 370.00 for small transactions.  (Colombo/ Aug 19/2022)

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Sri Lanka records 10 new COVID-19 deaths in 48 hours as case numbers rise

ECONOMYNEXT –  Sri Lanka recorded 10 COVID-19 deaths in the 48 hours from August 17 to 19 taking the country’s pandemic death toll to 16,640, health ministry data showed.

Sri Lanka is experiencing a slight increase in COVID-19 cases with the relaxation of public health restrictions relating to face masks and public gatherings.

Health authorities said the situation will be monitored constantly and have asked the general public to continue to follow basic hygiene measures in order to control the spread of the virus again in the community.

In August alone 2,924 new cases were recorded in Sri Lanka, with 84 deaths attributed to the disease.

So far in 2022, from January onward, health authorities have identified 81,157 patients to date.

Epidemiology unit data showed that 874 patients are currently receiving treatment, out of which 716 are receiving home based care.

The spread of the virus has increased with the use of public transport rising after an easing of a fuel crisis.

Sri Lanka is also facing difficulties in securing essential medicine supplies for the health sector due to a forex shortage.

Health officials said if the number of COVID-19 patients rise to a level the health sector cannot manage,  with the added issues of fuel and medical shortages, the health system might collapse.

“It is the responsibility of us all. There is no use trying to forcibly control people. We all have the responsibility to reduce or stop the spread of the virus before it gets out of control. We have been living with it for the past two years,” Deputy Director General of Health Services Dr Hemantha Herath said. (Colombo/Aug19/2022)

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