Global Investor sees potential in Lanka

Big time emerging markets investor Mark Mobius sees potential in Sri Lanka and says he would invest in real estate and financial services.

He told a forum in Colombo organized by Cinnamon Life, a real estate project promoted by John Keells Holdings in Colombo this morning, that there are opportunities in financial technology and tourism in Sri Lanka.

Mobius said he has “bought one of the apartments (at Cinnamon Life) and I can come and live sometime here. It is lot better to live here than Singapore because I have an apartment here.”

He said financial technology had potential provided regulatory barriers were removed.

He pointed to a venture called Safaricom, a Kenyan mobile telecom operator, which had transformed the country by providing money transfer facilities to millions of customers who had no banking facilities.

Safaricom is a privatized state enterprise which was initially sold to Vodafone and then listed on the stock exchange.

Mobius said Safaricom was able to help Kenyans ‘leapfrog’ into fintech because there were no regulations to stop the company.

In Sri Lanka however the central bank tightly regulates the financial sector and an attempt to set up a second clearing system recently was also blocked.

Mobius said Sri Lanka’s tourism sector also had enormous potential, with India close by and the country having good relations with China.

The two countries had the biggest populations of the world who were now starting to travel abroad and Sri Lanka had the potential to draw 10 million tourists he said.

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Mobius said Sri Lanka had potential to grow if the right policies were followed and economic freedom was given.

Mobius invested nearly a billion dollars in the Sri Lankan Bond market during the previous Rajapaksa administration, but pulled out after the Yahapalana government took office.

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