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FINANCIAL CHRONICLE™ » DAILY CHRONICLE™ » Sri Lanka investment bank eyes infrastructure

Sri Lanka investment bank eyes infrastructure

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Malika1990

Malika1990
Senior Vice President - Equity Analytics
Senior Vice President - Equity Analytics
June 22, 2012 (LBO) – Sri Lanka's banks have to be ready to finance infrastructure when the state is expected to woo private capital into toll roads and ports in the next few years, an investment banker said.

Sri Lanka is building ports, an airport in the island’s south, roads and power projects across the country, after a decades-long conflict with Tamil Tiger separatists ended in May 2009.
Most of the projects are funded with bi-lateral loans. Chinese export-import finance is playing a prominent role.

A Chinese state bank, Development Bank of China, is also financing Sri Lanka's largest build operate transfer project, a 600 million US dollar container terminal in Colombo port by a state-run Chinese firm.

Infrastructure

Officials of NDB Capital Holdings Plc, a new full-service investment banking operation, are optimistic the private sector will get more chances to develop infrastructure projects in the future.

"It can be power, it can even be toll roads, the next round of ports will come to the private sector," VajiraKulatilaka, NDB Capital Holdings' chief executive told reporters on Thursday.

"We think that a lot of infrastructure opportunities will come to the capital markets of this country."

Treasury secretary P B Jayasundera has already said that he would like to see a toll road being built to Kandy in the centre which will be the first stage of an expressway to former war zones in Jaffna in the North and Sri Lanka's East.

Several foreign firms have made proposals.
The government is already tapping commercial banks for infrastructure finance through syndicated loans, backing them up with Treasury guarantees.

The NDB group, which offers long term development finance and commercial banking has consolidated its investment banking, fund management and stock brokering operations under a separate its 99 percent owned unit.

Earlier known as Capital Development and Investment Company, which had its origin as a state backed venture capital firm, it will has now been renamed NDB Capital Holdings. It also owns a stake in the Sri Lanka unit of Aviva Insurance.

Outward Look

The group also has a presence in Bangladesh through an investment banking presence via NDB Capital Limited. Kulatilaka said the Bangladeshi unit will also support Sri Lankan businesses who want to enter that country.

NDB also has a tie up with Singapore's DBS group. Kulatilaka said the new group is now poised to offer investment banking services on a broader scale, which includes helping clients to raise money from overseas markets.

NDB Capital Holdings is also sitting on a cash pile which officials say could be used for stock under-writing and fund based activities. While the tie-up with DBS beefed up the group’s technical skills, they were unable to capitalise on the training due to weak demand in capital markets at home and overseas.

Kulathilaka said large planned initial public offers which needed foreign investments were put on hold as conditions abroad were also dim.

"We had a lot of IPOs to be done in our pipeline, we had to temporarily stop it until the world is ready to accept such large IPOs," said Kulatilaka, who had done some of Sri Lanka's largest IPOs including that of Dialog Axiata, the islands top mobile firm.

Sri Lanka's stocks have fallen 17 percent so far this year, as a credit bubble crashed in to the balance of payments sending a currency peg diving from 110 to 132 so far this year. Monetary policy has improved since then.

But with blood in the streets, savvy foreign investors who sold out during a low interest rates driven stock bubble in 2010 and 2011 have picked up 22 billion rupees of listed stocks so far this year.
http://www.lbo.lk/fullstory.php?nid=298861708

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