The John Keells Group will be shedding a minor portion of shares in its life insurance arm Union Assurance PLC to move into the secondary Diri Savi Board next year, to comply with the continuous public free float rules of the Colombo Stock Exchange, a top official said. “We will be looking at selling down to 90 percent at the right time as a first step. We want to remain listed, so we will opt to move to the Diri Savi Board next year,” John Keells Holdings Deputy Chairman, and Union Assurance Chairman Ajit Gunawardene told Mirror Business.
The rules state that a company in the Main Board must have a minimum 20 percent public float, and 10 percent if in the Diri Savi Board, before December 31, 2016, to promote transparency and liquidity in the market. The country’s largest conglomerate John Keells Holdings PLC owns 86.51 percent of the shares, and John Keells’ travel subsidiary Whittall Boustead Limited owns a further 7.4 percent of the shares.
There are currently 58.93 million shares in Union Assurance, which decreased from 85.71 million shares due to a share repurchase carried out in September 2015 at Rs.167.80 per share due to the company having excess funds. The shares were trading at Rs.165 at close on Friday.
Following the repurchase, John Keells Holding’s ownership decreased from a previous 88.25 percent, as some minority shareholders had not subscribed to the repurchase.
Union Assurance segregated its life and general insurance businesses in 2014, according to the regulations of the Sri Lanka Insurance Board.
The general insurance business, under Union Assurance General Limited, was sold to Fairfax Asia Limited in January 2015.
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