SKM Lanka Holdings (Private) Limited, a subsidiary of Pakistan’s ArifHabib Group, was re-branded as Serendib Stockbrokers (Pvt) Ltd recently.The re-branding of Serendib, which followed the direct takeover of the management of the company by the ArifHabib Group in April last year, is part of a new marketing drive targeting increased foreign investment, particularly from the Group’s existing international clients.
“Serendib is a name that is synonymous with Sri Lanka and we feel this rebranding is part of our efforts to better position ourselves in the international market. We will be investing very heavily in our research department, which will also be backed by the research team in Pakistan, and we will utilize this information to invest in a prudent and responsible manner.”
“Unfortunately in the recent past, we have seen stocks trading well over their fundamental values and that means that investors are taking on a price risk, instead of a business risk based on the fundamental value of a company. Whilst there will always be speculators in any market, we will always look to the interests of our clients and will tailor our advice to match the level of our clients to speculate based on their risk threshold.” Director and Chief Executive Officer, Serendib Stockbrokers, Naushervan Beg said.
Beg further stated that Serendib would be receiving regular capital infusions from ArifHabib Group every 3-4 months depending on the company’s requirements, until such time that the Colombo Stock Exchange enters its next upswing.“Today we are in a position where we have de-leveraged to the point that we have a clean balance sheet and we will be receiving regular capital infusions so our balance sheet is getting healthier day by day. We are also in discussions with foreign client, although this will take a while due to the level of sophistication of these investors.” Beg noted. ArifHabib Group is currently the majority shareholder in Serendib with an approximately 90%stake in the company however, the group will take on full ownership of Serendib towards the end of this year.Also present at the re-branding event was founder of the ArifHabib Group and six-time Chairman/President of the Karachi Stock Exchange, ArifHabib.
Speaking at the event, Habib expressed confidence the growthpotential of Sri Lanka’s economy, pointing to similarities between Sri Lanka’s current position and that of Pakistan’s economy and the development of the Karachi Stock Exchange a decade ago.
“We are taking a long-term view to investments in Sri Lanka and by following those principles, we expect great success in this country. Pakistanis have very positive sentiments about Sri Lanka and it’s interesting to note that Sri Lanka’s market capitalization is at a point where Pakistan’s was 15-20 years ago.”
“Pakistan too was at the point where we were receiving strong remittances and seeking to grow our exports, and develop our stock exchange, areas which we see the Sri Lankan government taking strong initiatives today,” Habib observed.
The Group is highly diversified in Pakistan, operating across multiple sectors including Fertilizers, Financial Services, Construction Materials, Industrial Metals, Dairy Farming and Energy. The Group maintains an asset base in excess of US$ 617 million.
Habib went on to state that his Group would also be looking to enter other fields in Sri Lanka, including those of real-estate development, fertilizers and commodity futures.
The group has already entered into discussions with the Sri Lanka Board of Investment for setting up of a Cement Grinding plant in Hambantota.