The Invest Sri Lanka capital market road show organised by the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) in association with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka (SEC) concluded on a positive note with institutional investors based in Edinburgh, particularly those with an investment interest in frontier and emerging markets, gathering to hear the investment case for Sri Lankan equities.
This is the first occasion the CSE and SEC have directly engaged investors in Scotland. Scottish institutional investors have over the years held stakes in a number of Sri Lankan listed entities and are keen observers of developments in Sri Lanka and other peer frontier/emerging markets.
The fund managers and analysts present at the main forum and at listed company meetings were keen to understand the macro-economic developments in Sri Lanka, especially in terms of present policies paving the way for sustainable economic growth. Investors were also interested in Sri Lanka’s strategy and stand in South Asia’s geopolitics.
The special connection between Scotland and Sri Lanka was recognized and acknowledged by the participants throughout the event, with Asia-Scotland Institute Chairman Roddy Gow stating that links between what was Ceylon and Scotland have been many and varied with the most significant being the role of the Scots in introducinag tea through James Taylor and thereby creating a thriving industry with global market implications.
Similar to the Invest Sri Lanka Forum in London, a Sri Lankan delegation representing the Government of Sri Lanka, SEC, CSE, Sri Lankan listed companies and stockbroker representatives were at the event to collectively make a case for the Sri Lankan capital market.
Finance State Minister Eran Wickramaratne made the keynote address at the event and was also joined by SEC Chairman Ranel T. Wijesinha, CSE CEO Rajeeva Bandaranaike, SEC Director General Vajira Wijegunawardane, LYNEAR Wealth Management Managing Director Dr. Naveen Gunawardane and renowned Scottish fund manager Angus Tulloch, who also spoke at the event.
Tulloch, who is a well-respected investment professional in the UK with an impressive track record in investing in frontier and emerging markets, lauded Sri Lanka’s commitment to implement progressive reforms that would bring the country long-term benefits. He stated that that his former firm had always had some exposure to the Sri Lankan market for a number of reasons - its strategic location, its educated population, its strong democratic traditions and the existence of some very well governed outward-looking companies.
Commenting further, he stated that in his observation of Sri Lanka over the years, he has noticed that Sri Lanka has on a few occasions been close to the brink but has never been over it and the country has always been resilient and found its way towards stability, which makes Sri Lanka stand out compared to fellow markets.
He went on to note that Sri Lanka is home to a number of companies that are quite strong in terms of performance and governance structures and that awareness creation on the market and Sri Lankan companies among institutional investors around the world is of utmost importance – stating that investors might possibly miss out on potential benefits of investing in Sri Lankan equities due to the lack of awareness.
Tulloch also made a number of recommendations with regards to market regulation and operations that would pave the way for greater engagement by foreign investors.
Sharing his thoughts on the present investment context, Tulloch stated that the current valuations in the market offer a sound opportunity for foreign investors to invest in Sri Lankan equities and urged his colleagues to closely monitor the market going forward.
John Keells Holdings PLC, Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC, Dialog Axiata PLC, MelstaCorp PLC, People’s Leasing & Finance PLC, Aitken Spence PLC, Tokyo Cement (Lanka) PLC and Sunshine Holdings PLC met with investors for discussions in Edinburgh as part of the event.
The Invest Sri Lanka Forums in the UK were held in association with the Sri Lankan High Commission in the UK and the UK and Sri Lankan Offices of the International Chamber of Commerce. The Oxford Business Group supported the events in the capacity of the Official Publication Partner.
The forums have also helped spark a conversation on Sri Lankan equities in the international media, with the emerging/frontier markets desks of the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and Reuters speaking to officials in a round of interviews.