The newly-appointed Chairman of the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) Krishan Balendra yesterday described his new task as a challenging and an exciting one amidst a critical juncture of the capital market in post-war rebounding Sri Lanka.
“I am excited about the challenges that come with the role of being Chairman of the CSE when the capital market has seen exponential growth with the end of the war. But I am confident and optimistic about making the Colombo bourse more dynamic and bringing it on par with international standards,” said Krishan, who at the age of 38 is the youngest to occupy the post of CSE Chairman.
He was unanimously appointed on Tuesday evening by the newly-elected Board of the CSE following the Annual General Meeting. Representing John Keells Stock Brokers on the CSE Board since March 2008, Krishan is also the senior most member on it. President and member of the Group Executive Committee of JKH, Krishan is responsible for JKH Group’s retail sector, corporate finance and strategy function as well as stock broking operations.
Krishan said that the end of the conflict and the resultant rebound in the economy had given a new fillip to the capital market.
Increased level of activity and higher number of listings with more in the pipeline along with renewed foreign interest have made it critical and challenging times for the capital market.
“The previous Chairman (Nihal Fonseka) had implemented several initiatives and we will take those forward as well in consultation with and support from all stakeholders to bring the CSE on par with international standards by swiftly introducing Central Counterparty (CCP) as well as Delivery Versus Payment (DVP) mechanisms,” said Krishan, adding that increasing listings would be another priority.
“There are several new initiatives which need to be implemented. The new Board will give direction to the CSE management team led by the CEO in this regard,” he added.
With gains of 125% in 2009 and 96% in 2010 along with near 7% year to date, the Colombo bourse has been regarded as the world’s most consistent best performing market. CSE at present has 255 listed companies.
The new Chairman as well as the Board begins a fresh three-year term amidst high volatility in the market of late with majority of retailers chasing after penny and junk stocks. Lack of high liquidity, limited investment options within the bourse as well as corporate governance issues are some of the other major challenges the new team at CSE faces, apart from the elusive demutualisation exercise.
Some claimed that since the introduction of automated trading in early 2000, the CSE hadn’t continued with its innovation and dynamism, whereas other bourses in the region which were lagging behind had progressed much rapidly. However, those supportive of the CSE maintained that it remained robust, hence was able to facilitate and be the platform for an unprecedented rebound in stock market activity post-war.
Following Tuesday’s AGM, the new CSE Board comprises Krishan Balendra (Chairman), Nihal Fonseka, M.R. Prelis, Dr. Saman Kelegama and Vajira Kulatilaka (all elected members) and Ashroff Omar, Dhakshitha T. W. Thalgodapitiya, Prof. Laksiri Fernando and Hiran M.C. de Alwis, who are Government appointed members.
Fonseka served for five years as Chairman of CSE with a first term of three years beginning 2006 followed by two more on request from the Board. The years 2009 and 2010 were the best years of CSE in its history.
In addition to being President and member of the Group Executive Committee of JKH, Krishan is also a Director of Union Assurance and Nations Trust Bank. He started his career in investment banking at UBS Warburg Hong Kong and was at Aitken Spence and Co Plc. in corporate finance prior to joining JKH. He holds an LLB (University of London) and an MBA (INSEAD).