LOLC seeks Rs. 4 b funding for Lanka’s biggest resort complex

Wednesday, 11 January 2012 01:30 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • 350-room resort to open by mid-2013

By Anusha Ondaatjie

Bloomberg: Lanka Orix Leasing Co., backed by Japan’s Orix Corp., is seeking Rs. 4 billion ($ 35 million) to refurbish a coastal resort complex that will become Sri Lanka’s biggest, said Chief Executive Officer Kapila Jayawardena.

The 350-room resort that comprises three of Lanka Orix’s hotels on the island’s southern coast will open by mid-2013, said Jayawardena.

The Colombo-based company is seeking “long-term project” funding from both domestic and foreign banks, and is in the process of finalising a 10-year agreement with “one of the largest hotel operators in the world” to run the complex, he said, declining to elaborate.

Sri Lanka’s $ 50 billion economy has rebounded, as peace prompts companies including Shangri-La Asia Ltd. and Sheraton Group to build resorts. Arrivals in the South Asian island, one of Conde Nast Traveller’s top five destinations to watch in 2012, rose 31 per cent to a record 855,975 last year. Thailand estimates tourist arrivals to have reached as many as 19 million in 2011.

 “We see huge potential in leisure, similar to Thailand,” Jayawardena said in an interview yesterday. “There is now a different economic landscape in Sri Lanka after peace.”

The end of the island’s 26-year civil war in May 2009 has also boosted infrastructure development, consumer demand and agriculture businesses, leading to an economic growth of 8.3 per cent estimated for 2011 and eight per cent forecast for 2012, according to the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.

The LOLC group, as the company is locally known, is poised to report record profit in the year ending March 2012, as its core financial services units grow with the economy’s resurgence, Jayawardena said. LOLC, whose businesses include leasing, insurance, micro-credit, agriculture, trading and construction, posted an unprecedented net income of Rs. 7.02 billion in the previous financial year.

Orix, a Japanese financial services provider based in Tokyo, is the Sri Lankan firm’s single-largest investor with a 30 per cent stake, according to Jayawardena.

Jayawardena said the island’s north and east, which were once the main battle grounds in the war, would contribute to 20 per cent of business volumes in the next 24 months, up from four per cent before peace. LOLC also plans to increase its islandwide network of offices to 200 from 160 in the next 18 months, he added.

“At the moment we feel we have a very comprehensive set of investments in line with economic growth,” he said.

The shares are down 6.3 per cent so far this year, compared with a 3.3 per cent drop in the benchmark Colombo All-Share Index.

Hong Kong-based Shangri-La plans to invest $ 500 million to build a hotel in the island’s capital and $ 130 million in a second resort in Sri Lanka, Chief Financial Officer Madhu Rao said on 4 July. The Sheraton Group will invest $ 300 million in a leisure project in Sri Lanka, the nation’s Information Department said on 1 December.