First exercise in 12 years will cover popular cities of Sydney today, Melbourne on Thursday and Auckland on Saturday
National Policies and Economic Affairs State Minister Niroshan Perera leads Lankan public and private sector delegation
By Nisthar Cassim in Sydney
In a bid to trigger off a fresh round of investor interest, the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) today will kick off a series of road shows in Australia and New Zealand.
It is the first concerted capital market-led investment promotion on Sri Lanka in Australia since the end of the conflict in 2009.
Previously, the CSE conducted a road show in Australia in 2005 and post-war investors in New York, London, Singapore and Mumbai have been directly tapped by the CSE.
The fresh initiative will begin with an evening Sri Lanka Invest Forum today in Sydney at the city’s Shangri-La Hotel. This will be followed by two similar events in the morning and evening in Melbourne on Thursday, at the International Chamber House Melbourne and at the Novotel Melbourne Glen Waverley, and another at the Fickling Convention Centre, Auckland, New Zealand on Saturday.
The multiple events will highlight capital market and Foreign Direct Investment opportunities in Sri Lanka to Australian and New Zealand investors and for those of Sri Lankan origin residing in both countries. The Sydney event has generated over 150 registrations while the CSE expects all four events to draw over 500 institutional investors, high-net-worth individuals and residents of Sri Lankan origin.
The initiative is being held in association with several organisations including the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Sri Lanka High Commission in Canberra, Australia, the Consul General in Sydney Lal Wickrematunge, the Consul General in Melbourne Prasanna Gamage, the Sri Lanka and Australia Chamber of Commerce and the Sri Lankan-New Zealand Business Council.
Existing foreign investors such as Shangri-La, One Galle Face Colombo, CHEC Port City Colombo Ltd., and Indocean Developers Ltd/Altair are supporting the initiative while several stockbrokers and Sri Lankan companies are attending the events as well.
The Chief Guest at these events will be Niroshan Perera, the State Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs, a ministry headed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Given the attractive valuations of the host of listed companies and future prospects of Sri Lanka, the fresh effort to woo investor interest from Australia and New Zealand has been welcomed by capital markets. The exercise also comes hot on the heels of successful State visits to Australia and New Zealand by the Lankan Premier and the celebration of 70 years of diplomatic ties between Sri Lanka and Australia.
Foreign net inflow at the CSE has improved to Rs. 2.57 billion with Friday marking the 13th straight session of net-buying. This 2017 year-to-date figure has overtaken the 2016 full year net inflow of Rs. 2.3 billion. The CSE suffered a Rs. 5.3 billion outflow in 2015. With improved prospects, most analysts expect the CSE to remain positive this year.
All events will feature a keynote address by State Minister Perera while CSE Chairman Vajira Kulatilaka and SEC Director General Vajira Wijegunewardane will make presentations on the opportunities in the Sri Lankan capital market and the reformist agenda for the capital market, respectively.
A macroeconomic overview of the country will be provided by Fitch Ratings Lanka MD and CEO Maninda Wickramasinghe and will be followed by an insight into the economic policy direction of the country from Central Bank Director of Economic Research Dr. Yuthika Indraratne. The main presentations will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by CSE CEO Rajeeva Bandaranaike and a question and answer session with the audience.
The events will also feature several leading real estate developments in Sri Lanka who are contributing in the capacity of event sponsors, including the Colombo Port City (Platinum Sponsor), One Galle Face by Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts (Platinum Sponsor) and the luxury apartment development by Altair (Corporate Sponsor).
In a statement ahead of the events, SEC Chairman Thilak Karunaratne said: “Our immediate priority is to fulfil SEC’s mandate by initiating regulatory reforms and improving market infrastructure to ensure a level playing field in which issuers can raise funds and investors can participate with confidence. I am confident that ‘Invest Sri Lanka’ will provide investors based in both Australia and New Zealand with an excellent chance to understand potential investment opportunities in Sri Lanka. This endeavour will facilitate the Government’s aspiration to attract more investments from the diaspora to drive economic development.”
CSE Chief Kulatilaka stated that a strong community of individuals with Sri Lankan roots were eager to look at new Sri Lankan investment opportunities and a growing inflow of foreign investment originating from Australia that highlight ANZ as a market with notable potential.
He also reiterated that the bilateral activity surrounding the celebration of 70 years of diplomatic ties between Sri Lanka and Australia presented the CSE with a unique opportunity to promote the capital market at a time when Sri Lanka had the attention of the region.
“We have taken steps to enter into partnerships with local consulates, associations and business councils considering the local context of each location and the diverse nature of our target audience,” he added.
Australian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka Bryce Hutchesson commended the initiative as a valuable means of fostering closer economic ties between the two countries. “Further economic reform in Sri Lanka should see more Australian businesses and investors looking to enter the local market. There is clear scope to expand the bilateral trade and investment relationship and this Invest Sri Lanka Forum initiative should contribute positively towards that goal,” he added.