Malaysian-born investor buys control of Ramboda Falls for Rs. 279 m

Friday, 3 June 2022 00:27 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • High net worth investor Yeoh Kim Leng based in Singapore makes first major foreign acquisition despite on-going economic crisis
  • Buy-side broker Almas Group Assetline says move reflects investor’s confidence and long-term view on growth
  • New owner hopes to promote Sri Lanka among East Asian tourists to 45-room scenic hotel near Ramboda falls and 18-room resort in Polonnaruwa
  • Founder shareholders L.S. Sigera and I.J.A. Karunarathna exit in deal at Rs. 26.80 per share; a hefty premium of 76.3% with sell-side advisory by Atarah Capital Partners
  • Post-deal Ramboda Falls share price gain by 54% or Rs. 8.20 to close at Rs. 23.40

Yeoh Kim Leng

A high-net-worth Malaysian investor yesterday picked up a controlling 52% stake in Ramboda Falls PLC for Rs. 279 million giving a boost for forex-strapped Sri Lanka via the Colombo stock market.

The investor Yeoh Kim Leng bought 10.40 million shares at Rs. 26.80 each via a crossing. Sellers were founder shareholders L.S. Sigera and I.J.A. Karunarathna in equal quantities of 5.2 million shares (26%) each.

Post-deal Ramboda Falls share price gained by 54% or Rs. 8.20 to close at Rs. 23.40. Last week the share figured among top losers, down by 16.5% to Rs. 13.70. The foreign acquisition was carried out at a premium of 76.3% compared to yesterday’s closing price. The buying side was by Almas Group’s new subsidiary Assetline Securities in its major deal under new ownership and the selling side advisory was by investment banking firm Atarah Capital Partners.

Via the purchase the foreign investor has triggered the Mandatory Takeover and Mergers Code and Assetline said it indicates the investor’s confidence and long-term view on growth, despite Sri Lanka’s current macro challenges.

This is the first takeover of a listed company amidst the ongoing situation and is expected to boost the market sentiments and to showcase the attractiveness of valuations for long-term investors.

Yeoh is a Malaysian citizen and a permanent resident of Singapore. He is the Executive Chairman and majority shareholder of several companies including ChlorTech Sdn Berhad in Malaysia, Caleb Thai Company Ltd., in Thailand and Linghai Hetai Equipment and Engineering in China.

Almas Group said through its extensive network of foreign clients has identified and promoted the controlling parcels available to foreign investors and has successfully concluded the transaction.

The foreign investor’s interest in the hotel sector indicates Sri Lanka’s unique offering to tourists, particularly for niche markets and to attract highly affluent visitors. The current market conditions are offering attractive valuations in many sectors including in the leisure sector where many counters are trading at prices much lower than their potential.

Within a week of reactivating Assetline Securities’ license by the Almas Group, the company was able to demonstrate its capacity to engage high net worth clients by facilitating the transaction.

Almas Group is in the process of making arrangements to ceremonially launch its operation shortly, in a manner appealing to diverse investors both foreign and local.

With a background in Chemical Engineering, Yeoh has worked with multinational companies across the globe including stints in USA, Europe, Australia, China, Thailand and Indonesia and works as a marketing consultant post-retirement as a specialist in water treatment and pollution control of water and air samples. Yeoh has also built-up expertise and an extensive real estate portfolio in Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, China and Sri Lanka.

Multilingual in many Asian languages, Yeoh hopes to promote Sri Lanka to attract East Asian tourists to experience the beautiful country, rich hospitality and diverse culture.

His established foreign network will lend itself to revitalising the prospects of Ramboda’s leisure properties with new investments and marketing campaigns planned. The positioning of the properties as a premier destination for overseas visitors, in line with the future expected growth of the Sri Lankan tourism segment and return of the global travel market post-pandemic, points to a brighter future for Ramboda Falls PLC.

Ramboda Falls Hotel so named due to its proximity to the breath-taking Ramboda Falls waterfall in Nuwara Eliya and was founded 30 years ago.

The company operates two hotel properties located in Nuwara Eliya and Polonnaruwa. Nuwara Eliya property has been an iconic transit hotel with high traction towards the hotel restaurant with walk-in customers. There are 45 rooms in all to choose from with each one providing up close views of either waterfalls, majestic misty mountains or the thick and lush tea estates located in a land area of 3.8242 hectares. Polonnaruwa property, with a land premise of 320 perches, consists of 18 rooms.

Guests at Ramboda Falls Hotel have the unique opportunity to view four waterfalls from hotel premises; Devthuru Oya, Ramboda falls, Punawa falls and Wedamulla falls.