COLOMBO Dec 19 Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil
Wickremesinghe has ordered a reversal and a probe into the 1.3
billion rupees ($8.7 million) Seylan Bank foreign deal
as it failed to follow proper procedure, the country's finance
minister said on Monday.
On Friday, 13 million shares or 7 percent stake in Seylan
Bank owned by state-run Bank of Ceylon were sold to a
foreign fund at 100 rupees each, a 17.6 percent premium to the
stock's closing price that day, through JB Securities.
"It has not taken approval from the Bank of Ceylon board of
directors. So the order is not only to cancel the transaction,
but also to take action against those who (are) involved in it,"
Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake told Reuters.
The order comes at a time when President Maithripala
Sirisena's coalition is facing criticism from opposition led by
former President Mahinda Rajapaksa that his successor's
administration has been privatising or selling state assets to
foreigners while it was not taking strong action against
Officials from the Colombo Stock Exchange were not
immediately available for comment.
Murtaza Jafferjee, CEO at JB Securities, the stockbroker of
the deal, said they were waiting for more clarification on the
Shares in Seylan Bank were up 5.5 percent at 89.70 rupees at
0818 GMT, while the broader stock index was down 0.23
Stockbrokers said the market was confused after the prime
"Till a clear picture comes, market will be concerned and
confused. The deal was positive at a time when there was no
market-moving news," said Hussain Gani, deputy CEO at Softlogic
The bourse has reversed one transaction before this in the
last five years due to a suspected corrupt deal by a state-owned
($1 = 149.3000 Sri Lankan rupees)
(Reporting by Shihar Aneez and Ranga Sirilal; Editing by