September, 24, 2014
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has granted approval for Sri Lankans living overseas to invest in the ‘Ceylon Dollar Bond Fund’ (CDBF) thereby extending the opportunity to Sri Lankan Diaspora communities and expatriate workers domiciled abroad. CDBF rated BB- by Fitch Ratings, targets attractive yields available on Sri Lanka Dollar Bonds while giving investors easy access to cash, whenever required.
Dulindra Fernando, Managing Director of Ceylon Asset Management Co. Ltd. (CAM), the managing company of CDBF, outlined the importance of securing retail investors into the CDBF over the next few years. “The Sri Lankan diaspora community has not been adequately penetrated to participate in our capital markets. The estimated 3.4 million Sri Lankans living overseas is a significant number, but still not engaged to benefit from the best five growth years of our economy that lie ahead. We have to win the confidence of certain sections of the diaspora community who are disassociated with our country.”
CAM targets Sri Lankans living or working abroad to invest, as India has successfully attracted non-resident Indians (NRIs) to invest in Indian capital markets. Due to the rupee volatility and political differences in the past, Sri Lankans living abroad chose to invest their capital in foreign banks, property and markets, which offer increasingly low returns.
The Ceylon Dollar Bond Fund offers a transparent vehicle for USD savings to invest in Sri Lankan bonds denominated in US dollars. While enhancing USD returns for Sri Lankan non-residents it provides foreign capital to the economy. The Initial Public Offering (IPO) period is up to October 31st and during this period the unit price will be held at US$1, while the minimum investment is US$ 1,000.
Following the SEC approval, the Embassy of Sri Lanka in the US organized a conference to Sri Lankans living in Washington DC, on September 5th, 2014. During the presentation, Michael Preiss, Director and Economic Advisor to CAM opined that "western capital markets with high liquidity offer low economic growth and highly valued markets in equity and property, while interest rates are often below 1%. Sri Lanka on the other hand, offers high economic growth, attractive returns and competitive valuations, but offers low liquidity. We expect Sri Lanka to reach a BBB investment grade country rating before 2020, and the most amount of money is made on bonds when a country moves from BB to BBB.
Preiss said “We are most grateful to the SEC for the visionary support provided in building the infrastructure for Sri Lanka's capital market development. Entering the dollar investment industry is a very exciting development for Sri Lanka's fund managers, as we reach into the larger capital pool across the world.
“We also thank the Sri Lankan Ambassador, His Excellency Mr. Prasad Kariyawasam, the Minister Commercial Mr. Bandula Somasiri and the staff of the Embassy in Washington DC for taking the initiative to help develop Sri Lanka’s capital markets. We received an overwhelming response from Sri Lankans living in Washington DC and Los Angeles who are proud of the island’s emergence in the global economy, in addition to the attractive returns available through the Ceylon Dollar Bond Fund,” he added.
Photo caption: Michael Preiss and Dulindra Fernando, addressing the conference at the Sri Lanka Embassy in Washington DC