Business Times

SLIC aims to become a diversified conglomerate

By Duruthu Edirimuni Chandrasekera

Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation (SLIC) aims to become a diversified conglomerate in the medium term, according to officials. “We want to become the largest holding company in the country,” an official told the Business Times.

He said that acquiring strategic holdings is on the cards in relatively unrelated businesses.
Acquiring 12.7% in Blue Diamond Jewellery Worldwide Ltd. (Blue Diamond) last week (which raised many eyebrows) was one such investment, according to him.

Last year SLIC, which said that it is looking hard at its Distilleries Corporation (DCSL) investment sold most of it in the market (during the same year) and paid DCSL Chairman Harry Jayawardena some Rs 6.7 billion as per the Supreme Court order in 2009, when it was declared that privatization deal that took place in 2003 to sell the SLIC to DCSL was illegal, but the government decided otherwise after seeing the profits gained through DCSL’s stock market transactions last year and had wanted SLIC to pocket out the money, he added.

“SLIC funded the Shell Gas (now Litro Gas) month and is planning on divesting parts of what’s left in DCSL holdings early next year in order to fund some other such projects,” the official said. The government that owned 49% of Shell Gas acquired the rest 51% shares from Shell Gas Lanka Limited for US$ 63 million through SLIC. Recently SLIC, which was reverted to the government two years ago, shed 10% in Asiri Surgical Hospital to the Softlogic Group in a negotiated deal for Rs 502 million.

“What we own in DCSL is an investment like many others in our portfolio such as DFCC, Asiri, etc. Lanka Hospitals Corporation Ltd (LHCL). It is a very strategic investment, but due to the government’s Mathata Thitha programme, this is time bound,” he said, hinting that DCSL may be disposed of in time to come.

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