Business Times

Call for Private Placement lock in periods after IPOs

By Duruthu Edirimuni Chandrasekera

A company’s Private Placements (PP) should be imposed a lock in period from the date the firm goes public, which will prevent its share price from falling after trading on the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE), according to a top entrepreneur and businessman.

“There should be a lock in period for PP from the date of listing a company on the CSE,” Ashok Pathirage, Chairman Softlogic Holdings PLC, which recently went public two months ago, told the Business Times.

Speaking about Softlogic’s share price dip after its Initial Public Offering (IPO) he said that many PP investors decided to cash in and profit immediately after the company started trading, causing its share price to drop. As at now, many other firms which had PP before IPO are also trading below their issue price.

"Companies need to make sure that PP investors are here for a decent period of time and not merely to make a 'fast buck," Mr. Pathirage noted, adding that otherwise the regulators should bring in rules preventing the PP investors from selling immediately after the share starts trading.

“This (share price drops witnessed during the past few months in firms which had PP before going public) is a good lesson for all,” he added. On Softlogic’s performance, he said that Softlogic is on target to achieve Rs. 1.7 billion profit. “Softlogic after listing has seen a lot of foreign buying interest and (when share prices are down) it’s a great time to buy,” he added. Softlogic concluded a Rs 1 billion private placement to sell 21% in late 2009 ahead of the 137.9 million shares IPO which will be sold at Rs 29 per share. The Rs 4.031 billion which was erased, he said was used to retire debt.

His latest acquisition, Asian Alliance Insurance Company (AAIC), he said will not be rebranded it. “About their healthcare sector, Mr. Pathirage added that the Asiri brand wants to go international. “We are scouting Bangladesh for opportunities," he added. He said more leisure acquisitions are being eyed by Softlogic, as their target is 1,500 rooms within the next five years.

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