Hayleys twin towers awaits special concessions granted to other mega projects

Asset rich conglomerate looks to shed about 30% of Singer


Hayleys PLC Chairman-Chief Executive, Mohan Pandithage addressing a special media forum hosted to commemorate 140 years of operations in Sri Lanka

The Hayleys conglomerate sitting on a large extent of prime real estate close to the Eye Hospital Junction/Lipton Circus has completed plans for a mega property development project of two office towers, each 50-storeys high, but is awaiting the grant of concessions allowed to similar projects to begin work.

"The site has been tested, the plans drawn and we’re ready to start," Mr. Sarath Ganegoda, who heads the project told a media conference held on Friday to mark Hayleys’ 140th anniversary.

Saying that the project "must make commercial sense" he said it needed the same concessions granted to other similar projects to be viable.

In the course of the briefing, Ganegoda admitted that Hayleys were over-leveraged following the investment of billions of rupees in acquiring the Singer group last year. Hayleys which looked at taking a controlling 50% plus going up to 60% of Singer, had after the mandatory offer ended up with over 90%.

Well informed sources said that the company was looking to selling off about 30% of its Singer holding to ease pressure on its balance sheet but there was no word on whether any progress has been made in this regard.

Hayleys paid Rs. 47 a share for acquiring the controlling stake in Singer from its foreign owners in one of the biggest recent deals on the CSE and had to follow up with a mandatory offer of Rs. 47 for the minority shares. The Singer share which has been trading below the mandatory offer price for several months closed on Friday at Rs. 35.

Established in Galle in 1878 by Chas. P. Hayley, a British entrepreneur, Hayleys has grown over the years to be one of the country’s strongest and best known businesses with a reputation for adding value to local raw material.

Haycarb, for example was a pioneer converter of coconut shell charcoal to activated carbon while Dipped Products became a world reputed manufacturer of hand protection gear from latex and other material. The group is also into brush making and other value addition in the coconut fibre segment in which it had been long present.

The group has been the first listed corporate in the country to top USD one billion in revenue - a target it had planned to achieve in 2020 - but reached this year due to the revenue flow from the Singer acquisition.

Hayleys Chairman/CEO Mohan Pandithage told Friday’s news conference that they aspired to hit the top spot in whatever it did. Their business interests spanned 16 sectors with the group standing out as one of Sri Lanka’s most prominent success stories.

"Throughout history, a theme that constantly recurs across all of our businesses is one of localized value addition, to capture increasingly globalised markets. Our organization is geared towards seeking out new methods to sustainably harness this nation’s potential and transform it to lasting value," he said.

Asked what his comment was on the current negative perception among many business leaders about the present country situation, Pandithage responded by saying "we know how to play on a tricky wicket."


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