Monday, November 26, 2012

Rs. 3bn private placement in January

* Proposed Cargills Agriculture and Commercial Bank

* Initial operations will be through Food City branches
* Funding for agriculture, fisheries dairy, SMEs
* IT systems being designed

By Ravi Ladduwahetty

Cargills PLC and CT Holdings will launch a Rs. 3 billion private placement in January 2013 for the launch of the much awaited Cargills Agriculture and Commercial Bank.

"We will be announcing the private placement in January which will be open to both local and overseas investors and the investment amount will be Rs. 3 billion, which is the minimum amount required by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, " Cargills Agriculture and Commercial Bank CEO Harris Premaratne told The Island Financial Review yesterday.

He said that it will be a private placement at the start and the Initial Public Offering will come at a much later stage depending on the progress of the venture.

The preliminary functions of the proposed bank are being worked out and the core area is the Information Technology right now prior to the private placement in January and the funding for that has been made available by both CT Holdings and Cargills and other parties, though Premaratne was extremely tightlipped "who the other parties" were!

Premaratne, himself a former Sampath Bank Managing Director/ CEO said that the new bank will be initially operating through the Cargills Food City outlets where there will be facilities for commercial lending for agriculture and agri-based industries such as dairy farming, micro financing, small and medium enterprises development and even fisheries.

"Initially, we would launch around five branches and the target of the bank would be to launch branches in Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Jaffna, Ampara (Digamadulla) Galle and Matara Districts subject to the approval of the Central Bank," he said, adding that the bank will have a presence wherever agriculture would be.

Agribusiness, food and beverage and acquisitions have been the name of the game for Cargills PLC and the CT Holdings Group which made a major foray into agribusiness and food and beverage in 2011 when Cargills acquired controlling interest in Kotmale Holdings PLC, Diana Biscuits Manufactures (Private) Limited and entering into an agreement to acquire McCallum Breweries (Ceylon) Limited, McCallum Brewing Company (Private) Limited and Three Coins Company (Private) Limited. In 2002, Cargills acquired the Walls Ice Cream plant and CPC/ Bestfoods production facility of jams, cordials and sauces.

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