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29 March, 2011 09:37 AM Source: Financial Times - Sri Lanka

Director and single largest individual shareholder of Lanka Ashok Leyland Plc’s Saliya Perera on Sunday night passed away in a private hospital after being admitted for a heart ailment.
Daily FT learns that Perera, a self-made entrepreneur and investor, got a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital, and all efforts to resuscitate him failed.


A father of two children who are overseas, Perera has been low profile though highly connected. Described as a good friend for everyone, Perera after leaving a high flying career at AirLanka, built his original wealth by supplying sand to build the World Trade Centre in Fort, followed by as a transport contractor for Holcim. Thereafter he focused fully as an investor whilst he was also an advisor to Jeevan Kumaratunga when the latter was the Minister of Sports.

Perera, recently came into limelight when Seylan Bank on 15 February force sold a 12% stake in Lanka Ashok held by him to recover dues. Perera has been a longstanding shareholder in Lanka Ashok originally with 27.85% stake amounting to one million shares. He was appointed to the Board last year.

The 12% stake sale by Seylan Bank, at Rs. 1000 per share, lower by Rs. 650 or 21% from its last closing price on 21 January had demoralised Perera, who however had previously undergone a bypass surgery. At the time of his death the balance stake of 15.85% stake was still under his name.

Illiquid Lanka Ashok’s all time high price was Rs. 4,300 achieved on 21 October whilst it closed 2010 at Rs. 4,050. This was despite its net asset per share being only Rs. 329. In 2009/10 financial year up to the first nine months, the highest was Rs. 1,500 and the lowest and closing price was Rs. 1,345.

Seylan’s exact exposure to Perera by granting credit/margin trading facility couldn’t be confirmed but some speculated it could have been around Rs. 400 million. Whilst the market faulted the Bank for selling the stake at such lower price analysts said when the block was put up for sale there weren’t any immediate buyers.

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