The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, is making a $175 million investment in John Keells Holding (JKH) to finance the expansion of its supermarket chain in Sri Lanka and refurbishment of hotel properties in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, according to an announcement.
IFC said that the $175 million long term investment is its largest in Sri Lanka in 50 years of work in the country and will be the first supporting investments in the Maldives in a decade.
The investment aims to support JKH’s plans of setting up 100 new supermarkets in Sri Lanka over the next three to five years. The investment will also help the firm to expand its hotel business in Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
The funding is intended to provide JKH the flexibility and agility to fund its investments in an optimal manner while providing additional support to the group’s liquidity position.
Started in the early 1870s as a produce and exchange broking business, JKH is the largest listed conglomerate on the Colombo Stock Exchange, with business interests primarily in transportation, consumer foods, retail, leisure, property and financial services.
“I believe partnering with an internationally reputed financial institution such as IFC, particularly at this juncture of time, is a vote of confidence for JKH and the country, at large,” said Krishan Balendra, Chairman and CEO of JKH.
“Sri Lanka’s growth prospects in the medium to long-term remain positive and we are confident that, as always, we have the strength and resolve to keep moving forward with our investment pipeline despite the current period of unprecedented challenges where the outlook is now more positive, he added.
“It [the investment] will also send a strong and positive message to the investor community that capital investments in Sri Lanka and the Maldives are viable at this challenging time and are important to help the economies and the community to build resilience for the future,” Amena Arif, IFC Country Manager for Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
Since 1956, IFC has invested over $1.3 billion in Sri Lanka. As of June 2019, IFC’s committed portfolio is $352 million, according to the international lender’s website.