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Thursday, June 8, 2023

Apollo India, ESR and JLL to invest in Sri Lanka – The Morning

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  • Sign MOUs to develop UDA-owned lands
  • UDA says investor confidence intact despite current crises
  • Receives inquiries on more State-owned lands from investors

By Yakuta Dawood 

Three global companies, namely, ESR, Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), and Apollo Hospitals India, have signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with the Urban Development Authority (UDA) for investment purposes, The Sunday Morning Business learns. 

A senior official from UDA, who wished to remain anonymous, revealed that regardless of the current economic crisis and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, international investor confidence had not been impacted. The official added that the UDA had been able to successfully sign MoUs with ESR, JLL, Apollo Hospitals India, and a few others. 

“From the identified 52 lands for investment purposes on a 99-year lease basis, five to six lands have been confirmed and MOUs have been signed. For the remaining lands, we notice a rise in inquiries from potential investors as they are willing to come and develop their concept with us,” the official said. 

The official added that the inquiries were generally about the price plans of lands and for investments such as Public-Private Partnerships (PPP), Joint Ventures, or direct acquisitions. 

ESR is APAC’s largest real asset manager and the third-largest listed real estate investment manager globally. The ESR management platform extends across key APAC markets, including China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Singapore, India, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia. 

JLL is a global real estate consulting powerhouse. In 2017, it expanded its presence in the Sri Lankan market, opening a dedicated office at the World Trade Centre.

Apollo Hospitals is a Chennai-based healthcare group. In 2009, Apollo Hospitals, which was managed by Lanka Hospitals Corporation Ltd. (LHCL), changed its name to Lanka Hospitals after Harry Jayawardena-led Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation (SLIC) acquired the company. 

However, attempts to reach the above-mentioned companies proved futile. 

Meanwhile, according to UDA Acting Deputy Director-General of Real Estate and Land Development E.A.C. Priyashantha, the lands that had not been utilised by the UDA had been identified for development projects purposes as they could generate income. 

He stated that Colombo City would be developed as a commercial and tourist destination parallel to the Colombo Port City and the office complexes in the city centre would be shifted towards Kotte and Battaramulla.

He also noted that the older buildings situated in the heart of Colombo would be developed under the heritage building development plan and those buildings would not be demolished as they must be preserved.

Published newspaper advertisements listed seven valuable plots of land around the country for investment projects on a 99-year lease basis, including three land plots on D.R. Wijewardena Mawatha. The identified lands included the Sri Lanka Exhibition and Convention Centre (SLECC), the People’s Bank Queens Branch, and the Sathosa Warehouse Complex.

The base value of the SLECC land is Rs. 3.7 billion, the base value of the People’s Bank Queens Branch land is Rs. 1.3 billion, and the base value of the Sathosa Warehouse Complex land is Rs. 1.6 billion.

In addition to the UDA investment projects, properties including the Grand Oriental Hotel, York Building, Gaffoor Building, General Post Office, Cey-Nor Seafood Restaurant near the Lotus Tower, Waters Edge, Hilton Colombo, and Grand Hyatt Colombo located in the vicinity of the Colombo Port City, as well as the International Coordination Centre in Kankesanthurai, Jaffna have been earmarked for development purposes under Selendiva Investments.

The properties are to be developed under three investment portfolios, namely, ‘Heritage Square in Colombo Fort,’ ‘Real Estate Development,’ and ‘State-Owned Hospitality Sector’.

Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) last week (2 March) in its Monetary Policy Review also mentioned that there was a vital need to monetise Sri Lanka’s non-strategic and underutilised assets.


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