Press Releases

IFC’s Long-term Funding to John Keells Holdings Will Support Cross-Border Business and Create Jobs in Sri Lanka and South Asia

In New Delhi:    
Minakshi Seth
Phone. +91 11 4111 1000


In Washington DC:

Carmen Powell

Phone: +1 202 473 4982


Colombo, Sri Lanka, February 15, 2008—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, will extend a corporate investment facility to support John Keells Holdings’ expansion in key business areas in Sri Lanka and other countries in the South Asia region. This will promote cross-border business and growth of infrastructure across the region.

The tailor-made stand-by loan facility is consistent with IFC’s strategy for Sri Lanka, as it will support a domestic entity with operations in key strategic sectors of the economy and address any constraints in securing long-term funding. This transaction will also help attract the interests of other overseas financial investors to the country.

IFC's standby loan of US$75 million for John Keells will be IFC's single largest investment until date in manufacturing and services sectors in Sri Lanka, which are critical for the country's economy as they together account for over 82% of the overall GDP.  IFC's strategy to support private corporates in these sectors is to provide long term funding to companies which are either globally competitive and are expanding to assume a regional presence; or are restructuring to achieve global cost competitiveness in their operations.

Susantha Ratnayake, Chairman, John Keells Holdings, said, “In the past, as the group has embarked on new, challenging investments, IFC has been a partner of choice due to its global reach.  For our regional investments, we require partners with knowledge of the local markets and access to long-term and flexible financing structures. IFC’s support to the group in this context will play an important role.”

Dimitris Tsitsiragos, IFC Director for Global Manufacturing and Services, said, "John Keells Group has a solid track record of profitable growth, while maintaining leadership in environment and social sustainability not only in Sri Lanka, but across the South Asia region.  It is clearly an example of how private sector companies should operate; as it continues to excel on all the three pillars - financial, environmental and social - at the same time".

Paolo M. Martelli, IFC Regional Director for South Asia, said, “The facility will support cross-border investment flows from Sri Lanka to the region and promote employment creation, infrastructure development, and regional expansion.”

Gilles Galludec, IFC Country Manager for Sri Lanka and Maldives, said, “IFC’s role is to work with truly committed partners such as John Keells Holdings to have a real development impact in the country.” Jeetendra Marcelline, Head, Investments, Sri Lanka and Maldives, added. “Over the last 15 years, IFC has partnered with the group in several of its new business ventures, including container port services, energy, and financial services.”

IFC Advisory Services in the region – the SouthAsia Enterprise Development Facility – and John Keells will also initiate a linkage program, aimed at providing a sustainable source of income and livelihood to the local communities, for small and medium enterprises in Sri Lanka and Maldives.  The group has ongoing linkage projects with over 13,500 small tea growers, 360 ginger and vanilla farmers, and small business service providers that are linked to its hotels and resorts businesses.  

About IFC

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, fosters sustainable economic growth in developing countries by financing private sector investment, mobilizing private capital in local and international financial markets, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. IFC’s vision is that people should have the opportunity to escape poverty and improve their lives. In FY07, IFC committed $8.2 billion and mobilized an additional $3.9 billion through syndications and structured finance for 299 investments in 69 developing countries. IFC also provided advisory services in 97 countries. For more information, visit

Since 1970, IFC has committed over $200 million in 26 projects in Sri Lanka. Currently IFC has an exposure of over $150 million in the country in equity, debt, and guarantees, with exposure to private infrastructure exceeding $60 million. In 2007, IFC committed over $20 million in new investments, including over $10 million to local financial institutions under its Global Trade Finance Program. With donor funding from the Netherlands and Norway, IFC also provides advisory services to create a business enabling environment and supports value addition to firms through tailored advice, capacity building programs, training, and research.

About John Keells Holdings

John Keells Holdings PLC is Sri Lanka’s largest conglomerate listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange.  From managing the largest number of hotel rooms in Sri Lanka to owning the largest private-sector-owned transportation business in the country, tea broking to stock broking, banking to real estate, manufacturing of food and beverages to operating a chain of supermarkets, providing port and marine fuel services to IT solutions, JKH has made its presence felt in every major sphere of the economy.

In Colombo:
Krishan Balendra
Phone: + 94 11 2306462