The Central Bank has approved Mr. Dhamika Perera and related companies owning 15% of the Sampath Bank, the bank has announced in its annual report for 2006 as a post-balance sheet event.
Earlier Sampath had refused to register shares belonging to some Dhamika Perera companies, Vallibel Leisure (Pvt) Limited, Vallibel Investments (Pvt) Limited, Royal Ceramics Lanka Limited and LB Finance Limited on the ground that the ownership of these shares by related persons did not have the prior approval of the Monetary Board and was in violation of the Banking Act.
Vallibel Leisure owned 3.44 million unregistered shares in Sampath while Vallibel Investments had 0.67 million unregistered shares. Holdings by Royal Ceramics (49,200 shares) and LB Finance (11,800 shares) were small.
Central Bank Governor Nivard Cabraal said that after a direction made by the bank earlier this year regarding a 15% upper limit on the holding of banking shares by related parties, the banks were asked to report such instances.
Sampath reported one case and the party concerned was given six months to shed shares in excess of 15%.
Reporting a post-balance sheet event, Sampath said that the Central Bank had granted Mr. K.D.D. Perera permission to increase his shareholding in the bank to 15% through companies controlled by him.
`As a result, the total shareholding owned by Vallibel Leisure (Pvt) Limited has been registered,` the bank said.
Sampath also reported that in January this year Royal Ceramics and LB Finance had disposed of their unregistered shares.
Cabraal also said that HNB has also reported that certain related parties collectively had over 15% of the bank`s shareholding and a five-year period has been allowed for them to dispose of these excess shares.
Analysts said that these shares related to Harry Jayawardena related/influenced companies.
In addition to the shares held by companies related to him, Mr. Dhamika Perera who is in the business of operating casinos, generating electricity, hoteliering, ceramics and financial services owned 3.4 million Sampath shares (4.95%) on his own account.
Harry Jayawardena related companies including Stassen Exports, Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation land an individual shareholder, Mr. P. Singuppuli Aratchige Don are also among Sampath Bank`s top 20 shareholders.
Sampath some years ago resisted a take-over bid by HNB.
The biggest single shareholder of Sampath Bank, Mr. K.S. Tiong, owns 5.10% and all other individual holdings are 5% and below.