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Sri Lanka revokes Bank of Ceylon's sale of Seylan Bank stake

Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe ordered the cancellation of Bank of Ceylon's sale of a 7% stake in Seylan Bank Plc to a foreign fund due to the state-owned lender's failure to follow proper procedures, Reuters reported Dec. 19, citing Ravi Karunanayake, the country's finance minister.

At the same time, the prime minister ordered a probe into the sale.

Bank of Ceylon sold 13 million shares in Seylan Bank to a foreign fund for 1.3 billion rupees. Karunanayake noted that approval from Bank of Ceylon's board was not taken for the stake sale.

The Colombo Stock Exchange officials were not immediately available for comment. Murtaza Jafferjee, CEO at JB Securities who served as stockbroker of the deal, is seeking clarity on the reversal and said that the market was perplexed after the prime minister's order.

As of Dec. 20, US$1 was equivalent to 149.34 Sri Lankan rupees.