The Colombo Stock Exchange completes 35 years

The licensed operator of the Sri Lankan stock market, the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) marks a historic milestone today as it completes its 35 th year.

Given the entrepreneurial spirit of the Sri Lankan people, the Colombo Stock Exchange builds on a share trading tradition that has existed in Sri Lanka for over a century. The business of share trading that commenced with plantation companies in 1896 continues to thrive today as a matured and vibrant stock market that mobilizes capital flows of over Rs. 300 billion a year.

The CSE in its present form was incorporated in 1985 and formed by seven (7) Stock Broker Firms as the Colombo Securities Exchange Guarantee Ltd, a company Limited by Guarantee marking a transformative shift in Sri Lanka’s financial services landscape.

The CSE is licensed by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka (SEC) and offers state-of-the art pre-trade, trade and post-trade platforms supported by a network of Stock Broker Firms which offer end-to-end digitalized trading solutions to a diversified pool of over 700,000 individual and institutional investors. A progressive journey with the combined efforts of all stakeholders has paved the way for many decisive and positive outcomes for the Sri Lankan capital market over the past 35 years.

The CSE has also been an active contributor in the international arena as a member of the World Federation of Exchanges and has on multiple occasions held the Chairmanship of the South Asian Federation of Exchanges, shaping capital market development policy and cooperation in the South Asian Region.

A bell ringing ceremony was organized on third December 2020 to mark the occasion which was delivered to an audience that was 100% online, a first-of-its-kind event for bell ringing ceremonies at CSE considering the guidelines issued by health authorities to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The ceremony was organized on the theme ‘A Transformative past – A Vibrant Future’ and is a part of a series of initiatives organized by the CSE to mark the milestone.

Ajit Jayaratne a past Chairman of the CSE and one of the Board Members when the CSE was incorporated in its present form was the special guest at the event. Sharing his remarks Jayaratne commended the leadership of the Exchange and recognized the untiring efforts of all those who worked towards building the Stock Market to what it is today. He offered a unique perspective on the history of the CSE and shared memories of the transformative journey.

Commenting on the milestone, the Chairman of the CSE Dumith Fernando said “After 35 years of operations of the stock exchange we have leveraged on the combined expertise and experience of the industry to leap frog on multiple fronts. As we look towards a possible re-rating of the market upwards, what is on the cards are major market infrastructure developments, Product Diversification, widening of the investor base, building a sustainable business model and more importantly working with the Government and the regulator to position the CSE as a pivotal point for capital raising.”

“We will continue our journey towards success and we value our stakeholders whose confidence in us stood unaltered. From its formation the Stock broker Community has over time collectively built up the stock market to what it is today and I would like to acknowledge their role in the development of the market. In particular I would like to recognize the role played by our investors, listed companies, and all market intermediaries who placed confidence in the CSE over the past 35 years and supported the growth of our stock market. I would also like to recognize the untiring efforts of the Board members both present and past and the CSE staff including those who have served previously in making the CSE a pivotal part in the national financial infrastructure.”, Fernando added.

Speaking at the Bell Ringing Ceremony Chairman of the SEC Mr. Viraj Dayaratne PC congratulated the CSE on what is a significant milestone for the Sri Lankan capital market. He went on to state that more ambitious growth initiatives should be implemented with a view to expanding the investor base at CSE and noted the importance of positioning the stock market as ‘the’ place for capital raising with the intention of bringing new listings to the market. The Chairman of the SEC pledged the commission’s fullest support and cooperation to jointly pursue many more positive outcomes for the Sri Lankan capital market going forward. The Market is for everybody.

From its inception, the CSE, has been a catalyst in the development of the nation, strengthening and empowering entrepreneurs, corporates and individuals from all strata of the economy. The CSE pursued its strategy to develop capital markets in the country, working together with the market regulator the Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka to build interest in the market, engaging with market participants to promote the multiple platforms provided for raising capital and investment.

In its 35 th year, the CSE and SEC engaged in a transformative project to digitalize all stakeholder touch points in the Stock Market, enabling end-to-end connectivity electronically, which is vital to broad-basing the Stock market and providing market accessibility to all Sri Lankans. Establishing regulatory readiness to navigate through a Sri Lankan business landscape that has changed substantially since CSE was first established has been a material focus in 2020. Expanding listing rules and criteria to pave the way for a wider spectrum of companies to qualify for a listing and the introduction of a framework to list Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) are other developments that were introduced in 2020 and those that promise positive outcomes for many years to come.

The CEO of the CSE Rajeeva Bandaranaike commenting on the milestone stated “CSE is an institution of national significance with an unwavering focus and commitment towards creating conditions that support growth, forging ahead with initiatives that are motivated by Sri Lanka’s own perspective for prosperity.

Our stock market has evolved over the years and in the midst of the various growth initiatives we are pursuing, what remains unchanged is our focus on maintaining our market’s integrity and quality. We are fully aware that it is only by operating a fair, orderly and transparent market will investors have the confidence to invest enabling the CSE to expand and broad-base the stock market. As the country moves ahead to recover and rebuild amid challenging business externalities, the CSE will continue to work positively to restore investor confidence and promote investments.”

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