With Sri Lanka’s capital market watchdog – the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of Sri Lanka announcing the withholding of sale proceeds of Agalawatte Plantations PLC this week, employee representatives all six estates of Agalawatte Plantation say they will oppose the gaining of effective control by the buyer Browns Group till the SEC clears out the imbroglio.
“Nearly all of Agalawatte Plantations PLC employees from all six estates belonging to the Company oppose the illegal takeover of Agalawatte Plantations PLC since SEC has issued a directive withholding the sale. Officials of Pussellawa Plantations Ltd attempted this week to conduct stocktaking of our factories illegally. All employees including the management opposed their actions stating that SEC had issued a directive withholding the sale and that until Browns Group is given the green light by the regulator to take effective control, we would oppose all action to takeover the management and possession by any illegal means,” Joint Employees Union for the Protection of Agalawatte Plantations PLC Convener Lakshman Kumara told Colombo Telegraph.
According to Kumara black flags have been put up in almost all factories and estates and estate workers have opposed the illegal takeover by burning tyres.
He added that all unions of all six estates belonging to Agalawatte Plantations PLC, namely – Pinkanda , Kiribathgala, Noragalla, Wataptha, Niriella and Doloswala, were on standby to resort to further trade union action in the event they continue their illegal attempts.
On July 20, SEC suspended the sale of 15.2 million shares belonging to Agalawatte Plantations PLC by Dr. Chris Nonis, reportedly without due authorization and approval from shareholders.
The directive was issued after Dr. Chris Nonis‘ sister – Ms. Nirmalie Samaratunga and his mother’s sister- Ms. M. J. Varma who jointly held over majority shareholding complained to the SEC that 60.8% of the shares in Agalawatte Plantations PLC held by Mackwoods Plantation Private Limited had been sold by Dr. Chrishantha Nonis, without due authorization and without approval of the shareholders of Mackwoods Plantation Private limited. Agalawatte Plantation PLC belongs to Mackwoods Plantations Private Limited.
“As you are aware, this transaction appears to fall under the category of a major transaction for which shareholder approval needs to be obtained prior to the sale being effected,” the Commission stated in its statement issued by SEC Director General, Vajira Wijegunawardane.
“Pursuant to the said complaint and through the Colombo Stock exchange, the SEC has obtained a copy of the CDS account opening form of Mackwoods Plantation Private limited and note that the two persons authorized to issue instructions are Ms. Shelendra Ranaweera and Mr. Lalith Fonseka, whereas according to the information provided by you to the CSE, the written instruction for the sale of the 60.8% shares of Agalawatte Plantations PLC has been issued by Dr. Chris Nonis.”
The SEC added that it needs to verify whether Dr. Nonis is a duly authorized signatory to issue trading instructions for and on behalf of Mackwoods Plantations Private Limited, in addition to whether the shareholders of Mackwoods Plantations Private Limited has in fact approved the sale of the aforementioned parcel of shares.
SEC stressed that the sale of shares without the due authorization of the owner of the said shares is a matter of grave concern to the SEC as it affects the credibility and integrity of the Securities Market.