Millennium Post

Pak markets ecstatic on Sharif win, soar to record high

Buoyed by Nawaz Sharif’s emphatic win of in the country’s Parliamentary elections, the Pakistani stock markets surged to record highs, after crossing the 20,000-level for the first time in history, on Monday and added nearly Rs 10,000 crore to investors' wealth.

The Karachi Stock Exchange's benchmark index KSE-100 rose to its all-time high of 20,309.36 points with a gain of 1.8 per cent of 359 points, as the general elections held over the weekend delivered a clear mandate for the return of Sharif as the country's next Prime Minister.

Sharif, himself an industrialist and co-owner of diversified multi-million dollar conglomerate Ittefaq group, has said that revival of economy would be among his top priorities. He is seen by many in Pakistan as someone who can fix the country's bleeding economy.

Although Pakistan's share market is small when compared to its Asian peers including that of India, the total wealth of its investors, measured in terms of total market value of all listed shares, rose today by about Rs 10,000 crore to close to Rs five lakh crore.

There are only 569 listed companies on the Karachi Stock Exchange, as against about 5,000 in the Indian stock market, where total investor wealth is close to Rs 70 lakh crore. The number of companies listed on KSE has come down in the past few years, from more than 650 in 2009, as the country's economy has been struggling amid a turbulent political scene. However, a clear mandate in the just-held historic polls is expected to revive the economic activities and therefore the stock markets as well. Just one new company has got listed here so far in 2013, while there are no foreign investments at all in the country's stock market.

Under the slogan 'Strong Economy— Strong Pakistan,' Sharif seems to have successfully projected his image as a flag-bearer for private industry and entrepreneurship. The industrial conglomerate run by 63-year-old Sharif's family is among the biggest in the country and has interests in steel, sugar and various other manufacturing businesses.

Established in 1939 by Nawaz Sharif's father late Muhammad Sharif, the group began with a small steel melting unit, which later became the largest private sector steel making entity within Pakistan. The group, which is also known as Sharif group, also has 24 sugar factories within the country, in addition to companies operating in textiles, paper, hospitals and engineering sectors.

While the privately-held group has not disclosed its annual turnover on its website, the reports suggest that its total sales could be in excess of $2.5 billion (over Rs 30,000 crore).
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