GE looking to grow on many Colombian fronts

The US giant General Electric (GE) wants to enter new businesses in Colombia and expand in areas where it already has a Colombian presence, announces the president of GE for Northern South America, Fabiola Sojet. One priority identified is growth via Colpatria with products such as credit cards whilst organic and non-organic growth will both be embraced (GE wants to buy another Colombian bank if possible); further micro-credit opportunities for GE Money will be sought whilst the multinational also wants to grow its role as a supplier of equipment and technology for infrastructure in sectors such as rail, air, ports and basic sanitation.

GE is in talks with Odinsa about becoming a partner in the expansion of the freight terminals at Eldorado airport. It has also been in talks regarding becoming a partner in the logistical centre Porta, set to go up near Eldorado, planned by Ospinas. GE is considering building or buying a plant for the manufacturing of chemicals used to purify water.

It is also close to sealing an alliance with Nalco de Colombia Limitada. GE Colombia, which doesn't include electrodomestics or financing, expects to post sales of US$135mil in 2007 and US$180mil in 2008. In association with Mexico's Grupo Mabe, GE has a white-goods factory in Manizales.

Publication: SABI - Business News
Provider: South American Business Information
Date: December 29, 2007


Colombian Terpel Takes Control Over 206 Stations in Chile

Colombian fuel distributor Terpel on December 26, 2007 took control over the 206 service stations in Chile it had acquired from Spanish Repsol YPF in a $210 mln (143.6 mln euro) deal.

According to corporate information, the acquired assets account for 14 pct of Chilean fuel distribution market.

Terpel competed for the stations with Brazilian Petrobras and Primax, a joint venture of Chilean state oil company Enap and Peruvian conglomerate Grupo Romero.

Terpel (www.terpel.com) operates over 1,300 petrol stations in Colombia with a 42 pct participation on the local market. The company is an affiliate of Colombian gas utility Promigas which is controlled by British Ashmore Investment Management.

Publication: Business Digest
Provider: AII Data Processing Ltd.
Date: December 27, 2007


Colombian steel imports grow again

After two negative results in a row, Colombian iron and steel imports resumed positive figures in October, Steel Business Briefing learns from local government data. During October, the country imported 182,000 t, a sharp increase over the 151,000 t purchased in the same month of 2006.

October imports are valued at US$130m cif, a 27% increase over October 2006.

From January to October, Colombia’s imports of iron and steel products came to 1.7m t, against 1.5m t registered in the same period of 2006.

As previously reported, imports comprise more than half of the steel supply to the growing Colombian market.

Of the total, 28.6% is provided by Venezuela, mainly by the flats and longs producer Ternium Sidor. Another 22% comes from Brazil.

Publication: SBB - Steel Business Briefing
Provider: Steel Business Briefing
Date: December 24, 2007


Chilean Cos Rise Investments in Colombian Retail, Construction, Energy Sectors

A boom of the Chilean investments in the retail, construction and energy sectors of Colombia has been registered in the last few months, Colombian daily Portafolio said on December 17, 2007.

Chilean investments in Colombia have totalled $4.3 bln (2.94 bln euro) since 1990, according to data of the Colombian Foreign Affairs Ministry. In the first years of that period 90 pct of the investments were made in the Colombian energy sector, the Chilean ambassador in Bogota, Gabriel Gaspar, said. In the last few years investments in the construction and retail sectors are constantly growing, he added. More than 40 Chilean companies have investments in Colombia at present, Gaspar was quoted as saying. They are increasing the investments mainly due to the economic stability.

Chile and Colombia are also currently discussing the signing of a free trade agreement (FTA) between them. Their trade exchange totalled $850 mln (581.32 mln euro) in 2006, while it stood at more than $1.0 bln (683.9 mln euro) over the January-September 2007 period.

Publication: Business Digest
Provider: AII Data Processing Ltd.
Date: December 18, 2007


Colombia Among Most Attractive Countries for Investments in Biodiesel - ES&T

Colombia is among the countries with the most potential for investment and growth in biodiesel production, along with Ghana, Malaysia, Thailand and Uruguay, according to analysis of journal Environmental Science and Technology (ES&T), quoted by Colombian media on December 14, 2007.

These countries have been chosen because they are perceived as being safer physically and financially for international business investments and are desiring more employment opportunities for their citizens.

The researchers ranked 119 countries that might come out on top in the global biodiesel market in the near future, according to their ability to expand large-scale production quickly. Malaysia, Indonesia, Argentina, the United States and Brazil currently account for 80 pct of the total global production potential. These nations produce the largest volumes of palm and soybean oils.

The researchers calculate that the current potential for world biodiesel production, according to technological capacity, is 51 billion litres.

Publication: Business Digest
Provider: AII Data Processing Ltd.
Date: December 17, 2007


Colombia: Alpina close to acquiring Ecuador's Kiosko

Alpina of Colombia is very close to buying the Ecuadorean yoghurt-producer Kiosko, a firm which is thought to have raised its production from 881 m tons to 2,235 m tons so far this decade and which buys in 12,000 daily litres of milk. Alpina already has a plant in Ecuador whilst, just yesterday, it officially announced the setting-up of a new plant back home in northern Antioquia (Entrerrios) at a cost of US$50mil over the next five years. Alpina is already operational in the municipality, improving roads and acquiring milk. The firm has a presence across more than 1,000 Colombian municipalities, reaching over 20 million consumers.

Publication: SABI - Business News
Provider: South American Business Information
Date: December 10, 2007

EPM advances 2.4GW hydro project, eyes May auction

EPM, the multi-utility that serves Medellín in Colombia's Antioquia department, has submitted the EIS for the 2.4GW Pescadero Ituango hydro project to the environment, housing and territorial development ministry.
The utility holds a 44.4% stake in special purpose company Sociedad Pescadero Ituango set up for the project. Antioquia's development institute IDEA controls 42.4%, Integral 2.3%, Antioquia's departmental government 2.1%, the national government 1.7% and other shareholders 7.1%.

The project is viable according to the technical, economic, environmental and social feasibility study, EPM general manager Juan Felipe Gaviria Gutiérrez said in a statement.

Pescadero Ituango would be built at the mouth of the Ituango river and cost US$2.290bn, boasting a 220m-high dam and creating a 980Mm3 reservoir.

The machine house will boast eight, 336MW Francis-type units, the first of which could begin commercial operations 105 months after the environmental license is secured.

Project advancement is pending the environmental license and financial and market studies, Gaviria said.

"In the 2008-09 period, Sociedad will require capitalization of at least US$52mn, of which US$8mn will be needed urgently for the first months of next year if we want to advance with design contracts for the access roads to the project, the equipment and principal works," he added.

Sociedad Pescadero Ituango plans to participate in next year's power auction. Participation will depend on securing the environmental license and guarantees required by energy regulator CREG, the executive said.

Colombia's mining and energy planning unit UPME in September opened a power generation project studies registry in the lead-up to next year's planned auction for firm power supply, BNamericas reported that month.

State power wholesaler XM on May 5, 2008, will hold the first auction, with winners due to begin supplying power in 2013.

Power demand in Colombia grew 2.6% in October to 4.54TWh compared to the year-ago month. Of all power produced, 79.3% came from hydro, 15.4% from thermo and 5.3% from small-scale plants and cogen.

Publication: Business News Americas - English News
Provider: Business News Americas
Date: December 10, 2007


Vale looks at building hydro plant, coal mine

Brazilian mining and metals group Vale (NYSE: RIO) is looking at investing in construction of a hydro power plant and coal mine in Colombia, Vale CEO Roger Agnelli told Brazilian magazine Época.

The executive met with Colombia's President Álvaro Uribe to discuss the benefits of investing in the country, such as security and fiscal incentives, Agnelli said in an interview.

"I am looking at the option of building a hydro plant and a coal mine in Colombia," he said.

However, reports did not specify in which area of Colombia the investment would be made or how much it would be.

In September Colombia's transport minister Andrés Uriel Gallego said Vale was looking at investing US$6bn in Antioquia department to build an aluminum smelter plus infrastructure including a port terminal and a hydroelectric plant.


Vale also plans to create a company dedicated to the energy sector, Agnelli told the magazine.

"Energy is strategic for us. Vale is Brazil's biggest energy consumer," he was quoted as saying.

The company aims to invest in new fuels such as biodiesel and recently acquired gas exploration blocks in an auction. It is also is keeping an eye on hydroelectric projects on the Madeira river in the Amazon, the CEO added.

Vale recently announced a plan to create a technological development center targeting clean energy initiatives along with federal development bank BNDES in São Paulo state's São José de Campos city.

"Beyond the São José project, in 2008 we want to create a technology center for the mining area and another dedicated to production processes, which would be built in Minas Gerais and Pará states," Agnelli said.

Rio de Janeiro-based Vale do Río Doce, which recently took the short name of Vale, is the world's largest iron ore producer and its assets include nickel, copper, aluminum, electric power and logistics.

Publication: Business News Americas - English News
Provider: Business News Americas
Date: December 6, 2007


Chilean Gasco, Colombian Gazel To Open 25 VNG Stations

Chilean natural gas company Gasco, a subsidiary of Chilean electric power holding company CGE, and Colombian natural gas company Gazel will open 25 vehicular natural gas (VNG) stations under a recently signed association agreement, Colombian daily Portafolio reported on December 4, 2007.

The VNG stations will be located in Chile as Gazel wants to expand its presence in the Chilean gas market. The stations will be of the Gazel brand and are expected to be opened by the end of 2008.

The initiative is part of Gasco plans to expand its business in the administrative Region XII, in southern Chile, which was negatively affected by the decrease of the Argentinean energy exports.

Apart from Chile, Gasco (www.gasco.cl) also operates in Argentina. Through its subsidiary Gas Sur SA, it takes part in the natural gas distribution in central Chile by supplying gas from Argentina's Neuquen province through the pipeline Gasoducto del Pacifico SA.

Gazel plans to become one of the leading gas companies in Colombia over the next five years.

Publication: Business Digest
Provider: AII Data Processing Ltd.
Date: December 5, 2007

Colinversiones closes Termoflores acquisition

Colombian holding company Compañía Colombiana de Inversiones (Colinversiones) has completed the acquisition of generator Termoeléctrica Termoflores, Colinversiones told financial regulator Superfinanciera.

The generator will be held by Colinversiones US subsidy Inversiones Energéticas, which was created with US$300mn in financing.

Inversiones Energéticas received the first US$32mn on October 26 and the remaining US$268mn on December 4.

The financing is guaranteed with 38.4mn shares Colinversiones holds in Colombian company Suramericana de Inversiones, according to the documents.

The 151MW natural gas-fired thermo plant in Barranquilla is the first generator in Colombia to have participated in energy regulator CREG's new plan for long-term power supply contracts, according to local press reports.

Publication: Business News Americas - English News
Provider: Business News Americas
Date: December 5, 2007