Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Companies 79

Written by August 01 2017 0

Toronto, Canada-based Continental Gold announced July 29 that six of its security contractors died following a suspicious explosion July 28 at an illegal mine nearby its Buritica, Antioquia gold mine.

Just three days later, fellow Toronto-based miner Gran Colombia Gold announced August 1 that it is trying to deal with a massive outbreak of violence affecting its operations in Segovia and Remedios, Antioquia.

As for the Continental mining incident, “the contractors were performing routine underground inspections of a government-closed illegal mine as ordered by the national government of Colombia in order to maintain its post-intervention strategy,” Continental explained.

“Upon entering the underground mine, the contractors were accosted by illegal miners, followed by a subsequent explosion. A seventh contractor managed to escape and immediately notified all relevant authorities.”

“It is shameful that this incident has tarnished the remarkable progress made in establishing peace in the municipality over the past 18 months,” added Continental CEO Ari Sussman. “These efforts have been fully embraced by the local community, which has publicly voiced their strong preference for the benefits of legal versus illegal activities.”

Meanwhile, Gran Colombia Gold stated that despite the outbreak of renewed violence by illegal miners near its fully licensed, legal mining operations, the company “continues to negotiate in good faith with the Mesa Minera [association of mostly illegal and artesinal miners] of Segovia and Remedios toward formalizing activities of illegal mines operating within its mining title despite the actions being taken by certain illegal miners to disrupt the company’s operations.”

“Over the last 10 days, the company has been monitoring the actions of the Mesa Minera, a local mining collective comprised in its majority by illegal miners, as they attempted to convene a civil disruption and protest in response to the increased measures being implemented by the Colombian government to restrict illegal mining.

“The company estimates that approximately 30% to 40% of its workers are currently able to attend [their mining duties]. In addition, over the weekend, an explosion damaged a pipeline owned by the company that supplies water to 1,200 residents in Remedios.”

Meanwhile, according to a news report from Medellin-based El Colombiano, more shots were fired and explosions detonated in confrontations between illegal miners and Colombia’s “Esmad” riot police on July 31.

The rioters attacked police about three kilometers outside of Segovia where they had set-up a roadblock, according to Segovia Mayor Gustavo Tobon. Six policemen suffered injuries in the attack – five hurt by home-made bombs thrown by demonstrators and a sixth hit by shotgun fire.

However, Mesa Minera president Eliober Castañeda was quoted as saying that the violence was caused by police trying to break the roadblock and by shooting tear-gas canisters at protesters.

El Colombiano also quoted Jaime Arteaga -- director of the “Plan Buriticá” legal-mining promotional organization -- as saying that illegal miners have often used bombs, firearms or set fire to old tires inside mines to scare-off or attempt to asfixiate security officials that monitor illegal mines in the area. Buritica Mayor Humberto Castaño added that police and mining authorites have shuttered 213 illegal mines in the area over the past 18 months.

“Plan Buriticá” is led by the Mayor of Buriticá, the departmental government of Antioquia, plus 25 civil associations, companies and international organizations. The association is partly funded by the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB), of which the government of Colombia is a member.

Written by July 29 2017 0

Medellin-based multinational packaged-foods giant Grupo Nutresa announced July 28 that its first-half 2017 net profit rose 1.9% year-on-year, to COP$236 billion (US$78.7 million).

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) dipped by 1.3% year-on-year, to COP$527 billion (US$176 million), according to the company.

Sales inside Colombia grew 3.9% during the latest period, to COP$2.7 trillion (US$901 million), while sales abroad (excluding Venezuela) grew 5.5% year-on-year, to US$516 million.

The company also touted recent successful launches of “Tosh” branded baked-snacks and cold-infusion drink lines, as well as the new “Bénet” brand of nutritional powdered beverages.

“Gross profit, of COP$1.8 trillion [US$600 million], increased by 1.1% over the same period last year as a result of various efforts in productivity, the constant search for greater efficiencies, and the favorable prices of some raw materials,” according to Nutresa.

“The group’s operating profit amounts to COP$397.383 million [US$132 million], with an operating margin of 9.6%, which takes into account an increase in sales expenses associated with greater investments in our distribution channels,” according to the company.

Nutresa describes itself as the “the leader in processed foods in Colombia (60.5% market share) and one of the most relevant players in the sector in Latin America, with consolidated sales of COP$8.7 trillion [US$2.9 billion] in eight business units: cold cuts, biscuits, chocolates, Tresmontes Lucchetti [packaged foods], coffee, retail food, ice cream and pasta.”

The company boasts of a direct operating presence in 14 countries, with international sales in more than 80 countries.

Written by July 26 2017 0

Medellin-based multinational utilities giant Grupo EPM announced July 25 that its first-half 2017 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 33% year-on-year, to COP$2.6 trillion (US$862 million), while net profits rose 78% year-on-year, to COP$1 trillion (US$331 million).

The city of Medellin – EPM’s sole shareholder – so far this year has netted COP$785 billion (US$260 million) of an expected full-year COP$1.6 trillion (US$530 million) in profit contribution, according to the company.

So far this year, EPM also has invested COP$1.6 trillion (US$530 million) in infrastructure in Colombia, with COP$770 billion (US$255 million) of that dedicated to the continuing construction of the US$5.5 billion, 2.4-gigawatt “Hidroituango” hydroelectric plant in Antioquia, according to the company.

EPM’s Medellin-based operations contributed 47% of earnings, while foreign subsidiaries contributed 35%. Colombian national subsidiaries contributed the remaining 18%, according to the company.

EBITDA improvement came despite lower electric-power prices in Colombia, but were offset by productivity improvements, EPM general manager Jorge Londoño de la Cuesta, said.

EPM Group’s return on equity so far this year is 12%, up from just 4% in first-half 2016, he added.

“The higher profitability is explained by the better operating results of 2017, compared to a first half of 2016 [that was] impacted by the El Niño phenomenon and by the [fire and power-outage] incident recorded at the Guatapé hydroelectric plant,” according to the company.

Financial indebtedness stands at 38%, “similar to last year. At the same time, the debt-to-EBITDA [ratio] indicator of the EPM Group closed the first half at 3.56, compared to 4.46 in 2016,” according to the company.

Total assets now stand at COP$45.1 trillion (US$14.9 billion), up 5%, while liabilities now total COP$25.6 trillion (US$8.5 billion), up 10%. Equity now stands at COP$19.5 trillion (US$6.4 billion), down 1%, while cash and cash equivalents now total COP$1.7 trillion (US$563 million), according to the company.

Written by May 25 2017 0

Medellin-based multinational grocery retailer Exito on May 16 posted a tiny COP$7.6 million (US$2,600) net loss for first quarter (1Q 2017), down slightly from an even more miniscule COP$760,000 (US$260) net profit in 1Q 2016.

Written by May 25 2017 0

Medellin-based multinational foods giant Grupo Nutresa announced May 19 that it won an “AAA(col)” rating from Wall Street bond rater Fitch thanks to its “strong competitive position in its relevant markets” as well as moderate leverage, geographic diversification and “robust” cash flow “across the business cycle."

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U.S. native Roberto Peckham, who founded Medellin Herald in 2015, has been residing in metro Medellin since 2005 and has traveled regularly and extensively throughout Colombia since 1981.

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