Thursday, September 21, 2017

Roberto Peckham

The departmental government of Antioquia announced April 24 that the US$5.5 billion, 2.4-gigawatt “Hidroituango” hydroelectric project finally has won the first two of four power-transmission construction permits from Colombia’s environmental licensing agency (ANLA).


Medellin-based textile giants Coltejer and Fabricato posted net losses for full-year 2016 -- in contrast to the net profits posted by both companies during 2015.


Cormagdalena – the Colombian government agency overseeing a massive dredging project for the Magdalena River – announced April 17 that it has officially cancelled Navelena SAS’s contract because of failure to complete financing.


Not long ago, about the only expats seen here in Medellin for relatively long-term stays were 30-something digital nomads or else retirees from North America or Europe seeking first-world amenities, fine weather, good health care, friendly people and bargain prices.


Medellin’s world-famous “Metro” public transit system including electric rail, aerial tram, road tram, bus rapid transit (BRT) and free bicycles at Metro stations is breaking all-time records for public use – and now aims to help cut a worrisome growth in vehicle air pollution.


The latest report from Colombia’s economic statistics agency (DANE) shows that Antioquia’s exports rose 14.7% year-on-year in the first two months of 2017 -- and Antioquia likewise continues to surpass all Colombian departments in total share of exports, at 19.4%.


Medellin-based gold miner Mineros SA announced March 22 that its full-year 2016 profit rose 36% year-on-year, to COP$98.8 billion (US$33.8 million), while sales in Colombia rose 8.3%, to COP$382 billion (US$130.7 million).


Colombia’s Banco de la Republica (BR, the state bank) found in a new study that Medellin and the surrounding Antioquia department are generally out-performing the national economy, especially in certain export sectors.


Empresas Publicas de Medellin (EPM) – now a multinational electric power and utilities giant – reported March 17 that its full-year 2016 profits rose 85% year-on-year, to COP$1.86 trillion (US$641 million).

Gross revenues rose 14%, to COP$15.8 trillion (US$5.4 billion), while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rose 12%, to COP$4 trillion (US$1.38 billion).

Payments to its sole shareholder – the city of Medellin – rose to COP$817 billion (US$282 million), while infrastructure investments hit COP$3.87 trillion (US$1.3 billion), mainly for its 2.4-gigawatt “Hidroituango” hydroelectric dam project in Antioquia, now two-thirds complete, according to the company. EPM projects that its payment to the city of Medellin is likely to hit COP$1 trillion (US$345 million) for the 2017 operating year.

The improved results came despite the “El Niño” drought in Colombia in early 2016 (which reduced water flow to hydroelectric plants) as well as a four-months-long outage at its Guatape hydroelectric plant in Antioquia, which had suffered a fire that destroyed several cables. However, insurance covered the losses from the Guatape incident, hence lessening the financial impact on 2016 income.

EPM now serves 22 million customers in Colombia, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, México and Panamá, producing and delivering electric power, water, sanitation, sewage treatment and natural gas for homes, offices, factories and vehicles.

EPM director-general Jorge Londoño de la Cuesta added that the year 2016 brought “great challenges for our group [but] we achieved excellent results, as evidenced by our projects and our financial figures.” Londoño de la Cuesta added that EPM has maintained a favorable investment-grade debt rating of “BBB+.”

Meanwhile, in Antioquia alone, EPM added another 35,922 sewer hookups last year, as well as 67,472 more customers for natural gas service, plus another 60,127 new customers for electric power service, according to the company.

EPM’s tiered tariff structure – where homes and businesses in higher-income neighborhoods subsidize customers in poorer neighborhoods -- enabled 15,355 more low-income families to obtain water, power and gas services last year, Londoño de la Cuesta noted.

EPM also continues to lead all of Colombia in offering prepaid utility services, which encourages more-efficient and more-economical use of water, power and gas, he noted.

During 2016, EPM added 25,400 more customers to its prepaid energy services and another 8,924 to its prepaid water services. In addition, a new “Precarga” service now enables EPM clients to buy prepaid power and water service via cell-phone apps.


Thanks to the Colombian government’s recent tax reform law (see Medellin Herald on December 29, 2016), Wall Street bond rater Fitch has just decided to upgrade Colombia’s debt-risk outlook to “stable,” up from its former “negative” rating.


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About Medellin Herald

Medellin Herald is a locally produced, English-language news and advisory service uniquely focused upon a more-mature audience of visitors, investors, conference and trade-show attendees, property buyers, expats, retirees, volunteers and nature lovers.

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.

Medellin Herald welcomes your editorial contributions, comments and story-idea suggestions. Send us a message using the "contact" section.

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