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Roberto Peckham

Medellin-based multinational gold mining giant Mineros SA announced February 28 that its full-year 2021 net income dropped 31% year-on-year, to COP$162 billion (US$41.3 million).

However, revenues increased 4% year-on-year, to COP$1.8 trillion (US$459.6 million), versus COP$1.79 trillion (US$457 million) in 2020.

The revenue boost came from a “slight increase in gold prices and higher revenues from energy sales and hedges, which managed to offset lower gold production, given the delay of some environmental permits in Colombia and the natural depletion of the mine in Argentina,” according to Mineros.

On the other hand, gross profit fell 25% year-on-year, to COP$464 billion (US$118 million), “mainly due to higher purchase costs of artisanal [gold mining] mineral, which translates into higher production. The decline was also due to the increase in depreciation and amortization, an increase in payroll costs, higher maintenance costs and higher inventory consumption, along with an increase in administration expenses and by the increase in exploration expenses,” according to Mineros.

On the upside, Mineros President Andrés Restrepo commented that “2021 was a historic year for Mineros, as we became the first Colombia-based company to be listed on both the TSX [Toronto exchange] and the Colombian Stock Exchange.

“We continue to pay dividends consistently, with COP$66 billion [US$16.8 million) in total dividends paid in 2021.

“Our production was above 260,000 ounces of gold, according to our estimates, allowing us to continue to strengthen our overall capital position. Cash costs per ounce of gold sold were also within the expected range, while the AISC [all-in sustaining cost] was slightly higher than expected.

“We entered 2022 with a focus on maintaining strong production levels at our current operations and pursuing annual production growth through a combination of brownfield exploration at current operations, greenfield exploration (exploration in areas that are not in operation) and evaluating possible acquisitions,” Restrepo added.

In Colombia, alluvial gold production rose 5% year-on-year, to 73,129 ounces, “thanks to the nearly 10,000 ounces produced under the formalization program” of formerly irregular artisanal miners, the company noted.

“The formalization is a collaborative work scheme, through contracts with third parties, in which previously informal miners are working on the company’s mining titles, with emphasis on the reprocessing of tailings from massive extraction. Currently, the formalization process includes nine operating units and generates nearly 200 direct jobs,” the company added..

In Nicaragua, the Hemco mining operation produced 127,151 ounces of gold, up 4% year-on-year, “largely explained by higher purchases of artisanal material, an increase in milled tons and a higher grade” of mined rock, according to the company.

In Argentina, mining operations dipped 14% year-on-year, to 61,487 ounces of gold, “explained by the natural depletion of the open-pit deposit and the slow recovery process in the leach pads,” according to Mineros.

Colombian Output Seen Rising in 2022

As for its year-2022 projections, Mineros foresees consolidated production in the range of 262,000 to 285,000 ounces.

“This projection foresees an increase in production in Colombia, including the new ounces from the formalization program, the maintenance of production levels in Nicaragua and a slight decrease in production in Argentina in accordance with the depletion of the mine, while new fronts are being explored.

“For 2022, cash cost is estimated in a range between US$1,090 and US$1,180 per ounce and AISC between US$1,350 and US$1,450 per ounce,” the company added.


Medellin-based multinational insurance, pensions, health care and financial services giant Grupo Sura announced February 25 that its full-year 2021 net income jumped 353% year-on-year, to COP$1.5 trillion (US$282 million).

Operating earnings rose 16.5% year-on-year, to COP$24.8 trillion (US$6.64 billion) -- COP$4 trillion (US$1.02 billion) more than in 2020 -- “due to the performance dynamics of its subsidiaries and a record high in revenues obtained via the equity method," including its major shareholdings in Medellin-based financial/industrial giants Grupo Nutresa, Grupo Argos and Bancolombia.

Fourth-quarter (4Q) 2021 net income came-in at COP$406.7 billion (US$103 million), a reversal from the COP$61 billion (US$15.5 million) net loss in 4Q 2020.

Beyond the encouraging results in 2021, “Grupo Sura expects its full-year 2022 net income to increase between 10% and 15%” over 2021, according to the company.

Sura credited the rise in 2021 income to increases in written premiums by its Suramericana insurance division; fee and commission income obtained by pensions/financial services division Sura Asset Management, as well as “good performance of the equity method in associated companies, which had record results, freeing-up of provisions with Bancolombia due to a lower risk exposure in its loan portfolio,” according to Sura.

“The results obtained at year-end 2021 exceeded our growth expectations for all of the Sura lines of business, thereby bringing us closer to our pre-pandemic figures,” added Sura CEO Gonzalo Pérez.

Operating expense also rose 15.7% year-on-year, “mainly due to a higher claims rate at Suramericana as a result of the pandemic, which was partially mitigated by a greater control over administrative expense as well as greater efficiencies obtained by the different companies,” according to the company.

“Consequently, consolidated operating earnings rose by 59.2% to COP$2.6 trillion (US$685 million) and consolidated net income came to COP$1.5 trillion (US$407 million), 4.5-times higher than for 2020 and corresponding to 89% of that obtained in 2019,” the company added.

Consolidated shareholders' equity likewise rose by 9.5% year-on-year, to COP$31.3 trillion (US$7.85 billion), according to the company.

During 2021, the Sura Asset Management division (retirement savings, investments and asset management) grew to 21.6 million clients in six countries in Latin America, and its assets-under-management increased by 7.4%, to COP$566 trillion (US$142 billion), generating COP$3 trillion (US$810 million) in operating income, up 10.6% year-on-year, according to the company.

“This was mainly driven by its fee and commission income, which increased by 11.8% in the retirement savings business and 25.4% in the ‘voluntary savings’ segment, through Inversiones Sura (voluntary savings for private individuals) and Sura Investment Management (the regional platform for the institutional segment),” according to the company.

As a result, Sura Asset Management’s 2021 consolidated net income rose 45.3% year-on-year, to COP$ 627 billion (US$167 million), while its net debt level fell by COP$668 billion (US$155.9 million), according to the company.

As for the Suramericana insurance and risk-management division, this group posted a 16.5% hike in written premiums at year-end 2021, reaching COP$21.8 trillion (US$5.8 billion), “driven by the good levels of performance for all three of its insurance segments, namely Life (13.2%), Health Care (30.7%) and Property and Casualty (10.9%). This, together with a rigorous control over administrative expenses, partially mitigated the increase in claims due to the reopening of the economies and the pandemic,” according to the company.

In 2021, Suramericana allocated COP$1.6 trillion (US$408 million) to Covid-related claims, but “thanks to the progress made with mass vaccination programs, the claims rate has so far shown an improvement in the Life and Health Care segments,” according to the company.

Because of the heavy costs of Covid-19 claims last year, Suramericana net income fell to COP$66.35 billion (US$18 million), or 68.6% lower than for 2020.

“Finally, Suramericana ended the year with technical reserves worth COP$23.3 trillion (US$5.8 billion), having increased by 10.6%,” according to the company.


Medellin-based electric power giant Celsia – a division of Grupo Argos – on February 24 reported a 60.7% year-on-year jump in 2021 net income, to COP$544 billion (US$138.5 million).

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 10.7%, to COP$1.2 trillion (US$305.5 million), while revenues rose 16.3%, to COP$4.1 trillion (US$1.04 billion).

Power generation accounted for COP$1.48 trillion (US$376.8 million) of total revenues, while power distribution and marketing accounted for the remaining $2.63 trillion (US$669 million), according to Celsia.

“This positive behavior is due to the good dynamism of all the company’s segments added to the economic recovery reflected in a greater demand for energy,” according to the company.

“During 2021, net non-recurring revenues were recorded for nearly COP$131 billion [US$33 million] associated with the recovery of the provision for the legal process related to the Bajo Anchicayá power plant and the structured closure of Bahía Las Minas,” the company added.

Fourth-quarter (4Q) 2021 net income soared by 172% year-on-year, to COP$235 billion (US$59.8 million), while 4Q 2021 EBITDA rose by 20%, to COP$402 billion (US$102 million).

“Platforms developed with Cubico Sustainable Investments for non-conventional renewable energy and power transmission businesses represented COP$147 billion [US$37 million] in revenue for Celsia in 2021,” according to the company.

“Other events in 2021 stand out, such as the third issuance of the ‘green bond’ program for COP$140 billion [US$35.6 million]; the first loan linked to compliance with ESG [environmental, social, responsible governance] indicators for an amount of COP$500 billion [US$127 million] with Bancolombia; the execution of the ‘Works for Taxes’ program with total investments of COP$101 billion [US$25.7 million], among others,” according to Celsia.

Celsia also invested COP$365 billion (US$93 million) last year in “substations, new circuits, and control systems to improve reliability and make them safer. Of the total invested, COP$154 billion [US$39 million] went to the operation in Tolima and COP$211 billion [US$53.7 million] to Valle del Cauca,” the company added.

On other fronts in 2021, Celsia added mor than 20 megawatts of solar power capacity, and meanwhile moved closer to completion of its 200-megawatt “El Tesorito” natural-gas-fired power plant, according to the company.


Medellin-based multinational foods giant Grupo Nutresa reported February 24 a 17.6% year-on-year hike in full-year 2021 net income, hitting COP$676 billion (US$172 million).

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) likewise rose 6.2% year-on-year, to COP$1.37 trillion (US$349 million), from COP$1.3 trillion (US$331 million) in 2020.

Gross revenues rose 14.5%, to COP$12.74 trillion (US$3.2 billion), from COP$11.1 trillion (US$2.8 billion) in 2021.

Colombia accounted for 61% of total corporate revenue, at COP$7.8 trillion (US$1.98 billion), “16.3% higher than the previous year. This growth was driven by outstanding business dynamics across all business units,” according to Nutresa.

“International sales measured in Colombian pesos amounted to COP$4.9 trillion, 11.8% higher than the sales achieved in 2020, representing 38.9% of the total revenue. When stated in dollars, these sales amount to US$1.3 billion, which represents a growth of 10.2%,” the company added.

Gross margins dipped 1.6% year-on-year, “the result of the increase in raw materials related to the global challenges in logistics and the commodities super-cycle,” according to Nutresa.

Operating profit rose 8.4% year-on-year, to COP$1.1 trillion (US$280 million), “the result of productivity measures during the period. Because of this strategy, selling expenses decreased 260 basis points over the past two years,” according to Nutresa.

“Net post-operative expenses totaled COP$117.8 billion [US$30 million], decreasing 42.3% when compared to 2020. This is mainly explained by a notable reduction in the financial expenses due to lower interest rates throughout the year,” the company added.


Medellin-based textile giant Fabricato announced February 23 a full-year, corporate-wide 2021 net profit of COP$16.5 billion (US$4.2 million) -- a big improvement over the 2020 net loss of COP$82.4 billion (US$21 million).

“Textile revenues in 2021 increased by 52% compared to 2020,” according to the company, while textile gross margins jumped a full 10 percentage points, to 18%, from 8% in 2020.

Textile operating profits in 2021 rose by COP$51 billion (US$13 million) year-on-year, to COP$73 billion (US$18.5 million), the company added.

The textile operation by itself generated a net profit of COP$18.3 billion (US$4.6 million) in 2021, versus a net loss of COP$19.7 billion (US$5 million) in 2020.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose to COP$51.6 billion (US$13 million), from COP$9.8 billion (US$2.5 million) in 2020.

As for Fabricato’s real-estate segment, net income was essentially flat, at COP$8.9 billion (US$2.2 million), while 2021 operating income rose 23% versus 2020.

As for financial operations, Fabricato posted a net finance profit of COP$20.3 billion (US$5.1 million) in 2021 versus a net loss of COP$16.9 billion (US$4.3 million) in 2020.

Meanwhile, Fabricato reports a continuation of positive trends in January 2022, with textile sales up 64% year-on-year and textile margins up 8 percentage points, to 21%.

What’s more, “we exceeded the textile EBITDA expectation by COP$4.99 billion [US$1.27 million], as in January 2021 it was COP$2.3 billion [US$585,000] while in January 2022 it was COP$7.3 billion [US$1.8 million],” according to the company.


Medellin-based multinational electric-power transmission builder/operator, highways concessionaire and telecom services provider ISA announced February 23 that its full-year 2021 net income fell 19% year-on-year, to COP$2.06 trillion (US$524 million).

Despite that dip, operating income rose 13% year-on-year, to COP$7.97 trillion (US$20.3 billion), while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) likewise rose 8.4%, to COP$6.57 trillion (US$1.67 billion), according to the company.

Fourth quarter (4Q) profits meanwhile fell 9.9% year-on-year, to COP$450 billion (US$114.5 million), but 4Q 2021 EBITDA rose 18.6%, to COP$1.8 trillion (US$458 million), according to the company.

ISA mainly blamed the profits dip on “higher financial expenses and lower results of jointly-controlled companies,” according to the company.

While short-term 2021 profits dipped, ISA nevertheless achieved several major milestones during the past year, starting with the August 2021 completion of an historic deal whereby Colombia’s mostly state-owned Ecopetrol oil company bought 51% of ISA’s shares.

“As a result, 2022 shall be a year of enormous and interesting challenges for the consolidation of the largest energy group in Latin America,” according to ISA, already the largest energy transmission company in Latin America.

ISA's high-voltage power-transmission network covers Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil and Chile, as well as the international lines between Colombia-Ecuador and Ecuador-Peru.

Another notable 2021 event: During 4Q, “ISA successfully concluded its first bond issuance in the international capital markets for US$330 million. The issuance has a total term of 12 years, an interest rate of 3.825%, and was oversubscribed by 4.3 times the amount offered,” the company noted.

On yet another front, ISA’s Chile subsidiary last year joined with Transelec and China Southern Power Grid International (CSG) in a winning bid for the construction and operation of the Kimal-Lo Aguirre transmission project in Chile, “one of the most important high-voltage energy transmission projects on the continent, for an annual remuneration value of US$116.3 million in 2021 values,” according to the company.

Also during 2021, in Colombia ISA commissioned the “Ruta Costera”Cartagena-Barranquilla and Circunvalar de la Prosperidad" highway project, covering 146 kilometers between the departments of Bolívar and Atlántico.

Meanwhile in Brazil, ISA is investing US$26 million in “the first large-scale battery energy storage project in Brazil's transmission system to be installed at the Registro substation (São Paulo state) to supply the southern coast of São Paulo,” now due for completion by November 2022, the company added.


Medellin-based multinational cement, electric power and airport/highways concessionaire Grupo Argos announced February 23 that its full-year 2021 net income skyrocketed to COP$1.2 trillion (US$305 million), up nearly seven-fold year-on-year.

Revenues rose 17% year-on-year, while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) hit COP$4.3 trillion (US$1.09 billion|), up from COP$3.35 trillion (US$852 million) in 2020.

As for fourth-quarter (4Q) 2021, profits jumped to COP$336 billion (US$85.5 million), from a COP$59 billion (US$15 million) net loss in 4Q 2020.

The Celsia electric-power division saw EBITDA rise to COP$1.4 trillion (US$356 million), “highest in history,” according to Argos.

The Odinsa highway-concessions business collected tolls from more than 43 million vehicles last year, up 42% year-on-year, while the airport concession business moved 25 million passengers – up 100% year-on-year, as the Covid-19 pandemic effects receded, the company noted.


Medellin-based multinational banking giant Bancolombia reported February 22 a that its full-year 2021 net income jumped 31% year-on-year, to COP$4.1 trillion (US$1.04 billion).

Fourth-quarter (4Q) 2021 net income soared to COP$1.44 trillion (US$365 million), up from a COP$266 billion (US$67 million) net loss in 4Q 2020.

Annualized return on equity (ROE) for full-year 2021 was 14%, while gross loans grew 15.1%, to COP$220 trillion (US$55.8 billion) – even up 9.6% once excluding currency-exchange effects.

In Colombia, the loan portfolio grew 11.7% year-on-year, “largely explained by the performance in the second half. Retail and mortgages gained share during the year within the consolidated loan book, representing 22% and 14% respectively,” according to Bancolombia.

Meanwhile, “30-day past-due loans were 4.05% [of the total book], a gradual reduction based on better asset quality, lower deterioration, and the growth in charge-offs during 2021. Charge-offs grew 86%, mainly explained by run-offs covered under relief” provisions, according to Bancolombia.

Loan provision charges for 4Q 2021 dropped 67.8% year-on-year, to COP$2.4 trillion (US$609 million), “primarily due to macroeconomic improvements, as well as a better performance of customers,” according to the company.

Shareholders' equity rose 21% year-on-year, to COP$32.2 trillion (US$8.1 billion), “largely explained by the generation of profits during the year,” according to the company.

As for electronic banking, “Bancolombia has made a significant progress in its digital strategy during 2021. The bank has 6.5 million active digital clients in the mobile retail app, as well as 15.9 million accounts in its financial inclusion platforms -- 5.9 million users in ‘Bancolombia a la Mano’ and 10 million in ‘Nequi,’” according to the company.

Colombia’s Rebound Key

Loans in Colombia grew 3.9% in 4Q 2021 versus 3Q 2021, and also rose 11.7% year-on-year, according to the company.

The improvements came “as an effect of the economic reactivation in the country,” thanks to Colombia’s record-setting 10.6% growth in gross domestic product (“PIB” in Spanish initials) for full-year 2021, Bancolombia noted.

“In balance, the commercial portfolio showed an increase of COP$9.1 trillion [US$2.3 billion], highlighting the good performance of peso-denominated loans and the foreign currency portfolio, which was impacted by the 16% depreciation of the Colombian peso [against the U.S. dollar] during the year.

“Mortgage loans accounted for over 31% of growth for the retail segment, an increase of COP$2.4 trillion [US$609 million], driven by a better dynamic in the real estate business that was reflected in the higher levels of originations during the year,” the company added..

Central America Operations

At the end of 4Q 2021, Banco Agricola operations in El Salvador, Banistmo in Panama and BAM in Guatemala represented 28% of total gross loans, according to Bancolombia.

“Gross loans denominated in currencies other than COP -- generated by operations in Central America, the international operation of Bancolombia Panamá, Puerto Rico and the US dollar-denominated loans in Colombia -- accounted for 35% of the portfolio, and grew 6.8% in the quarter (when expressed in COP),” according to the company.

“BAM in Guatemala reported a growth in its portfolio of 3.2% (calculated in U.S. dollars) largely attributed to the performance on the retail side.

“Banistmo [in Panama] reported an increase of 0.2% (calculated in U.S. dollars), with a positive performance in the commercial portfolio with originations growing during 4Q 2021.

“Lastly, Banco Agricola [El Salvador] reported a contraction of 0.9% during the quarter (calculated in U.S. dollars), basically because of prepayments on the commercial side greater than disbursements,” the company added.


Medellin-based multinational supermarket and dry-goods retailer Grupo Éxito announced February 21 that its full-year 2021 net profit soared by 105% year-on-year, to COP$474 billion (US$120 million).

Operating income for 2021 rose 7.5% year-on-year, to COP$16.9 trillion (US$4.3 billion), “marked by important macroeconomic and operational recoveries” not only in Colombia, but also in Argentina and Uruguay.

In Colombia, sales rose 5.5% year-on-year, to COP$12.3 trillion (US$3.1 billion), “driven by the performance of innovative store formats, omnichannel sales and the recovery of the real estate and financial businesses,” according to Éxito.

Consolidated recurring earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 20.7% year-on-year, to COP$1.5 trillion (US$381 million), with an EBITDA margin of 9.1%.

Electronic and direct-delivery channels in Colombia represented 11.9% of sales, totaling COP$1.5 trillion (US$381 million) in 2021, and 9.9% of sales corporate-wide.

“By 2022, the company will continue with the expansion plan for its innovative formats (Éxito Wow, Carulla FreshMarket, Super Inter Vecino, Surtimayorista and Surtimax) renewing between 50 and 60 stores in Colombia and six hypermarkets operated by ‘La 14,’” according to Éxito.

“Innovative formats increased their sales share to 33.3% in Colombia. By brand, ‘Éxito Wow’ stores accounted for 29.6% of sales, ‘Carulla FreshMarket’ 45.1%, ‘Super Inter Vecino’ 47.7% and ‘Surtimayorista,’ which accounted for 4.6% of the company’s sales.

“The operation in Uruguay registered a recurring EBITDA margin of 10.2% and continued as the most profitable operation of the Group. Omnichannel sales grew 9.8% in local currency and represented 3.6% of total sales in that country.

“In Argentina, the operation had significant growth in revenues (+46.8%) in local currency, marked by the recovery of consumption and the real estate businesses. EBITDA margin reached 3.4%, almost twice that registered in 2020,” the company added.

While 2021 delivered solid results corporate-wide, “in Colombia, the beginning of the year was complex, affected by warehouse closures and the national strike,” explained Grupo Éxito president Carlos Mario Giraldo.

“In Uruguay, we had the worst tourist season, and in Argentina we faced a difficult macroeconomic situation.

“However, the Group quickly adapted [thanks to] strengthening of our digital strategy, supported by our network of warehouses, consolidation of our innovative formats and the recovery of businesses in real estate and finance,” he added.


The department of Antioquia -- including Medellin and all its neighboring cities-- has just exceeded 10 million vaccinations against Covid-19, with 67% of the population here now completely vaccinated (in most cases, at least two doses).

This follows on the heels of a simultaneous announcement by Colombia President Ivan Duque that Covid-19 vaccinations nationwide already exceed 80% of the population, with a 70% complete-vaccination-rate fast approaching.

According to the February 18 joint announcement from Colombia’s Health Ministry, the Antioquia departmental government, Universidad Nacional, One Health Genomic Laboratory and Medellin-based electric-power distribution giant ISA (which cooperated in the efforts), Covid-19 vaccinations here have achieved better-than-world-class standards in just 12 months – often matching or even exceeding North American rates.

“With about 277 vaccination posts throughout the department, Antioquia has managed to apply up to 74,386 doses in a single day,” according to the joint announcement.

Antioquia Health Secretary Lina María Bustamante Sánchez added that “we have 83% coverage in first doses and 67% with a complete schedule,” resulting in a dramatic avoidance of Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths – the latter almost exclusively occurring among the non-vaccinated.

“Where we have had the best rate of vaccination is in the Valle de Aburrá [Medellin metro], Oriente and Suroeste,” Bustamante explained. “In the most remote regions, with problems of public order and displacement, such as Bajo Cauca and Urabá, strategies were created to reach these territories. For that, we have had the alliance with ISA and Universidad Nacional, including a mobile vaccination unit and displacements by helicopters for special vaccination campaigns,” she added.

Commenting on the one-year anniversary of the vaccination campaigns, President Duque added that the government has already spent COP$4.5 trillion (US$1.14 billion) acquiring 104 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, which are freely given to all residents here.

Since February 17, 2021, when the Covid-19 immunization process began, the national government has already supplied 75.7 million doses, resulting in 71% of all persons over 30 years of age now completely vaccinated.

Vaccinations also have reached the two-dose completion target for 51% of Colombians from 10-to-19-years-old, plus another 28% of children three-to-nine-years-old, according to a February 12 report from the Health Ministry. Childhood vaccinations are now rapidly increasing as Colombia returns to in-person schooling nearly everywhere.


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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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