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Medellin-based nationwide telecom/internet/cable-TV giant UNE-EPM revealed March 31 that its full-year 2019 after-tax profits rose to a relatively modest COP$519 million (US$128,000) -- up from a substantial COP$65 billion (US$16 million) net loss in 2018.

The profits improvement is explained mainly by the sale of cell-phone towers along with more favorable results from affiliate Colombia Móvil, which operates under the “Tigo” trade name, according to UNE-EPM.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) also improved in 2019, to COP$1.6 trillion (US$394 million), versus COP$1.4 trillion (US$345 million) in 2018.

Revenues in 2019 climbed to COP$4.9 trillion (US$1.2 billion), up from COP$4.8 billion (US$1.1 billion) in 2018.

Highlights of 2019 included Colombia Movil winning a 10-MHz spectrum-use permit for a 10-year term, as well as potential gains from another spectrum auction in December. “Obtaining 40-MHz in the 700-MHz band will expand coverage to thousands of users and improve mobile data service,” according to the company.

The Colombia Móvil division saw revenues rise 4.2% year-on-year, to COP$2.24 trillion (US$552 million), while the division’s EBITDA hit COP$655 billion (US$161 million) and profits rose to COP$27 billion (US$6.6 million), according to the company.

Meanwhile, the Edatel subsidiary (telecom in rural areas) saw revenues rise to COP$210 billion (US$51.7 million), with EBITDA at $82 billion (US$20 million) and profits of COP$19 billion (US$4.6 million).

The “OSI” and “CTC” subsidiaries meanwhile generated EBITDA of COP$10 billion (US$2.4 million) and profits of COP$4 billion (US$986,000), according to the company.

Fiber-optic broadband coverage -- enabling 50-megabytes per second connections -- grew by almost 6%, “allowing us to reach more homes with internet, broadband, television and telephone services on this technology,” according to the company.

As a result, “in 2019 our subscriber base grew close to 7% on the internet, 6% on digital television and 2% on landlines; achieving an increase higher than 3% in new clients,” according to the company.

Mobile/Cell-Phone Business

“The prepaid [cell-phone service] market had little change in supply, where we continue to be competitive incorporating unlimited voice to all operators,” according to UNE-EPM.

“Prepaid had revenue growth of more than 1% versus 2018, leveraged mainly due to increased package sales. Additionally, the 4G prepaid user base LTE increased 42% versus 2018, both by new users and by penetration of existing users at the base.

“In postpaid we continue with our plans based on simplicity, which consist of three plans with unlimited minutes and messages and data to always be connected [and] where included, accessories to improve the user experience such as music, equipment insurance and preferential service.

“In addition, we make alliances with main banks in the country to offer cell-phone financing at a 0% interest rate. Also, we continue with differential offers on phones such as ‘2x1,’ so that our customers can access the latest generation phones in 4G.

“Thanks to this, in 2019 our base of customers increased by about 10% and the empowerment of more LTE sites supported the increase in our postpaid mobile data users by more than 18%,” according to the company.


Medellin-based multinational paper- and personal-hygiene products manufacturer Grupo Familia on March 30 revealed that its full-year 2019 net income rose 20.2% year-on-year, to COP$247 billion (US$61 million).

Sales rose 10.9%, to COP$2.65 trillion (US$654 million), with foreign sales (up 13%) accounting for COP$1.3 trillion (US$321 million) of the total. Colombia sales rose 8.8%, to COP$1.36 trillion (US$356 million).

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 14%, to COP$428 billion (US$105 million), while patrimony rose 8.9%, to COP$1.66 trillion (US$409 million).

At year-end 2019, Familia had 5,271 employees, nine distribution centers in four countries, commercial operations in 13 countries and exports from Colombia to seven nations.

“In Latin America and the Caribbean -- the region in which we operate -- 2019 brought new social and political challenges that seek social transformation. This phenomenon presented an unusual intensity in some countries,” the company noted in its annual report.

“Argentina faced a change of government that increased investor uncertainty, and also went through a new currency crisis that triggered a sharp devaluation -- all accompanied by an increase in inflation (over 50%) and a decrease in GDP.

“Ecuador presented a contraction of the economy by 0.9%, compared to the growth of 2018 that was 1.4%. The government’s proposal to eliminate fuel subsidies sparked social protests that led to lower consumer confidence, which translated into lower spending.

“The Dominican Republic maintained a good performance at the end of the year with a growth of 4.9% of GDP, boosted by private consumption, stimuli in monetary policy and improvements in the relationship with the United States, its main trading partner. The country had controlled inflation that allowed demand to be stimulated.

“Peru grew its GDP by 2.3%, a lower figure than the previous year after facing global economic uncertainty and lower prices for basic products. Low interest rates are expected to promote growth during 2020.

“Puerto Rico presented a noticeable improvement in 2019, after overcoming the consequences caused by the 2018 hurricanes. GDP grew close to 3.7%, while inflation held steady at less-than 1%. The plan to stimulate the economy through reconstruction, the growth of the United States economy and an improvement in the tourism sector contributed to the result.

“Chile closed the year with GDP growth close to 2%, after having a good 2018 that closed at 4%. This decrease was the result of social protests, in addition to a lower level of raw material prices and the depreciation of the peso.

“Bolivia had a GDP growth of 3.3%, less than the 4.2% it reached in 2018. From a political perspective, President Evo Morales resigned after 14 years in power, due to protests stemming from allegations of fraud in the elections.

“Colombia presented economic growth of over 3%, despite the complex regional environment. Tax reform, dynamic household consumption, public spending accompanied by infrastructure developments, and improved foreign investment were the main factors.

“The [Colombian peso to U.S. dollar] exchange rate registered an increase of 11% with an average in 2019 of COP$3,281 to the dollar, compared to COP$2,956 in 2018. However, at the end of 2019 it remained stable at COP$3,277, compared to the COP$3,249 at the end of 2018.
Inflation for the year was 3.8% and was within the target set by Banco de la República (between 2% and 4%),” the company added.


Toronto-based Gran Colombia Gold – Colombia’s biggest gold miner, principally in Antioquia – on March 30 reported a full-year 2019 net loss of US$131 million, far worse than the US$3.4 million net loss in 2018 -- all because of a one-time accounting write-down.

The loss was the result of an after-tax charge of US$153.6 million “associated with the company’s exploration and evaluation assets in Zona Alta and Echandia at the Marmato project” in Colombia, according to Gran Colombia.

Fourth-quarter (4Q) 2019 net loss was US$148.8 million compared with net income of US$8 million in 4Q 2018, all because of the Marmato write-down.

However, if excluding the Marmato write-down, then adjusted net income for 4Q 2019 actually rose to US$17.1 million, up from $14.5 million in 4Q 2018.

For full-year 2019, adjusted net income rose to US$60.5 million, up from US$42.5 million in 2018.

“The year-over-year increase in 2019’s adjusted net income largely reflects the positive impact of Segovia [Antioquia] production growth, the increase in realized gold prices and the reduction in total cash costs per ounce sold on income from operations in 2019, net of an associated increase in income tax expense,” according to the company.

Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose to US$146 million for full-year 2019, up from US$102 million in 2018, while 4Q 2019 adjusted EBITDA rose to US$40 million, from US$23 million in 4Q 2018, according to the company.

Commenting on the results, Gran Colombia Gold executive chairman Serafino Iacono stated: “We had a very solid year in 2019 with record production and new highs for revenue, adjusted EBITDA, free cash flow and adjusted earnings that helped us to significantly strengthen our balance sheet."

Gold production in 4Q 2019 rose 18% year-on-year, to 65,237 ounces, while total annual production for 2019 rose 10% year-on-year, to 239,991 ounces -- both all-time records.

Revenues in 4Q 2019 rose 30% year-on-year, to US$88.5 million, “getting a boost from the 21% increase in spot gold prices. For 2019, production growth, the higher spot gold and silver prices and the reduction in refining charges all combined to increase annual revenue to $326.5 million, up 22% over last year,” the company added.

Total cash costs per ounce averaged US$685 per ounce in 4Q 2019 compared to US$698 per ounce in 4Q 2018, “reflecting a reduction in Segovia’s total cash cost to $607 per ounce in 4Q 2019 from $623 per ounce in 4Q of last year. In 2019, the company’s total cash costs decreased to $661 per ounce from $680 per ounce in 2018,” Gran Colombia added.


Medellin-based textile giant Fabricato on March 30 announced that its full-year 2019 financial results improved 68% year-on-year -- but still produced red ink.

The net loss for 2019 was COP$10 billion (US$2.47 million), a big improvement over the 2018 net loss of COP$31.7 billion (US$7.8 million), according to the company.

Gross revenues rose 3.8%, to COP$342 billion (US$84 million), while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) soared to COP$4.4 billion (US$1.08 million), up from a paltry COP$90 million (US$22,000)  in 2018.

EBITDA margin for 2019 was 1.3%, up from zero in 2018, according to the company.

In Colombia, retail sales of ready-made products rose 6.6% year-on-year, the company noted.

“In 2019, in relation to the business environment for the textile and clothing sector, the most relevant issue corresponds to the issuance of the decree derived from articles 274 and 275 of the National Development Plan, through which the thresholds and tariffs were raised for the import of ready-made products,” according to Fabricato.

“The aforementioned decree was published in August and became effective in November and, as a consequence, the reactivation of demand during the second semester of Colombian clothing was perceived, partially replacing the import of ready-made products.

“Likewise, the volatility of the Colombian peso in relation to the dollar was relevant, whose impact in general terms favors domestic producers, since in this situation, imports may present greater exposure and risk.

“Unfavorable points within the business environment are the informality of the sector, credit restriction by the financial sector and the lack of definition on thresholds and tariffs by the executive branch [of the national government] for textile and clothing products.

“This last point is explained because the [import tariff] decree issued in August was sued by the [national government] among others, for considering it unconstitutional. Said demand was accepted by the Constitutional Court, which considered the decree to be unenforceable.

“At the date of publication of this report, there is an expectation that the executive branch will publish a new decree that covers the entire textile and clothing production chain,” the company added.


Colombia’s Health Ministry announced March 30 that it’s accelerating national payments totaling COP$2.1 trillion (US$517 million) to hospitals and clinics this year in order to respond to an expected surge of Coronavirus patients.

The accelerated payments total a little less than half of the COP$4.5 trillion (US$1.1 billion) in subsidies budgeted for the entire year of 2020, according to the Ministry.

Meanwhile, as of March 30, the Health Ministry had reported 798 Coronavirus cases nationally, led by Bogota (350) and Cali/Valle del Cauca (104). Antioquia ranks third with 96 cases, of which 60 are reported within the city of Medellin.

Among the Antioquia cases, most involve people that had traveled to Spain, the USA, Jamaica, Turkey, Brazil, Italy, Panama, the UK, Ecuador and Germany, according to the Antioquia Departmental government. The remaining cases involved people who were cross-infected by foreign travelers.

So far, 12 people have died nationally from Coronavirus complications – none in Antioquia -- while 15 patients have fully recovered, according to the Ministry. The vast majority of victims are recuperating at homes rather than in hospitals.

“In order to guarantee financial liquidity in the nation’s hospitals and clinics in the face of the Coronavirus health emergency, the national government made the decision to anticipate the transfer of COP$2.1 trillion (US$517 million) corresponding to budgeted resources for the sector for the entire year, which will be disbursed to the institutions that provide health services [that is, Institutos Prestadores de Servicios de Salud, ‘IPS’] during the month of April and the beginning of May,” according to the Ministry.

Colombia’s Administrator of Resources of the General Social Security System in Health (ADRES) has already ordered advance payment of COP$782 billion (US$192 million) to health provider and insurance networks to help pay for certain other high-cost procedures and drugs that fall outside mandatory covered services in the “EPS” (empresas promotores de salud) insurance network schemes, the Ministry added.

Now, an additional COP$540 billion (US$133 million) will be released to health networks between April and May for mandatory covered services (including Coronavirus cases).

Yet another COP$700 billion (US$172 million) will be paid in May “so that hospitals, clinics and other medical centers can access the hospital portfolio purchase mechanism” in anticipation of future ADRES payments, according to the Ministry.


Colombia President Ivan Duque on March 29 hailed the move by the Ministry of Finance to extend COP$70 trillion (US$17 billion) in favorable credits to banks and their commercial, industrial and consumer customers -- in order to enable broader debt refinancing, maintain employment and keep paying wages to workers during the Coronavirus crisis.

With this program and other new measures, “I have no doubt that Colombia will succeed” in meeting the longer-term economic challenges of the Coronavirus crisis and the current quarantine, Duque said.

Apart from quarantine-exempt grocery and pharmacy buying today, much of consumer spending -- the biggest driver of the Colombian economy -- has been crushed.

What’s more, some restrictions on movement and gatherings are likely to continue past the presumptive April 13 end of the current quarantine, according to President Duque.

With millions of people no longer reporting to work -- and certain industries such as shopping malls, restaurants, hotels, airlines, real estate, entertainment, schools, colleges, museums, gymnasiums and parks shut down – the Colombian economy isn’t generating enough cash velocity to cover many current debts under existing repayment terms.

If this situation continues for months, then (ultimately) banks, industries, retailers and consumers would face a devastating financial crisis. Unless people get back to work, return to spending, and currently shut-down commercial/industrial ventures get back to production, the future looks bleak, as noted in a penetrating new investigation by Colombia-based financial giant Corficolombiana (see: https://investigaciones.corficolombiana.com/documents/38211/0/200316%20-%20Informe%20especial%20coronavirus%20en%20Colombia-2.pdf/b1178cd1-f4f2-73fb-2838-cd54db7d43b4).

On the brighter side, the COP$70 trillion(US$17 billion) newly-extended credits via the “Fondo Nacional de Garantías” (FNG) include COP$20 trillion (US$4.9 billion) for micro-, small- and medium-size enterprises (MSMEs), which account for the vast majority of employment in Colombia. This new government credit line for MSMEs includes a 50% payback guarantee, cutting lender risk in half.

Because of the new credit lines made available to banks, Duque urged lenders to “speed up the credit lines and facilities that allow small entrepreneurs and other entrepreneurs to attend to the situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic.”

“This is a moment where [creditors] have to contribute with solidarity, and I know that the Financial Superintendent [Colombia’s ‘Superfinanciera’ regulatory agency] has been having dialogues with many providers of banking services. The call is to effectively streamline their [processes] to deal with this storm,” Duque added.

Colombia faced a similar financial crisis in 1999/2000, Duque recalled.

“Twenty years ago, our country made a great effort to save the financial system at a time of crisis. Today, at this time, we need a financial system that is also contributing in solidarity to overcome these difficult moments,” Duque said.

Besides the new FNG credit fund, the Colombian government also is now waiving certain taxes and mandatory payments of certain less-critical worker subsidies to help many small and medium-sized companies, he said.

In addition, Colombia’s Bancóldex agency just boosted its credit facilities to COPR$650 billion (US$160 million) for affected export sectors as well as second-tier backstop funding for lenders, he noted.

Meanwhile, in a separate but related March 27 announcement, the Finance Ministry confirmed that Colombia’s poorest people (“estratos uno y dos”) won’t have their utility connections cut during the crisis -- and the national government will help local utilities recover these losses.

“Here we give guarantees to all companies that provide public services so that they have the capacity to continue providing them and they will not be in difficulties,” Finance Ministry vice-minister Juan Alberto Londoño stated.

“This [assurance] is not only for utilities but also for the health sector,” Londoño added. “Companies in the health sector -- hospitals, laboratories that need credits to continue providing their services and that need aid -- will have guarantees from the state,” he said.

In addition, “universities and other sectors that we have been identifying -- and that we ask everyone to help us identify -- will be extended credit,” he added.

ANDI President Urges One-Year Debt Holiday

Meanwhile, in a March 29 opinion column published in Bogota daily newspaper El Tiempo, Bruce MacMaster, president of ANDI -- Colombia’s main industrial/commercial trade association -- stated that the Colombian government should start to consider even-more-radical credit measures.

“Three months ago, no one would have imagined that countries closed their borders, hotels and restaurants no longer are working, much less that 90% of the population would remain locked up in their homes, with society threatened by an illness that we are not capable of controlling, and with an economy totally at risk,” MacMaster wrote.

“If this situation continues, a good part of the economic achievements of the 20th and 21st centuries can be lost, unemployment levels will increase, the capacity of institutions to finance universal health and education could be compromised, and the business fabric that has played a major role in building development and generating massive employment could be seriously affected.”

Today’s private-sector solidarity measures and new government-aid initiatives are helping to alleviate the current crisis – including the new COP$70 trillion FNG credits, he noted.

But these alone wouldn't be enough to head-off a longer-term disaster if current the crisis continues, MacMaster warned.

Besides cash liquidity-crunches for consumers, “there is the liquidity of companies, which are the vehicles to generate employment and income for millions of families,” he said.

“A good part of the [industrial/commercial] financial commitment today has to do with debt service,” MacMaster explained.

As a result, the Colombia government “ought to think of doing a massive program -- hopefully automatic -- that would allow companies that require [financial relief] to postpone all debt service payments for a year.

“By allowing the [Superfinanciera financial regulator] to waive current repayment terms, the Bank of the Republic could [step in] to provide liquidity to the financial sector,” which in turn would pass-through this aid to the industrial/commercial sectors, he explained.

“For the financial sector, it is better to leave [debt] resources with good clients than to put them into receivership [bankruptcy]. This [one-year debt holiday] would free up resources necessary to meet the primary need – that is, people -- by supporting the viability of the productive sector, which will ultimately will have to pay back the credits,” MacMaster concluded.


Colombia’s National Institute of Health (“INS” in Spanish initials) announced March 29 that it's about to receive high-tech Coronavirus laboratory-analysis equipment donated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“The donated equipment, reagents and biosafety elements, which will arrive in the country in the coming days, will allow the National Institute of Health (INS) to continue applying the ‘RT-PCR’ technique, which manages to determine with 99% effectiveness who has acquired -- or not acquired -- the virus,” according to INS.

“In addition, this will improve the installed capacity of the INS to carry out new analyses of the disease in the national territory with the application of nearly 2,000 tests.

“Further, this will allow continuing the training process for scientists from higher education institutions, which have been preparing to implement the detection [analysis] techniques.”

An older diagnostic machine at INS suffered damage several days ago, but the Roche pharmaceutical company stepped-in to repair it on March 27, according to INS.

Meanwhile, as of March 28, Colombia had confirmed 608 cases of Coronavirus nationally, with Antioquia accounting for 67 cases. Six people have died nationally, but none so far in Antioquia.

EPM Donates Ventilators, ICU Capacity

On a related front, Medellin-based utilities giant EPM announced March 28 that it donated COP$3 billion (US$748,000 ) to boost Intensive Care Unit (ICU) capacity at University IPS Hospital (Leon XIII Clinic) in Medellin – specifically for coronavirus (COVID-19) victims.

“The monies will be used to buy 42 new beds to attend to potential patients in complex conditions, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). In addition, 37 ventilators will also be purchased, essential to treat patients when vital signs deteriorate and their lives are put at risk,” according to EPM.

Besides the ventilator purchases, the donation includes another 24 vital-signs monitors, three defibrillators, two 12-channel electrocardiographs and a central monitoring unit, according to EPM.

IPS Buys Another 1,510 Ventilators

Meanwhile, the Colombian Health Ministry announced that it just signed a contract for 1,510 ventilators for the expected surge of Coronavirus victims nationally. However, the Ministry added that this initial purchase likely won’t be sufficient, with at least 7,500 ventilators expected to be required nationally.

Medellin Refurbishes ‘Saludcoop’ Clinic

Meanwhile, on March 28, the Medellin Mayor’s Office announced that it’s refurbishing and reopening portions of the former “Saludcoop” clinic on Avenida 80, including installation of 156 ICUs “to serve all Covid-19 patients who require it.”  Employer-benefits organization Comfama, paint manufacturing giant Pintuco and IPS Universitaria Hospital all contributed to the refurbishment.

“To date there are already 67 [Covid-19] cases reported in Antioquia, and 43 of these people reside in Medellín,” according to the Mayor’s Office.

Five new cases in Medellin were reported last week -- all of which involved persons returning from foreign travel -- and three other persons here have had full recoveries so far, according to the Office.

“The population between 20 and 29 [years of age] continues to be the most affected, for which reason young people are called to comply with the obligatory social distancing,” according to the Mayor.

“Regarding the successful recovery of three people, Rita Almanza, an epidemiologist at the Ministry of Health, stated that these are cases that ‘at the beginning of the epidemic were diagnosed, and then after quarantine, they had a second negative test result.’”

Health Ministry Sends More Money to Antioquia

On another front, Colombia’s Health Ministry announced March 28 that it just sent COP$84 billion (US$21 million) to Antioquia to cover past-due debts at hospitals, clinics and government-subsidized “EPS” (empresas promotoras de salud) health-insurance networks.

“This sum will allow the department to settle the overdue debt for services and procedures not financed from the capitation payment unit (UPC) in the subsidized [EPS] regime and, according to the provisions of Resolution 916 of 2020, Antioquia will proceed to make the payment to the corresponding beneficiaries and creditors” including hospitals, clinics and suppliers, according to the Ministry.

The extra monies also would help hospitals and clinics deal with an expected surge of Coranvirus victims -- among which will be patients in the government-subsidized sector.


Colombia President Ivan Duque announced March 27 that the Coronavirus crisis and the resulting quarantine of most of the population is likely to cut Colombia’s gross domestic product (“PIB” in Spanish initials) this year.

While late-2019 and early-2020 forecasts had indicated that Colombia seemed on track for around 3.5% PIB growth this year, Duque stated that “we are going from, perhaps, in the first quarter of this year -- one of the best first quarters of the last 10 years -- to a tough second quarter, painful.”

In the face of the current economic downturn, both government and the private sector must “prepare to see how we are going to make an economic recovery that is sustainable and that also allows us to live with this virus while a vaccine appears,” he added.

Employers in both the private and public sectors are going to have to adopt “best practices in terms of control in labor scenarios,” he said.

“I believe that this is going to change many policies within companies where we are going to need [body] temperature mediators [to detect fevers]; where do we go, if someone has symptoms, to know how to say to that person: look, stay at home while you get better,” he said.

Meanwhile, the global oil-price crash triggered by falling global demand and a market-share war between Russia and Saudi Arabia will hurt Colombian government oil-revenues temporarily.

“It’s natural for the price to fall due to lower demand, but deliberately trying to generate an oversupply [from the market-share war] leads to negatively impacting the world economy [and] seems to me an act of extreme irresponsibility,” he said.

Fedesarrollo Cuts 2020 PIB Outlook

Meanwhile, Fedesarrollo -- Colombia’s leading economic think-tank – on March 27 cut its full-year 2020 PIB outlook for Colombia to 1.2%, down from its 3.5% 2020 growth forecast last December.

The “optimistic” scenario for Colombian PIB growth is 2.3% while the “pessimistic” scenario is a negative 0.4%, according to Fedesarrollo.

Colombian exports are likely to fall by 8.8% while imports would declined by an even steeper 15.8%, according to the forecast. Meanwhile, domestic consumer spending likely will dip by 2.2% and capital formation would fall by 11%, according to the latest forecast.

 

 


Medellin-based multinational utilities giant EPM revealed in a March 27 filing with Colombia’s Superfinanciera corporate oversight agency that its full-year 2019 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 17% year-on-year, to COP$6 trillion (US$1.5 billion).

EBITDA margin hit 33% -- best in five years, according to EPM.

Out of its 2019 earnings, COP$1.5 trillion (US$376 million) this year will go directly to the city of Medellin -- EPM’s sole shareholder.

Gross revenues rose 12% year-on-year, to COP$$18.4 trillion (US$4.6 billion) -- 64% of which was generated in Colombia and the remaining 36% in its foreign markets.

Investments in public-service infrastructure during 2019 totaled COP$3.2 trillion (US$803 million), according to the company.

In total, EPM provided utility services to 10.4 million clients in six countries last year, the company added.

Over the last 12 years, EPM’s profit transfers to the city of Medellin total COP$10.9 trillion (US$2.7 billion), enabling investments in public education, welfare, infrastructure, housing, health, security and environmental protection, according to the company.

During 2019, EPM also spent COP$1.5 trillion (US$376 million ) on goods and services, generating more wealth and employment for Colombians, the company noted. What’s more, EPM spent another COP$261 billion (US$65 million) in payments to local communities and for environmental projects.

Capital spending on the US$5 billion, 2.4-gigawatt Hidroituango hydroelectric plant in Antioquia (now more than 75% complete) totaled COP$$1.1 trillion (US$276 million) last year.

Assets grew 5%, to COP$54.9 trillion (US$13.8 billion), while liabilities rose 1%, to COP$30.7 trillion (US$7.7 billion).

Debt to EBITDA ratio improved to 3.49 in 2019 versus 3.86 in 219, while total financial debt dipped to 40% in 2019 versus 41% in 2018 -- mainly due to the COP$525 billion (US$132 million) insurance payment received as partial compensation for damages suffered at the Hidroituango hydroelectric project, the company added.


The Mayor of Medellin and utilities giant EPM jointly announced March 25 the creation of “Fondo Abrazando con Amor” charity, whereby individuals and companies can donate funds to help Coronavirus victims within EPM’s area of operations.

Donations can be made to the fund’s Bancolombia “cuenta corriente,” account number 598-095455-40, according to EPM. The web page for "Fondo Abrazando con Amor" is available here: https://www.grupo-epm.com/site/fundacionepm/abrazando-con-amor.

“The EPM Foundation will be in charge of managing donations, benefitting groups of people or entities affected by the emergency as a result of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in the areas of influence of our business group,” according to EPM.

“People and institutions can make their donations or contributions through a QR code, transfer by PSE and other virtual channels authorized by the bank, in order to facilitate community support.

“The accumulated collection and execution of all donations and contributions received by the fund will be published on our website and on social networks of the EPM Foundation, as well as those of EPM and the Mayor's Office of Medellín,” the company added.

As of March 26, Colombia's Ministry of Health reported a nationwide total of 491 cases of Coronavirus, led by Bogota (187), Cali/Valle de Cauca (73) and Medellin (59).

So far, six Colombians have died from Coronavirus complications -- three in Bogota, one in Santa Marta, one in Cali and one in Cartagena, according to the Ministry. Another eight persons are reported to have recovered from the disease.


Page 15 of 62

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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