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Colombia’s Transport Ministry and its Agencia Nacional de Infraestructura (ANI) infrastructure agency announced December 20 that they've granted a conditional 30-year concession license to the developers of the proposed “Puerto Pisisi” Atlantic freight port at Turbo, Antioquia.

According to ANI, the initial investment would total US$133 million, and when completed the port eventually would handle 1.7 million tons/year of general cargo, containers, solid and liquid bulk materials, vehicles and hydrocarbons.

“Puerto Pisisí is expected to become one of the most representative ports in the Gulf of Urabá, as it is a maritime zone that offers geostrategic conditions for the movement of cargo towards the center of the country,” according to ANI.

“This port is part of the strategy of connecting the country with the world and is complemented by the program of projects of the 4G [fourth-generation] highways that are being executed in Antioquia,” added ANI president Louis Kleyn.

The conditional license requires the Pisisi port developers to sign a construction contract within one year, upon which it could start finalizing its investment plan.

“This terminal expects to mobilize more than 300,000 tons for the first year of operation, until reaching about 1.7 million tons by year 30,” according to ANI.

Medellin’s investment promotion agency ACI -- Agencia de Cooperacion e Inversion de Medellin y el Area Metropolitana -- reported December 21 that foreign direct investment (FDI) in Medellin so far this year has topped US$253 million, or US$11 million over ACI’s initial forecast target.

“These investment projects came mostly from Mexico, El Salvador, Italy, Venezuela, Japan, Spain, Taiwan, the United States, France and Panama and correspond to the economic sectors of tourism infrastructure, health services/life sciences, real estate, food and beverages, manufacturing and ‘fourth-generation’ [high-tech] industries,” according to ACI.

“For the development of these projects, it is estimated that 3,180 jobs were generated,” the agency added.

Meanwhile, foreign-government aid projects to Medellin – mainly from the U.S., the EU, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Canada and Japan – targeted education, security, mobility, economic development, environment, social inclusion and “peace building.” These investments topped US$17 million, or US$6 million more than ACI initially expected for 2018.

“Of a total of 1,287 projects and indications of investment intention directed towards Colombia between 2003 and 2018, the majority comes from the United States, Spain, Canada, Brazil, United Kingdom, Chile, Mexico and France, so the recommendation is to strengthen the relationship with these countries through proactive work to attract foreign investment to Medellin,” the agency added.

High-Tech Sector Leads Outlook

On a related front, ACI reported December 20 that a recent joint study by the Medellin Mayor's office and Argentina’s “PRODEM” development agency found that Medellin is becoming a major focal point for high-tech investment.

“In the last three years, the Mayor's Office of Medellín has accompanied about 119,000 people in their ideas of entrepreneurship,” according to ACI.

The joint study was the result of local officials setting a goal that Medellín should become one of the top-three “most-entrepreneurial cities” and the “capital of innovation in Latin America in 2023,” according to ACI.

The study analyzed variables including human capital, entrepreneurial education, culture, business structure, science, technology and information platform, as well as local demand, social capital, financing, local institutional support and local policies and regulations, according to ACI.

"Medellín has an ecosystem of young entrepreneurship that advances and has opportunities for improvement to make the leap towards a new, more dynamic stage,” added Hugo Kantis, director of Argentina’s PRODEM, according to ACI.

Colombian Congress Approves 2019 Tax Law

Thursday, 20 December 2018 11:44 Written by

Colombia President Ivan Duque and Minister of Finance Alberto Carrasquilla on December 19 both hailed final votes in the Colombian House and Senate to approve a revised tax package for 2019.

“The approved bill retains the initial spirit of protecting the most vulnerable population of the country and strengthening the collection through the taxation of the population with the highest income,” according to a Finance Ministry press statement.

The new law “aims to recover investment in the country and allow the economy to grow above 4% [annually], removing the burden on the generators of employment and encouraging investment,” the Ministry added.

Unlike the original proposal, the new law won’t extend the current 19% value-added tax (VAT) on many products to the basic “food·basket” that includes what most Colombians buy every day. However, beer and carbonated soft-drinks – previously exempt from IVA -- will now be hit by that tax.

On the other hand, neither pensions nor certain service contracts will be taxed, contrary to the original tax proposal.

Meanwhile, the new law strengthens the hand of the national tax-collection agency (DIAN) in the fight against tax evasion, including possible prison sentences for evaders.

Responding to a proposal from President  Duque, “tax conditions were created so that companies related to the ‘orange’ economy [high-tech, environmentally ‘green’] could develop, benefiting cultural and technological ventures that generate added value to economic growth,” the Ministry noted.

According to President Duque, the new law “promotes entrepreneurship, simplifying and facilitating the work of micro-, small, medium and large companies, which currently face a huge and inequitable tax burden that does not allow them to grow, and substantially reduces the fiscal asphyxia in sectors generating formal employment.”

Corporate income-tax rates will be gradually reduced from 33% today to 30% over the next four years.

“To increase productivity, VAT will be allowed to be deducted from the investment in capital goods starting in the taxable year 2019. In addition, companies will be able to deduct 50% of the ‘Industry and Commerce Tax’ from the taxable year 2019 and 100%l in 2022. The deduction of 50% of the ‘Lien on Financial Movements’ is maintained,” according to the Ministry.

Meanwhile, a new “SIMPLE” alternative taxation system “seeks to simplify compliance with the tax obligations of legal or natural persons with annual gross income of less than COP$2.75 billion [US$847,500]. Using a single form, they can settle their income tax obligations and ICA [Industry and Commerce Tax], reducing the costs of compliance with their tax obligations and promoting formalization [of employment],” according to the Ministry.

“In addition, SIMPLE system rates for small stores, mini-markets, micro-markets and hairdressers already are included in VAT liability. On the other hand, restaurants will liquidate the consumption tax in the same form,” according to the Ministry.

The new law also includes a 1% tax on assets of more than COP$5 billion [US$1.54 million], while real estate sales valued at more-than COP$918 million [US$282,760] will be hit by a 2% consumption tax, except for rural properties destined for agricultural production.

In addition, the personal income tax rate is increased for people with average monthly incomes greater than COP$40 million [US$12,320].

The extra tax revenues resulting from the new law “will be directed mainly to address the subsidized health system, social programs such as ‘Families in Action’ and the ‘Elderly and School Feeding Program,’” according to the Ministry.

Medellin-based international electric-power transmission and highway concessions giant ISA announced December 19 an “alliance” deal with Medellin-based construction giant Construcciones El Condor for highway deals in Colombia and Peru.

According to the new partners, ISA will have a controlling 51% stake in the alliance.

“ISA is taking quick steps to materialize the ‘ISA 2030 strategy’ that was recently made public, in which emphasis on the road business is focused on consolidating its business in Chile, where it is currently a leading player, and on exploration of new markets in Colombia and Peru,” according to the company.

“ISA brings its extensive experience as an operator in Chile, where it currently leads the segment of interurban highways, its financial muscle and its leadership as a ‘multilatina’ [company]; while Construcciones El Cóndor S.A, brings its recognized experience in construction, concession management and road infrastructure projects.”

Besides opening doors to public tenders for road concessions in Colombia and Peru, the alliance also “opens the possibility of executing a joint strategy of evaluation, participation and acquisition of concessions,” according to ISA.

In Colombia, several “fourth generation” (4G) highways are nearing completion, so new contracts to maintain and operate these highways are soon to be put up for bid, the company noted.

Luz María Correa Vargas, president of Construcciones El Cóndor, added that “we are a relevant player in Colombia with nearly 40 years in the market. We have great strengths in the management of concession contracts, especially in the structuring of offers, and in the design, construction and engineering of road concessions.

“Our goal is to continue growing and for this, the support of a solid and recognized company like ISA is key. We find that we have an affinity of interests and that we complement each other to be leaders,” she said.

Constructora Conconcreto Loan Syndication

On a related front, Medellin-based Constructora Conconcreto announced December 19 that it just won a syndicated loan agreement with Colombia banking giants Bancolombia, Banco Davivienda, Banco de Bogota, Itaú Corpbanca Colombia, Banco Popular, Banco de Occidente, Banco Santander de Negocios Colombia, BBVA Colombia and Commercial Bank AV Villas.

“The support and vote of confidence of all the banks that participated in this process for Constructora Conconcreto S.A. is undoubtedly a favorable symptom for the construction sector in our country,” according to Conconcreto.

“This contract allows the company to re-profile its financial debt at a value of COP$639.8 billion [US$198 million], a loan whose maturity date will be December 31, 2023.

“Thanks to these new conditions, Constructora Conconcreto S.A. it is able to continue with the fulfillment of the investment plan required in strategic projects, which reaffirm the sustainability of the company in the long term and contribute to the national infrastructure, such as:

“• Via 40 Express, one of the most important concessions in the country, since it is the most important commercial artery in Colombia, connecting the Sabana de Bogotá with the Port of Buenaventura.
“• Consortium Vial Helios, which will complete the execution of Section 1 of Ruta del Sol, corresponding to the sector between Villeta and Puerto Salgar.
“• The continuation of 21 housing projects, which represent more than COP$760 billion [US235 million] in revenues for the company, which are located in the main cities of the country.”

The new credit agreement is backed by Conconcreto’s COP$540 billion (US$167 million) equity in the “Pactia” real-estate private equity fund; other real estate valued at COP$58.3 billion (U$$18 million); and a fiduciary-rights security interest agreement in the Malachí Trust, whose underlying asset is a property worth COP$80 billion (US$24.7 million), according to the company.

The ever-worsening economic and social crisis in Venezuela -- caused by the criminal Castro-Chavista narco-communist dictatorship -- is now likely to trigger out-migration of about 25% of the entire population, according to a shocking new study by Washington, DC-based Brookings Institution.

Medellin-based credit union Cooperativa Financiera de Antioquia (CFA) revealed this month in a filing with Colombia’s Superfinanciera regulatory agency that it won a favorable AA rating for long-term debt from Bogota-based debt rater Value & Risk Rating (VRR).

CFA also won a favorable “VrR1” rating from VRR for short-term debt risk, according to the filing.

The filing, posted by the Superintendencia on December 10, shows that CFA’s net income through August 2018 rose to COP$4.77 billion (US$1.5 million), up from COP$3.99 billion (US$1.26 million) for the same period in 2017.

“The AA rating indicates a high capacity to pay interest and return capital, with a limited incremental risk compared to other entities or rated issues with the highest category,” according to VVR.

“On the other hand, the rating VrR1 corresponds to the highest category in investment grade, which indicates that the entity [CFA] enjoys a high probability in the payment of the obligations in the agreed terms and terms. The liquidity of the institution and the protection for third parties is good. Additionally, the ability to pay will not be affected by changes in the sector or the economy,” VVR added.

Among credit unions, CFA, founded in the year 2000, is ranked fourth by level of assets among the five financial cooperatives of Colombia, VVR noted.

The company mainly caters to lower-income and middle-income clients (strata 1, 2 and 3 in Colombia’s system of income rankings) and has most of its business here in Antioquia.

CFA has 10 main offices, 498 employees, and 68 correspondent offices in seven Colombian departments (states), and continues to expand throughout Colombia.

In total, 85% of the loan portfolio typically goes to salaried employees, commerce, transport and agriculture, according to the filing. The top-20 loan clients represented just 4.27% of the total portfolio, the filing shows.

During 2019, CFA plans to start-up the second phase of its cell-phone-based “Mobile channel,” which seeks to expand the transactional portfolio; complete the modernization and optimization of its “virtual office” platform; and continue with the development of its “Networks” project, according to the filing.

The Medellin City Council on November 26 voted 19-2 to approve a COP$5.3 trillion (US$1.6 billion) 2019 budget mainly favoring the city’s most vulnerable citizens.

More than 78% of the budget goes to public education, health, infrastructure and “social inclusion,” according to the city’s Treasury Secretary Orlando Uribe Villa.

The budget includes a COP$77 billion (US$23.7 million) addition over the Mayor’s originally submitted budget in order to complete infrastructure projects including a new public hospital in the low-income Buenos Aires neighborhood, the new Alejandro Echavarria public school and the “Buen Comienzo” kindergarten head-start program for poorer children in the Loreto neighborhood.

Medellin leads all major cities in Colombia by funding public education from pre-kindergarten through eleventh grade and then subsidizing college studies for many lower-income children.

Electric-Bus Fleet to Expand

On a related front, Medellin Mayor Federico Gutierrez announced November 20 that the city has asked vendors to submit bids for a contract worth COP$75 billion (US$23 million) for 55 pure-electric transit buses for the “Metroplus” bus rapid transit (BRT) system, which currently employs 77 natural-gas-fueled buses and just one electric bus.

If any bids eventually qualify, then the city could start acquiring these new electric buses by end-2019, according to the Mayor.

The zero-emissions buses would have capacity for 80 passengers, have a 280-kilometers range between recharges, be capable of climbing steep inclines in some of Medellin’s neighborhoods, and be capable of battery recharge in four hours, according to the bid proposal.

Medellín aims to slash air pollution by converting more of its vehicle fleet to zero-emissions electric power. The city currently suffers poor air quality mainly because of grossly excessive emissions from cheap, poor-technology motorcycles along with ancient, obsolete diesel-powered trucks and buses, as well as obsolete, high-emitting cars.

If any of the bus-bids are successful, then Medellin soon will have the largest electric-powered transit fleet in Colombia -- and one of the largest in Latin America, Mayor Gutierrez boasted.

The city’s current “Metroplus” BRT system runs through 14.7-kilometers-long circuits on “Line 1” and "Line 2,” from the University of Medellin (Belén neighborhood) through the city center and then onward to Aranjuez neighborhood.

Medellin also has Colombia’s only all-electric “Metro” elevated-train system, tied into its growing, all-electric “Metrocable” aerial tram networks plus the electric “Tranvia” roadway tram system.

Antioquia Mining Secretary Dora Elena Balvin revealed at the 2018 edition of the annual Colombia Gold Symposium (CGS) here that Antioquia continues to dominate national gold production – and is likely to expand output dramatically in coming years.

One reason for optimism is the well-underway development of Continental Gold’s massive mining project at Buritica, Antioquia, as Continental chief financial officer Paul Begin told the 350 CGS delegates here in a November 13 presentation.

The high-tech, environmentally and socially responsible project – which has won high praise from the community as well as from local, departmental and national regulatory agencies -- will become Colombia’s biggest gold mine when it hits full production in 2021, Begin explained.

Production at Buritica is now forecast at 300,000 ounces of gold per year, tapping reserves estimated at 3.86 million ounces, or 8.75 grams-equivalent of gold per ton of rock mined at the site.

Continental also foresees that its mining reserve here has a “global resource estimate of more than 9 million ounces” at 10.26 grams-equivalent per ton of rock mined.

Favorable geology, experienced leadership and high technology are seen delivering production costs at less-than US$600 per ounce of gold produced, with pre-production capital costs of US$475 million to US$515 million, he explained.

Construction at the project is now 38% complete. Global mining giant Newmont Mining recently took a 19.9% stake in Continental, investing C$109 million, while RK Mine Finance has put-up C$275 million in debt finance plus C$25 million in equity, he showed.

At year-end 2017, Antioquia’s gold production hit 634,655 ounces, or 46.4% of national production, Antioquia Mining Secretary Balvin explained here. Ten municipalities in Antioquia account for 92% of all production, she added.

What’s more, Antioquia now has an estimated gold reserve totaling more than 33 million ounces, with average production of 25 grams-equivalent per ton of rock mined, she explained.

Unique in all Colombia, the Antioquia departmental government administers mining regulations, including mining titles, oversight, programs to convert irregular and illegal miners to legalized mining, overseeing the abolition of toxic mercury used in gold processing, promotion of both local and international investment, and promotion of socially and environmentally responsible mining, she added.

Besides the Continental Project at Buritica, other proposed large-scale gold and copper-mining projects in Antioquia include AngloGold Ashanti’s currently stalled Gramalote and Quebradona projects, she noted.

The Gramalote project at San Roque, Antioquia, is estimated to have potential production of 350,000 to 450,000 ounces of gold per year, with a resource estimate over life-of-mine at 4.22 million ounces, she noted.

AngloGold has already invested US$270 million in the project, but local opposition to date has slowed development.

As for AngloGold’s proposed Quebradona copper-mine in Jericó, Antioquia, this project is in an "advanced stage" of studies to determine the extent and quality of the resource, which includes not only copper but also gold, silver and molybdenum, she said. AngloGold has already invested US$65 million in that proposed project, she added.

As for Medellin-based Mineros S.A., its “Ciénaga Grande” and “La Ye” projects in the municipalities of El Bagre, Zaragoza, Caucasia and Nechí, Antioquia, are in “advanced exploration stages,” according to Balvin.

“During 2017, Mineros allocated the sum of COP$46.5 billion pesos [US$14 million} in the advanced exploration stage, in support of its Colombia mining operations and support for [community-based] rubber plantations,” she said.

As for Gran Colombia Gold (GCG), which including predecessor company Frontino Gold Mines has been mining gold at Segovia, Antioquia for more than 150 years, its production continues apace, as noted in a separate presentation here by GCG exploration VP Alessandro Cecchi.

GCG, which has permanent offices in Toronto and in Medellin, produced 214,439 ounces of gold in the 12-month period from September 2017 to September 2018, Cecchi said. That’s a 23% boost in output over the comparable prior 12-month period, he added.

While Colombia generally and Antioquia specifically have suffered from decades of irresponsible and illegal mining by criminal groups and mercury-spewing miners, as well as mass anti-mining protests and strikes in certain communities, “today the panorama has changed [as more communites] approve mining," Secretary Balvin said. However, instances of violence, murders and disorders still break-out, most recently in certain areas in Antioquia (see October 8, 2018 Medellin Herald, Continental Gold Honors Employees Murdered by FARC ‘Dissidents,’ Hires Top-Flight Security Agency).

In a separate presentation here, Agencia Nacional de Mineria (ANM) mining-promotion vice-president David Gonzales pointed-out that gold is 39% of all Colombian mining concessions, and Antioquia has more than two-thirds of the national gold concessions.

National gold production is expected to increase by 27% in 2020, he added.

Today, Colombia is 18th in global gold production, but fifth in Latin America. Colombia also is 42nd in global copper production, and sixth in Latin America, he said.

Gold-mining projects with already-approved environmental licenses here include Continental’s Buritica project, AngloGold Ashanti’s Gramalote project, Antioquia Gold’s Ciseneros project, and Alicant Mining’s Rionegro (Santander department) project, he said.

Other big upcoming gold-mining projects here include the Cordoba Minerals project at San Matias (Cordoba department), scheduled for 2023; Minesa’s “Soto Norte” project in Santander (currently tied-up in legal disputes over defining and controlling operations adjacent to or within the Santurban Paramo); the Miraflores Mining project at Miraflores, Risaralda, scheduled for 2021; the Batero Gold project at Batero-Quinchia, Risaralda, scheduled for 2023; the Orosur project at Anza, Antioquia, scheduled for 2021; and the Andes Resources project at Andes, Antioquia, scheduled for 2023, he said.

Colombia offers favorable incentives for mining including five-year amortization of assessments and exploration studies; tax refund certificates for miners that boost investments; public-works in-lieu of taxes; a 25% income-tax reduction for innovative R&D; discounts on sales taxes imposed on imported machinery; exemptions on payment and social-security taxes for lower-income employees; and a 25% income-tax deduction for environmental conservation measures, he said.

Obstacles Trip-Up Investment

Despite encouraging signs on several fronts, Colombia still puts-up obstacles to more-aggressive mining investment and development, as noted in a separate presentation here by Exploration Insights analyst Brent Cook.

While global demand for gold and copper continues to rise, “globally, discoveries are declining and odds [for success] are deteriorating,” Cook warned.

“Mining companies are increasingly desperate for new deposits, and Latin America is exceptionally prospective. Yet investment in exploration [here] is low, as perceived and real obstacles include political and bureaucratic problems, protests and lawsuits by non-governmental organizations, uncertainties about the rule of law, and security problems,’ he said.

“Mining investors’ money goes where it feels the investment is secure. And projects get advanced there,” he added.

In a panel discussion here featuring mining-legal experts Hernando Escobar, Hernan Rodriguez and Claudia Herrera, the panelists took note of seemingly contradictory legal decisions by Colombia’s Constitutional Court and the Council of State on whether local communities can block mining projects with “consultation” votes -- even if a project had already been earlier approved by the national government.

The Court ruled on October 12 that “consultations” aren’t the correct legal method to stop mining, and that instead a new legal scheme must be developed by Congress to ensure proper coordination between national mining regulators, local governments and regional environmental agencies.

Ironically, one week after the Court decision, Colombia’s Council of State ruled in a separate lawsuit that it’s legal for mayors to invoke such consultations -- but that the national government ultimately should decide whether to allow such mining.

Yet as legal expert Rodriguez pointed-out here, most members of Colombia's Congress represent areas where mining doesn’t exist. So they likely wouldn’t have much interest in devoting time and energy for a new law governing mining regulation, he said.

While local communities have the responsibility to develop zoning laws (planes de ordenamiento territorial, or POTs), vast areas of Colombia lack updated POTs that otherwise potentially could trip-up or else encourage local mining applications presented to the national government.

Still, if more mining companies were more aggressive and thorough in carrying-out advanced consultations with local communities – including profound examinations of economic, social and environmental impacts of any proposed project – then perhaps some of the most angry protests and "consultations" against mining in certain areas might have been averted, he added.

However, “for now, the [mining] extractive sector and the [Colombian] government do not show signs of going beyond social corporate responsibility projects,” as local analysts at Colombia Risk Monthly noted in their November 2018 newsletter.

“Therefore, confrontation between proponents and opponents of projects [in certain areas] is likely in the near term both in the legislature and on the ground,” the analysts warned.

Medellin-based textile manufacturing giant Coltejer revealed in a November 22 filing with Colombia’s Superfinanciera regulatory agency that it has hired a consultant to develop a financial restructuring plan in order to pay liabilities.

According to the filing, the company also seeks a credit worth COP$12 billion (US$3.7 million) to buy cotton feedstocks for its manufacturing plants here.

The company, whose majority shareholder is Mexico-based textile multinational Kaltex, revealed earlier this month that it posted a net loss of COP$19 billion (US$5.88 million) for third quarter (3Q) 2018, compared to a net loss of COP$7 billion (US$2.2 million) in 3Q 2017.

For the first nine months of 2018, Coltejer has posted a net loss of COP$32.7 billion (US$10 million) versus a net loss of COP$27 billion (US$8.3 million) in nine-months 2017.

The company employs 1,245 workers at two plants in the Medellin suburbs, one at Itagui and the other in Rionegro.

Textile makers in Colombia for years have been hit hard by below-cost Asian imports including contraband, resulting in heavy financial losses.

Medellin-based multinational power and utilities giant EPM announced November 27 that its board adopted a full-year 2019 budget of COP$17.4 trillion (US$5.3 billion), which includes a COP$1.1 trillion (US$337 million) payment of profits to its sole shareholder: the city of Medellin.

Another COP$1.1 trillion (US$337 million) in 2019 will go for repairs and continuing build-out of its 2.4-gigawatt “Hidroituango” hydroelectric dam in Antioquia, according to the company.

Fully 50% of the funds for the 2019 budget will come from continuing revenues (COP$8.6 trillion/US$2.6 billion); another 22% via the sale of its 10% interest in Colombian power producer ISA as well as its Chilean power and water assets (COP$3.8 trillion/US$1.16 billion); 6% from its credit resources (COP$1 trillion/US$306 million) and the remainder from other operations, including COP$438 billion (US$134 million) via dividends from national and international subsidiaries, according to the company.

Production and marketing costs will account for 32% (COP$5.5 trillion/US$ 1.7 billion) of the 2019 budget, while debt service will take 21% (COP$3.6 trillion/US $ 1.1 billion).

Operating expenses will account for 19% (COP$3.3 trillion/US$1 billion) of the budget, including payments to the city of Medellin. Other investments will consume 18% (COP$3.2 trillion/US$ 978 million) of the budget, while the remaining 10% (COP$1.8 trillion/US$550 million) will go to cash reserves, according to the company.

Credit-Line Approvals

Meanwhile, EPM announced November 22 that it won line-of-credit approvals totaling more than US$1 billion from two sources: Colombian banking giant Bancolombia as well as three divisions of global banking giant HSBC.

The Bancolombia line-of-credit for COP$1 trillion (US$313 million) will “facilitate the continuation of our investment plans in public-service infrastructure,” according to EPM.

That line of credit carries a three-year repayment term. These funds “will only be used when EPM requires them within the next 24 months,” according to the company.

Meanwhile, Colombia’s Treasury Ministry simultaneously cleared the way for EPM to sign separate contracts with three divisions of banking giant HSBC for a line-of-credit worth US$750 million, according to the company.

“Of these resources, US$215 million will be used to finance the investment plan (2014-2022) of the company and US$535 million will be used for general corporate purposes other than investment,” according to the Ministry.

Of that total, US$650 million will come from HSBC Bank USA and HSBC México S.A., while the other US$100 million will come from Grupo Financiero HSBC. Loan term is three years from the signing, at a six-month LIBOR rate plus 2.75% per year, and a 30-month availability period starting from the date of contract signing, according to the Ministry.

These new lines of credit “complement the plan to sell some assets of the company,” including EPM’s 10% stake in Colombian power generator ISA as well as Chilean power-and-water utility holdings, according to EPM.

The asset sales and new credit lines respond to future financial challenges resulting from problems with EPM’s "Hidroituango” hydroelectric project here in Antioquia.

EPM general manager Jorge Londoño de la Cuesta added that “this financing allows the company to strengthen its liquidity alternatives -- when our cash-flow requires that -- in the next 24 months.”

Page 7 of 41

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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