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Written by October 30 2021 0

Medellin-based multinational foods giant Grupo Nutresa on October 29 reported a 17% year-on-year hike in third quarter (3Q) 2021 net profits, hitting COP$173 billion (US$46 million).

Operating income rose to COP$3.36 trillion (US$893 million), up from COP$2.85 trillion (US$757 million) in 3Q 2020.

Meanwhile, 3Q 2021 operating profit rose 8.4% year-on-year, to COP$867 billion (US$230 million), according to the company.

As for nine-months 2021 results (January through September), sales so far this year are up 11.7%, to COP$9.1 trillion (US$2.4 billion), while sales in Colombia are up 14.5% year-on-year, hitting COP$5.5 trillion (US$1.46 billion), according to the company.

Consolidated earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) so far this year are up 5.4%, to COP$1.2 trillion (US$319 million), with a 12.9% margin on sales.

Net profit so far this year is up 14%, to COP$535 billion (US$142 million), according to the company.

International sales, up 7.7% year-on-year, hit COP$3.6 trillion (US$964 million), accounting for 39% of total sales.

Grupo Nutresa boasts of a direct corporate presence in 14 countries with 47 production plants, 45,861 employees and product sales in 78 countries on five continents.

Written by October 28 2021 0

Colombia-based Cemex LatAm Holdings – producer of cement, concrete and aggregates in six Latin American nations – on October 27 reported a third quarter (3Q) 2021 net loss of US$10.6 million, a big improvement over the US$110 million net loss in 3Q 2020.

Corporate-wide operating earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose to US$56 million, up from US$50 million in 3Q 2020.

Net sales also improved year-on-year, to US$235 million, from US$209 million in 3Q 2020, once adjusting for foreign-currency fluctuations.

“Higher volumes in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama, as well as higher prices in Costa Rica and the ‘rest of CLH region’ [including Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador], were the main drivers of the improvement,” according to the company.

In Colombia, “we estimate that our quarterly cement volumes slightly underperformed the industry on a year-over-year basis mainly due to our pricing strategy and competitive dynamics,” according to Cemex.

“In our ready-mix business [in Colombia], volumes improved 31% on a sequential basis, mainly due to a recovery in formal-sector activity and a base effect stemming from the protests that occurred mainly in May.

“We believe the outlook for cement volumes remains favorable [in Colombia], supported by record home sales, the resilience of the self-construction sector, the execution of the existing fourth-generation highway projects, as well as the rollout of new infrastructure programs,” the company added.

Colombia net sales for 3Q 2021 rose to US$117 million, versus US$115 million in 3Q 2020, but operating EBITDA dipped 5%, to US$27 million. Gray-cement prices in Colombia during 3Q 2021 fell 4% while aggregates dipped 1%, but ready-mix concrete prices stayed flat year-on-year.

Written by October 26 2021 0

Colombia’s National Environmental Licensing Authority (ANLA) announced October 25 that it has decided to shelve -- at least for now, pending further studies – AngloGold Ashanti’s proposed copper/gold mine in Jerico, Antioquia, even despite 75% favorability for the project among the citizens in-and-around Jerico.

“With the analysis of the information on file, which was collected in the field visits and the concepts of other entities, the ANLA technical team established that it is not possible to issue a substantive decision on the request for the environmental license of the mining project, so it has to be archived,” according to the official ANLA bulletin.

“The main technical considerations that led to the ordering of the [shelving of the project] file by the Authority are related to the definition of the area-of-influence, the characterization of the hydrogeological, hydrological, geotechnical and biotic components, considerations regarding the tailings deposit (residues from mining activity) and subsidence, among others.

“This evaluation process included professionals from different disciplines, experts in hydrogeology, hydrology, geotechnics, geochemistry, ecology, air quality and socioeconomic issues, among others.

“During this environmental procedure, more than 211 third parties have been recognized to date, guaranteeing citizen participation and access to information on the environmental licensing process to the communities surrounding the project during the evaluation process,” ANLA concluded.

AngloGold Ashanti Response

Reacting to the disappointing announcement, AngloGold Ashanti Colombia this morning issued the following press bulletin:

“AngloGold Ashanti Colombia specifies that, to date, the company has not received any official notification from the environmental authority regarding the evolution of the licensing process.

“To the extent that a [ANLA] press release does not constitute, in any way, legal notification of any administrative act, it is not possible to pronounce on a decision-to-archive, the details of which are unknown.

“It is relevant to specify that the [project shelving] file is one of three possible responses to an environmental license request, namely: approval, denial or archive-the-file. The file is a decision that implies that the authority considers that it is not possible to rule on the merits of the license application and allows space to resubmit the license application, once the alleged missing information is completed and submitted, to a new evaluation by the authority.

“At AngloGold Ashanti we have the peace of mind and pride of having a rigorous and exhaustive Environmental Impact Study, with analyses carried out with the accompaniment of more than 27 expert external consulting firms, for more than 14 years, in a judicious and open process of dialogue. with the communities and different stakeholders of the Quebradona project, as well as having given a timely and sufficient response to each and every one of the 174 requests for additional information that were requested by ANLA at the time.

“Proof of the above is that the Minera de Cobre Quebradona project already has all the other permits and licenses required to begin its execution, including the environmental subtraction permit granted by Corantioquia and the approval of the PTO [‘Programa de Trabajos y Obras’ (Works-and-Tasks Program)] by the Ministry of Mines of the Department. Likewise, the relationship of trust and approval by the community currently has a favorable level of close to 75%. The environmental license is the last step to be issued.

“We regret that the ANLA has exceeded all the time-lines as required under the law to pronounce itself and we insist that, once the ANLA notifies us in the terms established in the law, only at that moment will we proceed to analyze the details of the decision and the argumentation that for law must accompany it.

“AngloGold Ashanti ratifies its determined commitment to continue in the country and fulfill its purpose of converting mineral wealth into environmental, social and economic development for the southwest of Antioquia and for the country. Neither the authorities, nor the communities, nor the mining companies can allow Colombia to miss the opportunity to advance in a better use of its natural resource potential and include sustainable and responsible mining as an essential part of its exports,” the company concluded.

Written by October 13 2021 0

Only one day after its fellow “Hidroituango” hydroelectric-project contractor Coninsa Ramon H filed for bankruptcy, Medellin-based construction giant Constructora Conconcreto likewise today (October 13) filed for bankruptcy, citing Colombia’s Comptroller-General proposed COP$4.3 billion (US$1.15 billion) fine for supposed “gross negligence” that allegedly caused an enormously costly 2018 diversion-tunnel collapse at Hidroituango, now almost completely recovered.

While Conconcreto states in the filing that its over-all financial outlook is “solid and positive,” nevertheless “the recent ruling in the first instance of the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic for a figure of COP$4.3 trillion [US$1.15 billion] has an undeniable patrimonial and operational impact.”

The bankruptcy petition “aims to guarantee the sustainability of Constructora Conconcreto, maintain the more than 12,000 jobs that it currently generates, comply with all obligations and mitigate the uncertainty generated by speculation in the market and the eventual consequences of the ratification of the ruling of the Comptroller General of the Republic through the mechanisms provided by law,” according to the company.

“In the next few days, the negotiation phase of the reorganization agreement with the creditors participating in the process will begin,” the company added.

Commenting on the filing, Conconcreto president Juan Luis Aristizábal added: “We are prepared and committed to the country, Antioquia and their communities in the culmination of the Hidroituango project, critical for the energy stability of Colombia."

Antioquia Governor Gaviria Urges Insurance-Settlement Pathway

Meanwhile, Antioquia Governor Anibal Gaviria today publicly urged that any financial settlement over the diversion-tunnel collapse ought to be the exclusive province of Hidroituango project insurer Mapfre (along with other lesser insurers), with whom EPM has a damages policy totaling more than US$2 billion.

Mapfre has already paid US$350 million to EPM for Hidroituango damages, and likely would continue to make further payments -- barring some contradictory legal ruling putting blame for the tunnel collapse on contractors, consultants and politicians, rather than upon an unforseen, unpredictable tunnel fracture.

"The solution for Hidroituango has been, is and will be, as it should be: PAYMENT BY INSURANCE COMPANIES," Governor Gaviria publicly stated today, adding further emphasis by inserting all-capital letters.

This statement puts the Antioquia Governor in direct conflict with Medellin Mayor Daniel Quintero, who has issued wild, President-Trump-like conspiracy theories about "corruption" among former EPM officials and supposed negligence and/or conflicts-of-interest among contractors, consultants, former EPM officials and former politicians. Quintero has already sued the contractors and consultants for US$2.85 billion in a proceeding separate (but parallel to) the Comptroller-General's legal claims.

 

Written by October 12 2021 0

Medellin-based construction giant Coninsa Ramon H – one of the principal contractors to the US$5 billion “Hidroituango” hydroelectric project – this morning (October 12) filed a bankruptcy petition with Colombia’s Superintendencia de Sociedades (Supersociedades) regulatory agency.

Under Colombian law, the petition is known as an “Emergency Negotiation of a Reorganization Agreement (NEAR) under Law 560 of 2020,” according to Supersociedades.

“Within the framework of the procedure, the company must set a notice regarding the duration of the negotiation, notify the creditors of the beginning of the emergency negotiation and all the judges and entities that carry out executive, restitution, and guarantee enforcement processes or coercive collection, in order to be suspended during the process, and the company must start the negotiation with creditors and enter into the reorganization agreement in a term no longer than three months for confirmation by the Bankruptcy Judge,” according to the agency.

“The Emergency Negotiation of a Reorganization Agreement, established in Decree Law 560, is a mechanism for rescue and business recovery for those debtors who are affected by the causes that led to the declaration of the State of Economic, Social and Ecological Emergency, which allows to avert the crisis and preserve the company and employment through negotiation with creditors and the confirmation of a reorganization agreement,” the agency added.

Coninsa Ramon H is one of 26 companies, politicians and former Hidroituango officials hit by a proposed COP$4.3 trillion (US$1.15 billion) claim brought by Colombia’s Comptroller General (Contraloria General) for alleged “gross negligence” that supposedly triggered a costly 2018 collapse of a diversion tunnel at Hidroituango.

Potentially, Coninsa Ramon H and other companies could lose the current construction contract at Hidroituango and be forced to pay huge damage claims, possibly threatening the future viability of those companies.

In a September 6, 2021 press statement following the Comptroller-General’s claims announcement, the CCC-Ituango Consortium -- of which Coninsa Ramon H is one of the principal member companies -- announced that they will appeal the Comptroller’s claims.

“From what has been analyzed so far, the [Comptroller’s] ruling corresponds to issues that are eminently technical (project scheduling and tunnel construction), and we hope that the totality of the evidence that we provide is taken into account by all the instances to which we will resort,” according to that press statement.

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

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