Saturday, July 24, 2021

Become part of our community

captcha 

Medellin-based multinational retail giant Exito announced October 5 the long-awaited opening of Colombia’s biggest shopping mall: the “Viva” center in the Medellin suburb of Envigado.

“With an investment of approximately COP$660 billion [US$217 million] and a commercial area of 137,000 square meters, Viva Envigado -- the largest commercial and business complex in the country -- opened its doors to the public,” according to Exito.

One-third of the commercially leased area is dedicated to entertainment and gastronomy, while 6,000 new jobs are created at the center, according to Exito.

“Global trends show us that shopping centers must evolve from a commercial building to a ‘human place’ where customers have experiences,” according to Exito’s Juan Lucas Vega, vice president of real estate.

Via a free internet connection, the mall also delivers a “digital layer that transmits segmented content and commercial ‘scoops’ directly on customers' smart-phones, complemented by digital, interactive screens that allow customers to know locations and marketing activities,” according to Exito.

The shopping center includes four anchors:

1. Cine Colombia, with 16 movie theaters, including the first IMAX theater in Antioquia;
2. A renewed ‘Homecenter’ hardware super-store;
3. Exito’s ‘Wow’ hypermart, including office co-working spaces; and
4. Decathlon, “one of the largest sports stores in the world,” making a first-ever appearance in metro Medellin.

In addition, for the first time, Grupo Éxito’s private-label clothing lines “Arkitect” and “Bronzini” will have an exclusive store, while Exito’s “Finlandek” line of kitchen and home accessories – together with “Electrodigital” appliances – likewise will have a dedicated retail outlet.

“These two [clothing and home-appliance] stores, totaling more than 300 square meters, are the start of an innovation laboratory with which we want to reach our customers in a different way and provide a more personalized, superior experience,” added Jacky Yanovich, Exito’s vice president of sales and operations.

The new shopping center also includes “Viva Park,” described as “the largest amusement park located within a shopping center, with 6,000 square meters outdoors that will become a place of entertainment for the whole family,” according to Exito.

A “Bistró Street” section includes 21 open-air restaurants, in addition to a food court with 18 brands.

A “Viva Sports’ section includes a “Smartfit” gym, five synthetic soccer fields, a jogging track, a multifunctional play-court, a beach volleyball court and a climbing wall.

The building complex also incorporates a photovoltaic array covering 1,700 square meters, generating approximately 451 kilowatt-hours of power or around 20% of common-area power requirements during peak solar-radiation hours.

Besides having a direct connection to the zero-emissions “Metro” rail-line station, “the construction of Viva Envigado is environmentally responsible thanks to saving 35% of water in the bathrooms;130 bicycle parking lot spaces; 140 exclusive parking spaces for low-emission electric vehicles; and 70 carpooling parking spaces,” according to Exito.


Canada-based gold miner Continental Gold this month organized memorial masses for four of its employees murdered by FARC “dissident” groups in Antioquia -- and then announced the hiring of a top-flight security agency that aims to prevent future such incidents.

Three of the four victims – geologists Camilo Andrés Tirado (31), Laura Alejandra Flóres (27) and Henry Mauricio Martínez (27) -- were murdered September 19 near Yarumal, Antioquia, by “dissidents” belonging to the “36th Front” of the narco-terrorist FARC group -- several leaders of which have been given seats in the Colombian Congress via a “peace” deal negotiated by former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

The fourth Continental Gold employee victim -- Oscar Alarcón Gallo – was murdered in another terrorist attack a week earlier in Buritica, Antioquia.

“Special masses were recently held in both Medellín and Buriticá to honor the lives of Laura, Henry, Camilo and Oscar and were attended by our employees, members of the military and police, and members of the local communities,” according to the company.

“Additionally, on Wednesday, October 3, a memorial ceremony was held at our Buriticá [mining] project site in which trees were planted to commemorate the lives of each of the victims. These trees will continue to grow in honor of their legacy.

“With the goal of strengthening and reshaping our security team and protocols, the company has engaged Control Risks, the world’s foremost security and risk consultancy, to lead efforts in restructuring our security department and reassessing our security risk matrix.

“The company is also pleased to announce our new security manager, Juan Carlos Chacón, who joins us from Control Risks and has an impressive military and private sector background with a strong understanding of international standard best practices.

“In addition, the security manager reporting line has now been elevated directly to our country manager, Luis Germán Meneses, former executive vice-president and chief operating officer of Cerrejón, Colombia’s largest private coal producer and exporter and one of the largest integrated mining companies in the world.

“Together, with our community partners, we will persevere in helping to build a bright future at Buriticá,” the company added.


Medellin-based, national corporate-and-individual risk-management, due-diligence and real-estate investigator Konfirma announced August 29 that its first-half (1H) 2018 revenues grew 45% year-on-year -- and the company expects full-year 2018 revenues to rise about 40% year-on-year.

In an August 29 interview with Medellin Herald, Konfirma general manager Sergio Jaramillo Mejia added that upcoming anti-corruption legislation -- backed by newly elected Colombia President Ivan Duque as well as Colombia’s main political parties – could very well provide a further boost to revenues in future years.

Konfirma has been involved in numerous Colombian “fourth generation” (4G) highway construction projects as a real-estate-value investigator-and-negotiator, including three such projects in Antioquia: “Pacifico 2,” “Mar 2” and “Conexion Norte,” Jaramillo revealed to us.

Beyond highway-corridor, public-transit and transmission-network real-estate services, Konfirma also offers reputational, financial and legal-history investigative services for both individuals as well as companies considering real-estate acquisitions, corporate acquisitions, business launches, employee hires or business partnerships. Investigative services also can probe a candidate company (or an individual) on relevant experience, quality, security and workplace safety.

For foreign investors, Konfirma also has bilingual staff available, Jaramillo told us.

Such specialized services are especially important in Colombia where anyone (qualified or not) can be a real-estate agent, where mortgage insurance isn’t yet available, where Colombian property-ownership laws and enforcement still lack clarity, where fiduciary obligations are weak, where certain properties earlier might have been seized illegally by criminal or guerrilla groups, or where government-dictated land restitutions to prior owners might be underway.

Hence investors can run huge risks by investing in properties, businesses or persons that may have criminal, illegal or irresponsible histories, Jaramillo explained.

One current example is the “Meritage” commercial real-estate development scandal near Medellin, where both Colombian and foreign investors have lost millions of dollars following the seizure of the Meritage property by Colombia’s Attorney General.

That seizure was the result of the property’s alleged ties to mafiosos (see Medellin Herald on February 02, 2018, “Colombia Supreme Court Ruling: Fiduciaries Hardly Protect Real-Estate Investors.”)  Now those investors are suing the Attorney General in an international tribunal, aiming to recoup their lost investments.

While it’s unclear what Corficolombiana (the fiduciary for the Meritage project) did or didn’t do to discover criminal-history issues -- and thus help avoid investor problems with the Meritage project -- it’s conceivable that the sort of “deep” investigations in which Konfirma specializes could have discovered problems in time to avoid investor losses, Jaramillo explained to us.

Unfortunately, Konfirma – Colombia’s largest-such investigative services company, owned equally by the Medellin Chamber of Commerce and by local “e-commerce” specialist Cadena -- wasn’t hired to investigate the Meritage project.

While Konfirma can’t offer guarantees that its “deep” investigations always would discover and hence avoid disasters like Meritage, its investigative techniques and studies nevertheless could give investors greater peace-of-mind than just the routine “certificate of tradition and freedom of the property” (“certificado de tradición y libertad del inmueble”) studies performed by realtors or fiduciaries, Jaramillo added.

Konfirma’s services also include due-diligence on companies seeking to bid on government-supervised or regulated projects, such as the “4G” highways and electric-power transmission corridors. Such services include investigations into experience and qualifications, as well as possible money-laundering, bribery, terrorism links or other legal problems that might involve candidate companies, individuals, potential employees, suppliers and counter-parties, he explained.

While Konfirma may be best-known for its government- and corporate-client services -- with some 112 such clients so far in 2018 -- the company also offers investigative services for even the smallest investors, such as those considering buying an apartment or house, he added.

One such corporate client – Colombian fiduciary Fiduprevisora – recently tapped Konfirma to investigate health-insurance plan options for a national teacher’s organization. That investigation analyzed more than 205,000 documents and helped the organization guide its decisions, according to the company.

For various clients, in 2017 alone, Konfirma analyzed 460,000 data sources -- and discovered that nearly 25,000 (4.8%) of individuals or counter-parties investigated presented reputational or legal risk, he revealed. Unfortunately, in Colombia, “there’s a relatively high level of illegal activity,” which puts investors at greater reputational and business risk, he said.

What’s more, corruption is now estimated to be robbing Colombia of an estimated 8% of gross domestic product (“PIB” in Spanish initials) – money that could better be directed for all sorts of social improvements including education, health and infrastructure, he added.

Since its launch eight years ago in Medellin, Konfirma has since expanded its operations to some 40 major and smaller cities in Colombia (including Bogota) and is now planning expansions to nearby South and Central American markets, initially in conjunction with expansion plans by Colombian-based companies, he said.

Among its numerous major corporate clients here are EPM, Isagen, ISA, Metro de Medellin, Sura, Proteccion, Bancolombia, AngloGold Ashanti, Antioquia Gold, Coninsa Ramon H, Exito, Argos, Goodyear, Grupo de Energia de Bogota, PIO, Comfama, Agencia Nacional de Infraestructura and ANDI (Colombia’s national industrial trade association), according to Konfirma.


Colombia’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism (MinCIT) announced August 28 that Antioquian milk-products producers Colanta and Proleche are among 11 companies that just won certifications and approvals to export certain dairy-based products to Mexico.
 
MinCIT, ProColombia and Invima collectively worked to open Mexico’s doors to Colombian milk products from 13 newly licensed processing plants in nine Colombian departments, according to the Ministry.
 
“The products that can be sold [to Mexico] vary depending on the establishment,” according to MinCIT.
 
On the newly approved list are mozzarella cheese, white cheese, whole and skimmed milk powder, whey powder, buffalo whey, whole and buffalo flavored yogurt, buffalo arequipe, industrial milk powder, canned condensed milk, canned cream, arequipe, dulce de leche, chocolate milk, strawberry and vanilla flavored milk, whole milk-based drink with oatmeal, and almond-flavored milk.
 
“This is excellent news for the dairymen of Colombia and, in addition, it is a sign of the great benefits that will bring for the national producers from a foreign trade policy focused upon taking advantage of the commercial agreements that we have in force,” added MinCIT Minister José Manuel Restrepo Abondano.
 
Prior to the Mexico deal, Colombian regulatory authorities had identified and then controlled an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in some ranching areas of the country. That control work eventually convinced Mexican authorities that Colombia is a reliable trade partner, ensuring sanitary practices.
 
“The work of health diplomacy is key, which in this case was anticipated -- and that should be the norm for us to continue opening the doors of the markets to our products,” Minister Restrepo added.
 
According to Invima, certified Colombian dairy plants now have access to 18 export markets including Bangladesh, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, the United States, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Morocco, Mexico, Panama, Peru, and the Eurasian Economic Union (Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia).

Wall Street bond rater Fitch announced September 12 that it has decided to maintain its "AAA (col)" investment-grade rating for Medellin-based multinational electric power giant EPM -- but issued a cautionary “negative” outlook.
 
The Fitch decision follows in the wake of fellow Wall Street bond rater Moody's, which last month likewise maintained an investment-grade rating on EPM -- but issued a similar cautionary outlook because of an EPM-estimated COP$7 trillion (US$2.27 billion) financial shortfall resulting from infrastructure damage and power-sales delays from the 2.4-gigawatt "Hidroituango" hydroelectric plant in Antioquia.
 
Commenting on the action, EPM general manager Jorge Londoño de la Cuesta added that “the rating of Fitch Ratings is in addition to that recently obtained by Moody's Investors Service that ratified the international rating of EPM at 'Baa3,' an investment-grade level, and assigned a 'negative' outlook, as a demonstration of our company's efforts to overcome the contingency in the Hidroituango hydroelectric project and continue to advance in our mission to contribute to the well-being of millions of people in the regions where we have a presence."
 
The Moody’s rating reflects EPM’s “revenue diversification geographically and, of among businesses, a significant contribution to EBITDA [earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization] by our energy distribution businesses, the condition of relative control of the contingency of the Hidroituango hydroelectric project and the asset-sale plan announced by the company,” according to EPM.
 
“Moody’s rating also incorporates EPM’s rapid response to the required adjustments in terms of its commercial policy, ensuring the supply of natural gas to dispatch [electric power from] its La Sierra combined-cycle natural gas thermal power station, with an installed capacity of 450-megawatts, as well as the purchase of energy through medium-term contracts to meet the energy obligations contracted for 2020 and 2021.
 
“With this rating granted by Moody’s, EPM maintains -- along with the current BBB (-) rating of Fitch Ratings -- a double investment grade, a category considered in the financial market that provides an adequate credit quality and certainty of repayment to the most demanding investors in risk profiles,” EPM added.

Page 22 of 39

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.

Contact US

logo def
Medellin Herald: Find news, information, reviews and opinion on business, events, conferences, congresses, education, real estate, investing, retiring and more.
  • COL (4) 386 06 27
  • USA (1) 305 517 76 35
  •  www.medellinherald.com 
  •  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
  • Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia

Medellín Photo Galery

Medellin, contrasting colors and styles by Gabriel Buitrago

MPGMPGMPGMPGMPGMPGMPGMPGMPGMPGMPGnav