April 13, 2024
Companies

Update: Medellin City Council Reverses Planned Sale of EPM’s 50% Stake in UNE

The Medellin City Council on September 29 decided to reverse an earlier vote that would have approved the sale of city-owned utility EPM’s 50% stake in telecom-internet giant UNE to Millicom Spain, which holds the other 49.9% of shares.

Following an earlier provisional vote to approve the sale, on September 29 some Council members stated that they had subsequently lost faith in promises that the estimated COP$2.8 trillion (US$633 million) proceeds from the sale would be dedicated exclusively to “strategic investments.”

Instead, a last-minute change to the deal — inserted by Medellin Mayor Daniel Quintero – stated that part of the funds would go toward paying EPM debt and part for other city projects, such as stream-maintenance. That broke the back of the tentative deal.

For more than 18 months, the long-expected deal had been held-up over concerns of misuse of UNE sale proceeds by Medellin’s politically embattled Mayor Quintero, who has been hit by numerous charges of corruption as well as illegal meddling in the recent election of President Gustavo Petro.

Under the earlier, tentative deal, an academic committee was supposed to oversee and verify that all UNE sale proceeds would indeed go into a strategic investment fund at EPM rather than being diverted to political projects of Mayor Quintero.

Earlier this year, UNE (popularly known as “Tigo”) posted a COP$572 billion (US$150.5 million) net loss for full-year 2021, more than twice the COP$212 billion (US$55.8 million) net loss in 2020.

Beside posting net losses in 2021 and 2020, the UNE-EPM venture also posted another net loss in 2018, while its 2019 net profit came-in at just COP$519 million (US$128,000).

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