Friday, February 26, 2021

Bogota seeks to privatize public telecommunication company ETB


Mayor Enrique Peñalosa asked Bogota’s city council for permission to sell the government’s stock in telecommunication company ETB, just weeks after the privatization of an energy company caused major protests.

According to Peñalosa, the sale of ETB will allow the financing of projects such as 30 new schools, four hospitals, better roads, and more security cameras throughout Colombia’s capital.

- Advertisement -

The company’s executives hope the sale will generate $2.2 billion for Bogota’s treasury.

ETB suffered losses of over $36 million in 2015 and $38 million in 2014, earning only 6% of the earnings of the four largest telecommunication companies which dominate the industry in Colombia, reported newspaper La Opinion.

From 2011 to mid 2015, ETB dropped from maintaining 73% of landlines in Bogota to only 55% due to increased competition by private company’s like Telmex, owned by one of the world’s richest men, Carlos Slim.

“In spite having invested significant amounts since 2013 (more than 2.1 billion pesos or $730,000, equivalent to 92% of its assets today)…the company was not able to connect the new expected customers…, nor sustain its market share,” justified the mayor for the sale.

- Advertisement -

Peñalosa promised the “utmost transparency” throughout the process.

The president of ETB, Jorge Castellanos, told media he hopes that the sale can be finalized as soon as May.

However, for Bogota’s government to pass over their 84.4% ownership of the business would be yet another shift from its usage of private-public partnerships for public services and infrastructure development to full privatization.

Several congressmen urged the mayor to disclose ETB’s financial statements to the public, and after thorough examination of its financial state, look for a strategic partner to help preserve the company as part of Bogota’s economic heritage.

The move is particularly controversial coming mere months after Colombia’s government sold its 57% stake in energy company Isagen to Canadian hedge fund Brookfields for $2 billion, despite fierce opposition by Congress.

The sale of the company that provided 17% of the country’s energy was Colombia’s largest privatization in nearly a decade.

- Advertisement -

The move infuriated Colombians, and was particularly suspicious as five of the original six bidders retreated, enabling Brookfields to acquire the share for the minimal bidding price.

The administration of President Juan Manuel Santos claimed the sale would finance highways, bridges and tunnels across the country.

Both the Comptroller General’s Office and the Inspector General’s Office, however, claimed that the sale of Isagen to finance infrastructure projects would eventually lead to a $700 million loss for the treasury.

In February, Colombia’s Prosecutor General opened preliminary investigations into the country’s finance minister after he was accused of illegally selling Isagen and shirking his duties as a public servant.

News website Las 2 Orillas reported that the law firm representing Brookfield during the Isagen purchase was partly owned by Juan Manual Prieto, a personal friend of Santos and the president’s first appointed ambassador in Italy.

Prieto died shortly after the sale.

Colombia Reports

- Advertisement -

We strive for accuracy in its reports. But if you see something that doesn’t look right, send us an email. The Q reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it’s accuracy.

Related Articles

Bogotá, Medellín and Cali: the cities with the most violations of measures against covid-19

QCOLOMBIA - Since the mandatory isolation began in Colombia, 1,400,387 finess...

What happens if a Colombian does not attend the scheduled covid-19 vaccination appointment?

QCOLOMBIA - A few days after starting the National Vaccination Plan,...


What happens if a Colombian does not attend the scheduled covid-19 vaccination appointment?

QCOLOMBIA - A few days after starting the National Vaccination Plan, Colombians still have some doubts regarding their immunization process and there is fear...

We do not move even half the passengers we would have on a normal day: Transmilenio manager

QCOLOMBIA - The public transport system in Colombia has been one of the worst-hit sectors since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, as quarantines...

Colombia Suffered Its Deepest Slump Since 1905 Last Year

(Bloomberg) -- Colombia’s economy suffered its deepest contraction in more than a century last year, leaving it wracked by soaring debt, mass unemployment and...

Colombia receives first batch of vaccines

QCOLOMBIA - Colombia advanced the start of the immunization campaign against the coronavirus to February 17, three days ahead of schedule, after receiving the...

There’s A Good Chance Your Valentine’s Flowers Come From Colombia

QCOLOMBIA - If you send a bouquet of roses for Valentine's Day, chances are they were grown in Colombia. It remains the No. 1...

Colombia begins 2021 with a reactivation of 55% in flights

QCOLOMBIA - The end of the year travel season arrived with important expectations of recovery for the tourism sector. The improvement in the tourist...

Pope thanks Colombia for efforts to protect migrants

Q REDAQTED (Vatican News) - “I always look with gratitude at the efforts of those who work for migrants,” Pope Francis said on Sunday...

Colombia okays US$38 billion dollar reactivation plan

QCOLOMBIA - Colombia’s economic and social policy council (Conpes) has greenlighted a 135 trillion Colombian peso (US$38 billion) economic reactivation plan, which will be...

Colombian Clever Leaves made first shipment of medical cannabis to the U.S.

QCOLOMBIA - Clever Leaves, a Colombian company authorized to handle pharmaceutical grade cannabinoids, announced that its subsidiary, Herbal Brands, managed to establish a strategic...


Get our daily newsletter with the latest posts directly in your mailbox. Click on the subscribe and fill out the form. It's that simple!

Colombia Reports