Colombia's Argos eyes Latin American energy investments -CEO
By Nelson Bocanegra
BOGOTA, April 30 (Reuters) - Grupo Argos, a Colombian holding company, is looking to invest in the energy sector elsewhere in Latin America later this year, its chief executive officer said on Wednesday.
The investments would be made through its subsidiary, Celsia , an electricity company that currently has operations only in Colombia, CEO Jose Alberto Velez said during a conference call to discuss first-quarter results.
"We are actively looking for possibilities outside of Colombia, that would obviously give Celsia some very obvious advantages in terms of diminishing its risks, country risks and regulatory risks," said Velez.
"Colombia is a very stable country, its politics, its economy ... nevertheless it's very attractive to think of other countries in the region where we could have investment opportunities. We're working hard on that, and we hope to be able to announce during the course of this year something positive on that internationalization front," Velez added.
Grupo Argos, a holding company that is part of Colombia's largest industrial conglomerate, Grupo Empresarial Antioqueno (GEA), owns Argos, the country's largest cement maker. It also has operations in the United States, Panama and the Caribbean.
GEA reported a first-quarter earnings increase of 6 percent to 121.08 billion pesos, about $59 million.
Argos bought French Guyanese company Ciments Guyanais, including its clinker mill and port, from cement giants Lafarge and Holcim earlier this month for 50 million euros.
In January Argos purchased U.S.-based Vulcan Materials for $720 million, which doubled its cement production capacity in the United States.
Grupo Argos said recently it would not participate in bidding for Colombia's third largest electricity generator, Isagen, which is majority-owned by the government, in order to free up funding for other investments. It said the company's profits were not as attractive as first thought.
The Colombian government is seeking to raise 5 trillion pesos ($2.5 billion) from a sale of its 57.6 percent stake in the company. (Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)
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