US-Venezuelan consortium buys Colombian stake

The Colombian government has sold stakes in the two distribution companies of Corelca, the state-owned power company, to a US-Venezuelan consortium. Forty-eight per cent of Colombia`s electricity distribution assets now rest in private hands.

A consortium of US-based Houston Industries and Corporacion EDC of Venezuela bought the 65 per cent stake in Electrocaribe and Electrocosta for $550m. The government in August auctioned the two companies, which serve 1.2m customers along Colombia`s Atlantic coast.

This was the second big sale of assets under the government`s electricity privatization programme, and attracted some 19 international and domestic companies. Half of Colombia`s generation capacity is already privately owned, and the government is planning the sale of a 65 per cent stake in Corelca`s electricity generation and transmission divisions.

Corelca has suffered serious problems in its distribution operations, receiving income for only half of the power it supplies.

The Houston Industries-CEDC consortium last year acquired a majority interest in Epsa, the generation and distribution company serving the Cauca Province of Colombia. Houston Industries also owns assets in Brazil, Argentina and El Salvador.

An international consortium has won the right to acquire an 80 per cent stake in Guatemala`s largest electric utility, Empresa Electrica de Guatemala (EEGSA). The consortium consists of TECO Power Services Corp. of the USA; Spain`s Iberdrola; and Electricidade de Portugal. The consortium`s bid of $520m prevailed against several bidders. EEGSA serves 500 000 customers in the major metropolitan areas of Guatemala.