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Colombia Says Ecopetrol Stake Sale to Be ‘Gradual’

Dec. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Colombia’s government said it plans a “gradual” sale over four years of as much as a 10 percent stake in state-controlled oil company Ecopetrol SA as it seeks to raise funds for infrastructure spending.

The government will “coordinate” with management of Ecopetrol to ensure it is “maximizing” the company’s value, Finance Minister Juan Carlos Echeverry told reporters today in Bogota. The sale isn’t “imminent,” he said.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is seeking funds to improve highways as heavy rainfall triggers landslides that hamper transport. A 10 percent stake in Ecopetrol is worth about $8.1 billion at today’s stock price.

Ecopetrol may sell as much as 9.9 percent of itself next year in a sale separate from that of the government, depending on the company’s financing needs, Chief Executive Officer Javier Gutierrez said today at a news conference in Bogota. Ecopetrol today sold 1 trillion pesos ($517.5 million) of bonds in Colombia to help fund investments to expand production.

On Nov. 16, Energy and Mines Minister Carlos Rodado said that sale will likely take place in the first half of 2011.

Ecopetrol gained 15 pesos to 3,855 pesos at 1 p.m. in Bogota. This year, the stock has added 55 percent.

The company raised about $2.7 billion in an initial offering in 2007, when it sold a 10.1 percent stake.

To contact the reporter on this story: Heather Walsh in Bogota at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dale Crofts at

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