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Colombian Stock Movers: Empresa de Energia, ETB, Helm Bank

The following companies had unusual price changes in Bogota trading. Stock symbols are in parentheses and prices are as of 4 p.m. local time.

The IGBC Index rose 1.7 percent to 12,884.55, while the Colcap Index gained 2.1 percent to 1,576.49.

Empresa de Energia de Bogota SA (EEB CB), Colombia’s second-biggest electricity distributor, sank for a third day after Bogota’s mayor-elect Gustavo Petro told the daily El Tiempo he plans a merger with other public companies including Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Bogota SA.

Colombia’s securities regulator suspended trading of the shares for three business days as a preventive measure to protect investors, according to an e-mailed statement.

EEB, as the city-controlled company is known, fell 3.7 percent to 1,050 pesos before trading was halted. The shares have declined 17 percent in three days.

Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Bogota SA (ETB CB), the city-run phone company serving Colombia’s capital, gained 2.3 percent to 440 pesos. Investors are reacting positively to Petro’s merger plan after the initial “panic” has subsided.

“ETB is seeking a strategic partner and clearly the arrival of a partner like EEB is positive because they have cash flow that ETB doesn’t have,” said Santiago Melo, an analyst at Alianza Valores, “ETB is the big winner in this.”

Helm Bank SA (PFBHELMB CB), a Colombian lender, rose 8.6 percent, the most since shares began trading in 2007, to 303 pesos, after Corpbanca purchased Banco Santander SA’s Colombia unit for $1.16 billion. Foreign acquisitions of Colombian banks, also including Bank of Nova Soctia’s $1 billion purchase of Colpatria in October, may be driving speculation that Helm is undervalued, said David Pelaez, an analyst at Bolsa y Renta SA.

“With the noise of acquisitions of Colombian banks at prices above their book values, there may be speculation that Helm is worth more than its current value,” he said.

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