Helm Corp. Studying Options for Stake in Colombian Bank

Helm Corp., the holding company that controls Helm Bank SA, said it hired Inverlink SA to study options for its stake in the Colombian lender.

Helm Bank reversed an earlier drop, rising 0.4 percent to 462 pesos at the close of trading in Bogota. Earlier it plunged

7.8 percent, the steepest intraday decline since October 2008, after the lender in a separate filing today denied a report that a controlling stake in the company has been sold.

Speculation about a takeover has helped drive Helm up 50 percent this year, outpacing the benchmark IGBC Index’s 17 percent gain.

“People see Helm Bank as an interesting option for potential buyers,” said Jose Fernando Restrepo, the head analyst at Interbolsa SA, Colombia’s biggest brokerage. “It’s not part of one of the big financial groups in Colombia, there is room for growth in financial services here and the country is stable and its economy is growing.”

The stock price reflects speculation of a takeover, according to Restrepo. Interbolsa has a sell recommendation on the shares, with a target price of 330 pesos, Restrepo said.

Credit expansion of 22 percent helped power the Colombian economy’s 5.9 percent growth last year, the fastest pace since gross domestic product rose 6.9 percent in 2007.

Helm Corp. announced the hiring of Inverlink in a statement made to the financial regulator.

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