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Ecopetrol Jumps as Dividend Drops Less Than Profit: Bogota Mover

Feb. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Ecopetrol SA, Colombia’s state-controlled oil company, jumped the most in three months after proposing a cut in the dividend for 2012 that was less than the drop in last year’s net income.

Shares gained 1.5 percent to 5,320 pesos at 11:51 a.m. in Bogota, the biggest increase on a closing basis since Nov. 15. Ecopetrol contributed the most to a 0.4 percent increase in the benchmark Colombian Colcap index.

The Bogota-based company’s board proposed a 291 peso per share dividend for 2012, down 3 percent from 300 pesos for 2011, Ecopetrol said in a Feb. 22 regulatory filing after the market closed. Net income fell 4.4 percent last year.

“The company tried to maintain a dividend very close to the one before it,” Sebastian Gallego, an analyst at Corredores Asociados SA, said in a telephone interview. “They decided to increase the payout to not disappoint the market.”

Ecopetrol will propose the dividend at a shareholder meeting on March 21, according to the filing.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christine Jenkins in Bogota at cjenkins28@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Papadopoulos at papadopoulos@bloomberg.net

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