Ecopetrol Jumps Ahead of Dividend Payout Vote: Bogota Mover

Ecopetrol SA rose the most in four months on speculation shareholders will approve a plan for the state-controlled oil company to pay its annual dividend in a lump sum instead of installments.

The shares gained 2.4 percent to 5,020 pesos at 10:59 a.m. in Bogota, the biggest increase on a closing basis since Nov. 8. The stock was the best performer in the benchmark Colcap index, which fell 0.2 percent.

Ecopetrol shareholders will decide on the number of dividend installments at a shareholder meeting today in Bogota, according to a Feb. 22 regulatory filing. The Bogota-based company’s board has proposed a 291 peso per share dividend for 2012, according to the filing.

“The market is betting on the dividend,” Juan David Ballen, an analyst at Alianza brokerage, said in an electronic message.

The government, which has an 88.5 percent stake in Ecopetrol, favors paying the dividend in one installment to minority shareholders, Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas told Blu Radio today.

“The idea is that minority shareholders will get one lump sum and the government will get the dividend in payments throughout the year,” Cardenas told the station.

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