Isagen Surges as Colombia Courts Duke for Stake: Bogota Mover

Isagen SA, the operator of Colombia’s largest hydropower plant, rose to a record after the governnment said it was courting buyers including Duke Energy Corp. for its majority stake in the electricity company.

Isagen gained 1.8 percent to 2,770 pesos at 12:43 p.m. in Bogota, the highest price on a closing basis since the government sold a portion of its stake in an initial public offering in 2007.

Colombian Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas told reporters yesterday that the government will auction off its 57.66 percent Isagen stake for a minimum of 2,850 a share, valuing the holding at 4.5 trillion pesos ($2.4 billion). Potential buyers include Charlotte, North Carolina-based Duke and France’s GDF Suez SA, Cardenas said today on Caracol Radio.

The new operator of Isagen must have “ample experience in electricity generation and a lot of financial muscle that allows it to contribute to the growth of the company, improve its operations and offer lower energy costs to Colombians,” the Finance Ministry said in a statement.

Duke and GDF Suez officials declined to comment.

Medellin-based Isagen is Colombia’s third-largest electricity producer, with six power plants and a generating capacity of 2,212 megawatts, according to its website. The San Carlos plant on the Guatape River in central Colombia is the country’s largest hydroelectricity producer, accounting for about 56 percent of the company’s capacity.

Cardenas said a first auction for Isagen shares that will start in a month and last 60 days will be open to a restricted group of bidders including company employees. A second round of bidding would be open to the energy companies, Cardenas said.

CUTS: Colombia will offer shares at a minimum of 2,850 pesos each at an auction in one month, Cardenas said yesterday. That would value the government’s stake at 4.5 trillion pesos ($2.4 billion), Cardenas told reporters in Bogota. The government wants to raise 5 trillion pesos or more for its stake, he said.

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