Isagen Declines as Colombian Council Suspends $2.5 Billion Sale

Isagen SA, the operator of Colombia’s largest hydropower plant, dropped the most in a month after a court ordered the temporary suspension of a plan to sell a majority stake in the company.

The shares fell 0.8 percent to 3,195 pesos at 12:39 p.m. in Bogota after earlier plunging as much as 3.7 percent, the most on an intraday basis since Feb. 10. The stock was the worst performer on the benchmark Colombian Colcap index, which gained 0.4 percent.

The Council of State’s ruling spurred speculation that the government may have to delay the auction of its 57.6 percent stake in Isagen, which would be worth 5 trillion pesos ($2.5 billion) at the minimum price. The council said in a statement that it based the decision on Isagen’s importance as the country’s third-largest power generator, providing significant dividends to the government.

“We’re establishing these measures as a way to avoid irreparable loss that afterward wouldn’t be reversible,” Magistrate Maria Claudia Rojas, the president of the Council of State, said in a phone interview. “Realistically, I don’t think we’ll have a decision in less than a month and a half, because we’re going to have to ask for evidence for an in-depth study.”

The shares had climbed earlier today to 3,295 pesos, the highest this year on a closing basis, after the government released a list yesterday of potential buyers requesting approval to bid in the auction.

Suitors on the list included Charlotte, North Carolina-based Duke Energy Corp., Tractebel Energia SA, and Bogota-based Empresa de Energia de Bogota SA.

China Huadian Corp., Gas Natural SDG SA and Cia Energetica de Minas Gerais in association with Empresas Publicas de Medellin ESP are also seeking to be prequalified.

Bidders are scheduled to present sealed offers in a May 8 auction, according to the government statement.

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