Colombia issues call for Electricaribe investor

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Friday, August 3, 2018

Colombia's public services regulator Superservicios has unveiled prequalification criteria for companies interested in acquiring troubled power distributor Electricaribe.

Documents published on Friday outline terms and conditions for potential bidders, who have until August 17 to submit observations and comments to the government agency.

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The move formally starts the search for a "strategic investor with financial capacity and technical expertise" to improve power services in the Carbibbea region, Superservicios spokeswoman Rutty Paola Ortiz said in a statement.

Superservicios took over Electricaribe's operations from Spain's Naturgy in April 2017 after ordering the company's liquidation amid collapsing power services in its distribution area on the Atlantic coast.

Last month, Naturgy, formerly known as Gas Natural Fenosa, filed a US$1.66bn arbitration claim against the Colombian government, arguing that Electricaribe's problems owed to "fraud and non-payment" by consumers, including public bodies. It claims that overall customer debts stood at more than US$1.3bn at the time of the takeover.

In May, government-appointed liquidator Javier Lastra said Electricaribe required investment of 7tn pesos (US$2.5bn) over the next decade to upgrade its crumbling infrastructure.

According to its website, Electricaribe serves 2.5mn residential, commercial and industrial customers in seven coastal departments, accounting for around 25% of Colombia's electricity demand. The company operates a 54,000km power line network and 196 substations.