Bolivia
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Comteco Equity Reaches US$123mn

Bnamericas Published: Wednesday, May 12, 1999
Bolivian telecommunications cooperative the Cooperative Mixta de Telecommunications Cochabamba (Comteco) is Bolivia's largest telecommunications cooperative, with equity of US$123mn, according to the chairman of Comteco's administrative council, Carlos Zenteno. Rivals Cotas, of Santa Cruz, and Cotel, of La Paz, lag behind with equity valued at US$97mn and US$92mn, respectively. However, both Cotas and Cotel have more clients than Comteco's 98,000 subscribers. Comteco has assets of US$160mn and liabilities of US$36.8mn, while the assets of Cotas and Cotel are US$186mn and US$163mn respectively, and their liabilities US$88.1mn and US$71.4mn. Currently, Bolivian telephone cooperatives have a monopoly over local telephony in their respective areas, but this is scheduled to be broken up in 2001. Cotas, Cotel and Comteco are currently restructuring as a means to face this competition, and are currently seeking strategic partners to capitalize the companies and finance much-needed investment. All the companies talk about "vitalizing" (potenciamiento) the companies, rather than outright privatization. Comteco has hired Spanish investment bank Argentaria to establish a model for this process, and initial plans will be released shortly.

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