Colombia evaluating selling stake in Ecopetrol -minister

FILE PHOTO: A storage tank is seen at Ecopetrol's Castilla oil rig platform, in Castilla La Nueva
FILE PHOTO: A storage tank is seen at Ecopetrol’s Castilla oil rig platform, in Castilla La Nueva, Colombia June 26, 2018. Picture taken June 26, 2018. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez

January 17, 2019

BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombia’s government is evaluating selling as much as an 8.9 percent stake in state-run oil firm Ecopetrol <ECO.CN> to fund spending this year, the finance minister said on Thursday.

The Colombian congress in December approved a tax reform bill that watered down and almost halved the original revenue target to 7.8 trillion pesos ($2.4 billion), forcing the government to freeze spending to meet its 2019 fiscal goals.

Finance Minister Alberto Carrasquilla said the government was analyzing spending freezes and spending cuts until it could obtain funds from the sale of various state assets, including the stake in Ecopetrol.

“We are authorized to sell a part of the state’s stake in this company, and this authorization is for up to 8.9 percent,” he told a local radio station.

The state owns 88.49 percent of Ecopetrol, whose share price has risen almost 18 percent over the past year.

(Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra; Writing by Angus Berwick; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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