Wednesday, July 8, 2015

What's Going On With ISAGEN?

Protesters against ISAGEN's sale in front of the Supreme Court today.
'Energy sovereignety.'
'ISAGEN is not for sale.'
You've probably seen posters and protesters about ISAGEN, which is Colombia's 3rd-largest electricity generator, providing 16% of the country's energy. ISAGEN is a multi-billion-dollar company headquartered in Medellin and owner of 5 hydroelectric generating plants and 1 thermal one.

But if ISAGEN is a keystone to Colombia's economy and infrastructure, it's also a valuable company, 57% owned by the government. And the president sees it as the golden egg whose sale can finance construction of Colombian infrastructure, particularly highways.

But is it a good idea for Colombia to let such a critical piece of its economy pass into the control of foreigners? So far, French, Canadian and Chilean companies have expressed the most interest. Will they find it in their interest to manage the company well, to invest in it? What if the buyer goes bankrupt one day?

ISAGEN's Sogamoso hydroelectric dam. (Photo from ISAGEN's website.)
But ISAGEN workers unions are protesting the sale, fearful that privatization will bring layoffs and other cutbacks, as usually happens. And, as always happens when a big public company is to be privatized, opponents call it a threat to national sovereignety - which it very well may be.

The other day, in response to lawsuits, a judge temporarily suspended the sale, sending ISAGEN's shares tumbling and even causing the peso's value to dip.

Men walk past posters on Carrera 7 protesting the proposed ISAGEN sale.

A protester's sign says: 'ISAGEN is for everyone!'
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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