Colombia

Colombia's Avianca Holdings SA said on Monday it is experiencing "reputational harm" from its association with Avianca Brasil, an air carrier that licenses its name and has canceled over 1,000 flights amid a bankruptcy restructuring, the International New York Times reported on a Reuters story. Both Aviancas belong to the same family-owned business group, led by brothers German and Jose Efromovich, but are maintained as separate companies.

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Colombia’s government submitted a broad tax-overhaul proposal to Congress that raises taxes on ordinary Colombians and cracks down on evasion in a bid to fill a budget shortfall created by lower oil prices, The Wall Street Journal reported. At stake is the vaunted sovereign credit rating in Latin America’s fourth-largest economy and President Juan Manuel Santos ’s ambitious plans to modernize a poverty-stricken countryside. Both Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s earlier this year warned of downgrading Colombia’s BBB rating unless the government found a way to raise revenue.
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Acute energy shortages, historically a warning sign for unpopular Latin American leaders, are threatening to undermine the government of Colombia and plunge neighbouring Venezuela deeper in to crisis, the Financial Times reported. Free-market Colombia, until recently a regional star, and the crisis-ridden, socialist Venezuela have both been forced to introduce energy-saving measures amid a combination of factors aggravated by a lack of rain due to the El Niño weather phenomenon. Venezuela’s government even extended the Easter holiday from three to five days to save electricity.
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Latin America’s largest independent oil producer, Pacific Exploration & Production Corp., is evaluating six buyout offers to avoid bankruptcy, according to people familiar with the negotiations, The Wall Street Journal reported. The final offers, which include a management buyout and up to $500 million in loans, are due Wednesday, with the board expected to make a decision by the end of the week, the four people said.
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Forty-three percent of companies in Colombia's oil sector are at high risk of going bankrupt as the industry reels from the recent halving of oil prices, according to a survey presented to the Andean country's congress this week, Reuters reported. The survey by the Colombia's companies' regulator polled 53 companies with total assets of about $10 billion but it did not include state-run oil producer Ecopetrol or two Toronto-listed companies, Pacific Rubiales Energy Corp and Canacol Energy Ltd.
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Latin America is turning into the world leader in corporate-bond defaults, Bloomberg News reported. Four companies in the region have skipped dollar-denominated debt payments this month, more than any other area and almost half the total in all of 2014. In a sign bond investors are increasingly concerned about Latin American companies’ ability to repay debt, borrowers led by Mexico’s oil-rig operators have pushed the amount of the region’s bonds trading at distressed prices to $58 billion, about a third of all emerging-market debt trading at such levels.
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Colombia Seeks Dividend From Wealthiest 1%

Mauricio Cárdenas, Colombia’s finance minister, describes his government’s economic agenda with a nod to French economist Thomas Piketty, who argues for taxes on the rich to reduce the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. “It is very important to collect revenues from the wealthiest Colombians to be able to invest in security and defence on the one hand, and in social sectors on the other hand,” he told the Financial Times in New York, between meetings with investors. Colombia is one of the world’s most unequal societies.
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Struggling Colombian banana marketer Banacol announced a financial restructuring plan last week in a bid to deal with mounting financial pressures, FruitNet.com reported. According to a report in Elcolombiano.com, the company is facing debts of US$184m resulting from high production costs, low banana pricing and a poor exchange rate. The company’s assets are valued at US$209m. The Colombian government has appointed a supervisory body to oversee the reorganisation of Banacol’s finances.
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The Colombian central bank is gearing for a challenging year that will test its ability to steer the economy out of a slowdown while also fighting off the peso's appreciation, one the most disruptive challenges faced by local monetary authorities, The Wall Street Journal reported. "We are seeing high levels of uncertainty regarding the nature of several shocks to prices and production," said Jose Dario Uribe, the central bank chairman, in an interview.
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About 7,000 people are reportedly affected after Spanish airline Air Comet's fleet was grounded this week by officials over its failure to pay debts, Colombia Reports reported. The low-cost Spanish carrier owes €17 million to Germany's Nord Bank in lease payments and Air Comet says it is seeking to lay off all of its nearly 700 employees. The Madrid-based company - which specialises in cheap flights to Latin America - also says it has filed for bankruptcy.
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