BOGOTA Dec 16 Brazilian construction
conglomerate Odebrecht will keep its majority stake
in a project to make Colombia's Magdalena River navigable after
receiving $250 million in financing help from a Japanese bank,
the Colombian government said on Friday.
Odebrecht said earlier this year it would give up most of
its 87 percent stake in the Navelena consortium, tasked with the
$833 million effort to increase cargo capacity on the river,
sending the government on a months-long search for a
But the company will stay on the project now it has received
$250 million in financing from Japan's Sumitomo Mitsui bank
, Cormagdalena, the government agency supervising the
project, said in a statement on Friday.
Construction work, which will last an estimated 5 years,
will begin in January, the statement added.
Companies including Mexico's IDEAL and FCC
Americas, part of billionaire Carlos Slim's Carso Group, had
expressed interest in the project.
A source at the national infrastructure agency said it was
unclear whether Odebrecht would provide the remainder of the
project's financing itself or look for other investors.
The project, valued at 2.5 trillion Colombian pesos, is set
to increase cargo transport on a 256 km (159 mile) section of
the river to some 10 million tonnes by 2029, in an effort to
reduce freight costs and aid exports by commodities producers
and agricultural companies.
The Navelena consortium, which also includes Colombia's
Valorcon, aims to profit from its investment in the project
through toll charges for seven years after its upgrade of the
waterway is complete.
Odebrecht's Colombia office did not immediately respond to a
request for comment.
($1 = 3,000.47 Colombian pesos)
(Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb and Luis Jaime Acosta; Editing
by Andrew Hay)