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The Colombians are coming

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The purchase of by Colombia’s Sura of the Latin American assets of the Netherlands’ ING Group highlights a trend, with important implications for the region.

With the domestic economy healthy, following several years of reduced violence, Colombian investors are increasingly seeking new horizons, including those in Central America, a market which is nearby and which collectively is about the same as their own.

Last February, Sura paid $98 million to buy Suiza, the Salvadoran insurer.

In recent years, Bancolombia bought Banco Agricola in El Salvador, while Banco de Bogotá paid $ 1.9 billion for Credomatic, the largest-ever acquisition of a Central American business.

In the transport sector, Avianca acquired Taca, and in energy, EPM has invested in Guatemala.

In addition, several Colombian companies have successfully bid on construction contracts in Panama.

Sura, a subsidiary of the powerful Antioquia Group, paid $3.85 billion for ING’s Latin American assets, a record for the purchase abroad by any Colombian company.

Antioquia also includes cement-maker Argos, with plants in Panama and major contracts for Canal construction.