Columbians protest power company privatization

columbia dam construction isgen elp

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — A consortium led by Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management is paying $2.2 billion for one of Colombia's largest power generators in a government auction surrounded by controversy.

Brookfield was the only bidder Wednesday to make an offer for 57 percent of Isagen. The state-run company operates Colombia's largest hydropower dam.

Employees of the Medellin-based company staged protests across the country in recent days to denounce the privatization of the strategic, profit-making company. Even some allies of conservative President Juan Manuel Santos questioned the sale's wisdom after the only other potential bidder pulled out, all but guaranteeing the winning offer wouldn't exceed the government-set minimum.

But Santos went ahead with the sale as a collapse in oil prices batters Colombia's fiscal accounts. Oil accounts for more than half of the country's exports.

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