International Finance

With the issuance and placement of 350,000 million pesos in green bonds, Bancolombia became the first private financial institution in the country and Latin America to venture into this segment.

The resources obtained in this operation will be used to finance projects that contribute to combating climate change, such as renewable energy initiatives, sustainable construction, clean production and energy efficiency, among others.

The entire issue, equivalent to about $ 115 million, was acquired by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC).

“This issue is a step in line with our commitment to sustainability, not only because we seek to reduce the direct impact on the environment, but also because we encourage clients and allies to do so through strategic support and products that enable them to implement Renewable energy and sustainable construction, “said Juan Carlos Mora, president of the bank.

According to the entity, the green bond issue was structured under the green bond principles methodology, which was certified by Deloitte and was in charge of Bancolombia de Inversión Bancolombia.

For its part, Carlos Leiria Pinto, head of the IFC for the Andean region, said that the issue made by Bancolombia “represents the first impulse to develop the green bond market in Colombia. By investing in these roles, IFC is demonstrating its commitment to addressing climate change and setting the course for others to do the same. ”

The World Bank’s financial arm has made global emissions of green bonds in various currencies for a total value of $ 5.6 billion.

The achievement

Colombia is, along with Mexico and Brazil, one of the Latin American markets in which American Express has set its growth strategy for the next five years, a period in which it expects to reach more than one million cardholders.
The achievement of this goal will be done by two other issuing banks, in addition to Bancolombia, entity with which they have maintained until now a kind of exclusivity for 15 years, at which time they placed close to 552,000 plastics of that brand.

(Plus: Learn how to get more juice out of your credit card)

Until last August, users of this card in Colombia had used it to make purchases and advances for about 2.6 trillion pesos, that is, 6.6 percent of the total consumption of Colombian cardholders (39.3 trillion pesos ) In the same period.

Facundo Méndez and Lisandro Delfino, directors of American Express for Mexico and Latin America, lead this new strategy of the firm, considered the largest issuer of corporate credit cards in the world, with 163 years of operations, 57 of which have been in the segment Of plastic money. Méndez and Delfino said they have already found another ally in Colombia to develop their new product strategy, and their name will be released in two weeks.

“What we have seen in Colombia is that there is great potential for growth in the card market, especially in the affluent segment (high income people), and good macroeconomic stability, which is fundamental to expand our market share” , Said Lisandro Delfino, vice president of alliances with banks for Latin America of the firm.

The strategy of American Express in Colombia also includes an alliance with the refurbished El Dorado airport in Bogotá, where from tomorrow there will be nine spaces on the national and international docks, where travelers can find free services, for which the firm Signed agreements with the brands Juan Valdez, Sony, Chivas and with the Colombian chef Mila Vargas, among other entrepreneurs.

“Three of these spaces will be reserved for American customers and the other six, open to the general public. They are comfort sites designed to meet the needs of travelers, “said Facundo Méndez, vice president of the company’s global service network.

Zone Saver

The nearly four years that BlackRock completed in Colombia, a US firm specialized in investment management, have been sufficient to verify the evolution that the country’s capital market is experiencing, although its directives recognize that it still lacks more depth, diversity of instruments And greater financial education, especially to natural person investor.
Diego Mora, director of BlackRock Colombia, says that in order to achieve progress on these fronts, the country does not need sophisticated and obscure products, nor can it be left with too basic alternatives; So they work in simple options with which they can reach more people, a niche in which they see opportunities and investors every day more mature.

What has been the experience of the firm after four years in Colombia?

We see a capital market evolving positively, and that not only favors us as a company, but also benefits investors, especially natural people, who are increasingly interested in exploring new ways of investing their resources.

How do they measure that impact on company figures?

The local product we have is Icolcap (one of the referents of the Colombian Stock Exchange), which continues to consolidate as the largest fund of Colombian shares worldwide. Today it is slightly below the 900 million dollars, the total value of the portfolio. Now, what Colombians invest in our products abroad has also grown, to the point that today we handle about 8,000 million dollars, although most are from companies.

What has made that figure reach?

The confidence of institutional investors in the index; They are using it for both long and short term positions. But the important thing is that, little by little, natural people have been using it, although the country lacks much more financial education, so that people know what they are and what these tools are for.

For your future

How do they get a Colombian natural person to put their resources in something they do not know well?

I think much of this goes through financial education, and there is still a lot to go into it here. But I feel that there is a lot of natural person who invests in individual actions. Now, the important thing is to know if that is the best option for a person who is starting their investments. If I am an individual who does not have time to be monitoring stock prices, it is much more efficient to be in alternatives that diversify their risk.

What comes to BlackRock in the Colombian market?

This year we entered into an alliance with Bancolombia and designed a product to invest in international stocks; That is our bet, innovation and incorporation of investment instruments, create options. This Bancolombia alternative is concentrated in few countries. It has been an experiment with good acceptance among the bank’s customers. I feel that at the moment we are breaking that inertia that there are no new products because there is no demand. We remain very committed to the country by bringing investment instruments that help the development of the capital market.

Protection With you

The Bancolombia Group returns to the shopping centers sector, after the acquisition of 49 percent of Viva Malls.
This is a trust, owned by the Success Group, and in which it will have 51 percent as soon as the whole of this operation is completed. The Bancolombia Group, through its stake in Viva Malls for 2018, will have 14 assets of this type, of which twelve are already in operation: six commercial centers – two on the Atlantic Coast and the rest in Antioquia -, and six galleries (located in Bogotá and Medellín). (Read also: The small partners who arrive and those who leave the country’s signatures)

The other two are Viva Envigado and Viva Tunja, which, according to projections, will see the light in 2018 and with which it will have about 450,000 square meters of commercial operation.

It is worth remembering that the purchase of the trust was made by the Bancolombia Group through the Colombia Real Estate Fund (FIC), a business that had been ‘cooking’ since last September and in which it will invest, in total, 773,000 million pesos, through Of an injection of capital.

Of this total, the Bancolombia Group has already paid about 390,000 million pesos, as an initial contribution, and the remaining amount will be disbursed in the next 18 months.

The assets of Viva Mall are worth 1.6 trillion pesos.

“With Viva Malls – and with Bancolombia – we will initially reach eight cities,” added the president of the Éxito Group, Carlos Mario Giraldo.

After entering the shopping center business a few years ago, in October 2015, Banca de Inversión Bancolombia and the private equity fund Fondo Inmobiliario Colombia concluded their alliance with the Chilean firm Parque Arauco.

At that time, they sold him, for 45 million dollars, his 45 percent stake in the holding company Inversiones Inmobiliarias Arauco Alameda (Iara).