Colombia’s marketplace for infrastructure projects and financings has grown substantially in
recent years, and local banks are increasingly supporting the biggest deals on the table.
Bancolombia, the country’s largest financial institution, was involved in no less than three local
infrastructure projects that picked up awards, working alongside global banks such as
Goldman Sachs, Banco Santander and JPMorgan.
The Medellin-based bank is the winner the award for Infrastructure Bank of the Year –
Bancolombia was mandated lead arranger on the local currency tranche of the financing for the
Rumichaca-Pasto highway project refinancing this year; it provided more than three quarters of
the local-currency financing for the Rio Magdalena road project, and manages a trust handling
cash flow from the highway; and it also financed jointly with Itau a social loan for the Hospital
de Bosa project. Additionally the bank was coordinator, structurer of the lead placement of the
local bond issue by Odinsa’s Túnel Aburrá Oriente concession.
Jean Pierre Serani, head of Bancolombia’s investment banking division, says his team is very
comfortable working with global banks on large projects, where cooperation between several
institutions is vital.
Working with international investment banks over the years has enabled the bank to develop
the knowledge, expertise and capacity to handle large, complex financing deals, he says.
Bancolombia is ready to take a bigger role in more projects, says Serani. It wants to take
advantage of its experience and a large peso balance sheet, which is needed for many projects,
as well as its knowledge of the domestic capital markets, he says.
There are always projects that are way too large for any local bank to manage on its own.
“Opportunistically, we will aim to get a bigger piece of the market. But I’m perfectly
comfortable working with global banks and also because they also help us improve our
capacities,” he says.
The outlook for investment in Colombia remains positive, given that infrastructure seems likely
to be a key element of the new government’s economic plans. Renewable energy is another
sector where projects are piling up, he says.
“What we definitely want to do is lead. We want to be MLAs, we want to be global
coordinators, for sure. We feel perfectly comfortable in that role. We want to be in the top roles on every deal.”