December 16, 2016 / 9:25 PM / 3 years ago

Odebrecht will keep share in Colombia river project to begin in January

BOGOTA, Dec 16 (Reuters) - 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 replacement.

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

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