Colombia suspension of Isagen sale will spook investors -finmin

BOGOTA, April 2 Wed Apr 2, 2014 11:02am EDT

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BOGOTA, April 2 (Reuters) - The judicial suspension of the sale of the Colombian government's majority stake in power generator Isagen could discourage potential buyers, the country's finance minister said on Wednesday.

The sale was halted last week by the Council of State, a top judicial authority in the Andean nation, after a pressure group called for a review, contending that the transaction would be detrimental to the public.

The finance ministry said last week that it would present arguments to the council in favor of the sale.

"It depends exactly on how quickly [the Council of State] responds to our appeal; of course, if they take too much time, naturally some investors will lose interest," Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas said on local radio.

"But if we manage to resolve it quickly," said Cardenas, "we'll be in a position to re-start the process quickly."

Colombia's government is seeking to raise 5 trillion pesos ($2.5 billion) from a sale of its 57.6 percent stake in Isagen, which operates six electricity generators, and to invest the cash in badly needed infrastructure improvements.

The Tax Justice Network questioned the reasoning behind the sale, arguing that funds for infrastructure investment could be found elsewhere and that the asset should be left in public hands to continue generating value for its citizens.

The government received interest from U.S.-based Duke Energy , China Haudian Corporation, Generco, Spain's Gas Natural , Brazil's Companhia Energetica de Minas Gerais, Cemig and Empresa de Energia de Bogota. (Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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