* Regulator to decide in months on fate of brokerage
* Stock exchange suspends trading of Interbolsa
(Adds bourse statement, comment)
By Nelson Bocanegra
BOGOTA, Nov 2 Colombia's markets regulator said
on Friday it was taking administrative control of the country's
biggest stock brokerage when it failed to make a bank payment,
while policymakers reassured investors their money was safe.
The regulator said it will determine in coming months
whether liquidation is in order for Interbolsa, which executes a
third of the daily operations on the stock market and has 50,000
Interbolsa's shares plunged 30 percent on Thursday, when the
brokerage said it had a "temporary liquidity constraint" but
kept operating normally.
Colombia's financial markets watchdog cited a failure by
Interbolsa to make a payment to a local bank as reason for the
takeover. The body will appoint an overseer to run operations.
"The Superintendency will define in a term not exceeding two
months, renewable for a similar period, if it is possible to put
the brokerage firm in a position to adequately develop its
corporate purpose, or if, on the contrary, liquidation is
necessary," Financial Superintendent Gerardo Hernandez said.
Clients' resources were not at risk, he said.
The last time the regulator took such a measure was in 2011
when it liquidated Proyectar Valores brokerage over poor
Interbolsa is part of Interbolsa SA Comisionista de Bolsa
that includes insurance and investment arms and also
operates in Brazil, Panama and the United States.
The move only affects the stock brokerage and not the rest
of the group, the regulator said.
"At no time was this about closing (the brokerage), but was
merely a situation of preventive control," said a source at
Interbolsa who was not authorized to go on record.
"It's important to make clear that our other group companies
are operating normally and are not affected by this."
The Andean nation's stock exchange suspended trading of the
group's shares on Friday for five working days following the
regulator's announcement, the bourse said to a statement.
The regulator's intervention came at a time when Colombia's
capital markets are rising and companies are increasingly going
public to tap local resources for investment abroad.
Experts said the most important market impact would be on
investor confidence in Latin America's fourth-largest economy.
"This may not have anything to do directly with the rest of
the financial industry, but it makes investors uneasy. That will
be reflected to some extent in the market," said a portfolio
manager at a major brokerage in Bogota.
(Additional reporting by Carlos Vargas; Writing by Jack
Kimball; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Steve Orlofsky and