* Colombia may look at corporate-debt, equity investments
* Wants to put $1 bln a year of oil, mine royalties in fund
By Jack Kimball
BOGOTA, Dec 5 Colombia will seek to diversify
about $1 billion of annual overseas investments as near-zero
yields for government paper in developed markets have cut
returns on its sovereign fund, Finance Minister Mauricio
Cardenas said on Wednesday.
Global economic troubles have forced central banks in
Europe, the United States and other regions to keep interest
rates at historical lows to try to boost sluggish growth,
meaning that developed countries may have zero or
Cardenas said the Andean nation would meet next year with
managers of other sovereign funds to figure out how to increase
returns. Colombia traditionally invests in fixed income markets
in Europe, the United States and Japan.
"They will teach us what kind of portfolio you can have for
a sovereign fund, including, for example, corporate debt and
stocks. We don't rule out these options, everything must be
under the criteria of the highest safety standards," he said.
Latin America's fourth-largest crude producer has seen
billions of dollars in foreign direct investment pour in over
the past decade as companies have taken advantage of improved
conditions resulting from a U.S.-backed security crackdown.
Cardenas said the government hoped to put about $1 billion
annually from mining and oil royalties into the sovereign fund
to invest abroad.
"We want to have a portfolio that is a little bit more
diversified than we have now," Cardenas told journalists, adding
that current sovereign investments abroad totaled about $900
Emerging market economies such as Colombia's are expected to
grow 5.3 percent this year, four times higher than the 1.3
percent expected for advanced economies, the International
Monetary Fund has said.
Latin America and the Caribbean is seen expanding 3.2
percent in 2012, according to the IMF.
Colombia's ability to weather outside financial shocks was
cited by three major Wall Street ratings agencies last year in
raising the country to investment-grade credit status.
The government expects economic growth of 4.8 percent this
year and next, versus 5.9 percent last year.