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Bancolombia aims higher

Corporates from Colombia have a hard time in the international capital markets. However many miles they rack up meeting investors, the country remains best known for an infamous export and the cartels that produce it.

The violence and corruption of the drugs trade mean that investors still demand a hefty premium for investing in Colombia. But the stability that president Alvaro Uribe has brought means that investors bold enough to invest in the Bogotá market have enjoyed healthy returns in the past few years.

The share price of Bancolombia, the country's biggest bank, has climbed by over 600% since 2002 to $13 at the beginning of this year. Now the bank is on the verge of a new era. With an important merger due for completion in the first half of 2005 and an Andean region free trade agreement with the US due to completed at about the same time, bank chairman, Jorge Londoño, hopes that the relative tranquillity of his country will enable the bank to compete on a more level playing field.

?We want to raise finance from the same sources as our competitors, and we also aspire to the same cost of capital in the medium term,? he says.

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