For the first time, a foreign company, Canadian energy producer Pacific Rubiales Energy Corp., has become the heaviest-weighted share in Colombia’s main IGBC stock index, the Colombian Stock Exchange said Monday.
Pacific Rubiales, a Toronto firm whose main assets are in Colombia, operates the Rubiales and Quifa oilfields in partnership with Colombia’s state-run oil company Ecopetrol SA. It has turned into one of the most-traded shares in the local stock market since it began trading here in late 2009. Its shares are also listed in Toronto.
The Colombian Stock Exchange said Pacific Rubiales’ popularity with traders was one of the factors that landed it as the heaviest-weighted share in the IGBC index for the duration of the first quarter of 2011. The exchange adjusts the weightings each quarter based on a variety of criteria, and data going back to 2001 show a foreign company has never occupied the top spot until now.
Pacific Rubiales accounts for 24% of the index this quarter, followed by Ecopetrol shares, which has a 21% weighting in the index. The Canadian company had a 14% weighting last quarter, while Ecopetrol had the top spot for each of the previous eight quarters going back to the beginning of 2009.
Pacific Rubiales joins a short list of firms whose shares have had the heaviest weighting on Colombia’s main stock index. In addition to Ecopetrol, others include local brewer Bavaria SA, which held the top spot during part of 2001, several years before the beer maker was bought by SABMiller PLC.
Financial firm Suramericana de Inversiones, which is now Grupo de Inversiones Suramericana SA, also held the top spot for many quarters in 2003, 2007 and 2008. Its stock now carries just a 2% weighting in the index.
Officials at Pacific Rubiales weren’t immediately available for comment Monday. An official at the Colombian Stock Exchange confirmed Pacific Rubiales is the first foreign-based firm atop the index, but provided no additional comment.
As the new heavyweight in the index, Pacific Rubiales shares were 1.27% higher in late-day trading Monday at COP64,000. The overall IGBC index was 1.23% lower at 15306.30.
Colombia’s oil sector has expanded rapidly in the past couple of years and Pacific Rubiales has in many respects led the charge. Amid its growing presence in Colombia, the firm’s local share price has more than doubled in less than a year.
Starting this year, the Colombian Stock Exchange has extended its trading hours by three hours to close at 4 p.m. local time, which coincides with New York trading hours. The local exchange used to close at 1 p.m. local time.
Preference shares of BanColombia, Colombia’s largest bank, have the third-heaviest weighting in the IGBC index this quarter, with an 8% piece of the pie, the stock exchange said. A total of 36 companies make up the index.
Officials at the Colombian stock exchange said last year they were making efforts to increase the number of foreign companies listed in Colombia to give more alternatives to local investors. (Dan Molinski / Dow Jones Newswires)