Colombia’s government sold its 57.6% stake in energy company Isagen to Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management for $1.99 billion, the finance minister said on Wednesday.
The stake was sold at its minimum price of 6.49 trillion Colombian pesos and is the largest privatization in the country in nearly a decade.
Brookfield was able to pay the minimum price after a second bidder, Colbun from Chile, dropped out the bidding process on Tuesday.
The government allowed bidding for the country’s third largest energy company last week while Congress was on recess and the country’s courts only just returned from their holiday break.
The sale was already highly controversial, but became even more polemic after the surprise push of the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos, which has claimed the sale is necessary to cover a budget deficit caused by low oil prices.
To add to the controversy, Colbun’s retreat from bidding one day before the sale allowed Brookfield to acquire Isagen for the bottom bidding price.
And as if that wasn’t enough controversy, website Las 2 Orillas reported Wednesday that the company representing Brookfield in Colombia is owned by Juan Manuel Prieto, a personal friend of the president.