Bogota’s new mayor, Gustavo Petro, intends to forge ahead with plans to merge ailing state-owned telco Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Bogota (ETB) with two public utility firms in a bid to strengthen the struggling operator, despite facing accusations of financial wrongdoing. According to Colombia Reports, Empresa de Energia de Bogota (EEB) and Empresa de Acueducto y Alcantarillado de Bogota (EAAB), energy and water suppliers respectively, will be incorporated into a combined entity with the ETB in order to strengthen the telco, which is currently performing the worst of the three financially. Once consolidated, ETB will seek to acquire a 4G licence to offer high speed mobile browsing and round-out the company’s services.
However, Petro is facing charges for financial misconduct and has been accused of causing a 17% drop in EEB share prices over a three day period. The initial announcement detailing the merger plans, which were part of Petro’s election manifesto, preceded the fall in EEB share price and caused ‘economic panic in the value of the shares in the Colombia Stock Exchange, putting at risk the legal, economic and social good of the shareholders of the above, as well as risking the well-being of the beneficiaries of the public services they provided.’ A specialist in crimes against national wealth has been assigned by the Prosecutor General to investigate the allegations.