Chile moves to sell utilities stakes, help Codelco

SANTIAGO (BestGrowthStock) – Chile will sell its stakes in four water utilities, valued at $1.6 billion, and may use the proceeds to help finance investments in state mining giant Codelco, Finance Minister Felipe Larrain said on Wednesday.

Larrain said the sale was aimed at freeing state resources to boost funding for the reconstruction of cities ravaged by a massive earthquake in February.

“These resources are important to capitalize public enterprises with good investment projects,” Larrain told reporters. “Some help for Codelco to finance its ambitious investment plan.”

Codelco, the world’s top copper miner, plans to invest about $15 billion over the next five years to maintain output at century-old deposits. Codelco executives have been on a quest to convince the government to release more capital for its projects next year.

For months President Sebastian Pinera had vowed to study the sale of the government’s stakes in utilities, such as the country’s top Aguas Andinas (AGUAa.SN: ). He would not need congressional approval for the sale.

The self-made billionaire had postponed the sale after coming under fire from the center-left opposition, local media has reported.

Economy Minister Juan Andres Fontaine said the stake sale could take up to nine months.

The sale could bring more pesos into the economy at a time when the local currency is trading at fresh 31-month highs

The sale will include shares in Aguas Andinas, Essbio (BIOa.SN: ), Esval (ESVa.SN: ) and Essal.

(Writing by Alonso Soto; Editing by Walter Bagley)

Chile moves to sell utilities stakes, help Codelco