In Colombia, the Buenaventura Port Society is in the midst of internal conflict. According to Dinero magazine, an extraordinary assembly had been scheduled for Friday, seeking to give a “coup d’etat” to the current administration.
A surprising notice appeared last Sunday, May 10, in the pages of El Tiempo. It was a call to an extraordinary assembly, which was organized by a group of shareholders of the Sociedad Portuaria Regional de Buenaventura (SPRBUN).
The assembly, which would take place virtually, was scheduled for this Friday, May 22. Through this, the shareholders sought to “exercise a social action of responsibility” with the aim of changing the administration of the company, due to irregularities in its management.
The call was signed by the Mayor of Buenaventura, Víctor Hugo Vidal; Álvaro Rodríguez Acosta, representative of Inversiones Ventura Group, Grupo Portuario and OPP Graneles, and Juan Carlos Henao, legal representative of Harinera del Valle, Ingenio María Luisa, Portagraneles, Inversiones Chondular and Investment Consulting.
W Radio confirms that the development of the meeting that lasted more than 10 hours, where Juan Carlos Henao, Rosa Adriana Martinez, Victor Hugo Vidal, Mayor of Buenaventura, Luis Armando Manotas, Rudolf Hommes, Manuel Parody, were elected as the main members John Jairo Correa, Adolfo León Pizarro and Alfredo Elias Ceballos.
The group of its substitutes is made up of Pedro Luis Mendoza, Saturia Trujillo Tovar, Luis Hernando Salazar, Jorge Arturo Pinto, Antonio Rodríguez, Eduardo Urdaneta, Eugenia Ocampo, Rafael Robledo Montagui and Victor Julio González.
According to W Radio, despite the fact that some shareholders indicated that the intention of calling the meeting was to remove Rudolf Hommes, Manuel Parody and Eduardo Urdaneta from the meeting, due to alleged deficiencies in the company’s administration, they will remain in the group of administrators of the Company.
In Portfolio they claim that these companies were after ‘a coup d’état’ to the current SPRBUN administration for alleged irregularities. For their part, the members of the board of directors, Manuel Parody, Rudolf Hommes and Eduardo Urdaneta Wiesner, who represent part of the administration, filed a tutela action, alleging violation of fundamental labor rights, good name and due process. . One of them denied the precautionary measure that meant suspending the assembly.
According to the organizers, one of the motivations for citing this assembly is the poor administration of the Company, which has generated a financial detriment: in 2019, a 50% decrease in profits and losses of $ 7 billion was reported. Last year, the minutes of the meeting were contested by the shareholders before the Superintendency of Companies, appealed by the Port Society and ratified in January of this year.
This new fact surrounding the convening of the virtual assembly is another chapter in a long conflict between partners and operators of the port of Buenaventura, which represents almost 50% of the country’s cargo movement, and where the Mayor of Buenaventura, the Nación and more than a thousand shareholders mention Time.
Background to the SPB conflict
As Dinero (Edition 566) has reported, three situations are decisive in the internal conflicts between the partners, a group of them led by Parody and another in which the visible head is Rodríguez, from Ventura Group.
The first situation is the purchase of shares, in 2014, of the Specialized Container Terminal (Tecsa), which was to integrate this operation and which would be part of the operators that provided service to the port. Although it already had control of Tecsa, with 52%, SPRBUN decided to buy an additional 24% at US $ 27.56 per share, when the price was at US $ 15.46. The operation amounted to almost US $ 30 million and then acquired another 24%, which led to a debt of more than $ 78,000 million. The transaction represented the purchase of shares in some companies in which Manuel Parody, a member of the SPRB board, had a stake. This generated a conflict of interest that was not reported.
The second fact lies in the discussions that represent the provision of port services, since, apparently, there are restrictive practices of competition towards operators, which are investigated by the Superintendence of Industry and Commerce.
The third is the interest of SPRBUN in modifying the scope of the concession contract before the National Infrastructure Agency (ANI), but with practices that are believed to have gone against normal processes.
Context of the conflict
According to Dinero, this discussion occurs at a critical moment for international trade: the fall in demand in the world for the coronavirus, which will lead to decreases in the economy and will imply a recovery process, the duration of which is still unknown. To this are added more specific conditions: the transformation of the cargo business, on the one hand, and the difficulties that the port faces today due to its limitations in depth (it is only 15 meters), which would not allow access to deep draft vessels , for the other. In addition, there is the regional competition, for example in Ecuador, which would be taking some of the businesses such as the transshipment of the Eurosal service and its feeders to the port of Porsoja.
However, according to the newspaper Portafolio, the shareholders approved the change of the board of directors and ordered a forensic audit against the administrators in order to determine an alleged detriment, the amount thereof and the identification of those responsible, the shareholders of the Port Society Buenaventura Regional.
Portfolio also confirms that at the meeting, they exposed abundant public information that accounts for alleged willful or guilty conduct on the part of one or more of the Company’s administrators that could have caused harm to the company and its shareholders.
Finally, the board meeting with 67% of the company’s subscribed shares consolidating voted to change Manuel Parody as president of the previous Board, who would finish his administration for more than four years.