MEDELLIN, Colombia, March 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- In 2012 GRUPO SURA (BVC: GRUPOSURA; LATIBEX: XGSUR; ADR: GIVSY, GIVPY) continued to consolidate its position as a multi-Latin financial holding company, securing a steady and sustainable growth. Its strength was also reflected in aspects such as the structuring of its portfolio, a gratifying level of performance on the part of its core investments, the expansion of both the Organization and its brand positioning on a regional level; its sound financial position and robust capital structure all of which contributed to the level of results recorded at year-end 2012.
This was one of the main takeaways of its Annual Shareholders Meeting held today, at which other factors were highlighted such as how the Company's core investments are performing, having gone from 49% to 62% of its total portfolio in the space of just five years. These core investments pertain to the financial services, insurance, pension, savings and investment sectors in a total of 10 countries throughout Latin America, mainly through its subsidiaries SURA Asset Management, Suramericana and the Bancolombia Group which together manage assets totaling almost USD 138,000 million.
At the end of 2012, the Company recorded profits of COP 546,100 million (USD 308.8 million), for a YoY increase of 64.1%, thanks to the superior performance of its subsidiaries, Suramericana and SURA Asset Management, the latter reporting to GRUPO SURA for the first time ever. GRUPO SURA's stake in these companies comes to 81.1% and 66.2% respectively. Consequently, the Company recorded, using the equity method, total revenues of COP 323,097 million (USD 182.7 million) showing a YoY increase of 139.7%. Furthermore, we have the current economic situation in Latin America which is driving the growth of GRUPO SURA's core investments, with the population in the majority of countries in this part of the world now enjoying greater financial capabilities relative to savings and financial products.
"It was highly gratifying to see, in 2012, that the steps we took with regard to our ongoing international expansion were sound and highly consistent with the Company's ongoing strategy. Not only did we extend our portfolio of investments but we also saw how our investments are creating true added-value for the Organization as a whole, enabling us to further our position as a financial holding company with a view to the long term," noted David Bojanini, Chief Executive Officer of GRUPO SURA.
Our share performance was also an important factor in the results we presented today, thanks to the gains in pesos obtained last year, that is to say 22.1% in the case of our ordinary stock and 18.2% for our preferred stock, excluding dividends, these being much higher than the average gain of 16.6% for the COLCAP Index. The Company's market capitalization came to COP 22.0 billion (USD 12.3 billion) showing a growth of 18.5%, thereby ranking us as a large cap company on the Latin American market. Also, the appetite for GRUPO SURA stock on the part of international investors continued to grow. The number of foreign funds who became shareholders rose by 83%, going from 271 to 497 in the space of just one year. These now hold a total stake of 12.3% in the Company compared to 9.8% for the previous year.
As a result of the priority deleveraging strategy that GRUPO SURA put into place early in 2012, liabilities fell by 67.4% to COP 888,318 million (USD 502.4 million) at the end of last year. This produced a debt ratio of just 4.1%, which was much lower than that recorded for 2011, while assets came to COP 21.7 billion (USD 12.3 billion). Consequently Shareholders' Equity rose to COP 20.8 billion (USD 11.8 billion).
With respect to the outlook for both the Company and its core investments, Mr. Bojanini noted: "We shall continue with our growth plans, both organic and non-organic, this year. We intend to develop a comprehensive and complementary range of financial services in each of the countries where we are present, so as to be able to better assist our clients and fund members in the different stages of their life cycles." With regard to GRUPO SURA's commitment to sustainable business management, Mr. Bojanini reminded the shareholders that "Our prime purpose is to grow while helping the countries where we are present and their people to share in this growth. Rather than being the largest, we want to be the best with a truly different value proposal."
The fact that the Company's listing on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index was reconfirmed and its International Investment Grade was renewed by Fitch Ratings and S&P last year were also mentioned as significant achievements obtained in 2012.
DECISIONS MADE AT THE ANNUAL SHAREHOLDERS MEETING
At their Annual General Meeting, the Shareholders gave their approval to the proposed increase in dividends for the Company's ordinary shares, which was set at COP 339.oo, that is to say 10% higher than that paid out the previous year. This increase is also 7.62% higher than the year-end CPI in Colombia. The dividend to be paid out on the Company's preferred shares was maintained at COP 975.oo per year per share, this in keeping with that authorized in the corresponding Issue and Placement Prospectus drawn up in 2011.
On the other hand, and as part of GRUPO SURA commitment to upholding best practices in terms of corporate governance and transparency, in 2012 a change was made to the Company's Board of Directors with two independent members, namely Messrs. Armando Montenegro Trujillo and Hernando Yepes Arcila being appointed as Chairman and Vice-Chairman, respectively.
The Shareholders also approved the appointment of a fourth independent member to the Board of Directors, Mr. Carlos Espinosa Soto, to replace Mr. Jorge Mario Velasquez. The Company thanked Mr. Velasquez for the valuable assistance he has provided since 2006, when first appointed. Mr. Espinosa, holds a degree in Economics from the University of Louisiana and attended the Senior Management program at INALDE Business School along with other programs at the Wharton School and Harvard Business School. He was the Chief Executive Officer of Acegrasas S.A. and currently serves as Chief Executive Officer of Grupo Espinosa. He also sits on the Boards of Directors of Teamfoods Colombia S.A. and Leonisa, and is a member of the Board of Trustees of Fedesarrollo, Fundacion Cardio Infantil and the Bogota Chamber of Commerce.
About GRUPO SURA
Grupo de Inversiones Suramericana –GRUPO SURA– is a Latin American company listed on the Colombian Stock Exchange and registered with the ADR- Level 1 program in the United States. It is also listed with the Latibex Market for Latin American Stocks in Euros hosted by the Madrid Stock Exchange. Furthermore, it also one of the three companies from the Latin American financial service sector to be admitted to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI), which covers companies who have become global benchmarks thanks to the good practices they have adopted from the economic, environmental and social standpoints. GRUPO SURA holds core investments in the financial services, insurance, pension social security and investment funds sectors and non-core investments in the processed food, cement, energy, mining and real estate sectors.
Luis Eduardo Martínez
Director Relación con Inversionistas
Monica Guarín Montoya