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Growth in the Andean region? IMSA of Colombia is predicting continued growth in this region of South America.

Inversiones Mundial S.A. (IMSA), Medellin, Colombia, sees hope for continued growth in the Andean region of South America, where it is a leading multinational manufacturer of architectural, automotive and industrial coatings. With annual sales of about 25 million gallons, IMSA'S sales in 2004 should rise by several percentage points over Colombia's estimated 3.5% GDP growth, according to Camilo Curibe, manager of sales and marketing, Pintuco S.A., IMSA's flagship in the Andes.

Founded in 1921, IMSA has expanded its business lines to include a variety of chemical and consumer products, including paint and coatings, which represent about 40% of its gross sales of $473 million in 2002. While 2003 figures are still being totaled, the paint segment is estimated to have generated sales of $196 million, suggesting that 2004 sales could easily exceed $200 million.

Pintuco was founded in 1945 and currently manufactures powder paint and solvent-based products at two locations in Medellin. The company also manufactures water-based products at a new site in Rionegro, abut 30 miles from Medellin. Products include paint and coatings in all three major segments, architectural, automotive (including after-market) and industrial (including wood) products.

Pintuco identifies itself as "the largest paint company in the Andean Community"--which comprises Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia--for company purposes. Pintuco has approximately 670 employees, of which more than 80 are in R&D or quality control. Its logistics and distribution system covers almost 70% of Colombia, including key cities of Barranquilla, Bogota, Bucaramanga, Cali, Medellin, Pasto and Pereira.

IMSA is the exclusive distributor of Pintuco products. Within Colombia, Pintuco has been the recipient of the National Quality Award, and in 2002, it launched Sigma Six programs. Leading brands and companies for IMSA in the region include: Colombia, Graniplast, Superficies Solidas, Compania Venezolana de Pinturas C.A. and Terinsa; Venezuela, Pintacasa, Pica and Pintuco; and Ecuador, Pinturas Ecuatorianas. In Central America, Pintuco is a market leader in Panama. In the Caribbean, IMSA has an equity interest in Antillianse Verffabriek, Curacao, and Aruban Paint in Aruba.

Among IMSA's technology providers are Sherwin-Williams, Glidden, International Paints and Kemira. Pintuco is a member of the Nova Group (see p. 47).

Factors affecting growth

Growth for paint and coatings for IMSA seems bright. Colombia's GDP will rise by 3.5% in 2004 to $87.8 billion. Industrial growth has been leading the Colombian economy, with an eight percent rise over the first three quarters of 2003, compared to the same period in 2002, according to Catherine Agnelli, a Latin American economist at UBS Warburg. Construction also is growing in Colombia, with gains in low income and luxury housing (the latter due to tax breaks). Licenses for home construction rose nearly 50% over the first half of 2003, UBS reports.

Limits to growth are slowly being reduced. Colombian inflation is expected to drop from 6.1% to 5.7% by the end of the year, and the Colombian peso also will remain stable (exchange rate to the dollar of about 2,845 to one). A substantial limit to short-term growth comes from the slowing of all Colombian exports to Venezuela, down by more than 50% during much of 2003. Venezuela accounts for about 18% of IMSA's export market.

Colombia also should see gains in trade thanks to the ATPDEA agreement, a U.S. plan to assist countries cooperating in the war against drugs. While crime and armed conflict are still problems, a peace agreement with the largest insurgent group in the country has been finalized for implementation in 2005. BY CHARLES W. THURSTON LATIN AMERICAN EDITOR THURSTONCW@RODPUB.COM
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Title Annotation:South America
Author:Thurston, Charles W.
Publication:Coatings World
Geographic Code:3COLO
Date:Jan 1, 2004
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