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Colombia says U.N. arbitration tribunal dismisses Naturgy lawsuit

BOGOTA, March 12 (Reuters) - An international court has dismissed a lawsuit for 4.8 trillion pesos ($1.3 billion) filed by Spanish company Naturgy against Colombia over the seizure of its subsidiary Electricaribe, the Andean country’s government said on Friday.

Colombia’s Superintendency of Domiciliary Public Services took possession of Electricaribe from Naturgy - previously known as Gas Natural - in late 2016, citing risks the company would default and its inability to provide services across an extensive area in the north of the country.

Naturgy subsequently began arbitration proceedings in 2017 to recover Electricaribe or receive compensation.

Last September, Colombia’s government handed over control of Electricaribe to Empresas Publicas de Medellin (EPM) and the consortium Energia de la Costa, which is made up of Empresa de Energia de Pereira - EnerPereira - and Latin American Capital Corp.

“Today the international arbitration tribunal ruled in Colombia’s favor and totally rejected Gas Natural’s claims. Thanks to this decision, Colombia will not have to pay a single peso,” Colombia’s Ministry of Mines and Energy said in a statement.

Naturgy was not immediately available to comment on the ruling.

Naturgy chose to seek arbitration before the U.N. Commission on International Trade Law Tribunal, rather than the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, which it could have chosen on the basis of a reciprocal investment protection agreement between Spain and Colombia. (Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra Writing by Oliver Griffin Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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