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Colombia's Grupo SURA posts $56.6 million profit in first quarter

BOGOTA, May 14 (Reuters) - Colombian investment holding giant Grupo SURA said on Friday it made a net profit of 211 billion pesos ($56.6 million) in the first quarter, compared with a loss during the same period the year before, as income recovered amid costs controls.

The company suffered a loss of 75.9 billion pesos between January and March last year.

Total income in the first quarter of 2021 was up 13.7% to 5.6 trillion pesos, compared with the same quarter a year earlier, the company said in a statement to the financial regulator.

“The evolution of profit is explained principally by a better operative result, a recovery in income because of investments in SURA AM, larger profits for associated companies and control of operative spending,” it said.

Larger profits at Bancolombia and food producer Grupo Nutresa, in which SURA has important stakes, contributed, as did a recovery at Grupo Argos.

Costs were up 6.3% in the first three months of the year, less than the increase in income despite higher costs associated with COVID-19.

Net debt at the company was up 28.5 billion pesos to 4.38 trillion because of a fall in the value of the peso and increases in dividend prices which affect dollar-denominated bonds.

Grupo SURA operates in 11 countries via participation in financial services, foodstuffs, cement, energy and infrastructure, as well as investment firms. ($1 = 3,728.09 Colombian pesos)

Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra in Bogota Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb Editing by Matthew Lewis

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