(Bloomberg) -- Ecopetrol SA bond prices fell after the company said Felipe Bayon will step down as chief executive officer at the end of March, adding to investor concern over the government’s aversion toward fossil fuels.
Bayon, who has been in the role since 2017, is leaving his post amid President Gustavo Petro’s push to transition the country to renewable energy. His new administration has reiterated its decision to halt new oil and gas exploration contracts, while only allowing existing deals to continue.
“Considering the quality of the management team and Ecopetrol’s high governance standards over the past few years, the exit of Felipe Bayon will likely be frowned upon by investors,” Daniel Guardiola, an economist at BTG Pactual, said. “Investors’ concern on government interference will likely increase,” although the move was widely expected.
In a further sign of government intervention, Petro said Thursday he’ll temporarily take control of the body responsible for residential water and electricity services in Colombia, where prices have risen for consumers.
The yield on Colombian oil producer Ecopetrol’s dollar bonds due in 2033 rose 21 basis points to 8.45% in Friday trading, according to Trace data. Ecopetrol sold $2 billion of the securities earlier this year.
Read more: Ecopetrol returns to bond market with $2 billion sale
The move was disclosed in a filing made after the close of trading Thursday. Ecopetrol shares fell 3.5% to 2,599 pesos at the market close in Bogota, the most since November. Since early April 2022, they are down more than 25%.
A spokesman for Ecopetrol declined to comment on the reasons behind Bayon’s departure.
“While this had been rumored for months, the materialization is negative because Bayon was highly appreciated by the market,” said Josefina Valdivia Rodriguez, an analyst at Credicorp. “The final impact is hard to estimate until we have news of his replacement.”
Colombia’s Energy and Mines Minister Irene Velez said in a panel in Davos earlier this month that the administration’s plan was to “leave behind coal and hydrocarbons while surviving as a nation.” Her remarks were at odds with comments by others in Petro’s administration, such as Finance Minister Jose Antonio Ocampo, who’s said Colombia is open to the possibility of new contracts given its high fiscal revenue dependence on fossil fuels.
At a press conference on Friday, Ocampo said Ecopetrol’s board had decided to oust Bayon from the company.
Velez came under fire earlier this week when the ministry was questioned over data stating the nation’s gas resources were sufficient to meet domestic demand until at least 2037. Velez said she stood by the data, which included proven and probable reserves.
--With assistance from Maria Elena Vizcaino.
(Updates with closing stock price, Ocampo comments starting in ninth graph)
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