On February 28, the Uruguayan Congress approved Law No.17,453 (‘the Act’), which is designed to address the existing fiscal deficit. Some of the changes introduced by the Act relevant to foreign business are summarised below:
The International Financial Corporation (IFC) has agreed to issue a $9 million subordinated loan to Uruguay's Banco de Montevideo for the acquisition of the formerly state-owned Banco La Caja Obrera.
In accordance with the law dated December 27 2001 (“the Act”), the Uruguayan congress has put an end to 70 years of State monopoly - exercised by the State-owned oil company, ANCAP - over the importation, refinery and exportation of crude oil, and over the exportation of oil-derived products (“the Monopoly”).
UTE, the State-owned electricity company, has called for a bid in order to identify a private investor for the construction of a new gas power station that will replace the State-owned fuel oil power station, the so-called Central Batlle. The deadline for presenting offers is January 22, 2002.
The Uruguayan Government has approved Decree No. 442/001 of November 13 establishing an interconnection regime governing international and cellular telephony operators.
The Irish software manufacturer Trintech has purchased the sole production, distribution and marketing rights to a software package developed by the Uruguayan company Sursoft. The software is used to ensure the safety of credit card transactions over the net. The deal, worth over US$5 million, is expected to close this month.
The Portuguese company Companhia Mineira de Talcos Ltd. (COMITAL), has entered into a joint venture agreement with Fábricas Nacionales de Papel (FANAPEL), an Uruguayan company, to set up industrial facilities for the production of chemical products for paper and painting companies. The plant opened for business on October 12.
Unidad Coronaria Movil (UCM) and IMPASA have initiated a joint venture in the health sector called Alianza Salud. A spokesperson says that, under the new structure, both companies will keep their businesses and clients but will encourage an affiliation (own clients and third parties) to this new structure. The purpose of the joint venture is to improve efficiency and reduce costs. IMPASA will focus on hospital treatment and UCM will focus on emergency and out of hospital health services.
Administración Nacional de Combustibles, Alcohol y Portland (ANCAP) has retained the Uruguayan firm Guyer & Regules and the Argentine firm Marval, O'Farrell & Mairal, together with NewYork-based investment bank Salomon Smith Barney and Arthur D Little, to assist the company in its search for a strategic investor in the refining and distribution of oil. ANCAP is a wholly-owned oil company and reportedly the largest company in Uruguay.
The Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC), the multilateral financial institution that is part of the Inter-American Development Bank Group, has approved a 10-year, US$4 million loan to the Uruguayan company Solenur SA (now renamed Camino a las Sierras SA).