BOGOTA (Dow Jones)–Colombia’s richest person, Luis Carlos Sarmiento, has finalized his purchase of the country’s leading newspaper El Tiempo, according to a statement from his firm, Organizacion Luis Carlos Sarmiento Angulo Ltd., or OLCSAL.
The organization run by 79-year-old Sarmiento, who made his fortune first in construction and then also banking and is ranked no. 64 on the Forbes list of billionaires, on Thursday completed a 55% stake purchase in the El Tiempo media group from Spanish multimedia firm Grupo Planeta, the statement said.
No dollar figures were revealed in the statement, but Colombia’s top magazine Semana last month said the anticipated 55% stake would cost Sarmiento about $292 million.
“With this transaction, OLCSAL, which already had a 33% stake [in the newspaper], now has 88% of the media group” known as Casa Editorial El Tiempo, it said.
In addition to the media group’s flagship El Tiempo newspaper, the purchase by Sarmiento also gives him four other newspapers, 10 magazines, two television channels and other media that are part of the group, the statement said.
Sarmiento, after gaining wealth in the building sector, entered the financial services business, which allowed him to turn his businesses into an empire. He owns Colombia’s largest financial conglomerate Grupo Aval Acciones y Valores S.A. (GRUPOAVAL.BO), and his fortune is estimated by Forbes at $12.4 billion.
For much of the past 100 years, El Tiempo newspaper was controlled by the powerful Santos family from which hails current President Juan Manuel Santos and former Vice President Francisco Santos. The Santos family divested from the newspaper group in 2007.
The statement said that as its new owners, the Sarmiento group plans to allow the El Tiempo media group to “persevere and grow under the same principles and values that have been instilled into it since its foundation.”
It added that El Tiempo has been very successful, and as such no changes to its structure are anticipated.