The Colombian government put its 32.5 per cent stake in Telefonica’s Coltel up for sale for COP2.3 trillion ($791 million), with 1.1 billion shares on offer.

Colombia’s finance ministry said in a statement each share will be sold for COP2,075, with the sale process running until 3 October.

Telefonica, which owns the remaining 67.5 per cent stake in the operator, first bought a 50 per cent stake in Coltel in 2006 for $369 million.

It then increased its stake in 2012, investing an additional $670 million. Coltel operates under the Movistar brand following a merger of Coltel and Movistar Colombia.

The shares will initially be available to special interest groups, and will then be extended to local and international investors.

Movistar was tipped to have ended Q2 with 15 million connections, placing it as the country’s second largest operator behind America Movil’s Claro.

In 2017, Telefonica struck a deal with the country’s government to increase Coltel’s capital to €1.37 billion to pay debt owed to an asset management fund. The company was further hit with an arbitration fine during the year for breaching a government contract for mobile services, which led to another capital increase of €472 million.