Friday, December 19, 2014

$300 Million In Financing Secured For 215MW Goldwind Wind Turbines In Panama

Panama Business.Goldwind USA, the US subsidiary of Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co., Ltd. (Shenzhen Stock Exchange: 002202, the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited: 2208) ("Goldwind"), announced today that the International Finance Corporation ("IFC") of the World Bank has financed the 215MW second phase of the Penonome Wind Project located in the Province of Cocle, Panama which will utilize 86 Goldwind 2.5MW permanent magnet direct drive ("PMDD") wind turbines.  The World Bank-led financing provides $300M for the project, which is expected to reach commercial operation in 2015.  The supply of turbines to this project represents Goldwind's largest international wind turbine order.

"This financing by the IFC/World Bank highlights confidence lenders and customers place in Goldwind's 2.5MW technology," said Andrew Evans, Director of Structured Transactions for Goldwind USA, Inc. "Goldwind is proud to play a leading role in the expansion of renewable energy infrastructure across the Americas."

"The successful financing of the Penonome project demonstrates the continued acceptance of Goldwind's PMDD technology in the global marketplace," said Vikaas Rao-Aourpally, Director of Sales for Goldwind USA, Inc. "Goldwind's gearless design leads to higher availability and a greater value proposition for our customers."

The global leader in the deployment of PMDD turbines, the Goldwind portfolio of permanent magnet direct-drive wind turbines are designed for high power generating efficiency, superior power quality and grid code compliance, and significantly reduced maintenance and total operating expenditures.  Unlike a gearbox-driven turbine, the permanent magnet direct-drive design reduces the number of high-speed rotational parts and avoids the sources of expensive faults that require crane mobilization.  The Goldwind PMDD wind turbine dramatically reduces the cost of power generation over the life of a project.

Signature Vacations Announces Exclusive New Flight Service From Quebec City to Rio Hato

Panama Business.Beginning December 12, 2014, Signature Vacations launched an exclusive flight service from Quebec City to Panama's newest airport, Rio Hato. No other carrier provides this direct route from Quebec City to Rio Hato, conveniently located only a short distance from Panama's resort area of Playa Blanca.

 Chief Operating Officer for the Sunwing Travel Group, Andrew Dawson commented, "Panama is a new destination for Signature Vacations this year, and has quickly become a favourite winter escape for Canadians. We are pleased to be able to expand our programming for the coming winter to offer our clients in Quebec City a convenient, direct flight service to this Central American hot spot."

 The resort area of Playa Blanca in Panama faces the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Panama. Located approximately two hours from Panama City, Playa Blanca offers a mild sunny climate, tranquil beaches, eco-tourism adventures and welcoming hospitality.

All packages include Sunwing flights, and unlike other airlines, Sunwing includes free checked baggage along with other amenities that make up their award-winning Champagne Service. A one-week vacation package to the Riu Playa Blanca Resort in Panama from Quebec City starts from just $1495 per person including taxes per person, based on double occupancy departing March 6th, 2015.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Ingeteam opens new subsidiary in Panama

Panama Business. The company is currently working for the first wind farm to be constructed in Panama and the largest in Central America.In line with the company's strong commitment to internationalization, Ingeteam has opened a new subsidiary in Panama, a country which is planning on strengthening its investment in renewables over the next few years.

The company is currently working for the first wind farm to be constructed in Panama and the largest in Central America, carrying out the O&M work on the wind turbines and substation. This farm has 22 wind turbines and an installed power of 55 MW, equivalent to the electricity supply to 20,000 homes. Likewise, there are plans to extend the farm with a further 66 wind turbines (stages II and III) which would increase its capacity to 165 MW and provide 8% of the estimated energy required by Panama. This year, Ingeteam has also connected two photovoltaic plants in the country, one for 200 kW whilst the other is a 15 kW self-consumption plant in Colón.

Ingeteam's subsidiary in Panama was recently inaugurated with the recruitment of 7 persons, and an estimated 20 workers in the course of next year. The subsidiary is focussed on the provision of operation and maintenance services to renewable energy plants and also on equipment marketing and after-sales services. The initiative arose as a result of Panama’s decision to invest in renewables, in line with its 2009-2023 National Energy Plan which includes studies on wind and PV power. Considering the country's situation, renewables could become part of a forward-looking strategy in the short to medium term.

BlueBay Hotels arrive in Panama

Panama Business. BlueBay Group inaugurated on 16th of  December the 'Blue Bay City Panama' , the first of their hotels that will be in this country. The facility is operated is located in the financial and business district of the capital, near the famous towers 'Americas', in the area of Obarrio, Bella Vista. The property is oriented to business tourism and the operation is part of the international expansion plan of the hotel for the biennium 2014/2015.

The 'Blue Bay City Panama' has 143 rooms with modern design, free Wi-Fi, 24 hours room service, business and fitness center 24 hours. Its cuisine consists of international theme 'Teak' and Japanese restaurant 'Umai Sushi & Lounge, plus a space' Blue Sky Bar 'and' Cigar Lounge '. With this opening, BlueBay Group, which works under the parent Alandalus Management Hotels, closes this year 2014 also marked by the opening in Dubai hotels 4E 'Navy Blue Bay' -and 'Blue Bay Black Stone' and will continue in 2015 to strengthen its expansion plans in other tourist destinations such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Puerto Rico, among others.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Bladex announces Quarterly Dividend payment for 4th Qtr 2014

Panama Business. Banco Latinoamericano de Comercio Exterior, S.A. (Bladex) (NYSE: BLX), announced this week a quarterly cash dividend of US$0.385 per share corresponding to the fourth quarter 2014.

At its meeting held on December 8, 2014, the Board of Directors ratified its commitment to continuing its established dividend approach that reflects the development and growth of the Bank's core business.  Consequently, the Board of Directors declared a quarterly dividend of $0.385 per share, corresponding to the fourth quarter 2014.  This represents an increase of $0.035 or 10%, compared to the previous quarterly dividend.

The dividend will be payable on January 13, 2015, to the Bank's stockholders as of the January 5, 2015 record date. As of November 30, 2014, Bladex had 38,781,391.28 shares outstanding of all classes.

Bladex is a supranational bank established by the central banks of Latin-American and Caribbean countries, to promote foreign trade finance and economic integration in the Region.  Bladex is listed on the NYSE-Euronext in the United States (ticker symbol: BLX).

Bladex's shareholders include central banks, state-owned entities and commercial banks from 23 Latin America countries, as well as international banks and institutional and retail investors through its public listing.

The Bank, headquartered in Panama, has offices in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and the United States of America, to support the expansion and servicing of its client base, which includes financial institutions and corporations.

United Airlines debuts Denver-Panama Flight

Panama Business. Service between Denver International Airport and Panama just started with United Airlines Flight 1697. Denver-to-Panama passengers can continue on to nearly 40 cities in 11 countries through a United partnership with Copa Airlines.

Nonstop Panama flight solidifies Colorado as Latin American commerce partner. United plans to provide daily service to Panama City's Tocumen International Airport through next August. The frequency will be five times weekly in September and October

Starbucks about to inaugurate and start operations in Panama in 2015

What was announced earlier this year, has opening date and place: US franchise Starbucks will open its first store in Panama in mid-2015 in a shopping mall that, in turn, is about to inaugurate too. One of the spaces in the “Street Mall” project, which is under construction on the roundabout route of via Israel and Brazil, would be reserved for the famous coffee shop that in 2013 recorded close to $ 15 billion revenue worldwide..

Thus, Kotowa, Café Durán and Colombian Juan Valdez, who arrived in Panama in January 2012, added a new competitor in the coffee serving market.

The arrival of Starbucks Central America began in April 2011 and now has stores in El Salvador (5), Costa Rica (4) Guatemala (2). The parent company Starbucks Coffee Company aims to reach 20 branches in the coming years.The US franchise, based in Seattle, Washington, has 21 thousand 160 stores in 63 countries.

Panama anticipates welcoming its first publicly traded REITs next year

Panamanian authorities want to open the country’s small but burgeoning commercial real-estate industry to more outside investors, and they are banking on real-estate investment trusts as the way to do it.
Panama anticipates welcoming its first publicly traded REITs next year. The government has been putting the necessary legislation and regulations in place over the past two years to provide much-needed liquidity to the Panamanian real-estate market.
“We have a very dynamic real-estate market, but unfortunately it is in the hands of a few investors,” said Marielena Garcia Maritano, a senior vice president of investment banking at Panama’s MMG Bank Corp. and president of the Panamanian Chamber of Managers of Mutual Funds and Pension Funds who helped guide the REIT legislation.
But the small country of roughly 3.9 million people will face challenges as it gets its REIT industry off the ground. Panama might struggle to attract anything larger than regional investors to its REITs because of its small size, as has been the case with real-estate investment funds in neighboring Costa Rica and in other emerging markets for REITs. While Panama has a strong economy, its real-estate market has seen a building boom in recent years that could depress values.
Also, some Latin American countries, such as Mexico, have struggled in the formative years of their REIT industry to provide the disclosure and strong governance that international investors want to see before investing in foreign REITs.
Panama’s primary commercial property owners—wealthy families including the Berns, Vallarinos and Mottas—have mixed reactions to the REIT structure. The Berns, whose Empresas Bern has developed more than 130 commercial and residential projects in Panama, are intrigued.
“Right now, if you want to invest in Panama, it’s a very thin market, both in terms of real estate and stocks,” said Jose Bern, executive vice president at Empresas Bern and a son of founder Herman Bern Sr.
Others, however, aren’t sure they’re ready to sell some of their properties to public investors. “What I find here is that people are wealthy enough that they don’t want to get their money back by selling to a REIT,” said Octavio Vallarino Sr. , a partner in Desarrollo Bahia, one of Panama’s largest developers and property owners. “They’d rather keep the cash flow. That’s the case with us.”
Panamanian regulators and lawmakers are betting that many owners will opt for the increased flexibility of selling some of their portfolio to the public, and that domestic and international investors will flood into the REITs. They have spent several years studying other countries’ REIT systems and preparing Panama’s for its debut.
Panamanian lawmakers passed legislation in 2010 to establish a REIT industry, but investors balked at the 20% tax rate on REIT dividends, Ms. Maritano said. Thus, lawmakers passed new legislation last year with a 5% tax rate more in line with those in Costa Rica and other countries with established REIT industries.
More than 30 countries have introduced REITs that typically can forego paying certain income taxes if they distribute a certain percentage, often at least 90%, of their income to shareholders in dividends. Costa Rica is a bit different in that its vehicles, called real-estate investment funds, must distribute some of their income to shareholders but they can distribute less than the 90% required in other countries.
Panama has set REIT guidelines that don’t place many restrictions on what its REITs can do. For example, Panama doesn’t limit how much debt its REITs can take on or require them to choose between being internally managed by their own executives or externally managed by outside advisers. Neither does the country limit the fees its REITs charge their investors.
Rather, Panama has opted to require its REITs to regularly disclose nearly everything about their operations and strategy so that investors can decide for themselves whether the risk is acceptable to them.
Experts say it likely will take several years for Panama’s REITs to become anything more than a regional draw. Costa Rica’s real-estate investment fund industry, started in 1999, now has roughly 16 funds with a cumulative asset value of $1.1 billion, according to Diego Soto, a partner and director in Costa Rica’s Acobo Financial Group, which owns a brokerage firm and mutual-fund manager. Most foreign investors in Costa Rican funds are from other Central American countries, he said.
Another challenge will come in that Panamanians are far more accustomed to dealing with banks rather than securities. Panama is laden with banks such as Banco Nacional of Panama, Banistmo SA and Citigroup Inc. Its securities industry faces the constant challenge of convincing people and companies that securities are as safe and effective as banks. Thus, Panama’s disclosure requirements for REITs are paramount.
“The problem with countries like Panama is that the banking system is too big [in relation] to the securities industry,” said Juan Manuel Martans, the superintendent of Panama’s securities regulator. “The people and companies always get financing from the banks. We’re trying to bring the possibilities that companies get financing from the securities market.”
Panamanian REITs likely will merit a look from global REIT investors like Cohen & Steers Inc., but the market’s small size will be a deterrent. Thus, the extent of Panamanian REITs’ disclosure of their structures, strategies and fees will strongly influence global investors.
“You still have to have enough scale for it really to matter,” said Jason Yablon, a portfolio manager specializing in global real-estate securities for Cohen & Steers, including investments in Brazil, Chile and Mexico. “When investing in an emerging-market country where fundamentals and the macro policy can be volatile, greater liquidity and transparency are an important part to the investment thesis.”

Panama Diamond Exchange and Fiera di Vicenza to Cooperate

Fiera di Vicenza, the leading Italian jewelry trade fair organizer, and the Panama Diamond Exchange (PDE), have agreed to join forces in the organization of events that will promote the trade in gemstones and jewelry in Latin America. A memorandum of understanding that details the two organization's future cooperation was signed on Friday, December 5, 2014, on the trading floor of PDE's soon to be inaugurated headquarters, by its founding chairman, Eli Izhakoff, and Fiera di Vicenza's president, Matteo Marzotto.
According to the memorandum, PDE and Fiera di Vicenza will formulate a strategic plan and conduct a feasibility study for projects that include trade fairs, symposiums and industry forums, which will take place in Panama and promote the diamond, gemstone and jewelry business in a region that includes Mexico, Central America, South America and the islands of the Caribbean. The joint program will begin in 2015.
The signing ceremony was the first official event to be held in the phase I building of the PDE, which will open for business at the end of the month.  Marzotto was accompanied by Corrado Facco, the managing director of Fiera di Vicenza, and leading representatives of the Italian jewelry sector, including Dr. Gaetano Cavalieri, president of CIBJO, the World Jewellery Confederation, and Roberto Coin, one of the world's most prominent brandname jewelry designers and manufacturers. Both  Cavalieri and  Coin are PDE directors.They were joined at the podium by Dr. Luciano Pataro, a PDE director from Panama and Erez Akerman, PDE's president.
Izhakoff said, "The significance of this agreement, being signed in this new facility, cannot be understated. The involvement in PDE's mission of Fiera di Vicenza, which represents Italian luxury at its finest, emphasizes that we are not just building offices, but rather an industry. Our goal, through the development of the Latin American gemstone and jewelry trade, is to grow the pie for everyone. As a key industry service provider, Fiera di Vicenza's contribution can be invaluable."
Marzotto said, "When you look from this beautiful new facility out across Panama's rising skyline, you see the future of Latin America. We are keen to be part of that future. While we always will be rooted in Italy, Fiera di Vicenza is going international, working with key regional partners, like PDE, to grow and enrich the jewelry business around the world. We, too, are not just selling physical space at trade shows, but rather providing the business with relevant and quality content, so that the buyer and the exhibitor's experiences are enriched, focused and made more efficient and value adding. We are already doing this in Italy, with our new VICENZAORO The Boutique Show format we are launching this January, and with our new super show in the United Arab Emirates, VICENZAORO Dubai, which will debut in April, and which is being done in a joint venture with the Dubai World Trade Center."
Prior to the signing of the memorandum of understanding, the PDE leadership and the Italian visitors were hosted by Panama's Minister of the Presidency, Álvaro Alemán, at the Presidential Palace in Panama City's government quarter.
Alemán, who was accompanied at the meeting by Néstor González, Panama's Vice Minister of Commerce, emphasized the government's strong and ongoing support for the PDE and its program to establish Panama both as the primary gemstone and jewelry trading center in Latin America, and the region's gateway to the world markets. He warmly welcomed  Marzotto,  Facco and the other Italian visitors, stressed that their involvement in the project will contribute to its success.
Later, at a packed evening reception attended by PDE members, representatives of Panama's business community and diplomatic corps, including the Italian ambassador in Panama,  Izhakoff awarded honorary PDE membership to both  Marzotto and  Facco, and presented both of them with personalized official entry tags into the new Panama Gem & Jewellery Center, where the headquarters and trading floor of Latin America's only recognized diamond exchange are headquartered.
Noting that just several months ago he was honored by Fiera di Vicenza, when he was named a recipient of the prestigious Andrea Palladio International Jewelry Award for lifetime achievement in corporate social responsibility, Izhakoff expressed his pleasure at being able to reciprocate, noting that the involvement in Panama of organizations like Fiera di Vicenza will contribute to the growth a responsible and ethical gemstone and jewelry trade in Latin America.
Over the coming weeks, companies will be taking up residence in the phase I building of the Panama Gem & Jewellery Center, which includes 61 offices, vaults and secure transportation facilities, as well as the PDE, including its administrative offices and 300-square-meter trading floor.
Construction of phase II  will begin in 2015, with a finish date scheduled for 2017. It includes an iconic office tower, where the offices and trading floor of the PDE will be located in the low-rise base of the complex, along with a luxury commercial center, with banks, specialized support services, restaurants and shops, including high-end retail jewelry stores.
The $200 million Panama Gem & Jewelry Center is the largest and most ambitious development project ever undertaken on behalf of the jewelry and gemstone trades in Latin America. It is being established by Grupo VerdeAzul, one of Panama's leading property companies, headed by Alberto Vallarino, the country's former Minister of Economy and Finance.
The entire complex will be located in the Vaguil Free Zone, which was established by an act of Panama's Parliament for the benefit of the international gem and jewelry trade, and exempts transactions conducted within its area from payments of customs duties and taxes, and corporations registered in the Free Zone from paying company tax. It is projected to directly generate 3,000 jobs in the Panama and generate billions of U.S. dollars for the local economy.