Monday, September 28, 2015

Air Transat will fly to Rio Hato in Panama, beginning November 2015

Panama, Panama. Air Transat presented its new flight program for winter 2015-2016, which offers vacationers more than 35 Sun destinations from 19 Canadian airports, in addition to increased capacity on flights to the South and some of Europe's most sought-after destinations during the winter months. True to its position of leading Canadian leisure airline, Air Transat also meets the needs of its Canadian clientele by adding 16 new routes to its Sun destination flight schedule.

Travellers from Ontario will benefit from the advantages of a new flight to the Rio Hato airport in Panama, as well as the addition of a flight to La Romana, Dominican Republic

Air Transat is Canada's leading holiday travel airline. Every year, it carries some 3 million passengers to nearly 60 destinations in 30 countries aboard its fleet of Boeing narrow-body and Airbus wide-body jets. The company employs approximately 2,000 people. Air Transat is a business unit of Transat A.T. Inc., an integrated international tour operator with more than 60 destination countries and that distributes products in over 50 countries. Air Transat was named Best North American Leisure Airline at the Skytrax annual World Airline Awards, held in July 2014.

Punta Pacifica Realty's Trophy Property Program Closes First Deal

Panama, Panama. Punta Pacifica Realty’s groundbreaking property marketing program has generated its first big success story. A luxurious three-bedroom penthouse in Trump Ocean Club, one of the first properties enrolled in PPR’s exclusive Trophy Property Collection, has sold for $1.59 million to a longstanding PPR client.

The Trophy Property Collection, launched in August, is a unique program designed to connect Panama City’s most beautiful properties with Punta Pacifica Realty’s select clientele. PPR’s team of Panama City real estate experts create a detailed marketing plan for each Trophy Property, including professional videos, a designer staging for showings and special prominence on PPR’s digital platforms.

The Trump penthouse was given the white glove treatment and sold to a buyer from North America, who is planning to rent the apartment and then live in it a few years from now. The buyer is an existing PPR property management client who was looking for a second property in Punta Pacifica.

“We’re finding many buyers looking to lock in the low prices in Punta Pacifica, which are poised for an expected 10% appreciation as inventory is absorbed and new construction comes on at market values.,” said Jeff Barton, PPR’s managing director. “The Trophy Property Collection provided a perfect example of matching a buyer with this very special property.”

The sold Trump penthouse will remain in the rental market, with a rate of $10,000 per month. The 365-square-meter unit features vast terraces with expansive views of the bay and city. The unit was completely customized by the original owner who bought two units in the Trump during pre-construction.

There are currently 10 properties in PPR’s Trophy Property Collection, each priced above $800,000, the program’s minimum price.

Companies building controversial dam in Panama hit with $1.2 million in fines

Panama, Panama. Panama's government has imposed more than $1.2 million in fines on two companies tasked with building a controversial hydroelectric dam in the western province of Chiriqui, according to one of the firms, which said an appeal has been filed. The Environment Ministry imposed the fines on Aug. 31, Generadora del Istmo S.A., or Genisa, a Panamanian company.

Genisa, holder of the concession to develop the Barro Blanco project, and Hidraulica de San Jose, the company subcontracted to build the dam, filed an appeal "against each and every element" of the official resolution, the company said. It added that the evidence would show the companies had acted properly in carrying out the work.

Genisa was fined $775,200 for non-compliance with its obligation to "negotiate with, relocate and compensate those affected by the hydroelectric project," which is being built in the Tole district on the Tabasara River, some 400 kilometers (250 miles) west of Panama City.

Hidraulica San Jose was fined $450,000 over "unauthorized discharges" into a stream and a "lack of follow-up reports," the paper said.

The government temporarily suspended the Barro Blanco project in February, alleging environmental non-compliance and shortcomings in agreements with the Ngabe Bugle indigenous community, whose territories are located near the dam site.

Genisa CEO Aldo Lopez had warned in late August that the project had reached a critical juncture and could be permanently canceled if the government did not resolve the situation soon.

He said then the suspension of Barro Blanco meant losses totaling $40 million for Genisa, which had invested some $120 million in the project.

The Panamanian government reached a deal with indigenous representatives on Aug. 10 to complete the project, with the two sides agreeing to hold further negotiations on technical aspects that will ensure it is concluded without risk to Indian communities.

In the talks, from which Genisa was excluded, the two sides also said they would analyze different options, including the possibility that a third party could acquire ownership of the project.

Local Indians had been calling for the definitive cancellation of Barro Blanco, saying that, among other concerns, a sacred petroglyph will be completely submerged when the man-made lake behind the dam is created. 

Panama Canal Authority makes debut in tough markets

Panama, Panama. The Panama Canal Authority defied poor sentiment last week when it printed a US$450m 20-year debut bond tight to the sovereign despite a particularly rocky week for emerging markets.

The single A rated operator of the Panama Canal cut a solitary figure in the moribund US high-grade primary market where much of the paper was placed. The credit, rated A2/A-/A, was largely marketed to US municipal analysts and high-grade infrastructure players who understood such structures and saw value in the name.

Emerging markets accounts accustomed to pricing quasi sovereigns with a pick up to government paper thought IPTs of Treasuries plus 230bp was far too tight for their liking. At that level, the operator of the Panama Canal was offering just 35bp over where a new Panama 20-year would come, according a syndicate official away from the deal.

Its autonomy from government control made the Panama Canal Authority stand out from other quasi sovereigns and helped it obtain a credit standing several notches above Panama, which is rated Baa2/BBB/BBB. That plus the strategic importance of the waterway to global trade helped leads Bank of America Merrill Lynch lure 100 accounts in a book that neared US$2bn in size.

The paper was largely placed in the US (71%), followed by Europe (18%), LatAm (6%) and Asia (5%). Investors included asset managers, insurance companies, banks, and European pension funds.

Spotting the Panama's 2036 at a spread of 212.5bp, one banker argued that at 220bp, the issuer came tight to the sovereign curve. A new sovereign 20-year would have paid a higher 237.5bp spread, given the high new issue premium required to get deals done in EM, he said.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Copa Airlines pushes ahead with U.S. expansion, starts route to San Francisco

Panama, Panama. Copa is offering one daily round-trip flight to its hub in Panama City which started Sept. 17. The airline will use Boeing 737-800 jets on the route, which will become Copa's twelfth to the United States.

San Francisco customers will be able to connect to Copa's destinations in Central and South America.

"This new service offers a world of possibilities to our customers, with connections to 55 cities in Latin America," San Francisco International Airport Director John Martin says in a statement. "We appreciate Copa Airlines' selection of SFO for its growth in the United States."

Similarly, Copa will be able to offer numerous connections via San Francisco on its Star Alliance partner United. San Francisco is one of United's busiest hubs.

"Copa's new flight not only will greatly enhance business and leisure travel options between San Francisco and Panama, it also will increase connectivity with 55 destinations throughout Latin America," Copa CEO Pedro Heilbron says in a statement. "Our flight has the potential to make a substantial contribution to tourism and general economic development between California, Panama and the rest of the Latin American region, as well as open up important markets in Asia."

Copa has significantly expanded its U.S footprint during the past three years, adding service to several new destinations. Its other recently added U.S. cities include Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas and Tampa.

Alstom-led consortium to supply Panama Metro Line 2

Panama, Panama. Metro de Panama has awarded Consorcio Línea, a Brazilian/Spanish consortium of Alstom, CIM, Sofratesa, Thales and TSO, a $2.2 billion contract to supply Line 2 of the Panama Metro system on a turnkey basis.

Consortium leader Alstom, whose share of the contract is approximately $338 million, will supply an integrated rapid transit system that includes 21 Metropolis trainsets, traction power substations (among them a Hesop reversible substation) and Urbalis, Alstom’s CBTC (communications-based train control) system. Urbalis, which controls train movements and enables them to operate safely at higher frequencies and speeds, will enable 90-second headways.

Line 2, expected to open in 2019, will be 13 miles long and include 16 stations. Elevated, it will run from San Miguelito to Nuevo Tocumen and will be able to carry up to 40,000 passengers per hour, per direction. Line 2 will interconnect with Line 1, which Consórcio Línea supplied and inaugurated in April 2014. With the new line, the Panama metro network will encompass 23 miles. The Metropolis trainsets will be produced in Alstom’s Santa Perpetua factory in Spain, where the trainsets for Line 1 were manufactured.

“After Line 1, which has experienced great success since it entered into operation, we are proud to be awarded Line 2 of the Panama Metro,” said Alstom Transport Senior Vice President, Latin America Michel Boccaccio. “With an extended metro network, better connectivity and greater transport capacity, I am confident that more people will be commuting daily onboard a system that is reliable, smooth and environmentally friendly”. Consorcio Línea was formed by Constructora Norberto Odebrecht S.A. and Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas, S.A.

Uniweld To Join Centro Industrial, S.A. In Their 50th Year in Panama

Panama, Panama. Joining Uniweld in the celebration, will be renown brands such as Makita, Ridgid, Stanley, Dewalt, Milwaukee, Champion, and many other valued suppliers to Centro Industrial, S.A.. As stated by Uniweld's Director of International Sales, Richard Apodaca, "We are honored to be part of the celebration and to be associated with such a prestigious company, as is Centro Industrial.".

The anniversary event for Centro Industrial, S.A, which hosted individuals from the welding industry, was held on Wednesday, September 16, 2015. Centro Industrial, S.A. is among the largest hardware stores in Panama with well over 60,000 products in their inventory. Among the products they represent, is the Uniweld brand of products which include principally their line of oxy/fuel welding and cutting equipment and accessories. Centro Industrial, S.A., prides itself on offering Panamanians with leading brands in diverse sectors of the industry, be it for home repair, or industrial equipment. Centro Industrial S.A. serves the Panamanian market with 4 branch locations in Panama.

Uniweld has had the honor of being a prime supplier to Centro Industrial throughout much of their history, supplying Centro Industrial with Uniwelds oxyfuel equipment and accessories which is manufactured in their Fort Lauderdale, Florida factory. Among some of the key products that Centro Industrial has offered are Uniwelds famed Rollin Roughnecks, which are built with a solid steel hinged cabinet which protects the welding and cutting equipment from theft and damage, while at the same time allows easy access to the equipment.

Centro Industrial key suppliers will have product displayed at the 50th Year Celebration. Uniweld will be displaying their All American Heavy Duty cutting and welding outfit, the KAV780A which comes complete with 780A cutting torch (maximum cutting capacity of 8), WH360 welding handle (maximum welding capacity of 3 and RV80 series regulators with their stainless steel diaphragms and easy seat assembly serviceability.

Latin America District of the International Association of Operative Millers Plans 39th Annual Meeting in Panama

Panama, Panama. The IAOM Latin America District will hold its 39th annual technical conference in Panama City, Panama in February 2016. Developed by and for operative millers, the IAOM meeting will focus on technical aspects of flour mill operations. Day one will feature a milling specific workshop. The second day will offer attendees the opportunity to learn about the newest innovations in the industry, and share in roundtable discussions about topics such as employee management, product protection, facilities management and technical operations.

Monday, September 14, 2015

UBER launches service for Businesses (U4B) in Panama. "Uber for Business", known as U4B for its acronym was launched in Panama.Company executives will be registered to determine use for their employees and partners.

Uber for Business has had a tremendous reception in all cities where it operates. Companies in the Uber platform can quickly and easily solve the mobility needs of its partners and employees.

Company executives will be registered in U4B determine use for their employees and partners. From the platform, companies can authorize who can use the service to meet their business needs of transport by providing precise usage times, points of departure, arrival and other detailed rules. All from a single control platform, which facilitates the estimation and reporting of expenditures.

U4B was launched last year in several US cities such as Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, DC and in July of this year in Mexico City and Guadalajara.

"Uber for Business has had a tremendous reception in all cities where it operates," says Juan Pablo Restrepo, CEO of Uber in Panama. "Companies in the Uber platform can quickly and easily solve the mobility needs of its partners and employees, facilitating the scope of their businesses goals more efficiently and at lower cost. "

"We are confident that the city of Panama U4B will receive with open arms, as a great tool for a booming economy of Panama. U4B will be the best and more innovative solution for your transportation needs. "Restrepo said

Hundreds of new companies are joining the U4B platform each week and are receiving significant benefits for their businesses. According to Certify, this is because the partners and employees authorized in the Uber platform for businesses are choosing uberX more than 70% of the time. Ths translates into savings for business of 30-40% on every trip.

In addition, U4B, business managers have access to tools that ensure compliance with the travel policy of the company.
New Orleans business leaders coming to Panama on trade mission related to the expansion of the Panama Canal. New Orleans business leaders are hoping to strengthen ties with Panama and will lead a trade mission to the Central American region this week.

With the Panama Canal being widened, so-called mega ships will be able to bring 14,000 containers of freight at a time to this country. Local leaders hope to bring more of that business up the Mississippi River.

The trade mission is being organized by GNO Inc. A diverse group of industries are participating in the trip, including representatives from the banking, tourism, technology industries as well as the international trade sector.

The group will visit the Panama Canal expansion site, meet with Panamanian business leaders from multiple sectors including infrastructure development, financial services, tourism, renewable energy, and technology, and network with key business leaders.

"I think we're going back to the future," said Michael Hecht, the president and chief executive officer of GNO Inc. "The past of New Orleans was about South America, it was about United Fruit, it was about our relationships a place like Honduras and Panama and now we're really restarting those relationships."

It comes in the midst of the widening of the Panama Canal, a project that started back in 2006. The 100-year old canal is being doubled in size which will allow larger ships, carrying up to 14,000 containers of freight, to pass through it.

As a direct result of that expansion, state leaders recently announced the building of America's first offshore mega port. It will be built at the mouth of the Mississippi River and will be able to handle cargo destined for about two-thirds of the nation.

"The big ships come to our hub, and unload onto smaller ships, sometimes called brown-blue water ships, that navigate all the way up the Mississippi, even into the Ohio River," said Tom Thornhill, port co-manager.

At the same time Copa Airlines has begun non-stop service between Panama and New Orleans. Hecht believes all of these components will reconnect New Orleans to a prosperous past with South America.

"The closer our business relationships are with the canal, with businesses in Panama City which is becoming almost the Dubai of Central America, the hub of finance, the hub of trade, I think that's only going to help us here in southern Louisiana," Hecht said.

The widened Panama Canal is slated to be open by next year. Work on the Mississippi River mega port is expected to begin in August 2016 and could take up to five years to complete.
Punta Pacifica Realty Launches Exclusive Service for Luxury Panama Properties. As part of an expansion of its real estate services, Punta Pacifica Realty has introduced a private marketing program to help link sellers and buyers of luxury property in Panama

The Trophy Property Collection, the first of its kind in Panama, is designed to connect Panama City’s most beautiful properties with Punta Pacifica Realty’s select clientele. Only properties with special attributes, and that are priced at more than $750,000, will be considered for the program.

Trophy Property homes will be marketed exclusively through Punta Pacifica Realty (PPR) and owners will receive the white glove concierge treatment. Extra services include pre-screening of potential buyers, eliminating the “Lookie Lous”; special Web site promotions; and professional staging services.

“These are properties that deserve special treatment,” said Duncan McGowan, President of Punta Pacifica Realty. “The Trophy Property Collection offers a unique program to bring together the right buyers for the right properties.”

For buyers, the Trophy Property Collection will provide one-stop shopping for many of Panama’s most spectacular homes. Since there is not a widely-used Multiple Listing Service in Panama, it is often difficult for buyers to find the best properties for sale.

“In Panama, finding the best deals often depends on who you know,” Mr. McGowan said.

PPR recently staged an invitation-only open house for the three-story penthouse in the Titanium building in Costa del Este, one of the first properties in the Trophy Property Collection. The open house included select clientele, an elite list of brokers, catered food from a private chef, and an exposure to assorted imported wines. 

Punta Pacifica Realty is Panama City’s most comprehensive full-service real estate company, including sales, rentals and the city’s largest property management team. PPR’s range of property services includes in-house financing, legal and design experts.

In recent months PPR has added a boutique office in the Trump Ocean Club and expanded its property management operation with a new division catering to many of Panama City’s biggest multi-national corporations, including Caterpillar, Sony, Halliburton, Procter & Gamble and Samsung.
UGE and OTEPI Continue Success in Panama by Providing Solar to Mega Storage. UGE International Ltd. a global leader in distributed renewable energy solutions for businesses, and OTEPI Renewables, an energy-related company subsidiary of OTEPI Group (founded in 1967), announced they will design and install solar systems for all of Mega Storage's locations in Panama. The custom photovoltaic arrays will offset over 30% of the electricity used by the buildings, providing significant savings for Mega Storage.

"In choosing to use solar, we reduce our electricity expenses, avoid the volatile price of electricity, and show a commitment towards the environment," said Orlando Wong, General Manager of Mega Storage. "We are proud to be pioneers in the self-storage industry in Latin America generating onsite electricity through solar modules."

The deployment of distributed renewable energy is growing across Latin America, with Panama especially well positioned for significant growth. According to GTM Research, Latin America overall is on track to add 2.1 gigawatts of solar capacity in 2015.

"Panama has an abundance of solar resources," said Luis Paul, CEO of OTEPI. "We offer commercial customers the ability to save money while meeting their critical energy needs by tapping into this resource."

Since announcing a strategic partnership to serve the great Central American region late last year, UGE and OTEPI have been busy securing clients in this fast growing market. Currently UGE and OTEPI have more than 25 commercial sites under development and installation for customers in Panama and neighboring countries.

"Together, UGE and OTEPI offer businesses in Panama the ability to immediately lower their energy bills with onsite solar," said Frank Schreiber, head of Business Development for UGE in Panama. "We've already seen evidence of the rapid growth of distributed generation. Through this strong partnership, we are confident that we can meet this growing demand and continue to lead in the deployment of renewables across the country."

About Mega Storage Mega Storage is a self-storage company, with its first facility built in 2010 in the area of San Francisco, Ciudad de Panama. Today, it operates four separate facilities throughout Panama and Colombia and is developing two new facilities.

About OTEPI OTEPI is an Engineering and Project related Group founded in 1967. OTEPI Renewables concentrates on distributed renewable energy solutions for current and potential clients looking for sustainable and optimal energy consumption.

About UGE UGE is a leading full service renewable energy provider for commercial and industrial clients, with over 2,000 installations in more than 100 countries. Leveraging project financing and its proprietary technology platform, UGE deploys solar and micro grid energy solutions to reduce energy costs and increase resiliency, while making the world more sustainable.
AES Awarded Panama’s First Natural Gas-Fired Generation Plant. The AES Corporation (NYSE:AES) announced today that, its subsidiary, Gas Natural Atlantico S. de R.L., has won a competitive bid process conducted by the Electric Transmission Company, SA (ETESA), the state’s electric transmission company, to supply 350 MW of new capacity. The project will include the construction of a 350 MW combined cycle natural gas-fired plant with a 10-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), and a 170,000 m3 LNG storage tank and regasification facility, to supply gas to the plant, as well as to potentially serve growing demand for natural gas in Central America.

“Together with our local partner, Inversiones Bahia, we are very happy to announce that we were the lowest bidder for ETESA’s 10-year PPA for 350 MW. We will construct a low emission combined cycle power plant, which will be fueled by LNG via the new regasification terminal on Panama’s Atlantic coast,” said Andrés Gluski, AES President and Chief Executive Officer. “Building a state of the art LNG regasification terminal near the entrance of the enlarged Panama Canal will enable Panama to become an energy hub for Central America and the Caribbean, by supplying lower cost, reliable and sustainable fuel, which will benefit many sectors, including electricity generation, transportation and ship bunkering.”

AES expects to sign the 10-year PPA by the end of 2015. The project is subject to customary regulatory approvals including, but not limited to, an environmental impact assessment study and a definitive generation license. These approvals and financial close are expected before commencement of construction. Construction of the project is expected to begin in early 2016, with commercial operations expected in 2018. The total project cost is expected to be in the range of $800 to $900 million, which will be financed with a combination of non-recourse debt, equity from partners and AES equity of up to $210 million. AES entered Panama 16 years ago and since then has made a total investment of more than $1.3 billion in the country. Currently, AES owns 777 MW (471 MW on an ownership-adjusted basis) of mostly hydroelectric generation.
Bannockburn Global Forex expands to Latin America and visits PanamaBannockburn is a leading provider of foreign currency transactions and hedging services, which now local companies in Panama can benefit from.

The company's services will prove very useful to local companies in Panama who regularly deal in foreign exchange and have to handle payables/receivables in foreign exchange or other hedging products. Bannockburn Global Forex is also a boutique capital markets trading firm specializing in currency advisory and payment services. The firm has a business model that is purely client oriented. Its principal focus is on combining its 125 years of experience in financial markets with highly cost efficient currency transactions to provide expert level consulting and foreign exchange payment services to its valued clients.

With their highly customer oriented focus, Bannockburn aims to provide consulting in doing business in over 90 currency pairs used worldwide. One major benefit it brings to the local business scenario is the ability to provide a complete forensic study on the cost effectiveness of current and past foreign exchange transactions a company has performed. Thus, it can also help local companies determine if they are getting the best possible exchange rates that are available on the market.

The team at Bannockburn Global Forex has worked diligently to gain the trust of many clients internationally and aims to become the trusted foreign exchange partner in new regions. This visit is part of that commitment to the Latin American Region.

World Trade Center Panama has a reputation for hosting some of the most prestigious businesses in the past, and with the first official business visit from Bannockburn Global Forex to Panama, WTC Panama will continue this tradition.

“The company's services will prove very useful to local companies in Panama who regularly deal in foreign exchange and have to handle payables, receivables in foreign exchange or other hedging products. In addition to the secure and cost effective foreign exchange transaction it provides, acquiring its services does not require change to the current banking account structure that a company already has in place” explains Executive Director of WTC Panama, Mr. Remy Swaab.