Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Food Network comes to Cable Onda. Scripps Networks Latin America has launched Food Network on Cable Onda, the largest pay-TV platform in Panama

Panama Business. Food Network's bouillabaisse of programming featuring kitchen competitions, culinary adventure, instructional cooking and home entertaining will be available in both standard (SD) and high definition (HD).

"Food Network is the gold standard in lifestyle culinary programming and by bringing the channel to viewers in Panama, we are giving Spanish-speaking audiences more choices when it comes to watching the best food-related programming around the world," said Márcio Fonseca, managing director of Scripps Networks Latin America. "We are thrilled to partner with Cable Onda to bring our beloved chefs and popular shows into the hearts and homes of audiences across Panama."

Food Network features popular global hit series including Chopped, a high-stakes culinary competition hosted by Ted Allen where competitors are challenged to create delectable courses in a limited amount of time from the ingredients in a mystery basket; Beat Bobby Flay, where two talented chefs go head-to-head for the chance to put their culinary skills to the test against Bobby Flay with the winner moving on to face off against him; and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, hosted by Guy Fieri who, week-to-week, embarks on a cross-country road trip to uncover the best that America's restaurants have to offer by way of regional classics and comfort food.


Food Network's first Latin American launch was on Sky in Brazil in November 2014, followed by the pan-regional launch of the channel on DirecTV. Today, the pay-TV channel is available in more than six million homes across the region.

Ford Expands Social Responsibility in Panama with Innovative Ford Driving Dreams Education Initiative

Panama Business. Ford Motor Company Fund is expanding its innovative Ford Driving Dreams educational tour for the first time to an international market with a program in Panama that will help more than 300 young teens learn skills to keep them in school.

Ford and Ford Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, launched the Ford Driving Dreams Tour in Panama recently. The tour is an education initiative that will deliver more than $50,000 in motivational activities, school grants and scholarships designed to prevent students from dropping out of school. Ford is collaborating on the tour with United Way Panama and the Ministry of Education of Panama.

“For more than 100 years Ford Motor Company has worked to make a better world for the communities where we do business,” said Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services. “The vitality and growth of every nation depends in great part on educating our young people, and we are excited to bring our innovative program for helping kids stay in school to Panama.”

The Ford Driving Dreams Tour in Panama will focus on middle school students ages 13-15. According to the University of Panama’s Research Center, this is the population at most risk of dropping out of school due to a combination of social and economic factors, such as the lack of resources for school supplies, meals and transportation, among others.

More than 300 students from 19 public schools located in some of the most vulnerable communities in and near the capital such as San Miguelito, and the nearby provinces of West Panama and Colon were selected by Panama’s Ministry of Education to participate in the program. While these students are in good academic standing and have untapped potential, they are vulnerable due to socio-economic factors and at risk of dropping out of school. Each of the 19 participating schools will receive a $2,000 grant to support needed resources that will improve the learning environment for their students.

“We are very pleased that Ford selected Panama as the first international market to launch the Ford Driving Dreams Tour,” said Carlos Staff, vice minister of education of Panama. “This will be a transformative experience for our students and we commend Ford for their global corporate citizenship and the impact they will make in Panama with this initiative.”

As part of the program, students experienced a full day of high-energy motivational and goal-setting activities led by professional subject-matter experts. They also heard life-changing testimonies from motivational speakers, such as former Boxing World Champion Chemito Moreno and athlete César Barría who is the first Latin-American and Central-American with a disability to swim across the Strait of Gibraltar. Students were inspired and motivated to lead a positive life, define their dreams and acquire the skills to achieve them.

“Following our ‘Go Further’ philosophy, Ford Motor Company is pleased to support Ford Driving Dreams, a program that motivates and inspires students so they can become the leaders of future generations. By supporting this program, we reiterate our commitment to the Panamanian community,” said Pablo Haase, managing director Ford Motor Company, Caribbean and Central America.

The Ford Driving Dreams Tour will also deliver $10,500 in scholarships through the “What Drives Your Dreams?” essay contest. The contest reinforces the importance of education while pursuing a dream and giving back to the community. The scholarships will help students and their families defray the costs of school supplies, books, transportation, meals and other basic needs that often keep students from finishing the school year and moving on to the next grade level. The scholarships will be administered by United Way Panama.

“United Way has a longstanding legacy of partnering with Ford to fulfill important community needs,” said Mercedes Eleta de Brenes, chair of United Way Panama. “We are excited to expand our partnership and build on this legacy to deliver much needed educational resources to our young people in Panama.”

The Ford Driving Dreams Tour was designed by Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, to help Latino youth graduate on time and pursue higher education. Launched in 2012, the program has reached more than 30,000 students in Chicago, Indiana, Florida and Texas. Ford Driving Dreams initiatives, including the Tour, have delivered more than $1,500,000 in educational resources such as scholarships, college preparedness, tutoring programs, parental engagement, and motivational activities. In addition to Panama, the tour will be implemented in Northern California in 2015.

Ford Driving Dreams work in Panama is part of Ford’s Operation Better World, a strategic global philanthropic effort that supports the company’s expansion. In addition to Ford Driving Dreams, Ford supports environmental initiatives in Panama. This brings Ford’s community investment in Central America to nearly $900,000 since the company started awarding its environmental grants in 2001. By working collaboratively with dealers and other groups, Ford Fund drives sustainable community innovation through local investments. Ford Fund now supports Operation Better World programs in more than 30 countries.

Research and Markets unveils studies about Panamanian Insurance Industry 2015

Panama Business. Governance, Risk and Compliance - The Panamanian Insurance Industry' recent report is the result of extensive research into the insurance regulatory framework in Panama. It provides detailed analysis of the insurance regulations for life, property, motor, liability, personal accident and health, and marine, aviation and transit insurance. The report specifies various requirements for the establishment and operations of insurance and reinsurance companies and intermediaries.

The report brings together research, modeling and analysis expertise, giving insurers access to information on prevailing insurance regulations, recent and upcoming changes in regulatory framework, taxation and legal system in the country. The report also includes the scope of non-admitted insurance in the country.

The report also provides insights into the governance, risk and compliance framework pertaining to the insurance industry in Panama, including:

- An overview of the insurance regulatory framework in Panama.
- The latest key changes and changes expected in Panamanian insurance regulatory framework.
- Key regulations and market practices related to different types of insurance product in the country.
- Rules and regulations pertaining to key classes of compulsory insurance, and the scope of non-admitted insurance in Panama.
- Key GRC parameters including licensing requirements, permitted foreign direct investment, minimum capital requirements, solvency requirements, reserve requirements, and investment regulations.
- Details of the tax and legal systems in the country.

The insurance industry is supervised and regulated by the Superintendent of Insurance and Reinsurance (Superintendencia E Seguros Y Reaseguros de Panamá – SSRP).  A memorandum was signed on February 18, 2015 to enable Central American countries to join the Caribbean Catastrophic Risk Insurance Pool.


Implementation of International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) 4 Phase II and IFRS 9, effective from January 1, 2018, and Insurance premium tax is imposed at 2%on gross premium for all types of insurance.The Panamanian government permits up to 100% foreign direct investment in the insurance industry.For more information contact: Research and Markets, Laura Wood, Senior Manager, press@researchandmarkets.com.

ROOTSTACK Panama creates software online solutions

Panama Business. It was 2010 when three young graduates of the Technological University of Panama (UTP) decided to open a business Juan Daniel Florez, OSes and Diego Alejandro Tejera founded Rootstack, a company that is dedicated to creating web and mobile high-quality solutions for development companies and other clients in Panama.

Rootstack is a company with 100% panamanian capital, has 16 employees, has completed more than 50 projects in five years in the market. Customers include the Superintendency of Banks, the Tourism Authority of Panama, the Transit Authority and the Ministry of Health, including multinational companies, especially from the United States, Canada, Uruguay and England.

They met in the UTP and in the last year, Oses confessed to his friends who wanted to have their own business and not work for anyone else. The three began to dream of names and ideas over time. Recalls Flórez he was looking for compound words based on technology that defined. "Root and root cell stack, the concept was that at the root there is always an order," he adds.

Oses, the general manager, is good at handling customer and public relations. The CTO, Tejera, specializes in the technical part, and Flórez; creative director, focuses on the creative and design side. Initially they were working from home and in 2010 tried to organize. n 2011 they moved to a room in the house of the grandmother of Tejera, and one of the first customers was Nito Cortizo.

The next year they went to an office in the City of Knowledge that was bigger. They had a product called "Latamaps". The premise wast build a platform on which technology providers in Latin America could find people looking for a service or product technology.

The concept is simple, Rootstack offers its customers a platform to update their own information so you do not have to rely on a supplier. During the consultation, the idea lands on paper. Tasks and effort are then quantified. Then it's on to a stage where the designer sits with the client and chooses the colors and typography, among other things.

"As a customer you are watching what you want, you're not behind the ideas,," added Florez. You go to web development or mobile depending on the project and the end of the delivery site is mounted on the customer's server or your own and then comes the stage of development and maintenance.

Currently, they are using Drupal, a platform that is written in PHP language or the language of the open source web development. In Panama they are very well positioned with the theme of Drupal. "80% of our work is for companies overseas," he says.

They are also creating and patenting two products, Rootcommerce and Rootnet that used in several projects. Rootcommerce is in a secondary market where you can sell online and communicate with customers through social networks. Rootnet allow users to share, collaborate and work together online. "The advantage is that you can have a very successful product with good pay and a small team," says Florez.


The team hopes that in five years Rootstack will employ 30 to 40 people and continue to build the foreign and local markets. They also want their clients to be more dependent and their products, that provide long-term stability.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Panama: Five new hotels in 2015

Panama Business. A total of 821 rooms will join the 18,000 offered. The new hotels are: Las Americas Golden Tower Panama, Panama Airport Crown Plaza, Ritz Carlton, AC Hotels and Ramada Panama Centro.

All five hotels will be opening its doors represent an investment of approximately US $ 470 million, the president of the Association of Panama Hotels (Apatel), Sara Pardo stated recently.

However, The hotel industry, is concerned about the already strong hotel infrastructure that Panama has, and the promotion of Panama as a tourist destination.  Pardo stressed that, going into9  months of the new Government, the Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP) still does not have a tourism promotion plan for the country.

"If we continue to grow in number of rooms,and Panama does not promote it,  low hotel occupancies will start to happen and that is not good for anybody”, said Pardo, who is also manager of Westin Costa del Este.

These new hotel infrastructures are: Hotel Las Americas Golden Tower Panama (283 rooms), Crown Plaza Panama Airport, (146); They are also the Ritz Carlton (226) Hotel; AC Hotels (Antonio Catalan, you will have 92 rooms) and the Hotel Ramada Panama center with 100 rooms. A spokesman from the ATP, Sierra agreed that the challenge is to achieve and aims to attract more tourists to the country to move from a growth of 12% to 25% per year.

The ATP is in the process of hiring an advertising agency that can do the marketing internationally for more than two years and is preparing a Request for Proposal (RFP) to put it for bidding through “Panamá Compra”.


The products that the ATP will promote are eco-tourism, conference tourism and conventions, beach tourism, family, bird watching, among others. They will promote in Latin America and the United States.

Businessmen want to be part of the branding of the country

Panama Business. Panama presented recently the country brand "The Way” (El Camino). Before that the well known ”The Path Less Travelled” existed. Before that “My name is Panama”, to name a few.

The last government even spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to trademark the phrase "Where the world meets? but had copyright issued and after trying to buy the trademark decided on "The Way".

Ivan Carlucci president of US Panama Business Council (USPA) an organization of American businesses and entrepreneurs in Panama that seeks to promote trade between the two nations, stated recently that  it is necessary to involve businessmen in the talks about the country brand because it gives a personality to Panama and cannot be changed every five years.

"The policy of the country brand should be something that covers all segments of the economy, not just what we see in the framework of tourism, real estate, medical, commercial and others.


He added that USPA had proposed that the concept of the brand to be developed and implemented by patronage (Patronato) which should be composed between private enterprise and government. Carlucci's statements came during the Business Forum Panama USA: New Opportunities,  organized by USPA which was aimed at boosting business opportunities between the two countries through niche business identification.

Alas Doradas expands into Panama

Panama Business. Alas Doradas (Golden Wings), part of Central America Paper Group, has made it official through Distribuidora Centroamericana, SA (Dicasa), the launch of the Carmessí products that have presence in traditional points of sales and supermarkets in Panama.

Central America Golden Wings Paper Group is responsible for the production of toilet paper, paper towels and napkins based on 100% recyclable material. According to some figures who shared the company's consumption of Central America and Panama in the category of Toilet Paper equivalent to US $ 407 million.

Evangelina Herrera, Marketing Manager for Golden Wings said that all paper exported throughout Central America, from Guatemala to Panama is made in E Salvador. "We are now working with Panama´s Dicasa dealer and together we will be developing an aggressive marketing strategy."

Central America Golden Wings Paper Group is responsible for the production of toilet paper, paper towels and napkins based on 100% recyclable material. Central America Paper Group belongs to the Nicaraguan Coen Group.

According to some figures shared by the company in  Central America and Panama in the category of Toilet Paper  revenues are equivalent to US $ 407 million. Consumption in Panama is estimated at US $ 43.7 million. Toilet paper consumption in Central America in 2014 was 225 million rolls of toilet paper. In Panama 64 million rolls were consumed in 2014 and Central America Paper Group produces 30,000 tons of paper per year.

"We make the tube leading from the center, paper and packaging, do the whole process. Our goal is to reach the Panamanian market, to know us and to go home and be part of the family, "said Herrera.

For his part, Juan Jose Herrera Director of Marketing and Sales, said the Holding Company which belongs to Grupo Coen said, "In Panama market since we began operations four years ago but looking potentiate brands with new designs and tailored to the needs of the Panamanian consumer formats. We decided to start operations with Distribuidora Central SA, which had previously been dedicated to the commercialization of our institutional division. We are now adding to its portfolio throughout the trading division that would be the toilet paper Charming and our brand of paper towels and napkins such as Carmessí. 

Tantalo Group unveils Teatro Amador

Panama Business. Leading hospitality development and management company, The Tantalo Group, has unveiled Teatro Amador Nightclub and Caliope Restaurant & Bar, two new and pioneering venues. Past the neoclassical doors of one of the oldest, still-functioning theaters in Casco Viejo, Panama City's UNESCO World Heritage District, guests escape into an atmosphere where international music and cuisine converge in an incomparable setting. The venue surpasses the traditional concepts of Panama City nightlife, providing a lavish entertainment outlet for VIP guests, superstar DJs, locals and travelers alike.

"Panama has rapidly transformed into a major center for commerce and tourism creating a huge opportunity for creative and well-executed hospitality concepts," said Matthew Blesso, Founder and CEO of NY-based Blesso Properties and Owner of Tantalo Group. "We are thrilled to own what we believe will be the premier nightclub in all of Central America as well as one of the most innovative restaurant concepts in Panama."

Teatro Amador captivates its patrons by magically blending the old and the new combining a historic theater built in 1912 with an L-ACOUSTICS Line Array providing the best sound system in all of Central America. "Entering the space you feel like you have stepped back into the 1920s in Panama or Havana," said Lorenzo Robles, General Manager. "While many nightclubs are sexy like ours, few have our historical character."

Under new management, Blesso plans to take this nightclub to a realm heretofore unseen in Panama.  Teatro Amador will not only host the world's top DJs making it Panama's premier electronic music destination, but will also continue the theater's 100-year history as a cultural center showcasing multidisciplinary art and live music.

Right above the nightclub, Caliope Restaurant & Bar, offers one of the most inventive gastronomical experiences in Panama. The localvore restaurant offers a monthly rotating menu of international fusion cuisine. Head Chef Martino Pace, formerly of the Michelin-starred Le Calandre in Padua, Italy, prepares inventive dishes using traditional Panamanian ingredients in a novel way, truly embodying 'Cusina sin limitadas' (Cuisine without Limits). Caliope is the first high-end restaurant in Panama City, offering elegant cuisine in a fun, high-energy, casual setting, boasting 84 seats with access to a breezy internal terrace, open kitchen, two-story green wall and a sophisticated NYC-caliber cocktail menu.


TEATRO AMADOR. Teatro Amador is located on Avenida Central, between 11th and 13th Streets in Casco Viejo, Panama City. For more information and bookings: www.teatroamador.com. CALIOPE Restaurant & BarCaliope Restaurant is located at Avenida Central, between 11th and 13th Streets in Casco Viejo, Panama City. Caliope is open Monday through Saturday from 7:00PM to 12:00AM

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

AMCHAM is planning a Trade Mission to Atlanta

Panama Business. The American Chamber of Commerce of Panama (PANAMCHAM) is inviting businesses and companies to their second Trade Mission of the year to Atlanta, Georgia from the 26th to the 29th of August, 2015. According to AMCHAM executives, foreign investment is an important component in the development of business and trade of Panama. This Trade Mission as it is advertised will provide invaluable opportunities to promote services and products through individualized B2B Matchmaking Appointments.

Atlanta is a world class city. It is the eighth largest city in the United States in GDP, and its airport, the Hartsfield-Jackson, is the world´s busiest airport. The city is home to numerous global Fortune 50 companies as well as it being a talented logistic hub that hosted the 1996 Olympic Games in Centennial Park. Atlanta, with its important location as a regional powerhouse, is an ideal city for a Trade Mission from Panama.

The program of the Trade Mission includes Tours of the CNN and Coca Cola Headquarters, and four different agendas on Tourism, R&D, Logistics & Construction, Finance , Banking & Insurance, and a Reception Dinner at Delta Museum.The Mission will end on August 28th and 29th, with a B2B meetings and matchmaking appointments, a visit to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, and a Baseball Game between the Atlanta Braves and the New York Yankees.

For more information and registration for this important Trade Mission,interested parties may contact: Pilar Cerón, Trade Director at AMCHAM Panama, Tel:+507-301-3881, or by email at: pceron@panamcham.com.

Lufthansa preparing to land in Panama

Panama Business. Executives of the Tocumen International Airport met recently with the Director of Operations and Airport Services for Latin America of Lufthansa, Stephan Semsch, in order to address issues related to the operation that will have this airline in Panama, which will certainly strengthen air connectivity between Central America and Europe.
At the coordination meeting, the technical, operational and security details for the arrival of the airline Lufthansa to Panama will be finalized on 16 November 2015. Five flights a week will connect the international airport in Frankfurt Airport Tocumen, considered one of the busiest terminals in Latin America.
During his visit at the International Airport of Tocumen, Semsch said "this flight extends our connectivity with America, increasing to four points direct connection, which potentiates the flow tourism and increases business opportunities and trade between Central America and Europe. "
Meanwhile, Mr. Joseph Fidanque III, General Manager of the Tocumen International Airport, said "as for passengers arriving at Frankfurt International Airport, covering five weekly flights is a huge benefit because it integrates the powerful global route network of Star Alliance in Latin America and its partners in the region, among which are Copa Airlines, which offers direct services from Tocumen Airport to many destinations throughout Central and South America and the Caribbean ".
Lufthansa will offer service with a A340-300 aircraft, with a capacity of 298 passengers, distributed in 18 in Business seats, 19 Premium economic class seats and 261 in economy.
Panama offers direct access to the European continent through Madrid, Spain; Amsterdam in the Netherlands and Paris, France, who now will join Frankfurt in Germany. In Latin America Lufthansa has flights from Germany to Mexico, Venezuela and Colombia.

Unlimited Vacation Club To Debut In Panama

Panama Business. In a milestone move, Unlimited Vacation Club (UVC) by AMResorts recently announced it will make its debut in Panama in late 2015 and early 2016 with the opening of two resorts: Secrets® Playa Bonita Panama and Dreams® Buenaventura Panama.
These pivotal properties will mark AMResorts’ entry into a seventh country. They not only showcase the breadth and strength of the exclusive vacation club’s portfolio, but also exemplify its mission to establish its brand of hospitality excellence in new and desirable leisure markets.
Secrets Playa Bonita and Dreams Buenaventura are just the latest chapter in UVC’s phenomenal ascent fueled by AMResorts’ world-class resort brand management. These luxurious, all-inclusive resorts will expand the vacation club’s footprint to a destination that captures beautiful settings with distinctive cultural and eco and adventure-related experiences. UVC’s entrance in Panama, combined with its robust efforts to expand its footprint in existing markets, underscores the vacation club’s commitment to offering members a continually expanding roster of superior vacation experiences.
Both Secrets Playa Bonita and Dreams Buenaventura will feature the Unlimited–Luxury® program where everything is included, such as finely appointed accommodations complete with furnished balconies or terraces, 24–hour room and concierge service, a wide variety of gourmet dining options with no reservations required, unlimited top-shelf beverages, and endless daytime activities and live nighttime entertainment.
UVC will bring its adults-only, luxury Secrets Resorts & Spas brand to Central America with the premiere of this resort in December 2015. Set on the golden sands of Playa Bonita or “pretty beach,” the 303-room resort will offer the beauty of a secluded tropical paradise minutes from downtown Panama City. UVC members will be close to such popular attractions as the Panama Canal; historic Old Town Panama City with lively restaurants and nightlife; and the Gamboa Aerial Tram, overlooking a tropical rainforest. Secrets Playa Bonita will feature five freeform swimming pools with spectacular Pacific Ocean views, a private beach, lush tropical walkways, ocean-view suites, meeting facilities and 10,000 square-foot spa.
Slated to open in 2016, Dreams Buenaventura will be the 40th resort in the UVC collection and 13th in the Dreams Resorts & Spas portfolio. This newly constructed resort will be located minutes from Rio Hato International Airport in Buenaventura, one of Panama's most exclusive beach communities. Perfect for couples and couples with children, Dreams Buenaventura will house 614 spacious rooms and suites, each luxuriously appointed with a private balcony or terrace. UVC members will take in spectacular views of lush gardens, lagoons and a pristine white-sand beach. Located in Farallón, 80 minutes from Panama City, the gated community of Buenaventura offers an array of high-end and eco-conscious pursuits. UVC members will enjoy the 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Design par-72 golf course, sport fishing, sailing and a full equestrian center. Among the myriad nature activities, UVC members be able to explore the pristine eco–system from water, land and even air on canopy tours.
In the past few years, Panama has become one of Central America's hottest destinations. Its famous canal still astonishes visitors 100 years after its completion. Today, scores of travelers are discovering Panama’s stunning beaches on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, vast national parks and reserves that hold incredible biological diversity, idyllic islands surrounded by coral reefs, rainforests, volcanoes and waterfalls. Panama City is a vibrant metropolis with a thriving cultural and entertainment scene featuring theater, jazz, nightclubs, casinos and upscale shopping as well as abundant options for exciting day-trips.

Digicel’s Panama venture falling flat

Panama Business.  At the start of 2009, Juan Carlos Navarro, then mayor of Panama City, presented the key to the city to Denis O’Brien, the Irish mobile phone tycoon. O’Brien´s Digicel had won a mobile licence in the Central American state and the key was recognition of Digicel’s “significant contribution to the future growth of the country”, Navarro said. A filing by O’Brien’s company ahead of its planned stock market listing shows Panama as a rare stumble for a venture that has 13.6m customers in 31 markets.

Digicel Panama is a complex set-up, with Digicel Holdings Central America Limited (DHCAL) holding 70% and TTF Panama, owned by the local Bettsak family, holding 30%. DHCAL, in turn, is nearly 52% owned by O’Brien personally, with Digicel holding 45% and employees and management holding the balance.

Like all telecoms companies around the world, Digicel is a cash-hungry business. It made its name by wiping the eye of slumbering incumbent rivals across the Caribbean, Central America and the Pacific Islands in offering mobile voice, which still accounts for 87.3 percent of its business. Some 94 per cent of its customer base is prepaid.

However the game has changed in the intervening years. It’s all about quad play (mobile, cable TV, broadband and fixed line) now and building out fibre networks, which requires a lot of capital. “Digicel is in the process of evolving from a pure mobile telecommunications company into a leading total communications and entertainment provider,” the document states.

Digicel’s plans are complicated by the fact that it operates in so many different countries. Building out fibre in one country is tricky enough, never mind 31 spread around the globe.

Digicel has unquestionably been an huge success story and is the number one player in 21 of the 31 markets in which it operates. Communist Cuba is the one obvious outlier in the Caribbean but that could change in the years ahead now that relations with the US are thawing. It hasn’t been all been jam though for Digicel. The IPO document lists 29 pages of potential risks. Many detail how regulators are impacting on the business, a factor of its dominant position in many countries. O’Brien doesn’t much care for regulators.

While the Caribbean and the Pacific islands have been hugely successful ventures, central America has been a different story. Digicel sold its Honduras business to Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim but was blocked by regulators from completing a similar transaction in El Salvador, where revenues retreated 10 per cent last year. Also, an IPO document suggests Panama is a big drain on the company and it has been forced to withdraw from Burma.

The strong US dollar is also affecting the business. Digicel’s debt is held in dollars but its revenues are collected in local currencies, most of which have dropped in value against the dollar in recent years. Adverse currency movements were the main reasons behind revenues in Haiti and Jamaica dropping by more 3 per cent last year.

Revenue overall rose 1.5 per cent to just under $2.8 billion but the company slipped into the red, largely due to a spike in finance costs and an increase in administrative expenses.

The merger of Cable & Wireless with Columbus International has created a major rival to Digicel in the Caribbean. John Malone, owner of cable TV giant Liberty Global, owns 13 per cent of the merged business, which is set to go toe to toe with Digicel.

Digicel is one of the world’s leading mobile phone companies, albeit in a chain of small markets. However, the company is now at a major crossroads. It needs to diversify into higher-end cable TV and data services and sell more business packages in the face of stiffer competition, while upgrading its infrastructure and servicing a hefty debt. All under a more public spotlight.

Scotiabank appoints new CEO in Panama

Panama Business.  Scotiabank announced the appointment of Nestor Blanco as vice president and general manager of Scotiabank in Panama, one occupied so far by Robert Williams position.

"Blanco will be responsible for leading, developing, communicating and implementing the business strategy of the bank in Panama, as well as their goals and aligned with corporate strategies and international banking values," the company said in a statement.

Blanco, who joined Scotiabank in 2004, has held senior positions in international banking and wealth management, most recently serving as senior vice president of International Private Banking. He has a degree in accounting from the Universidad Catolica Andres Bello in Venezuela and a master's in business administration from Darden School of Business, University of Virginia, USA.


Scotiabank has presence in Panama since 1974 and in 2004 opened its first branch in the city of Panama. Today it has 16, distributed in several provinces. According to its last audited financial statements, to October 31, 2014, the bank in Panama was $ 2.666 billion in assets, a figure slightly lower than the $ 2.702 million in October 2013. Meanwhile, net income in the year 2014 was $ 35.7 million, up from $ 28.8 million last year.