Friday, August 26, 2016

Panama’s Megapolis Investment Group Selects Interval International’s Global Exchange Network for Its New Vacation Club

Panama’s Megapolis Investment Group Selects Interval International’s Global Exchange Network for Its New Vacation Club. Club Includes Hard Rock and Radisson Branded Properties

Interval International, a prominent worldwide provider of vacation services and an operating business of Interval Leisure Group announced the affiliation of Mega Vacations Club in Panama. The club includes more than 1,500 units housed in the Hard Rock Hotel Panama Megapolis and the Radisson Decapolis Hotel, both situated in the exclusive Punta Paitilla area of Panama City.

“These properties reflect our commitment to providing high-quality vacation products with outstanding amenities and services that hold great appeal to potential buyers”

 “These properties reflect our commitment to providing high-quality vacation products with outstanding amenities and services that hold great appeal to potential buyers,” said Roko Setka, corporate general director of Megapolis Investment Group. “Our decision to affiliate Mega Vacations Club with Interval was based on the company’s stellar reputation for offering exceptional service. We are confident that the valuable leisure benefits it offers will only enhance our owners’ experience.”

“We are delighted to welcome Megapolis Investment Group, which has successfully developed multi-use properties in Panama, to the shared ownership industry,” said Marcos Agostini, Interval’s senior vice president of resort sales and business development for Latin America. “With this affiliation, our members have the opportunity to stay at desirable branded hotels in a popular urban destination.”

The Hard Rock Hotel Panama Megapolis is a 66-story tower that offers scenic views of the city and Panama Bay. Each unit features a chic decor with rock-inspired artwork, signature bedding, floor-to-ceiling windows, decks or balconies, and complimentary Wi-Fi access. At check-in, guests can select customized private in-room music offerings and free playlists through the Sound of Your Stay® program. Onsite amenities include four gourmet restaurants, five bars, two nightclubs, rooftop lounge, free-form infinity pool with private cabanas, and a kid’s club. In addition, an array of trademark Hard Rock amenities are available on property, including the Rock Shop® featuring the brand’s iconic merchandise, Rock Spa’s® Rhythm & Motion spa menu, and the Body Rock® workout facilities. Visitors also have easy access to the cinema, restaurants, casino, and retail outlets at Multicentro shopping mall and to the Megapolis Convention Center via a suspended connecting bridge.

The Radisson Decapolis Hotel consists of spacious units with a contemporary design and spectacular city or sea views. Among the amenities available onsite and nearby are four restaurants, two bars, heated outdoor swimming pool, full-service Aqua Spa, fitness center, 24/7 room service, and concierge. In 2016, TripAdvisor®, the world’s largest travel site, ranked Radisson Decapolis Hotel #17 out of 117 hotels in Panama City, based on traveler reviews. In acknowledgement of its exemplary customer service, travelers awarded the property a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence from 2011 to 2015, as it was known by Miguel Sanchiz of the Business Section of Panama On.

New purchasers at Mega Vacations Club will be enrolled as individual members of Interval International and also become Interval Platinum® members, entitling them to a number of flexible exchange opportunities and best-in-class leisure and lifestyle benefits and services. These include complimentary airport lounge membership through Priority Pass; Interval Options®, the ability to exchange their resort week toward a cruise, tour, golf, or spa vacation, or a unique Interval Experiences adventure; ShortStay Exchange®; Golf Connection, for access to select private courses; VIP treatment with Dining Connection; City Guides, for insider advice; Hertz Gold Plus Rewards® membership, which gives them the opportunity to earn bonus points for up to two free weekend rental days; priority Getaway viewing; US$50 Getaway discounts; free Guest Certificates; Platinum Escapes; online hotel discounts; additional special offers at restaurants, and retail locations worldwide; and VIP ConciergeSM, for personal assistance, 24/7.

About Interval International

Interval International operates membership programs for vacationers and provides value-added services to its developer clients worldwide. Based in Miami, Florida, the company has been a pioneer and innovator in serving the vacation ownership market since 1976. Today, Interval's exchange network comprises approximately 3,000 resorts in more than 80 nations. Through offices in 15 countries, Interval offers high-quality products and benefits to resort clients and about 2 million families who are enrolled in various membership programs. Interval is an operating business of Interval Leisure Group, Inc.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

How Lawyers Brought IHOP to Panama

How Lawyers Brought IHOP to Panama. DineEquity Inc., the parent company of IHOP and Applebee's, has been expanding into markets like Panama, Kuwait and the Philippines. Overseeing the overseas push has been a team of 11 in-house lawyers led by general counsel Bryan Adel. The legal work has been challenging, they say, involving complex negotiations and more than a few 4 a.m. conference calls. But the efforts are paying off.

While Applebee's has been a global brand for years, DineEquity upped its expansion efforts in a big way in 2012, particularly for IHOP. It opened 20 IHOP locations in the Philippines in 2013. Another six locations in Panama followed this past May. And through international franchise agreements dating back to 2011, it has committed to opening more than 40 IHOP stores in the Middle East.

Adel is no stranger to international expansions, having worked in-house at McDonald's Corp. in the 1990s, when the company was in high-growth mode. But he knew he would need back-up on the legal side, so DineEquity hired Anh Tran, a former K&L Gates partner, as senior counsel, international in April 2015.

"That is when they thought they needed someone to come on board full-time to support this venture," Tran says. "When I arrived, there was a lot to do."

Since coming on board, Tran has spent much of his time negotiating agreements with franchise partners—a key part of DineEquity's business, even in the U.S., where 99 percent of its restaurants are operated by franchisees. He also advises business-side colleagues on potential risks in new markets. They involve him from the get-go in preliminary discussions about which markets would be a good fit for IHOP, Applebee's or both.

Tran says that DineEquity decides on a case-by-case basis, whether to hire local counsel in new markets. Local counsel might help with disputes or to modify franchise agreements due to "political unrest or devaluation or local currencies [that] may make it difficult for our franchisees to be successful," Tran says.

Tran says communicating with local counsel isn't an issue, because most of the franchisees speak English. In some cases, Tran has colleagues who translate for him, including the company's head of international, Daniel del Olmo, who speaks seven languages.
For an international lawyer, Tran doesn't travel as often as one might think. Most of the work can be done by phone or video conferencing, he says. That level of convenience is balanced out by the early morning calls he frequently has to attend. Sometimes Tran has to be on a conference call at 3 or 4 a.m. to accommodate franchise partners in Asia.

Adel, the GC, says international deals don't move as quickly as ones in the U.S. and that can be adjustment for some in-house counsel. "The negotiating style is different in different regions. In America, we move them along quickly. In other countries, it's a long, drawn out process," he says.

Adel advises attorney helping their companies expand to be patient and have an open mind. "As you are entering a new area, respect the local culture in values, how they do business 

Timetric´s analyzing the Insurance Industry in Panama

Timetric´s analyzing the Insurance Industry in Panama. Timetric's 'The Insurance Industry in Panama, announced that is publishing a report providing detailed analysis of the market trends, drivers and challenges in the Panamanian insurance industry.

It provides key performance indicators such as written premium, incurred loss, loss ratio, commissions and expenses, total assets, total investment income and retentions during the review period (2010–2014) and forecast period (2014–2019).

The report also analyzes distribution channels operating in the segment, gives a comprehensive overview of the Panamanian economy and demographics, and provides detailed information on the competitive landscape in the country.

The report brings together Timetric's research, modeling and analysis expertise, giving insurers access to information on segment dynamics and competitive advantages, and profiles of insurers operating in the country. The report also includes details of insurance regulations, and recent changes in the regulatory structure.

Timetric's 'The Insurance Industry in Panama, Key Trends and Opportunities to 2019' report is providing in-depth market analysis, information and insights into the Panamanian insurance industry, including:

•  historical values for the Panamanian insurance industry for the report's 2010–2014 review period, and projected figures for the 2014–2019 forecast period.

• It offers a detailed analysis of the key segments in the Panamanian insurance industry, with market forecasts to 2019.

• It covers an exhaustive list of parameters, including written premium, incurred loss, loss ratio, combined ratio, total assets, total investment income and retentions.

• It analyzes the various distribution channels in Panama.

• It profiles the top insurance companies in Panama and outlines the key regulations affecting them.

• In 2015, SSRP announced that the National Bank of Panama (BNP) and Savings Bank will engage in the marketing, retail and distribution of microinsurance products in Panama.

• In 2015, Pan American Life Insurance de Panamá SA led the life insurance segment with 18.5% of its gross written premium. Compañía Internacional de Seguros SA was the leading non-life insurer in 2015, with 17.4% of the segment's gross written premium.

• The country's insurance industry also benefited from the growth of captive insurance and reinsurance as a result of a favorable tax structure.

• The Panamanian insurance industry is moderately consolidated, with 29 insurance companies operating in the industry as of April 2015.

Captive insurance thrives in Panama as a result of the country's tax benefits for foreign investors: no tax is charged on corporate dividends earned from foreign-sourced income.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Aqua America Partners with Villanova University College of Engineering on International Water Infrastructure Project in Panama

Aqua America Partners with Villanova University College of Engineering on International Water Infrastructure Project in PanamaAqua America Partners with Villanova University College of Engineering on International Water Infrastructure Project in Panama. Aqua America, Inc. announced a partnership with Villanova University’s College of Engineering to provide mentorship opportunities, hands-on water quality expertise and foundation support for the college’s international service work. As part of this partnership, Aqua leadership and engineers will travel with Villanova faculty and students to various projects internationally.

They visited Panama on August 11. Members of Aqua’s leadership team accompanied the Aqua team that includes engineers and water quality experts. They will travel with Villanova Engineering Service Learning (VESL) representatives to inspect water project sites, meet with community members and connect with local nongovernmental organization (NGO) partners. The partnership reflects Aqua’s greater initiative of partnering with community-based nonprofit organizations that advocate for the environment, as it was known by Miguel Sanchiz of the business section of Panama ON.
An important part of the success of the Villanova program has been working with in-country partners who have the capacity to implement these projects. In the Alto Bayano region of Panama, VESL has been providing engineering support on water-related infrastructure projects for 25 years. In collaboration with local NGO’s, they have helped to develop one of the largest rural water supply systems in Central America. Through the Aqua America partnership, VESL hopes to improve the sustainability of water delivery services in these areas, while creating unique learning opportunities for its local partners and student participants.

“We are excited about the opportunity to work with Aqua America in what is a true partnership,” said Villanova’s Dr. Gary A. Gabriele, Drosdick-Endowed Dean of Engineering. “Aqua is VESL’s first corporate partner to put boots on the ground, and we look forward to the continued growth of this partnership.”

Aqua’s President and Chief Executive Officer Christopher Franklin highlighted that the company has a long history of demonstrating commitment to the communities it serves.

“Because this commitment has become part of our culture, it will continue long into the future,” Franklin said. “When we consider how fortunate we are to live in the United States where clean drinking water is almost taken for granted, we must consider what other human beings in other countries endure each day to find clean water for their children to drink.”

Franklin noted that with this in mind, Aqua made the decision to take a small portion of the Aqua foundation budget and combine it with the talents its employees possess to make a meaningful difference for those who live in these countries.

He added, “As one of the nation’s leading water companies, our mission is to protect and provide Earth’s most essential resource. In our own small way, we will demonstrate our commitment in a few communities outside the U.S. where clean, safe drinking water is so desperately needed. We look forward to leveraging our expertise and partnering with Villanova’s distinguished College of Engineering faculty and students on this program.”

Aqua supports environmental projects through the Aqua Charitable Trust and forming important partnerships with community-based nonprofit organizations within the company’s territory. This partnership with Villanova marks the first time Aqua will be taking its commitment internationally.

Villanova is highly regarded in the area of water resource management and sustainability. In addition to offering graduate degrees in sustainable engineering and water resources and environmental engineering, the university is home to the Villanova Center for the Advancement of Sustainability in Engineering and the Villanova Urban Stormwater Partnership. Given this area of expertise, in addition to Panama, VESL water projects are underway in Ghana, Honduras, India and Madagascar. The college’s other service projects include robotics for unexploded ordnance removal in Cambodia, and mobile health programs in Nicaragua. More than half of Villanova’s engineering undergraduates participate in service-learning projects or experiences.

About Aqua America:

Aqua America is one of the largest U.S.-based, publicly traded water utilities and serves nearly 3 million people in Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Illinois, Texas, New Jersey, Indiana and Virginia. Aqua America is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol WTR. Visit for more information, or follow Aqua on Facebook at and on Twitter at @MyAquaAmerica.

About Villanova University:

Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them

Friday, August 12, 2016

S&P affirms Panama Canal's ratings 'in line with expectations'

S&P affirms Panama Canal's ratings 'in line with expectations'. The ratings come just over one month after the inauguration of the Panama Canal Expansion Program on June 26.

Standard & Poor's (S&P) Global Ratings affirmed its 'A-' long-term corporate credit and debt ratings of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), reiterating the credit rating agency's trust in the management, operation and investments of the Panama Canal.

In S&P’s research update issued on Aug. 4, S&P Global Ratings stated that the ACP's operating and financial performance remained in line with S&P's expectations. The ratings affirmation reflects S&P's expectation that following the canal expansion, the ACP will benefit from sustainable traffic growth levels in the upcoming years amid a growing global economy and the canal's larger capacity.

"We expect the Panama Canal operator to maintain its exceptionally strong competitive position, because it's the most economical and time-saving option for trade routes between Americas, Asia, and Europe," according to the S&P Global Ratings research update. "The affirmation also reflects our expectation due to a very stable and predictable cash flow generation, which we attribute to the consistency of demand for the ACP's services."

In addition, S&P Global Ratings kept the ACP's ‘aa’ stand-alone credit profile (SACP) unchanged, stating that the outlook on the corporate credit rating remains stable. S&P Global Ratings noted that this outlook reflects that the ACP will generate relatively stable annual earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) in the next two years that should allow it to post strong credit metrics.

“The canal handles cargo that comes primarily from the U.S., China, Chile, Japan, South Korea, Colombia, Mexico, Canada, Spain and Peru, all of which are credit worthy counterparties,” the research update said. “Moreover, ACP has a very important role in the world commerce because almost 2.5% of it passes through the canal.”

The ratings come just over one month after the inauguration of the Panama Canal Expansion Program on June 26. Since then, 88 vessels have transited the expanded canal, and 266 reservations have been received. The significant demand shown by the maritime industry reinforces the need for the expansion, its future potential, and the benefits it brings to global commerce and the world's consumers, the Panama Canal Authority said.

The expansion program is the canal's largest enhancement project. In 2006, more than 75% of Panamanians approved the project in a nation-wide referendum, and, in 2007, construction began. Construction included new locks on the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans and dredging of more than 150 million cubic meters of material, creating a second lane of traffic along the canal, and doubling the capacity of the seaway. The new locks, which cost $2.75 million, are 70 feet wider and 18 feet deeper than previous locks, but use less water due to the recycling of 60% of the water used in each lockage.

Panamax ships, which have a draft of 39.5 feet or less, are currently the largest ships that can pass through the canal. Due to the expansion, ships with a draft of up to 50 feet are now able to pass.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

VML Inc. will handle the promotion of Panama

VML Inc. will handle the promotion of Panama. The contract is for US $ 20 million to be implemented between 2016 and 2018. VML, INC., founded in the United States, is an international marketing agency with offices in more than 100 countries.

Panama since 2012 does not count with an international agency for tourism. The campaign was interrupted after completion of the period of the last contract.
The government cabinet of Panama endorsed the contract between the Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP) and the company VML, INC., For the implementation of a marketing strategy and communication, development and a comprehensive program of promotion, advertising (online and offline) , public relations and trade marketing (activations) to promote Panama internationally.

The contract is for US $ 20 million to be implemented between 2016 and 2018. The signing comes after the ATP obtained the authorization of the National Tourism Council, as the highest level of management and after consultation about tourism activities in the Republic of Panama.

The company VML, Inc., founded in the United States, is an international marketing agency with offices in more than 100 countries; They are offering integrated advertising solutions (online, offline), public relations and trade marketing, among other similar services.

The General Manager of the ATP, Gustavo Him, said that since 2012 Panama does not have an international agency for these purposes.

Him explained that the ATP to compensate for this lack of promotion, made strategic alliances with airlines and industry leaders while developing a marketing strategy, was only an indirect marketing program , which will now be deepened  when tourists arrive in the country.

He stressed that in that sense, it is important to Panama communicate to potential markets the tourism products that our country.

The official noted that under that there is an urgency to resolve the current situation of lack of promotion campaign in the country, affecting tourism, trade and loss of market sector, ATP presented to the National Council of Tourism promotion a tourism project in order to create an integrated commission with the private sector to assess the economic proposals for the promotion and advertising of Panama abroad.

After two months of evaluation by the Commission Technical Report dated June 28, 2016, the company considered VML, INC., submitted the best proposal for international promotion campaign of the Republic of Panama as a tourist destination.

VML Inc. is a company of the WPP Group, one of the largest marketing companies in the world.