Thursday, July 20, 2017

Planet Fitness Expands to Panama. Country's first Judgement Free Zone to Open in Santa Maria

Planet Fitness Expands to Panama. Country's first Judgement Free Zone to Open in Santa Maria

Planet Fitness, Inc. (NYSE: PLNT), one of the largest and fastest-growing franchisors and operators of fitness centers in the U.S., today announced the upcoming opening of its first club in Panama. The country's first Judgement Free Zone® in Santa Maria is expected to officially open this fall with a second location opening in Centennial by the end of 2017.

Planet Fitness, founded in 1992, is known for the combination of its high-quality fitness experience, affordable prices, and hassle-free, non-intimidating environment known as the Judgement Free Zone. Today, Planet Fitness has over 10 million members and more than 1,300 locations system-wide in 48 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada and the Dominican Republic. Each location features the brand's iconic "Lunk Alarm" – a purple and yellow siren on the wall used as a light-hearted reminder that grunting, dropping weights or judging others is not permitted. As a member appreciation gesture, Planet Fitness also provides free pizza on the first Monday of every month and free bagels on the second Tuesday of every month while supplies last – a reminder that it's okay to treat yourself every once in a while after a good workout.

"As we continue to expand our brand internationally, we are excited to enter Panama and bring Planet Fitness' non-intimidating, high-quality, and affordable fitness experience to the Costa del Este community," said Chris Rondeau, chief executive officer of Planet Fitness.

The club will feature brand-name cardio and strength equipment, circuit training, fully-equipped locker rooms with day lockers and showers, numerous flat screen televisions and free small group fitness instruction by certified trainers. PF Black Card® members will have the ability to bring a guest at no additional charge and have access to HydroMassage® recliners, massage chairs, and much more. A 30-year fitness industry veteran and Planet Fitness franchisee for 13 years, Dave Leon, is the owner and operator of the Santa Maria and Centennial locations.

"I could not be more excited to open Panama's first Planet Fitness location in Santa Maria," said Dave Leon. "I am confident that people will love everything we have to offer, and we look forward to being a part of the local community."

About Planet Fitness

Founded in 1992 in Dover, N.H., Planet Fitness is one of the largest and fastest-growing franchisors and operators of fitness centers in the United States by number of members and locations. As of March 31, 2017, Planet Fitness had approximately 10 million members and 1,367 stores in 48 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada and the Dominican Republic. The Company's mission is to enhance people's lives by providing a high-quality fitness experience in a welcoming, non-intimidating environment, which we call the Judgement Free Zone®. More than 95% of Planet Fitness stores are owned and operated by independent business men and women.

Panama Business News -

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

JCDecaux Top Media wins the exclusive advertising concession for Tocumen International Airport in Panama

JCDecaux Top Media wins the exclusive advertising concession for Tocumen International Airport in Panama

(Panama Business News). JCDecaux S.A. (Euronext Paris:DEC), the number one outdoor advertising company worldwide, announces that its subsidiary JCDecaux Top Media has won the exclusive advertising contract for the Tocumen International Airport in Panama City, following a competitive tender.

Aeropuerto Internacional de Tocumen S.A. (AITSA) chose to put its confidence in JCDecaux and Top Media, who signed a merger agreement last 23rd of december, to be responsible, as of 1stAugust 2017, for installing, managing and marketing the advertising displays (interior, exterior, hallways and approach roads) for Terminal 1 and the upcoming Terminal 2, which is currently under construction and will open in 2018.

Combining JCDecaux's expertise as the number one airport advertising company worldwide with that of Aerotop, Top Media's subsidiary currently the advertising concession holder at Tocumen International Airport, the joint venture JCDecaux Top Media will offer advertisers a brand new media opportunity. A solution focused on digital, innovation, high-impact formats and serving passengers, while also supporting AITSA's development in order to bring its commercial ambitions to fruition.

The major hub for Panamanian airline Copa Airlines, Tocumen International Airport is the busiest airport in Central America, with 14.7 million passengers in 2016, and is one of the main transit airports for America and the Caribbean, with 70% of its passengers taking connecting flights. Serving 83 destinations in 29 countries across the Americas and in Europe, the airport will handle 26 million passengers and be able to accommodate the A-380 once Terminal 2 is operational.

This new contract affords JCDecaux the opportunity to add a fourth airport from the Latin American top 10 to its portfolio, after having also won bids for advertising contracts at Lima (Peru), Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia (Brazil) international airports within the last two years. It will also strengthen its unrivalled global presence in 222 airports across 37 countries, including 12 of the world's top 20.

With this unique network in mind, and in order to offer advertisers and their agencies increasingly contextual and targeted premium opportunities that connect the different environments of airports, urban transit and cities across the world, the Group recently conducted an unprecedented analysis of airport advertising effectiveness. Released on 27 October 2016, "Global Shopper Connections2" is an international study that investigates the shopping habits, brand preferences and motivations of upscale global shoppers when travelling

Franklin Carrillo, Vice President Marketing of AITSA, said: "We are very pleased to benefit from the expertise of JCDecaux Top Media for the setup of an innovative and modern media solution at Tocumen, which will enhance our passengers' experience and position us at the forefront of commercial strategy among international airports. Our ambitions are fully in line with the new operator's and we are confident in its ability to accompany the rapid growth of this major travel hub of the Americas."

Jean-Charles Decaux, co-CEO of JCDecaux, said: "We are extremely proud to have won the exclusive concession for Panama's international airport, which is a hub for the Latin American region and has high ambitions in terms of growth and modernisation. We are excited to be able to provide AITSA with the expertise, operational excellence, knowledge of the market and sales strength of JCDecaux and Top Media within JCDecaux Top Media, in order to offer innovative, premium advertising solutions that will benefit passengers as much as the advertisers and their brands. By winning this bid, JCDecaux has once again shown its ability to join forces with the world's most ambitious airports, seize the opportunities for organic growth and consolidate the outdoor advertising sector in Latin America."

Panama Business News -

Monday, July 3, 2017

MPC Capital expands its renewable energy business with a new office in Panama

MPC Capital expands its renewable energy business with a new office in Panama

(Panama Business News). MPC Capital AG, a global investment manager for real assets, has today announced the launch of MPC Renewables Panama S.A., based in Panama City, Panama.

MPC Renewables Panama will support the development, management and further expansion of the company’s renewable energies projects throughout Central America and the Caribbean, with Fernando Zuniga appointed as its Regional Director for Central America and the Caribbean.

Central America and the Caribbean is a key region for the growth of our renewable energies business” said Dr. Roman Rocke, Management Board Member, MPC Capital AG. “Having an office in Panama City, under the leadership of Fernando Zuñiga, who has extensive experience in the sector, are strategically important steps in serving our investors and business partners and in our global growth.”

Fernando Zuniga has over 9 years of experience in the renewable energies sector. He has held senior development roles in Ecosolar Inc. and Suntrace GmbH and was most recently Development Manager Latam at Solarcentury in Panama.

MPC Renewables Panama S.A., a 100 percent subsidiary of MPC Renewables Energies GmbH, will work closely with the global Renewable Energies team of MPC Capital in structuring, developing and managing renewables investment opportunities for institutional investors. Recent transactions include the 172 MW Ancora wind park project in Portugal, the 50 MWp Paradise Park PV plant in Jamaica, and the 54 MW Sainshand onshore wind park in Mongolia.

MPC Capital AG is an independent asset and investment manager for real asset investments. Together with its subsidiaries, the company develops and manages real asset investments and investment products for international institutional investors, family offices and professional investors. The company focuses on the asset categories Real Estate, Shipping and Infrastructure. MPC Capital AG has been quoted on the stock exchange since 2000 and has around 250 employees group-wide.

Panama Business News -

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Panama´s Copa Holdings, Boeing Announce Deal For 15 737 MAX 10s

Panama´s Copa Holdings, Boeing Announce Deal For 15 737 MAX 10s

(Panama Business). Copa Holdings (NYSE: CPA) and Boeing (NYSE: BA) announced an order for 15 737 MAX 10s at the 2017 Paris Airshow.  With this announcement, Copa Airlines is one of the launch customers for the 737 MAX 10 airplane and will be the first airline in Latin America to operate the newest addition to the MAX family. The order is a conversion from a previous order of 737 MAX 8 aircraft. Copa Airlines is first airline in Latin America to order the 737 MAX 10

"Due to the long-term success we've had operating 737 NG we had placed a sizable order of 737 MAX aircraft for our future, and the 737 MAX 10 provides additional flexibility for certain segments of our network," commented Ahmad Zamany, Copa Airlines' Vice President of Technical Operations.

Copa Airlines will use these airplanes to replace existing airplanes and support the carrier's plans for strategic growth.  Copa Airlines will be the first airline in the region to operate the 737 MAX on deep-South American and North American routes. The 737 MAX 10's operating economics and passenger comfort are ideally suited to Copa Airlines' route network.

"We are thrilled that Copa Airlines is one of the launch customers for the 737 MAX 10," said Van Rex Gallard, vice president, Latin America, Caribbean and Africa Sales, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "The 737 MAX 10 will be the most profitable single-aisle airplane, offering the lowest seat costs ever and will help Copa Airlines grow their business and win market share in the competitive single-aisle market."

Copa Airlines allows passengers to make fast and convenient connections to 75 destinations in 31 countries in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean through its Hub of the Americas in Panama City, the most internationally connected airline hub in the region.  For the last four consecutive years, FlightStats has recognized Copa Airlines as "Best Airline in Latin America" for its on-time performance and service quality, and, for the last two consecutive years, Copa Airlines was recognized as "The World's Second Most On-Time Airline," by OAG.

The entire 737 MAX family has been designed to offer customers exceptional performance, flexibility and efficiency, with lower per-seat costs and an extended range that will open up new destinations in the single-aisle market. The MAX 8 and 9 will be followed in 2019 by the introduction of a smaller, long range MAX 7 and a 200-seat MAX 8. The MAX 10 will be introduced in the 2020 time frame.

Like Boeing's other 737 MAX models, the MAX 10 incorporates the latest technology CFM International LEAP-1B engines, Advanced Technology winglets, Boeing Sky Interior, large flight deck displays, and other improvements to deliver the highest efficiency, reliability and passenger comfort in the single-aisle market. The 737 MAX is the fastest-selling airplane in Boeing history.

Copa Holdings is a leading Latin American provider of passenger and cargo services.  The Company, through its operating subsidiaries, provides service to 75 destinations in 31 countries in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean with one of the youngest and most modern fleets in the industry, consisting of 101 aircraft: 80 Boeing 737NG aircraft and 21 EMBRAER-190s.

Panama Business News - 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Panama hopes for big economic return from new ties to China

Panama hopes for big economic return from new ties to China

(Panama Economy). Panama's business community cheered the Central American country's decision to establish full diplomatic ties with China and ditch Taiwan, hoping to deepen links with a key customer of the nation's shipping canal.

There was broad support for the decision to throw his lot in with China, whose growing global ambitions contrast with U.S. President Donald Trump's isolationist rhetoric.

"I'm sure it wasn't an easy decision, given the long-term links we've had with Taiwan, but nonetheless, (China) is a global superpower, the world's No. 2 economy, the second biggest user of the canal - and so we think this is a positive development that will result in more business and investment in Panama," said Inocencio Galindo, president of Panama's Trade, Industry and Agriculture chamber.

The diplomatic U-turn comes as China attempts to position itself as a defender of free trade in the face of the "America First" policy of Trump, who was elected in November 2016. Chinese officials also celebrated the news.

Wang Weihua, the permanent representative in the Office of China-Panama Trade Development and Beijing's top representative in the country, said various attempts had been made over the years without success to establish formal ties.

China is interested in Panama for its strategic location, and as a trade and logistics hub, he added.

"China has made a big bet on Latin America, where it has strategic investments, and Panama, which didn't have diplomatic relations, was losing out on those advantages," he said in an interview. "Now Panama will be able to enjoy what our country can offer it in various sectors."

Almost a fifth of the cargo crossing the isthmus last year went to or from China, which has been taking an increasing interest in the Panama Canal.

In March, the canal's administrator, Jorge Quijano, said Chinese state firms were considering developing land around the waterway, which was recently expanded. A spokesman for the canal said Quijano would address soon the implications of the diplomatic change for commerce.

According to Panamanian statistics, total trade between Panama and China was worth $1.1 billion in 2016 - roughly 12 times the value of the nation's commerce with Taiwan. Chinese exports accounted for the vast majority of it.

Octavio Vallarino, a partner of Desarrollos Bahia, a local real estate firm, said he hoped direct flights would soon be established between the two countries, and that the commercial real estate market would be bolstered by arriving Chinese firms.

Sara Pardo, president of Panama's hotel association, said the accord could help make travel between the two countries easier. "This is definitely going to strengthen the economy," she said.

Panama Economy News -

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Punta Pacifica Realty Inks Deal to Market New Boquete Project

Punta Pacifica Realty Inks Deal to Market New Boquete Project

(Panama Business). Punta Pacifica Realty (PPR), the leading sales, rental and property management company in Panama City, has reached an agreement to serve as exclusive sales and marketing agent for a new luxury condominium project outside Boquete, the popular expat community in the lush mountains of northern Panama.

The Estrella condominiums are in development on the 17th hole of the existing Lucero Golf and Country Club, the master-planned active lifestyle community built around an 18-hole championship-level golf course designed by J. Michael Poellot. Owners of the Estrella condominiums will have full access to Lucero’s amenities, including professional-level clay tennis courts, 10 km of hiking trails and the gourmet Seasons restaurant.

“Estrella brings a new level of luxury and quality to Boquete,” said Duncan McGowan, president of Punta Pacifica Realty and a consultant on the Estrella development. “This is not your typical project.”... Read More (Complete Article).

Monday, June 12, 2017

Salvatore Ferragamo se renueva en Panamá

Salvatore Ferragamo se renueva en Panamá

(Panama Business)La compañía italiana de lujo aumentó la superficie comercial de su tienda con la que opera en el complejo de la capital del país y sube la persiana de su renovada tienda, con la que operaba en el centro comercial Multiplaza en la capital panameña.

El establecimiento cuenta con una superficie de 450 metros cuadrados donde se pueden adquirir las líneas de productos de la compañía. En el centro comercial, Salvatore Ferragamo comparte presencia con otras empresas del sector del lujo como Dolce&Gabbana y Gucci.

Salvatore Ferragamo finalizó su último ejercicio fiscal con una cifra de negocio de 1.437,9 millones de euros (1.529,9 millones de dólares), lo que representó un crecimiento de sólo el 0,6% respecto al año anterior.

Por mercados, el grupo aumentó sus ventas un 6,1% en Latinoamérica, hasta 76,8 millones de euros (81,7 millones de dólares). A tipo de cambios constantes, el crecimiento de la facturación de Salvatore Ferragamo fue del 15,9%... Leer Más. (Artículo Completo).

Miguel Sanchiz - Panamá Negocios y Empresas -

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Cosco Shipping shuts down subsidiary in Panama

Cosco Shipping shuts down subsidiary in Panama

(Panama Business). Cosco Shipping announced the dissolution Cos Lucky Shipping Maritime Inc, a subsidiary incorporated in the Republic of Panama. Cos Lucky Shipping Maritime is one of the group’s dormant subsidiaries.

The group said the dissolution is subsequent to the scrapping of the vessel owned by Cos Lucky Shipping.

The dissolution of Cos Lucky Shipping is not expected to have any material impact on the net tangible assets and earnings per share of the Company for the financial year ending in December 2017.

The group said that none of its Directors or controlling shareholders has any interest, direct or indirect in the dissolution of Cos Lucky Shipping.

China COSCO Shipping Corporation Limited, also referred to as the China COSCO Shipping Group or China COSCO Shipping, is a Chinese business conglomerate and state-owned enterprise headquartered in Shanghai. The group is engaged in a variety of business sectors, with a focus on integrated logistics, shipping, finance services, and equipment manufacturing.... Read More. (Complete Article).

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

IGY Marinas expands its interest in Panama

IGY Marinas expands its interest in Panama

(Panama Business). IGY Marinas shifts its focus from marketing to ownership and management of Red Frog Beach

Thanks to successful branding efforts implemented by IGY Marinas in recent years, the marina specialist has today announced that it has extended its marketing partnership with Red Frog Beach Marina, Bocas del Toro, Panama, to an agreement that sees IGY Marinas take ownership of the marina and absorb management responsibilities, as well as the original marketing responsibilities.

“We have seen a big increase in superyachts to our Panama locations, especially with the IGY Marinas flag associated with the facility,” says Tom Mukamal, CEO of IGY Marinas. “We anticipate this to grow as both owners and yacht crew love the resort itself as well as the surrounding areas in Bocas, which are quite unique.”... Read More. (Complete Article).

Miguel Sanchiz - Panama Business -

Sunday, May 21, 2017

First Quantum Minerals to commission $5.5b Panama copper project in just months

First Quantum Minerals to commission $5.5b Panama copper project in just months
(Panama Business). Vancouver’s First Quantum Minerals (TSE:FM) is just a few months away from commissioning its massive $5.48 billion copper project in Panama, one of the largest of very few new red metal mines to begin production by the end of the decade.
The company, which gained control over the Cobre Panama project in 2013 with the acquisition of rival Canadian copper miner Inmet mining, said May 18 the open-pit mine was now about 50% complete.Speaking at the Paydirt Latin America Downunder conference, in Perth, First Quantum global exploration director, Mike Christie, said the firm would spend close to $1 billion this year to advance construction at the project, located about 120 km west of Panama City, and 20 km from the Caribbean Sea coast.
The miner plans to invest a further $830 million next year and $110 million in 2019, when the mine is expected to reach full capacity of 320,000 tonnes of copper annually.Once that happens, First Quantum’s total production will surpass 900,000 tones a year, making the company one of the world’s top six copper producers.
Panama will also reap the benefit from the operating mine, as it is expected to generate around $2 billion worth of annual exports during its 34-years of life. That, according to Christie, is equivalent to around 4% of the Central American nation’s current GDP.Cobre Panama is already generating some benefits for the country’s economy, as it’s creating 7,000 jobs during construction and will employ 2,500 people once in operations, the company said.First Quantum, which has operating mines in Australia, Zambia, Mauritania, Turkey, Spain and Finland, is also developing two other projects in Latin American — Haquira in Peru and Taca Taca in Argentina – but it hasn’t decided which one will develop first.
Miguel Sanchiz – Panama Business –

Monday, May 15, 2017

Airport Authority of Pittsburgh in talks with Copa Airlines

Airport Authority of Pittsburgh in talks with Copa Airlines

After landing nonstop flights to Iceland and Frankfurt, Pittsburgh International Airport is turning its eye south to Panama.

The Allegheny County Airport Authority is talking to Copa Airlines about starting service to Panama City. Christina Cassotis, the authority’s CEO, has had conversations with the airline about flights between Pittsburgh and Panama City, spokeswoman Alyson Walls confirmed.

After landing nonstop flights to Iceland and Frankfurt, Pittsburgh International Airport is turning its eye south to Panama.

“There’s nothing imminent. There’s no timetable. It’s part of that overall international air service strategy. She thinks they would be a good fit for here,” Ms. Walls said.

Ms. Cassotis mentioned the talks during a recent breakfast meeting. She also discussed the possibility of landing Copa during an interview after becoming the authority’s CEO in 2015.

Copa operates from its hub at Tocumen International Airport in Panama City, the capital of Panama. It offers about 355 flights to 69 destinations in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean from its headquarters, according to its website.

In recent years, Copa has been expanding rapidly in the United States. In December, Denver will become its 13th market in the U.S. Other cities it flies to include Boston, Fort Lauderdale, New Orleans, Tampa and Las Vegas.

“They’re definitely a carrier in a growth mode,” said William Swelbar, executive vice president of Boston-based Intervistas Consulting, an economic and financial consultant to airlines and airports.

After becoming CEO, Ms. Cassotis described Copa as a “long-term play,” and Ms. Walls said there’s no timetable for the airline’s recruitment. “We’re watching them. We’re aware of them. We’re trying to see how they fit into the plan and market here,” Ms. Walls said. Mr. Swelbar said Copa would be a “great addition to the Pittsburgh route portfolio.”

“To get access to Copa would really open up Latin America to the Pittsburgh market,” he said. “[Copa] has a very good hub structure there. It is a financially strong carrier.”

But Blair Pomeroy, a longtime aviation strategy consultant who has worked for airlines in the past, saw little value in recruiting Copa to start service in Pittsburgh.

He predicted “very minimal traffic” between Pittsburgh and Panama City, adding that the number of passengers connecting to other destinations in Central or South America would be “tiny” in his view.

Based on his research, Mr. Pomeroy said fewer than five people a day currently fly from Pittsburgh to Panama City. He said that likely would increase with nonstop service, but not nearly enough to fill a small narrow body mainline jet like a Boeing 737 or Airbus 320. “There’s just absolutely no way that would ever work,” he said.

Bob Kerlik, an authority spokesman, said the flight has the potential to generate much more traffic. Because Tocumen airport is a connecting hub for Copa, the flight would offer travelers easy access to other destinations in Central and South America.

Miguel Sanchiz - Panama Business -

Friday, May 12, 2017

New Campaign From VML for Panama: Looking for Adventurers not Tourists

(Panama, Panama).- New Campaign From VML for Panama: Looking for Adventurers not Tourists

The Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP) and its new agency VML are introducing a new advertising campaign with a unique selling proposition for a country trying to attract visitors: the country isn’t set up well for tourists.

"In Panama, there are a lot of hidden of gems that you must work for to experience," says Sean Burns, executive creative director, VML. "A lot of locals haven’t seen the best parts of the country because it entails going off the beaten path."

"We set out to create an identity that was uniquely Panama – but more than people realized it was," says Burns. "The work is an invitation into discovering what this incredible country offers."

The WPP-owned agency is promoting this campaign via broadcast channels, PR, and print ads and pamphlets. Media also includes in-flight, paid Facebook and Instagram, digital display ads and YouTube pre-roll. Emails and other media direct people to the

This strategy is designed to convert people into becoming Panama enthusiasts while they’re looking for flights and researching more “cliché” destinations like Cancun, or Costa Rica, says Burns. "Importantly, while people are in flight to any number of destinations via Copa Airlines fleet of planes, they’ll be exposed to how great Panama is – which might just be enough to draw them to Panama next time."

The Panama Tourism Authority hired a VML to get an outsider’s take on their country. Last year, the National Tourism Council (CNT) and the ATP authorized a two-year budget of $20 million to develop an international advertising campaign. "We’re part of their target audience - U.S., Canada, Spain and they brought us to the table to create a unique perspective," says Burns. "Previously, the PTA had been creating advertising based on how they see their country. We portrayed Panama in a way they never would have."

Miguel Sanchiz -

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

ENGIE and AES Agree to Expand their LNG Marketing Partnership from Panama to Central America

(Panama, Panama).- ENGIE and AES Agree to Expand their LNG Marketing Partnership from Panama to Central America

ENGIE and The AES Corporation (NYSE: AES) have agreed to enter into a joint venture to market and sell liquefied natural gas (LNG) to third parties in Central America.

The joint venture will utilize the Costa Norte LNG terminal currently under construction in Colón, Panama, which is owned 50/50 by AES and Inversiones Bahía. The total capacity of the Costa Norte LNG terminal is approximately 1.5 million tonnes per annum (mtpa), of which 25% will be used for the 380 MW AES Colón CCGT currently under construction on the same site. ENGIE will supply up to 0.4 mtpa of LNG to the CCGT beginning in 2018. The remaining terminal capacity is primarily available for the joint venture to market and sell to third parties, including up to 0.7 mtpa of LNG sourced from ENGIE mainly through the Cameron gas liquefaction project in the United States.

This joint venture further strengthens the joint marketing agreement signed by ENGIE and AES late last year, whereby both groups agreed to jointly market LNG in the Caribbean, from AES’ Andres re-gasification facility in the Dominican Republic. The combined regasification capacity of Andres in the Dominican Republic and Costa Norte in Panamá is approximately 3 mtpa.

ENGIE’s and AES’ objective continues to focus on providing a cleaner and more cost-effective alternative to oil-fueled power generation, while at the same time satisfying a growing need for natural gas in Central America and the Caribbean. This new agreement will pave the way for ENGIE and AES to supply LNG to industrial customers, develop small scale demand and provide bunkering services.

Miguel Sanchiz –

Monday, March 27, 2017

China state firms eye land around Panama Canal: waterway authority

China state firms eye land around Panama Canal: waterway authority

Chinese state firms have expressed an interest to develop land around the Panama Canal, the chief executive of the vital trade thoroughfare said, underlining China's outward push into infrastructure via railways and ports around the world.

The Panama Canal Authority will officially open a tender to develop about 1,200 hectares of land - roughly the size of 1,200 football fields - around the waterway by the end of this year into a logistics park, after completing a five-year-long decontamination of the area, Chief Executive Jorge Quijano said.

"We have been talking to people here in China," Quijano told Reuters on Monday ahead of a meeting with the canal's advisory board in Shanghai. China Communications Construction Corp (601800.SS: Quote)(1800.HK: Quote), its subsidiary China Harbour Engineering Company and China Railway Group (601390.SS: Quote)(0390.HK: Quote) have shown interest in the project, he added.

This comes at a time when China is urging its companies to invest in infrastructure overseas as part of Beijing's "One Belt, One Road" initiative to improve global trade links.

China's state firms have in recent years already chalked up investments in key logistics nodes, including Piraeus in Greece and Bandar Malaysia, a major development project that is set to be the terminal for a proposed high-speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

China's COSCO Shipping Corp (601919.SS: Quote)(1919.HK: Quote), which owns stakes in ports around the world including Piraeus (OLPr.AT: Quote), has in the past approached the Panama Canal Authority about the latter's plans for the land, Quijano said.

"There are opportunities there, definitely for some of these Chinese companies to participate as a concessionaire, not just as a contractor to build something, but they can actually bid for the concession and then build," he said.

He did not say how much the authority expected to get by selling the concession to develop the land.

A floating gate is opening to the Chinese COSCO container vessel named Andronikos navigating through the Agua Clara locks during the first ceremonial pass through the newly expanded Panama Canal in Agua Clara, on the outskirts of Colon City, Panama

China Communications Construction, China Railway Group and COSCO did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Quijano said the canal authority will parcel out the land and grant concession agreements of up to 40 years, with the aim to develop infrastructure and buildings on land previously used by the United States military for target practice.

Also up for grabs is an operating agreement for a roll-on, roll-off terminal near the canal, the tender for which will be put out in the middle of 2017, he said, adding the authority expected interest from Japan, China, Norway and South Korea.

He estimated the land and terminal would help bring in an annual revenue of "between $100-$125 million" after the first five years of operation. Overall, the Panama Canal is expected to bring in $2.8 billion in revenue this year, he said.

Panama opened the long-delayed $5.4 billion expansion of the canal between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans last June, but it has since been roiled by claims of cost overruns and criticism after a series of incidents that saw ships hit the lane's wall.