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Viewing cable 09STATE69224, DEMARCHE REQUEST: ENSURING FAIRNESS BY BIDDERS IN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09STATE69224 2009-07-02 22:10 2010-12-18 12:12 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Secretary of State
VZCZCXYZ0003
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHC #9224 1832255
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O P 022233Z JUL 09
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS IMMEDIATE 4232
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID IMMEDIATE 1978
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME IMMEDIATE 1344
INFO RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 5121
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY 5308
UNCLAS STATE 069224

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
PLEASE PASS TO ECON AND COMMERCIAL COUNSELORS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EWWT BEXP ECON EFIN ETRD PM SP FR IT
SUBJECT: DEMARCHE REQUEST: ENSURING FAIRNESS BY BIDDERS IN
THE PANAMAL CANAL EXPANSION PROJECT

1. 1. (SBU) Summary and action request. Please see
para 2 for action request. The Panama Canal Authority (ACP)
is expected to announce next week the winner of the nearly $4
billion third set of locks contract. This project is the
centerpiece of the Canal,s overall expansion plan. The three
consortia bidding on this project are led by Bechtel (U.S.),
ACS (Spain) and Sacyr (Spain). We are concerned that the
Sacyr group may have used the Spanish, French, and Italian
credit agencies to guarantee a 400 million USD performance
bond and 50 million USD payment bond that Sacyr would
otherwise not qualify for, thereby disadvantaging the other
competitors by masking Sacyr,s true financial position,
which may impede Sacyr,s ability to complete this vital
project.

2. (SBU) ACTION REQUEST FOR MADRID, ROME, AND BRUSSELS:
Embassy Action officers are requested to immediately
approach the appropriate government authority that supervises
the named export credit agencies and ask
whether those agencies of Spain (Secretaria de Estado de
Comercio - CESCE), Belgium (Office National du Ducroire-OND)
and Italy (Servize Assicurativi del Estero - SACE)
guaranteed, insured, or in any way backed a 400 million USD
performance bond and 50 million USD payment bond for the
consortium led by troubled Spanish firm Sacyr to construct
the nearly $4 billion third set of locks on the Panama Canal.
Please report back by July 7 by cable slugged to the
Department and to Embassy Panama or by email to Marsha Singer
in WHA/CEN and Joel Reifman, Economic Counselor, Panama, and
Jim Bangert, Economic Officer Panama.

3. (SBU) Background: A consortium led by Spanish firm
Sacyr Vallehermoso S.A., in direct competition with consortia
led by Bechtel (U.S.) and ACS (Spain) has bid to build the
roughly $4 billion third set of locks,
centerpiece of the Canal expansion project. Other leaders of
the Sacyr group include Impregilo S.p.A. (Italy) and Jan de
Nul n.v. (Belgium). As part of the process, the Panama Canal
Authority has asked for a $50 million performance bond from
all of the three consortia to verify their respective
financial soundness. We understand that Sacyr is nearly
bankrupt and is being propped up by the Spanish government.
We further understand that their condition was so dire that
they could not qualify for a $50 million performance bond on
the open market, and the three European credit agencies
specified above had to provide guarantees for Saycr,s
performance bond. However, at this point, we have not
confirmed the actions of these three agencies.

4. While obtaining a guarantee from these agencies likely
does not violate, on its face, the terms of the ACP,s
bidding proposal, the fact that theguarantees, if they
exist, could mask Sacyr,s true condition is of
concern. The USG is supporting U.S. firm Bechtel in its
efforts to obtain this enormous contract and bring jobs to
the United States. Concurrently, we wish to ensure that an
otherwise fair and transparent bidding process is not
wrongfully manipulated by the Sacyr consortium. If Sacyr is
concealing its true financial condition, with the support of
European governments, we wish to bring that fact to the
attention of the ACP before it announces the winner of this
once-in-a-century project. While experts have rated the
engineering difficulty of this project as moderate, the more
daunting challenge lies in logistics - management of cash,
materials, and labor - all of which depend upon the ready
availability of credit. Successful completion of the canal
expansion is vital to U.S. interests. Currently, roughly two
thirds of all vessels transiting the canal are travelling
to/from a U.S. port, and 5 per cent of world commerce passes
through the canal.

5. The Department thanks you for your prompt assistance.
CLINTON