South Korean consortium beats Chinese rivals on bids to build Panama metro line
By Elida Moreno
PANAMA CITY, Nov 18 (Reuters) - A consortium led by South Korea's Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co 000720.KS presented the most competitive bid to a tender for building the third subway line in Panama City, authorities said on Monday, beating two Chinese rivals.
Beijing has long courted Central American nations with infrastructure financing and investment, angering Washington. Though Panama's new President Laurentino "Nito" Cortizo, who took office in July, has vowed a more balanced approach.
Panama's latest ambitious infrastructure project aims to build the longest metro line in the capital of the Central American isthmus nation and has the additional complications of having to cross its famous shipping canal.
HPH Joint Venture, the consortium, which also comprises Posco Engineering Construction Co POSCON.UL and Hyundai Engineering Co HYENG.UL, exceeded the $2.4 billion price tag Panama had established but still won.
Two of the four bidders were led by Chinese companies.
Panama has historically been of strategic interest to powerful nations, with its trans-oceanic canal one of the world's key trade routes that enables, for example, Chinese products to reach the U.S. East Coast.
(Reporting by Elida Moreno and Miguel Angel Gutierrez; writing by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)