PANAMA CITY, Panama March 3, 2009 – On track and on time, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) continues to press ahead with the start of the bid process for the most important project under its Expansion Program – the construction of the new set of locks. Today, the ACP received proposals from three consortia competing to design and build the new, modern and state-of-the-art locks on the Pacific and Atlantic sides of the Panama Canal. The three consortia that submitted bids included: Consorcio C.A.N.A.L; Consortium Bechtel, Taisei, Mitsubishi Corporation and Consorcio Grupo Unidos por el Canal. The ACP will evaluate the proposals in a fair, rigorous and transparent process, and will award the contract for “best value” – 55 percent for the technical aspect and 45 percent for the bid price.

“As we welcome bids for the design and construction of the new locks, we mark yet another historic milestone in Canal expansion,” said ACP Administrator/CEO Alberto Alemán Zubieta. “This is an exciting time for the Canal and for Panama as we move forward with the single most important expansion project. We stand committed to hiring a consortium that meets all technical requirements and provides the best value for the project. We are honored and pleased to receive submissions from leading firms in the industry and we will start reviewing the proposals immediately.”

Chairman of the ACP Board, Dani Kuzniecky said, “The ACP has created an airtight process, involving knowledgeable experts and external consultants to assess each proposal. The Canal management is firmly committed to an open, fair, rigorous and transparent bid process. This is Latin America’s most significant infrastructure project, and with financing in place, expansion continues to progress on time and on budget – a testament to the exceptional leadership of the ACP, the viability and soundness of the Expansion Program, and the economic success of Panama.”

The consortia submitted their price and technical proposals. The envelopes containing the price proposals, including the ACP’s owner’s price, were signed by the Notary Public, the ACP Contracting Officer and the Canal’s Inspector General and were placed in a box and moved to Panama’s National Bank to be locked in a vault – in an independent and secure environment. These price proposals together with the owner’s price will not be opened and reviewed until the technical proposals have been evaluated. Points for both aspects will be computed in a subsequent public forum.

The technical proposals will be studied and evaluated immediately by the Evaluation Committee, comprised of 15 highly qualified ACP employees, with substantial and diverse technical experience. All Committee members have signed confidentiality and conflict of interest agreements.

During the evaluation process, more than 40 local and international experts will be on hand to support the Committee that will work in coordination with the official ACP Contracting Officer. World-renowned firm Deloitte will serve as auditor and will review the process and certify that the Committee follows the thorough procedure to evaluate the bids.

Upon completion of the evaluation, the Contracting Officer will call for another public forum to examine the price proposed by each consortium to execute the project. The technical points awarded to each consortium will be added to the price proposals and the consortium with the highest number of points will be the potential winner. The forum will be held in the coming months after the evaluation is finalized.

About the Panama Canal Authority (ACP)
The ACP is the autonomous agency of the Government of Panama in charge of managing, operating and maintaining the Panama Canal. The operation of the ACP is based on its organic law and the regulations approved by its Board of Directors. For more information, please refer to the ACP’s Web site: http://www.pancanal.com/.