More Nicaragua Canalysis

˙ China & Latin America

The Nicaragua Canal saga continues, with discrepancies emerging between statements by HKND Group CEO, Wang Ping, and the Nicaraguan government.

In a July interview with The Telegraph in Beijing,Chinese billionaire and Nicaragua canal financier, Wang Ping, suggested that a route for a proposed Nicaragua canal had already been determined, and that international investors are already lined up to finance the $40 billion project.
 
The route, according to Wang, would start near the city of Bluefields on the Caribbean coast, pass through Lake Nicaragua, and continue on to the Pacific – a total distance of 274 kilometers.
 
 According to El País, however, the Nicaraguan government denies that a route has already been decided, insisting that a projected feasibility study is still being conducted. In addition to heavyweights like McKinsey, McLarty Associates, and British firm Environmental Resources Management, China Railway Corporation will also be handling portions of the year-long study. Environmental Resources Management is evidently already in Nicaragua conducting environmental impact assessments. CRC recently outsourced a $4.32 million feasibility port study to CCCC Second Harbor Construction Company (a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company).
 
As for the investors, it is still unclear whether HKND Group has all that will need to finance the canal, or if $40 billion is still the estimated cost. Wang Ping indicated in The Telegraph article that investors identified so far are big banks and other large institutions from China, the United States, and Europe. He did not mention any institutions by name, however. It remains to be seen whether China Development Bank or other Chinese government-affiliated entities will make the list.There may very well be some interest among US firms. Deputy Assistant Secretary Walter Bastian said recently that he finds the project “fascinating” and that the U.S. government will follow up to see if there is interest from U.S. investors.