Sonda set to become Metrobus's financial administrator

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Chilean IT systems integrator Sonda is expected to be awarded a 10-year concession as financial administrator of Panama's new public transportation system Metrobus, according to a press release from the Panamanian government.

Presidential minister Jimmy Papadimitriu said the evaluating committee had recommended to transport authority ATTT that it award the concession to Sonda, which had submitted a better price than the remaining competitor, Venezuelan-Panamanian group Confya.

Sonda was one of four bidders in the tender, but two were eliminated for not meeting technical requirements.

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According to Papadimitriu, the selection was based 70% on price and 30% on technical aspects. Sonda's proposal was for US$180.6mn, compared with Confya's US$229.2mn bid, according to a report from brokerage Bice Inversiones.

Through the concession, Sonda will be required to provide a minimum of 1,000 points of sales and electronic card recharging locations in capital Panama City and San Miguelito, where Metrobus is to be implemented. The concessionaire will also administer the money collected, facilitating payment of operators, providers and the system's financial bodies.

Sonda must also provide 1mn cards with passengers' names on them. It will distribute 250,000 cards free of cost to preferential Metrobus users - including retirees, pensioners, students and disabled persons - to be used during the system's trial run.

The final awarding of the concession will be within three business days, provided no objections are raised. Alleged irregularities in the tender process were questioned by local media during the evaluation process.

"This news is positive for Sonda, but given the 3.5% increment registered in its share price so far this week, we do not expect an additional significant reaction," Bice Inversiones said.