Jun 26, 2013

    $51b Nicaragua canal project draws investors

    MR WANG Jing, the Chinese billionaire behind a US$40-billion (S$51-billion) plan to cut a canal through Nicaragua, said he has successfully attracted global investment for the project.

    Works on the canal should start by the end of next year and be completed within six years, Mr Wang, 40, said at a press briefing in Beijing.

    Nicaragua's Congress earlier this month granted a 50-year concession to his Hong Kong-based HKND Group for rights to build the canal.

    The project has political, financing and engineering risks, Mr Wang said.

    Nicaragua's government estimated that the cost will be US$40 billion, or more than four times the country's 2011 gross domestic product. Mr Wang said he expected that estimate to change.

    Other companies may benefit more from the canal project than his, said Mr Wang, chairman of HKND, a privately-held infrastructure-development company.

    The idea to construct an inter-oceanic canal in the Central American country did not originate from him, he said, without elaborating.

    Mr Wang has business interests in infrastructure, mining, aviation and telecommunications, according to HKND's website. He controls or serves as board chairman of more than 20 companies in 35 countries.

    He is the chairman and biggest shareholder of Beijing Xinwei Telecom Technology.