Spain's Sacyr says making progress in talks with Panama Canal

MEXICO CITY Fri Jan 10, 2014 6:36pm EST

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MEXICO CITY Jan 10 (Reuters) - Sacyr, the Spanish building company leading a consortium expanding the Panama Canal, said on Friday it was making progress in negotiations with the waterway's operator over financing to avoid a damaging work stoppage on the massive project.

Visiting Panama, Sacyr Chairman Manuel Manrique played down an acrimonious spat over cost overruns, in which the consortium demanded more money from the canal administrator to continue work.

He told Reuters the consortium, which includes Italian builder Salini Impregilo, would process its claim for $1.6 billion in cost overruns via arbitration. The canal authority and consortium have both floated financing proposals, but it was not immediately clear how they would ensure cash-flow in the short term to keep the project going.

Earlier this month, the consortium threatened to halt work on Jan. 20 unless the Panama Canal Authority footed the bill.

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