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Peru: Morning News Roundup – Tuesday, June 26

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Peru’s Wong chain has attracted Chilean investors

(LIP-ir)  —  Rumors grew last week that Chilean investors have purchased the Wong Group and its supermarket chain. Despite the fact that Chilean investors have denied the purchase of the Wong Group, the rumors continue to be published in Chilean newspapers. The Peruvian group has strong ties with all the major retailers in Latin America.

Paita port tender to be launched in 2008 – Peru

The concession process of northern Peru’s regional port Paita will be launched during the first half of 2008, local paper Gestión quoted President Alan García as saying. The studies to determine the port’s investment needs will kick off in July and wrap up within six months, said transport and communications minister Verónica Zavala. The study will be carried out by Peruvian-US consortium Cesel-Louis Berger, slated to sign the contract with government authorities this week, the paper reported. Authorities expect the port – the second most important in Peru – "to become Brazil’s exit to Asia," said the minister. The port’s expansion will complement the 955km Interoceánica Norte highway project, which will run across six northern departments, said García. The terminal currently handles some 100,000 containers a year. The port’s concession has undergone a number of delays, together with the concessions of other regional ports Ilo and Pisco, as the national port authority APN and state agency for promoting private investment ProInversión have taken longer than expected in updating the country’s national port development plan PNDP. García publicly criticized ProInversión for these delays last week, calling on entity officials to boost efforts to launch new infrastructure concession processes. (BusinessNewsAmericas)

Cerro Verde gets new AAA rating on US$90mn in bonds

Peru’s Apoyo & Asociados, part of Fitch Ratings, gave its AAA rating on US$90mn in bonds issued by Peruvian copper miner Cerro Verde, according to a report by the ratings firm. Another Peruvian credit rating firm Equilibrium recently also gave Cerro Verde an AAA rating for its bond program. Apoyo & Asociados’ rating rests on Cerro Verde’s high capacity to generate cash flow and large Ebitda margins. US company Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold (NYSE: FCX) owns the controlling 53.6% in Cerro Verde. (BusinessNewsAmericas)

Fossil of giant penguin found in Peru

One of the two prehistoric birds was 5 feet tall. The discovery disputes the theory that the large creatures lived only in cold climes. Researchers reported Monday that they had unearthed two fossil penguins, one of which stood 5 feet tall, that lived in the warm climate of prehistoric Peru — a discovery that promises to change the way scientists think about penguins and cold weather. Until now, scientists were comfortable with the notion that ancient penguins first appeared more than 60 million years ago in cold habitats and didn’t move close to the equator until 8 million years ago. Large penguins, in particular, were thought to live only in colder climes. The fossils, described online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, disproved these theories. "These discoveries tell us about the more complex relationship between penguin evolution and climate change," said study coauthor Sara Bertelli, a paleontologist at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles. (read entire article by Amber Dance at latimes.com)

Peru Celebrates Tasty Guinea Pigs

Peru’s celebration of the guinea pig included contests for the biggest, the best-dressed _ and the tastiest. The second annual festival of the cuy, as guinea pigs are known in the Andes, brought brass bands into the streets of highland Churin on Sunday to celebrate all things related to the furry rodents. "Zero cholesterol! Protein for anemia!" Teresa Figeroa shouted from under her woven, flower-lined hat. For 20 soles ($7), she sold plates of guinea pig fried, grilled, baked _ even cuy au vin _ with generous helpings of Andean potatoes and large Peruvian corn called choclo. Foreigners may cringe at seeing the critters served for lunch, looking much like they did in life, face down on a bed of greens. But people came from across Peru to savor the meat and to compete in a cuy cookoff. There was also a competition for the biggest guinea pig; the winner weighed in at almost 8 pounds of flesh, fat and fur. And some competed in a fashion show of traditional Andean dress, with guinea pigs decked out in fedoras and frilly skirts looking like Disney cartoons come to life. But the food was the main event. "This isn’t common," said Nicolas Campos Sanchez, his lips shiny with grease as he ate a mouthful of barbecued guinea pig. "We’re very proud of it." (Washington Post)

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