The Washington Times
DECEmbEr 18, 2007
Identifying a businessopportunity and seizing themoment to make billionsof dollars is the conceptthat drove Reynald HenryKatz to create reportedly thelargest merchandise mart inthe world, the only one of itskind in Latin America and theCaribbean. Investors lookingfor a safe place to investtheir money with fast returns,manufacturers looking for an easy penetration into theLatin market and companiesseeking trading partnershipsare expected to converge onthe Panama InternationalMerchandise Mart (PIMM).Katz declared, “The PIMMwill be more like a commercialcity involving an estimated566 million Latin Americanconsumers, internationalmanufacturers and worldwideinvestors.“There will be 6,800showrooms in the 34 buildingson the 530 hectares (1,302acres) of land close to thesecond largest free zone inthe world – the Colon Free
Zone – beneting fromthe most efcient logistics
center in Latin America.Manufacturers from all over the world can showcase their products permanently herewhere local and internationalwholesale buyers, especiallyLatin American businesses,can place their order at PIMMwithout entering the UnitedStates of America or the home ports of manufacturers.”In PIMM city, Panama, thevision is to have exclusivecountry pavilions whosemanufacturers and businessescan showcase their products.“Embassies have expressedthe interest to have country-
specic pavilions. We are
looking forward to having aglobal commercial city righthere in Panama where thewhole of Latin America cantrade with commercial worldleaders without leaving their continent!”Katz is on the verge of realizing this dream asconstruction starts in January2008 with a completion date projected for 2009. This project will cost an estimated$1 billion. “PIMM will tradean estimated $35 billion ayear. The cost of a showroomstarts at $125,000 and eachshowroom is estimated tohave an annual return oninvestment of $2 million per showroom,” said Katz.“This will be a city of commerce. The PIMM citywill have all the facilitiesthat a commercial city needs.There will be three-, four-, and
ve-star international hotels,
10 local and internationalrestaurants, 10 fast-food,
police and re stations,
medical centers, parking for
5,000 cars, 1,000 ofce spacesin 10 ofce buildings, 200
public rest rooms, electrical power plants, wireless Internetservices, recreational centersand condominium buildings, just to mention a few of thefacilities,” Katz said.He has sold over 800showrooms and has alreadymade plans to expand intoFrance where his son, Kevin,was born and now lives.The French PIMM will beestablished and operated byKevin. In addition, plans arealready afoot to establishanother PIMM in New Jersey.The long-term plan includes building similar commercialcities at an estimated $1 billion in South Africa,Russia, Vietnam, India, China,Malaysia, Australia, Belgium,the United States of America,Brazil and Mexico.
Reecting on the rst
time the idea of PIMM wasconceived, Reynald Katzrecalls his experience whiletrying to rent a showroom atthe Colon Free Zone.“They told me there were2,500 companies vying for the single and only availableshowroom, and the best bid willwin! That is when I decided
Panama International Merchandise Mart promisesto be a global commercial city – the PIMM City
• Total investment - $1 billion (est.)• Annual ROI /showroom: $2 million (TotalPIMM trade: $35 billion/year)• Market: Over 566 million consumers fromLatin America/Caribbean• Total number of showrooms: 6,800• Completion date: 2009• Cost for purchase of one showroom: Starts at
$125,000 (nancing available).
• Income tax: 0 percent• Location: Colon Province, close to the ColonFree Zone and the Panama Canal.
Kevin Katz share a moment with his father, ReynaldKatz. Kevin is spearheading the establishment of PIMM’soperations in France.
The design of this
commercial city ows into a buttery form. “The PIMM‘Buttery’ will be famous, justlike the ‘Dubai Palm’ already
is,” said Reynald Henry Katz.
Butteries have always
fascinated Reynald HenryKatz, even as a boy in France.His crayon drawings of
butteries still adorn his family
home.“PIMM being developed
in the form of a buttery is
appropriate, for Panama isthe home of a large number
of species of butteries,” said
Katz. The name Panama is aCarib Indian word meaning
“abundance of butteries.”
The PIMM commercial citywill be built on 530 hectares(1302 acres) of land borderedwith tropical rainforest.“PIMM will boast a 10, 000seat convention center andan open-air exhibition center,34 buildings, a parking lotdesigned to hold 5,000 cars,four top class hotels andmore,” said Katz. It will have10-meter wide streets withseparate entry and exit roads.The layout of the PIMM site
creates the shape of a buttery.
The four hotels form theantennae, while the buildingshousing the showroomsspaced at 50-meters (55 yards)apart will form the outline of
the wings. Wide roads divide
and link all sections. Lakes, theconvention center and the open-air exhibition center form the“beauty spots” on the wings.The local and internationalrestaurants will form the bodywith the control center at the
tip of the buttery’s tail.
Keeping the shape of the
buttery throughout the
construction will be a challenge.Katz is already thinking aboutexpanding the number of showrooms to meet increasingdemands. “The price for eachshowroom starts at $125,000
and every day there are ve
to seven new clients wishingto purchase showrooms inPIMM,” said Katz.
When asked if the lakes
will survive the demand for showrooms as constructionadapts to increasing needs.Katz gave the assurance thatsustainable development isthe hallmark of constructionand real estate developmentin Panama that his companyintends to respect.
“We believe in letting natureand businesses co-exist. We will
maintain most of our design inan effort to offer our customersthe natural atmosphere of trees
and water. We may reduce the
size of the lakes to include more buildings or to increase thesize of buildings, but the lakeswill remain on the wings of the
buttery, lending their natural
beauty to the surroundings.”Mr. Katz indicated that all buildings would be constructedwith “the safety regulateddistances” between them. The
re stations and police force
will also be fully equipped withstate of the art technology. Thesame is true for the medicalcenter. “There will also be ahelipad for easy access to the best hospitals in Panama Cityand the international airport.Miami is only two- and-a-half hours away with daily
international ights. We haveidentied the possible needs
of our clients and are puttingsystems in place to meet thoseneeds,” reiterated Katz.
Katz builds the PIMM in the shape of a buttery
Reynald Henry Katz sharesa wax crayon drawing of a
buttery which he drew as a
child in France.A section of the layout of the commercial city showing the
placement of two of the international hotels, ofce buildings,
showrooms, and the parking lot designed for 5000 cars.The PIMM commercial citywill be constructed in the
form of a buttery.
“Why do we believe that there is no better place
to locate a merchandise mart of this size?” asksReynald Henry Katz.
In addition to its strategic geographic location, the presence of the Panama Canal and the Colon Free Zone, the United Statesdollar is the legal tender in Panama. “Panama is a dollar-basedeconomy. There are no visa restrictions, no quotas on textile trade,
no taxes on prots and Panama has friendly custom laws.
“This country has the unique advantage of not being in the pathof hurricanes nor is it prone to earthquakes. It is always summer inPanama. Soft daily rainfall maintains green landscapes and keepsthe locks in the Panama Canal supplied with enough water thatallows for 24-hour operation – a continuous passage of ships soonto include post-Panamax ships,” said Katz.“In a comparison of the ease at which business is conducted,
the World Bank rated Panama as the topmost country in Latin
America,” Katz indicated.“There is no doubt that Panama is the best logistics hub inLatin America and the Caribbean. Also, as there are no taxes on
prots, no import duties for merchandise in transit and no income
tax, it will be a tax haven for showroom owners at the PanamaInternational Merchandise Mart,” said Katz. “The people speak English as a second language; it is easy to do business when the people are as friendly and helpful as the Panamanians.”Panama is strategically located between North and South
America. “It is the ‘Cross Roads’ of the western hemisphere.
American, European and other international and Panamanian
airlines have daily ights to major cites in the United States, in
Central and South America, the Caribbean and parts of Europe,”Katz explained.
Panama is only 50 miles wide and links both the Pacic and
Atlantic Oceans. The site of the PIMM city is 18 miles fromPanama City and 18 miles from Colon Free Zone. It is almost
midway between the Pacic and the Atlantic Ocean and close to
the shipping ports and logistics services of Colon.Located close to Lake Gatun and with ready access to tour facilities, the PIMM city also offers opportunities for eco-tourism
in Panama’s rain forest.
“The site for the PIMM commercial city is also not far from
the Tocumen International Airport. We will operate a eet of 20
buses to shuttle people to and from this airport. There will also begolf-cart shuttle services from the 5,000-car parking lot to different parts of the PIMM city” explained Katz.
There is no specic legal statute on foreign investment in
Panama. National and foreign investors are treated equally under
the general legal regime. According to Panama’s constitution,
both are treated as nationals, although, special conditions apply tocertain activities that foreigners may engage due to considerationsof health, morality, and public safety.
MAP of Panama showing location of PIMM
Panama is the ideallocation for PIMM
that this was an opportunity tocreate additional showrooms – there was a ready market justwaiting to be tapped!“The companies on thewaiting list would have their space, I would have a new business, the Colon Free Zonewould be serving an evenlarger clientele and everyonewould make millions!”The site for PIMM is between the Colon Free
Zone and Panama’s Tocumen
International Airport. Accessroads are being built to link to anew freeway which is planned
to alleviate the current trafcdifculties as commuters
compete with the 3,000container trucks making their daily runs. A helipad is also planned to provide additionaltransportation options.“PIMM will have fully
equipped re stations, a security
force and a medical center.There will also be a helipadfor easy access to the TocumenInternational Airport. Miamiis only two-and-a-half hoursaway with daily international
ights,” said Katz.
Reynald Henry Katz, founder and CEO of PanamaInternational Merchandise Mart.
In PIMM city, Panama, the visionis to have exclusivecountry pavilions whosemanufacturers and businesses can showcasetheir products.
“The commercial city of PIMM promisesits clients a world-class trading center.Its geographic positioning close to thePanama Canal and the Colon Free Zone,the innovative business concept and thegreat talent of my employees, partners, bankers and investors will make thePIMM the merchandise mart successof the century, entering the history of Panama and Latin America and with its global expansion – theworld!” Reynald Henry Katz, founder and CEO.
The PIMM commercial city will have 6800 showrooms in the 34 buildings on 530 hectares of land. Manufacturers from allover the world will showcase their products for local and international wholesale buyers to access.