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José Gabriel Cano Hernández

COLOMBIA - Real Estate & Construction

On the Streamline

President, Cano Jiménez


José Gabriel Cano Hernández was born in Bogotá in 1953. He graduated as a Civil Engineer from the Universidad la Javeriana, and is Partner, Founder, and President of Cano Jiménez. He has an MBA from the University of Miami with a high specialisation in management and accounting from the Universidad de los Andes. He has dedicated most of his career to directing projects on road infrastructure, planning, and the design of related concessionary projects, as well as aqueduct and sewage systems. He is also passionate about the development of residential projects that contribute to the environment and local communities.

"Our business strategies include our presence in Peru, Panama, and in Central America within the next few years. "

Cano Jiménez is composed of three companies: CANO JIMENEZ ESTUDIOS, OCEISA, and PROMOBILY. What market conditions led to the creation of each group?

Cano Jiménez is a family-owned group of companies. The company was founded in 1983, and was initially focused on road infrastructure, consulting, and transportation, as well as the construction of housing projects. As we developed and grew within the sector, we moved into other lines of business directed toward creating groups that promote road infrastructure concessions. At the time we deemed it necessary to partition the companies to promote specialization in specific areas. It also separated and mitigated the risks in each sector. Consultancy, design, and construction supervision have certain associated risks. Construction has different risks and real estate, of course, has different visions. As we defined the different lines of business, we realized that they needed to be under the direction of a corporate group that provides services to the three companies. So nowadays, we are operating with a completely independent operational structure in each line of business, but behind which is a corporate group that leads the general strategy and provides all three companies with services such as human resources, accounting, financial, commercial promotion, and legal support. The three companies today are CANO JIMENEZ ESTUDIOS, which handles consultancy, OCEISA, which is in charge of infrastructure, and PROMOBILY in real estate.

What are the key infrastructural and development projects you are working on today?

CANO JIMENEZ ESTUDIOS has participated in a number of large concessions. Today, the greatest achievement is the design of the first metro line for Bogotá. Regarding infrastructure, the use of trenchless technology is a major step. With OCEISA we finished a storm drainage system project a couple years ago in the Fontibon, an area of Bogotá close to the El Dorado airport, which flooded every winter because there was no drainage. In this densely populated area, we installed 68km of piping without disturbing the roads, with the trenchless method. We carried out a reinforcement of the main water pipe for Bogotá and Tibitoc with interior limestone and metallic tubes. Our project in Fontibon was the largest for OCEISA, alongside the reinforcement of the main water pipe for Bogotá. For PROMOBILY, the biggest projects are in Cedritos, namely BOTANIKA AQUA and BOTANIKA TELUS, where we are building 341 apartments. Another BOTANIKA building will have 46 apartments, and we are planning to start sales and production shortly.

“Our business strategies include our presence in Peru, Panama, and in Central America within the next few years. “

What has been your role in the Bogotá metro process advanced engineering process, and what is your perspective regarding the development of the project?

Our participation in the consortium that developed the Bogotá metro, which included two Spanish companies IDOM and Euroestudios, was granted due to overall experience. Euroestudios is a general engineering company and IDOM is an entity with a long history of working with train and subway technological systems, while we are a general Colombian engineering company with experience in local systems, such as the research of public utilities and traffic management. Our input in the consortium, which corresponded to one-third of the project, was mainly about field research and local support. The other two companies contributed with their specialized technology in railways, regarding security, evacuation, and so forth. Even though that was our main obligation and contribution, we participated in the whole design process and the transfer of technology. It was paramount for the Colombian engineers involved in the project to learn from it and make it our own. In summary, we participated in all activities related to the project, even though we didn’t manage them directly.

What are the next steps for the fulfillment of the project?

The project has now been completed and handed over to the government. Both the national and local governments are performing the financial evaluations to determine the sources of financing for the construction of the metro in Bogotá. They are performing analysis, which includes scenarios such as construction by stages. Another option is to implement minor changes to the project to allow for a decrease in investment. Government officials, on both the national and local level, are working on this analysis and we are supporting them on adjustments to the designs, depending on final decisions. If they choose to build in stages, we help to determine what those stages include. In the event of a decreased investment amount, we would adjust designs to make them more financially viable. We expect the issue to be resolved within 1H2015 so that the public bidding of the contract for the construction of the first line becomes available in the second semester, with construction subsequently beginning early in 2016.

Do you plan to enter international markets within the next year?

Yes, our business strategies include our presence in Peru, Panama, and in Central America within the next few years. In the past we entered Costa Rica as a consultancy for a road concession between San Jose and Caldera, located in Pacific Costa Rica. We completed our work last year, and have enjoyed a highly positive experience working internationally.

© The Business Year – April 2015



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