Edelman targets Panama region.

SAO PAOLO: Edelman is on an affiliate hunt in Central America - with Panama under consideration as a base for the agency's operations.

SAO PAOLO: Edelman is on an affiliate hunt in Central America - with Panama under consideration as a base for the agency's operations.

'There are some big opportunities there,' said Allan McCrea Steele, COO Edelman Latin America. 'Latin America is the hottest region, and Central America is an important part of the region. To be fully global, we need to be in those markets.'

Edelman is interested in securing affiliates in Central America because it is the only sub-region where it does not have a presence, according to Alberto Salem, president and CEO of Edelman Latin America.

Panama is being given special consideration as the anchor for the agency's Central American presence. According to McCrea Steele, the hand-over of the Panama Canal at the end of 1999 represents tremendous opportunities in the region.

But Edelman doesn't plan to make 'huge investments' in the region until at least the beginning of the next century, and is currently only interested in finding affiliates. Beyond that, the agency would not reveal the size of the investments it plans to make in securing affiliates in Central America or elsewhere.

For now, Central America and the Caribbean are covered by Edelman's affiliate in Puerto Rico. Edelman has offices, partnerships and affiliates in 11 Latin American countries.

Edelman is also interested in securing additional affiliates outside Central America. 'Edelman is interested in every country in Latin America and all of them have different strategic values according to their special social, economic and political conditions,' explained Salem.

The agency uses a standard set of criteria when qualifying affiliates in the region. 'We want to affiliate with local agencies that have a similar profile to ours,' explained McCrea Steele. 'We are looking for entrepreneurial types, with strong overall PR capabilities including consumer marketing, public affairs, health care and technology.'.

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