Four companies, including a large North American firm, expressed interest to take over shipbuilder Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines Inc., the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority said over the weekend.
SBMA administrator and chairman Wilma Eisma said all four showed great interest in the Zambales-based shipbuilder. She did not identify the four parties but said none of them were Chinese.
“Two [companies] do not want to disclose and represented only by lawyers. The other two are a North American company and a European company. These are big companies and they are into shipbuilding and other interests outside of shipbuilding,” she said.
Eisma said the four groups were on top of a Chinese company that earlier expressed interest in Hanjin.
Two of the four companies were doing due diligence reports while the other two recently made known their intentions through letters sent to SBMA, she said.
She said the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court recently appointed Rosario Bernardo as the receiver for Hanjin. Rosario’s responsibilities include supervising negotiations to rescue the Korean shipbuilder.
“This means he [Rosario] has to monitor and take some actions, if necessary, to ensure that negotiations are done properly as well as the payment and the takeover should there be,” Eisma said.
She said the four new companies interested in Hanjin were looking at different schemes such as capital infusion, buy-out or operating the facility as a different business. Hanjin’s property is vast and can accommodate other businesses.
Eisma said her agency would not consider it as a setback if the buyer of Hanjin decided to put up another business, as long as there would be employment generation and the government would derive benefits from the business.
Hanjin is now operating with a skeletal workforce of only 300, a far cry from its 30,000 workers when it was operating at its peak.
The Subic Bay Freeport has about 154,000 people employed by different locators but it suffered a setback when Hanjin laid off 3,000 early this year because of financial constraints.
Hanjin has an outstanding $412-million obligation to five local creditors and about $900 million to supply creditors in South Korea.
Hanjin invested $2.6 billion in Subic Bay Freeport where its shipyard is located. The company has 68 pending contracts that might face cancellation if the planned rehabilitation would not be allowed.
Hanjin, which focused on building high-value vessels, was established in 2006 as a subsidiary of Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction Co. Ltd., a multi-national company that provides shipbuilding, construction and plant services in South Korea and other countries.