US, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Australia, Turkey firms eye acquiring Hanjin

Shipbuilders from the United States, Japan, South Korean, Indonesia, Australia and Turkey have expressed interest in taking over the operations of cash-strapped Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines (HHIC-Phil), Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Monday.

Lorenzana was reacting to a question regarding the government’s plans on HHIC-Philippines during the National Defense College of the Philippines Alumni Forum, “The National Security Outlook for the Philippines in 2019”, at the NDCP Compound, Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

“There are several shipyards, ship companies around the world, (which have expressed interest in taking over HHIC-Phil’s operations), some US, Japanese, (South) Korean, Indonesian and also Australian, I think lately, I also heard some Turkish or some European shipyards are already interested,” Lorenzana said.

But if worse comes to worse, Lorenzana said the government could take over as the Senate has already set aside some money for such eventualities.

“Hanjin shipyard (has) not actually filed for bankruptcy it is just asking for rehabilitation, because the problem is cash flow. It is still building some ships here in the Philippines but it needs money to keep operating (on a) day-to-day basis so it’s still being in the works,” he said.

HHIC-Phil earlier revealed that it has a total of USD1.3 billion outstanding loans — USD400 million from Philippine banks and USD900 million from South Korean lenders.

According to Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, HHIC-Phil filed on January 8 a petition at the Regional Trial Court in Olongapo City “to initiate voluntary rehabilitation under Republic Act 10142, otherwise known as An Act Providing for the Rehabilitation or Liquidation of Financially Distressed Enterprises and Individuals”.

The shipbuilder also sought help from the government to find investors that can take over the operation of its shipyard in Subic, as well as to help its employees, who have taken the brunt of the company’s financial woes.

In December 2018, the company laid off more than 7,000 workers. PNA