THE Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) said it is near the conclusion of talks with an unidentified US company seeking to take over the lease of a shipyard left behind by the collapsed Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction-Philippines, Inc.

“We are nearing completion. Paperwork has already been laid out and done,” SBMA Business and Investment Department Manager Karen G. Magno said in a webinar Tuesday.

The previous operator, Hanjin Heavy Philippines, declared bankruptcy in 2019.

Ms. Magno did not discuss the status of the proposal put forward by Australia’s Austal Ltd., which said last month that its own negotiations with creditor banks were ongoing.

“We have been reporting to the National Government. We were supported by the Department of Finance. We were even talking to the Philippine Navy, because as we already know they are going to be a tenant of this American company.”

SBMA Chairperson Wilma T. Eisma said in a mobile message that a court overseeing the shipyard’s rehabilitation will have a say in the final settlement.

Ms. Eisma added in response to a query that the SBMA’s involvement with the US company is as Hanjin Heavy’s lessor.

Hindi po kasali ang SBMA sa discussions na ‘yon kasi lessor lang po kami ng Hanjin (The SBMA is not a party to the bank discussions because we are just the lessor to Hanjin),” she said, referring to separate talks with Hanjin’s creditors for the collapsed company’s assets.

The Philippine Navy recently announced that it has signed a preliminary term sheet committing 100 hectares of the yard for the use of its ships.

Hanjin started operating the shipyard at the Subic Bay Freeport Area in 2006, becoming one of the biggest shipbuilders in the Philippines before collapsing in 2019. — Jenina P. Ibañez