By Denise A. Valdez
DAVAO-BASED businessman Dennis A. Uy is not interested in rescuing debt-ridden Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines, Inc. (HHIC-Philippines).
When asked if he has plans to invest in the South Korean shipbuilder’s Subic Bay shipyard, Mr. Uy told BusinessWorld in a text message on Friday there are “none.”
The shipping and logistics subsidiary of Mr. Uy’s holding company Udenna Corp. also showed no signs of interest in acquiring HHIC-Philippines’ operations.
“No plans for now,” Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp. (CLC) President Chryss Alfonsus V. Damuy said in a mobile message on Thursday, when asked about HHIC-Philippines.
Udenna was among the shortlisted companies eyeing to buy HHIC-Philippines, according to a June 2018 report by United Kingdom-based online shipping magazine IHS Fairplay.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) earlier said HHIC-Philippines has been “open” to investors since last year, with two to three companies having visited the shipyard in Subic Bay.
The company ultimately filed for corporate rehabilitation at the Regional Trial Court of Olongapo City last week, as it debts from Philippine banks reached around $400 million and from South Korean lenders around $900 million.
The DTI said two Chinese shipbuilders have shown interest in investing in the $1.6 billion company, whose enterprise value shrunk from around $2.6 billion last year.
Mr. Uy has been on an acquisition spree the past years, with investments across education through Enderun Colleges; food industry through Conti’s Holdings Corp.; information technology and communications through ISM Communications Corp.; resorts and gaming through PH Resorts Group Holdings, Inc.; energy through PXP Energy Corp.; and telecommunications through Mislatel Consortium.
Mr. Uy’s main businesses include oil and petroleum through Phoenix Petroleum Holdings, Inc.; shipping and logistics through CLC; real estate industry through Udenna Development Corp.; environmental, trading and distribution through Udenna Management and Resources Corp.; and energy, water and environmental services through Udenna Water and Integrated Services.
DTI Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo told reporters in a press conference on Friday the agency will keep looking for a company that may save HHIC-Philippines which was the biggest investor in Subic Bay.
“They are a valued investor, and we are looking at linking them with other investors who have already expressed interest in shipbuilding in general in the Philippines,” he said.
Meanwhile, Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) President and Chief Executive Officer Alex V. Buenaventura said the Philippine unit of the South Korean shipbuilder has $1.2 billion worth of assets which could be more than enough to cover the exposure of the Philippine banks.
“We’ll have to address the problem. But the good news is we can recover the assets. The shipyard is worth $1.2 billion and the total exposure of the creditors is less than $400 million. Down the road, we hope to recover our exposure,” Mr. Buenaventura said last Friday.
LANDBANK’s exposure to HHIC-Philippines is at $85 million, the DoF said.
Other banks that have extended loans to HHIC-Philippines include Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co., Bank of the Philippine Islands, and BDO Unibank, Inc. — with Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan