By Janina C. Lim
THREE MAJOR shipbuilders have signaled interest in the rehabilitation of Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines, Inc. by asking for meetings on the matter.
In an interview in Olongapo City on Friday last week, HHIC-Phil’s former rehabilitation receiver Stefani C. Saño said he has received three letters of intent from “big players” in the shipbuilding industry, with one meeting scheduled this week.
“Tatlong letters na na-receive ko (I have received three letters), but they still have to go through due diligence,” Mr. Saño said.
The letters of intent were “only general expressions of interest and proposals for initial meetings to discuss possible investments in the shipyard,” which defaulted on its loans to domestic creditors, worth about $412 million, Mr. Saño said.
He declined to identify the shipbuilders concerned, saying only that they are based in Asia and the United States.
Asked if the companies were open to a joint venture, merger or acquisition, Mr. Saño said, “all of the above were mentioned.”
Mr. Saño resigned as receiver last week, but will stay put until his replacement is appointed.
He said he will proceed with the meeting scheduled this week with one of the interested parties.
A HHIC-Phil official, who asked not to be named, said negotiations to seek further bank financing are under way.
“Lay-offs will happen if no banks will help us,” the official said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.
The company is set to shed more than 3,000 workers on Feb. 15, leaving the yard with a reduced staff of about 300.
Mr. Saño has said such numbers will not be sufficient to operate the yard.
HHIC-Phil last month defaulted on $412 million worth of debt to Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. ($145 million); Land Bank of the Philippines (reported at $85 million); Metrobank ($70 million); BDO Unibank, Inc. ($60 million) and the Bank of the Philippine Islands ($52 million).
By Janina C. Lim