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Hanjin Philippines set to lay off over 3,000 workers

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WWW.HHIC-PHIL.COM

By Janina C. Lim, Reporter

OLONGAPO — With over 3,000 workers set to be laid off next week, Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines Inc. (HHIC-Phil) is facing a total shutdown due to the lack of working capital.

HHIC-Phil’s rehabilitation receiver Stefani C. Saño on Friday said the company’s hopes of staying afloat is pinned on securing additional loans.

During the initial hearing at the Olongapo Regional Trial Court Branch 72, HHIC-Phil said claims from banks, suppliers and other service providers reached over P48 billion as of Feb. 1.

However, the amount does not include those from least two more companies that filed claims beyond the said date, and a few more that have not determined the full amount of their claims, according Mr. Saño.

Mr. Saño said HHIC-Phil’s on-going negotiations with creditor-banks are aimed at securing additional loans to be used for the completion of four more ships which will generate cash flow and payment to Hanjin’s obligations.

“Whether or not the vessel will be constructed, we’re still undergoing negotiations with banks,” Pocholo L. Poso, HHIC-Phil’s in-house legal counsel, said during the hearing.

Asked how this will affect workers, Mr. Saño said: “Malalayoff actually sa (Feb.) 15. Mahigit 3,000 malalayoff. Matitira 300 (They will be laid off on Feb. 15. Over 3,000 will be laid off. Only 300 will remain).”

With only 300 workers left, Mr. Saño noted HHIC-Phil will “definitely not” be able to build a ship.

“Ang isang possibility pa niyan, ibang bangko outside of the creditor-banks. Ang suggestion ko kasi per ship ang financing and then may kasulatan na ang iba-bayad ng buyer sa bank pupunta tapos siya magremit kay Hanjin to build another ship (One possibility is for a bank outside of the creditor-banks to extend a loan. My suggestion is to provide funds per ship, then there will be an agreement that the buyer will pay the bank directly. Then the bank will remit the funds to Hanjin to build another ship),” he said.

Mr. Saño remains as rehabilitation receiver pending the appointment of a new one by the court. He resigned last week over opposition from creditor-banks.

HHIC-Phil’s five creditor-banks have pushed for the appointment of their own nominee, a certified lawyer, to be the rehabilitation receiver.

During the hearing, the lawyers of the five banks said they will nominate lawyer Rosario S. Bernaldo, managing director of RS Bernaldo & Associates, as receiver.

“(Ms. Bernaldo) is really experienced in rehab,” Charlemagne Rae P. Chavez, who represented Metropolitan Bank Trust & Co. which filed opposition to Mr. Saño’s appointment, told BusinessWorld.

Should HHIC-Phil discontinue operations, its rehabilitation program will be rendered useless.

“Wala nang usap-usap if stopped na operations (There will be no more talks if it stopped operations),” Mr. Saño said.

During the brief watch of Mr. Saño, HHIC-Phil saw its $412 million debt to local creditors trimmed with the remittance of $45 million from Korea Development Bank for the payment of two vessels.

Some $32 million covered the security for the loan granted by Metrobank to HHIC-Phil, while the remaining amount will be used by HHIC-Phil for administrative expenses.

This brings HHIC-Phil’s debt to Metrobank to $38 million from the $70 million before the rehabilitation procedure.

HHIC-Phil’s debts to others are unchanged: Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. at $145 million; Land Bank of the Philippines, reported at $85 million; BDO Unibank, Inc. at $60 million; and the Bank of the Philippine Islands at $52 million.