THE FORMER Hanjin shipyard in Subic may reopen before the end of the year under a North American company as talks are almost finalized, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) said.

SBMA Chairperson Wilma T. Eisma said in a briefing on Tuesday that discussions are at 99.99%, and she is hoping to announce the reopening before yearend.

“We are very excited because it means jobs will be back,” she said.

Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction-Philippines, Inc. started operating the shipyard in 2006 at the Subic Bay Freeport Area, a former US military base, becoming one of the biggest shipbuilders in the Philippines before its collapse in 2019.

SBMA previously hinted at nearing the conclusion of talks with a US company seeking to takeover the lease.

“I want to make it clear that the white knight is not from Asia. It comes from North America,” Ms. Eisma said at the briefing.

The status of the proposal from Australian shipbuilder Austal Ltd. was not discussed. The firm earlier this year said its discussions were ongoing.

“Part of the facility will still continue to be a shipyard and ship repair facility,” Ms. Eisma said, noting that other industries will also operate at the site.

Businesses continue to be interested in Subic Bay Freeport, she added.

“They will not continue to come and invest in Subic and in the Philippines if they were not confident in the economic direction of the country.”

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