Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Chairman Wilma Eisma said on Wednesday that several ‘white knights’ may yet rescue Korean shipbuilder Hanjin’s Philippine unit, which could help thousands of Filipinos from losing their jobs in the debt-saddled firm.
Authorities said that Hanjin could be forced to keep only 300 of its 3,000 workforce if the company fails to secure funding for further orders.
Eisma said that, meanwhile, the government is offering 25,000 jobs from 115 companies in a job fair aimed at helping Hanjin workers.
But Eisma said “credible discussions” are ongoing to rescue Hanjin, which filed for rehabilitation before an Olongapo City court last January, as it reeled from a slowdown in global shipping.
According to Esima, the ‘rescuers’ include “several” Europeans and one North American firm.
She added that Hanjin is “very sensitive” to concerns raised about the possible entry of a Chinese investor.
Eisma said a potential investor is currently in Subic doing due diligence on Hanjin. She did not identify the company.
“As soon as the last ship is delivered, we’re afraid Hanjin has to let go all its remaining employees, up to 3,000, and only 300 will remain for regular operations and accept repair orders,” Eisma said.
She added that Hanjin is finding it difficult to get loans to finance orders, for which it has received down payments. At the time of the rehabilitation filing, it still had six pending orders.
“We are doing our very best to ensure they will not be displaced when Hanjin finally folds should a white knight not be immediately available by the time that last ship is delivered,” she said, referring to the firm’s employees.
She added that should Hanjin close, the country could lose its status as the world’s 5th biggest shipbuilder.