Philippines Considers Buying HHIC-Phil Shipyard


Published Jan 21, 2019 11:04 AM by The Maritime Executive

The government of the Philippines may acquire Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction-Philippines (HHIC-Phil), according to defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana. The announcement follows after news that two Chinese shipbuilders might have an interest in buying a stake. 

"While we sympathise with the financial woes of Hanjin we are excited by this development because we see the possibility of having our own shipbuilding capacity in the Philippines, especially for large ships," said Lorenzana in comments to the Philippine Senate. “Why not we take over the Hanjin and give it to the [Philippine] Navy to manage?"

The investment could take many different forms: an outright purchase; a public-private partnership with a Philippine shipbuilder; a purchase followed by a lease or sale; or the purchase of just a portion of the yard, to be operated by the Navy. Lorenzana said that a stake in HHIC-Phil would give the government the opportunity to build its own ships rather than order them from overseas, and he suggested that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte supported the idea. 

After previous reports that Chinese firms had an interest in HHIC-Phil - and warnings from defense analysts that a Chinese presence could be detrimental to the national interest - Lorenzana said that the government would "monitor" any potential suitors. He later added that a domestic buyer would be preferable. "(It) would be good if a local company would acquire and operate it to support our Navy modernization," Lorenzana said last week.

HHIC-Phil is in bankruptcy, and its filing is the largest in Philippine history. The compay owes more than $400 million to Philippine financial institutions and $900 million more to its South Korean lenders, and it has sought the assistance of the Philippine government in finding a buyer.