Two Chinese shipbuilding companies have expressed intent to invest in the largest Philippine shipyard, debt-riddled Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines, the Department of Trade Industry (DTI) said.
Drowning in debt, the Philippine business of the Hanjin Group of South Korea, has asked the government for help in search of an investor who would take over the business and save the troubled shipbuilder.
Philippines Rodrigo Duterte administration has stepped in to help save the troubled investor in Subic.
According to local media reports, which quoted Trade Undersecretary and Board of Investments (BOI) Managing Head Ceferino Rodolfo, two Chinese firms contacted the Board.
“They’re interested in the shipbuilding industry in general ... but there is an opportunity now with what happened in Hanjin, so we’re linking the investors with Hanjin,” Rodolfo said.
According to a report in Nikkei, a successful bid by a Chinese company to take over the shipyard at Subic Bay, in a property that used to host U.S. forces, would symbolize the country's increasing presence in the South China Sea.
Beijing has been keen to enlarge its footprint around Subic with projects for liquefied natural gas and a railway, it said.
The Philippine government wants a new investor for the shipyard, as it looks to safeguard thousands of jobs, Nikkei said. Hanjin Philippines defaulted on $400 million in bank loans Tuesday, in what appears to be the island country's biggest corporate default.