MANILA -- South Korean shipbuilder Hanjin is seeking court-assisted rehabilitation to be able to pay off its debt, with demand hit by a slowdown in the global shipping industry, a Filipino official said Friday.
Hanjin, which has $2.3 billion in assets and a 3,000-strong workforce, "remains to be an investor of good standing," said Wilma Eisma, administrator of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority where the shipbuilding facility is located.
Five Philippine banks are seeking to cover $412 million in combined loans to Hanjin. Eisma clarified that the company had not defaulted on loan or interest payments.
"Malaki po ang assets, wala lang pong cash," Eisma told DZMM.
(They have huge assets, just not enough cash.)
"They are very forward-looking and they are very responsible. Ayaw nila maghintay na magde-default sila kaya maaga pa lang, they want to come to the table with all the banks and with the help of the court, magkaroon ng usapin paano nila unti-unti pang mababayaran ang pagkaka-utang nila," she said.
(They are very forward-looking and they are very responsible. They don't want to wait for a default that's why this early, they want to come to the table with all the banks and with the help of the court, open discussions on how they can pay their debt.)
Eisma said Hanjin Philippines was not hobbled by the debts of its parent. She said representatives from the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Trade and Industry met recently with Hanjin representatives in Subic.
"Ang Hanjin, hindi sila nawawalan ng pag-asa dahil nga po they are very proactive," she said.
(Hanjin is not losing hope, that's because they are very proactive.)
A "downturn" in global shipping has affected Hanjin, which builds ships with 6,000-container capacity and those that could carry liquefied petroleum gas and liquefied natural gas, she said.
"Based sa pag-uusap namin, nangyari ito dahil sa worldwide downturn sa shipping industry. This is something because of supply and demand," she said.
(Based on our discussions, this is happening because of the worldwide downturn in the shipping industry. This is something because of supply and demand.)
At the peak of demand in 2014 and 2015, Hanjin employed up to 33,000 people, she said.
"Wala po tayong nadidinig na alingasngas na hindi sila nababayaran ng maayos," she said.
(We did not hear of complaints that employees were not being paid well.)
Former Hanjin workers are "very highly employable" because of their training, she said.