MANILA -- "Several" white knights are in discussions to rescue Korean shipbuilder Hanjin's Philippine unit, which could help save thousands of jobs in the debt-saddled firm, a Filipino official said Wednesday.
From 3,000 workers, Hanjin could be forced to keep just 300 when the last of 2 ongoing projects is finished and it fails to secure funding for further orders, said Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Chairperson Wilma Eisma.
Up to 25,000 jobs from 115 companies are on offer at a government-organized job fair on Saturday to help Hanjin workers, Eisma told ANC's Headstart.
There are "credible discussions" to rescue Hanjin, which filed for rehabilitation before an Olongapo City court last January, as it reeled from a slowdown in global shipping.
Potential "white knights" include "several" Europeans and one North American firm, Eisma said. Hanjin is "very sensitive" to concerns raised about the possible entry of a Chinese investor, she said.
One potential investor is currently in Subic doing due diligence on Hanjin, Esima said, without identifying 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," she said.
Hanjin is "having difficulty" getting loans to finance orders, for which it has received down payments. At the time of the rehabilitation filing, it had 6 pending orders, she said.
"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.
Should Hanjin close, the Philippines could lose its status as the world's 5th biggest shipbuilder, she said.