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Netherlands-based shipbuilding company Damen Shipyards Group is looking at possible investment options in the Philippines, including investing in the facility in Subic, Zambales of ailing shipbuilder Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction-Philippines, Inc. (HHIC-Phil).

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in a statement said it took the opportunity to present investment options to the Dutch ship maker, including investment opportunities in HHIC-Phil’s 300-hectare facility in Subic, in a meeting last March 4.

DTI undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo said Damen’s technical team has surveyed the Subic facility and is reviewing how it would fit into its current plans.

HHIC-Phil has been placed under rehabilitation by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Olongapo City after the shipbuilder on January 8 filed a petition for voluntary rehabilitation under Republic Act No. 10142, or An Act Providing for the Rehabilitation or Liquidation of Financially Distressed Enterprises and Individuals, citing financial obligations to Philippine and Korean lenders.

HHIC-Phil owes Philippine banks US$412 million (P21.5 billion) in outstanding loans, on top of another $900 million in debt to lenders in South Korea.

Unlike HHIC-Phil, Damen does not produce large container ships. Instead, it focuses on smaller vessels like yachts, cruise ships, navy ships, and tugboats. Damen chairman Kommer Damen said this puts the company in a good position because it’s not affected by the overcapacity in the cargo ship market, which is one of the reasons why HHIC-Phil’s mother company, South Korea-based Hanjin Heavy Industry Co. Ltd., scaled down its operations.

“Shipbuilding is one of our priority industries not just in Subic, but also in many locations in our archipelagic country. We have the required manpower and skillset for new shipbuilders. As a market ourselves, the country is also in need of smaller vessels like the Roll-On-Roll-Off (RoRo) ships,” Lopez said in a statement.

Another possibility for Damen is to partner with the Philippine Navy to build and supply naval defense vessels.

Damen already has a footprint in the Philippines through its partnership with Filipino company Propmech Global Technologies and its contract with Philippine Airlines.

Board of Investments governor Napoleon Concepcion shared that shipbuilding companies from Australia and Norway are also investing in Visayas and Mindanao, respectively, and offered similar sites in these regions of the Philippines to Damen.

Chairman Damen said it is good to have more shipbuilders within an area as it provides greater industry support and better education for employees.

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