Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hanjin exec says $2-B shipyard project to proceed

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — Korean shipbuilder Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines is optimistic on the recovery of the world economy, with a ranking official of the company saying it would resume the development of a $2-billion shipyard complex at the Philippine Veterans Industrial Development Corp. (Phividec) Industrial Estate.

"There’s no question about it. Our investment in a new shipyard at the Phividec Industrial Estate was a bit withheld because of the worldwide recession," Jeong Sup Shim, Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines president, told BusinessWorld. Mr. Shim was in Lugait town on Wednesday to receive the Presidential Medal of Merit from President Arroyo.

Hanjin’s chairman Cho Nam Ho earlier assured Mrs. Arroyo that the Korean firm would push through with its project, which covers 3,000 hectares in the industrial estate that straddles the towns of Tagoloan and Villanueva. "Our chairman already promised that we will resume our investment and we will start as soon as economy is good," said Mr. Shim.

But he could not state a definite target date. "We don’t promise on anything impossible," said Mr. Shim.

The shipyard was projected to generate up to 40,000 new jobs in the next three years. Hanjin had said there was ongoing training for at least 1,000 applicants in a training center in Tagoloan.

Phividec administrator Nimfa A. Albania said the company would renew a memorandum of understanding it had signed with the industrial estate, which will expire on March 10, 2010.

Other than the world economic crisis, the Korean firm also had a rift with the local governments of Tagoloan and Villanueva but Mr. Shim said it has been solved. "Because of the strong instruction from the central government, it’s now over," said Mr. Shim.

When asked if Hanjin would scout for more business opportunities as earlier reported by the National Economic and Development Authority, Mr. Shim said yes. "We have a strong affection in Mindanao especially Misamis Oriental because the province is the starting point of our investment here," said Mr. Shim.

Hanjin’s investment in the province is much larger than its $1-billion shipyard project in Subic.

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