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Austal closes in on Philippine investment opportunity

Australian shipbuilder Austal is progressing plans to acquire a strategic shipyard in the Philippines that the government in Manila wants to be a key asset in the country’s naval shipbuilding operations.

The development coincides with the company’s efforts to sell its business in China to focus, in part, on expanding its profile in Southeast Asia.

Australia’s ambassador to the Philippines, Steven Robinson, confirmed in a recent online media briefing that Austal is in talks to acquire the Subic Bay shipyard from its current owners, South Korea’s Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction (HHIC).

Robinson said, “There has been some work going on over the last couple of years now with respect to the Subic Bay facility and that involves Austal and a number of other entities … I am hopeful that there will be some progress made in the next month or two that will see a finalisation of all those negotiations.”

He added, “It’s still kind of commercially in confidence so I can’t get too much into the details, but nevertheless, let’s hope that there’s a positive outcome, which will see Austal expand further here in the Philippines.”

Austal acquired its existing shipbuilding facility in the Philippines in 2011. In 2019 the company completed the expansion of this facility, which is located in Balamban. Austal is also offering the Philippine Navy (PN) an 83 m offshore patrol vessel (OPV) – based on the company’s 58 m Cape-class patrol boat – which it plans to build in the country if selected for the contract.

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