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Phinma allots P3 B for school acquisitions

By Richmond S. Mercurio (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 29, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Investment firm Phinma Corp. is earmarking as much as P3 billion for potential acquisitions of schools in Metro Manila or Cebu to add to its network of tertiary institutions.

Phinma Education Network chief finance officer Daisy C. Montinola said the company is currently in talks with various schools in cities and in provinces for potential acquisitions.

 “If the opportunity presents itself, then we’ll grab it,” she said.

Montinola said the company is willing to spend as much as P3 billion to acquire a big school in metropolitan areas like Manila or Cebu. She said the budget being allocated for a potential buyout of a school in the provinces, meanwhile, is around P250 million to P500 million.

“The amount really depends on the location (of the school) and the number of students,” Montinola added.

Phinma Education Network chief Chito B. Salazar said the company is looking for prospects in Davao, Baguio City, Batangas and the Bicol region.

 “We continue to look for chances to add to our network of tertiary institutions focusing on the lower income markets,” Salazar said.

Phinma Education to date has four higher education schools that serve students from middle to lower income families around the country. Its network consists of Araullo University, Cagayan de Oro College, University of Pangasinan and University of Iloilo.

Aside from setting its sights on potential existing schools to buy, the company is also investing P150 million to put up a new campus in Urdaneta, Pangasinan by next year. The campus will be called Phinma UPang.

Phinma last month disclosed to the Philippine Stock Exchange its plan to launch a new school called Career Academy Asia (CAA) by next year in partnership with two Singaporean schools.

CAA will be a senior high school focused on specialized programs such as fashion design, graphic design and hospitality.

With its plans for aggressive expansion in its school network in the near term, Montinola said education business is expected to further increase its share in the bottom line of the company over the next two to three years.

At present, she said Phinma Education currently contributes for about 60 percent of Phinma Corp.’s earnings.

Phinma Education aims to grow its profits by 25 percent year-on-year to P200 million by the end of its fiscal year.

Salazar said the targeted growth in Phinma Education’s net income can be attainable despite reducing tuition fees over the past years.

 “We believe that making high quality education profitable and affordable are not two separate tasks, they are one and the same task. We provide what is most necessary for our students to learn, nothing more, nothing less,” Salazar said.

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