Unfazed by the coronavirus pandemic, the Manila-based Phinma group is proceeding with its expansion programme in the education sector, aiming to be the country’s largest affordable education provider.
This is while continuing to explore investments in other Southeast Asian countries, including Cambodia, Phinma Corp president and CEO Ramon del Rosario Jr told stockholders during their annual meeting last week.
The group is currently in discussions to invest in more educational institutions, particularly in Metro Manila and Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon), he said.
“We do have a very handsome investible fund kitty and we are looking at expansion both in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia,” said del Rosario.
To support its rapid business growth, the group last year entered into a partnership with Kaizenvest, Netherlands Development Finance Co, and Asian Development Bank involving the infusion of 1.875 billion pesos ($37.6 million) in new capital into Phinma Education to support local and offshore acquisitions and expansions.
Del Rosario said: “Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, these funds remain fully allocated to support acquisitions.”
Through Phinma Education Holdings Inc, the group has interest in seven tertiary education schools, the most recent of which was its acquisition of Republican College last year.
Despite the challenges faced by the private tertiary industry, the group’s freshmen enrolment grew by 24 per cent. As of school year 2019-2020, the group had a student population of 74,187 nationwide.
Last year, Phinma Education’s various schools posted a 100 per cent first-timers passing rate in 40 different licensure exams, Del Rosario reported. Since 2004, this unit has fielded 98 board exam topnotchers and 24,825 licensed professionals.
Elsewhere in the region, Phinma Education has likewise been growing its footprint.
In February last year, Phinma Education entered into a joint venture with an Indonesian educational institution to establish PT Ind Phil Management to manage tertiary schools in Indonesia.
Apart from growing its business in Indonesia, where Phinma sees high potential for growth, Del Rosario said the group was looking at the education space in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.
In Yangon, Myanmar, the group earlier set up Phinma Training Center in partnership with Victoria Hospital, one of the most technologically advanced hospitals in Myanmar’s biggest city. This venture started offering short nursing and health-care programmes for nursing assistants in 2017.
Phinma expects the rest of this year to be a significantly challenging year for the group, similar to most other businesses in the country and across the globe.
Del Rosario said: “We are hopeful, however, that our businesses can achieve modest growth in 2021, then eventually return to a more vigorous growth path.”
PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK