Phinma Education plans IPO by 2017 at earliest

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PHINMA Education Network (PEN), the education arm of listed parent firm Phinma Corp., said it is preparing for an initial public offering (IPO) in 2017 to generate alternative funding for aggressive expansion.

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Chito Salazar, PEN president and chief executive officer, told The Manila Times on Tuesday the company’s maiden public offer will be in “2017 at the earliest or 2020 at the latest.”

“For the IPO, [we wanted]to realize some returns on our investments and to build up capital for possible opportunities,” Salazar said.

“We do intend to eventually go public in order to raise more funds,” he said.

The company recently acquired Cebu-based Southwestern University (SWU) for P1.9 billion. It still has P1.1 billion for expansion projects in the next three years.

It has been scouting for potential acquisitions such as schools in Metro Manila and Davao. Some of its plans include launching a high-end senior high school Career Academy Asia in June and setting up nursing and hospitality schools in Myanmar.

Salazar said the company’s expansion plan in the next three years would serve as “a huge potential and a great tradition we intend to uphold.”

“Essentially, while this is where we are focusing on now, we hope to have a presence in other parts of Southeast Asia as well,” Salazar said.

Phinma Corp. purchased a 56.83 percent stake in SWU, including the Sacred Heart Hospital and 240 hectares of land in Cebu. SWU will be placed under its subsidiary PEN, and allow it to enter the mid-income education market.

Salazar said they are not only looking at raising equity from the IPO but also to take advantage of the “low interest regime” in the debt market. Funds to be raised may either come from loan facilities or a bond issuance, he said.

“Right now, because of the low interest regime, we intend to mix our funding sources for the projects — debt and equity,” Salazar said.

Incorporated in 1957, Phinma Corp. is a holding firm chaired by Oscar Hilado, who also chairs Trans-Asia Oil and Energy Development Corp.

The parent firm’s businesses includes manufacturing of galvanized and pre-painted iron sheets (Union Galvasteel Corp.); business process outsourcing for animation services, education (Phinma Education Network), real estate development and real property investment (Phinma Property Holdings Inc.).

Under its education unit PEN, Phinma operates four schools: Phinma Araullo University, Phinma Cagayan de Oro College Inc., Phinma University of Pangasinan, and Phinma University of Iloilo.

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