By Denise A. Valdez

PHINMA Corp. is planning an initial public offering (IPO) of its education unit in two to three years.

Ramon R. del Rosario, Jr., president and chief executive officer of the listed firm, told reporters last week that among the company’s plans down the line is listing Phinma Education Holdings, Inc. at the stock market.

“For now I think the funds available to us are adequate for our aspirations. But when the time comes, we are looking forward to listing Phinma Education Holdings and actually doing an IPO, and hopefully that will raise even more funds for us,” he said.

“(That’s in) two to three years, depending on market conditions,” Mr. del Rosario added.

He said Phinma Education is currently the group’s largest business in terms of assets deployed and investments made, as Phinma Corp. disposed of its energy business Phinma Energy Corp. to the Ayalas’ AC Energy, Inc. last year.

Phinma Education contributed P2 billion in the group’s consolidated revenues of P8.4 billion in the first nine months of 2019, higher by 9% year-on-year due to a record enrollment of 74,187 students. Phinma Corp.’s attributable net income during the period jumped 35% to P184.05 million.

“We’re in no real hurry. It’s just that there is an appetite for publicly listed education institutions, we are told. And we think we could use the additional capital if we are successful in expanding our network the way we’re thinking of doing,” Mr. del Rosario said.

The company was able to raise P2.2 billion from local and foreign investors including India’s Kaizen Private Equity II Pte. Ltd., the Netherlands Development Finance Co. (FMO) and the Asian Development Bank. This will be used to expand Phinma Education’s network in the Philippines and abroad, with concrete plans in Indonesia and Laguna for the coming months.

In order to consider the timing ripe for Phinma Education’s IPO, Mr. del Rosario said the company will look for strong enrollment numbers such that the gaps due to the K-12 system have been filled up, and that the overall economy of the Philippines is stable.

Over time, Mr. del Rosario said Phinma Corp. may also consider listing its cement business, Philcement Corp., as it targets to increase its market share to about 10-15% in the next five years.

“Education and construction materials will be the main drivers for our group, supported by property development and hospitality,” he said. “We are serious in the way we’re doing that and investing in strategic facilities.”

Shares in Phinma Corp. at the stock exchange ticked three centavos or 0.30% up to P9.97 apiece on Friday.