THE EDUCATION UNIT of Phinma Corp. has invested P449 million to buy a controlling stake in a Laguna-based college to beef up its portfolio.

In a disclosure to the exchange on Monday, the company said Phinma Education Holdings, Inc. has closed a share and asset purchase agreement with Rizal College of Laguna, Inc. on July 31.

Phinma Education bought 300 shares representing 100% of Rizal College’s outstanding shares at P1.5 million each, resulting in a total investment of P448.76 million.

“The investment of Phinma Education in Rizal College of Laguna will strengthen its position in the education industry,” it said.

Rizal College offers junior high school, various tracks for senior high school and undergraduate courses in education, business administration, office administration and industrial technology.

It is now the eighth school in Phinma Education’s portfolio of colleges and universities across the Philippines. The others are Phinma-Araullo University, Phinma-Cagayan de Oro College, Phinma-University of Iloilo, Phinma-University of Pangasinan and Phinma Upang College of Urdaneta, Phinma-Saint Jude College, Phinma-Republican College and Southwestern University-Phinma.

Phinma Education started operating schools in 2004 and remains bullish to invest in the sector. It generated P2.2 billion from local and foreign investors earlier this year to support the growth of the business both in the Philippines and abroad.

Aside from local schools, Phinma Education operates one school in Indonesia and a training institution in Myanmar. It said in February it was keen on tapping new markets in both countries and entering Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

Phinma Education made up P814 million of its parent’s P3.08 billion revenues in the first quarter, up 12% year on year. The Phinma group’s attributable net income grew 22% to P91.6 million.

In February, Phinma President and CEO Ramon R. del Rosario, Jr. said the group was considering a public listing of Phinma Education in two to three years, noting it is Phinma’s largest business in terms of assets deployed and investments made.

Phinma also has investments in construction, property, hospitality and consulting businesses. It recently sold its energy business to the Ayalas’ AC Energy, Inc.

Shares in Phinma at the stock exchange shed one centavo or 0.11% to P8.99 each on Monday. — Denise A. Valdez