By Victor V. Saulon, Sub-Editor
THE chairman of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) is looking at hospitals in Mindanao for possible acquisitions, while awaiting the resolution of the ownership dispute within The Medical City, a hospital he is keen to acquire.
“We’re really interested in Medical City,” MPIC Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan told reporters on Tuesday after the media briefing of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), a company he also chairs.
“We’re also looking at several hospitals in Mindanao, in Butuan,” he added.
Mr. Pangilinan said he had talked with the opposing camps within The Medical City, both of whom he personally knows.
“That particular battle we have to wait kung ano’ng mangyayari doon (on what will be the outcome),” he said.
He said it is difficult at present to weigh in on the fight between the hospital’s major owners — Dr. Alfredo R.A. Bengzon, the company’s chief executive officer, and Jose Xavier B. Gonzales, its director and treasurer.
Dr. Bengzon had alleged that Mr. Gonzales was plotting a hostile takeover of the hospital with the help of a Singapore-based equity partner.
The Medical City is described in its website as having a growing health care network with its main health care complex along Ortigas Ave. in Pasig City. It has hospitals in Clark, Iloilo, Laguna and Pangasinan, as well as at least 40 clinics in Metro Manila and some provinces.
Mr. Pangilinan described The Medical City as “the last remaining major hospital in Metro Manila.”
“We know that St. Luke’s [Hospital] will never be for sale,” he said.
He said he has known Mr. Gonzales since the ’70s as the son of the former Philippine consul general in Hong Kong who is the sister of Dr. Bengzon, a former Health secretary. Mr. Pangilinan was the top executive of the First Pacific group and was based in Hong Kong.
Mr. Pangilinan said while he was on the board of Ateneo de Manila University, Dr. Bengzon was the Dean of the Ateneo Graduate School of Business.
MPIC’s health care segment relates to operations and management of hospitals and nursing colleges under Metro Pacific Hospital Holdings, Inc. (MPHHI) and subsidiaries.
Its hospital group comprises of full-service hospitals and a mall-based diagnostic and surgical center. It is the largest private provider of premier hospital services in the Philippines.
MPHHI’s portfolio includes Makati Medical Center, Cardinal Santos Medical Center, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Asian Hospital, De Los Santos Medical Center, Manila Doctors Hospital, Marikina Valley Medical Center Inc., and Dr. Jesus C. Delgado Memorial Hospital.
In other parts of the country, the company has interest in Davao Doctors Hospital, Riverside Medical Center in Bacolod, Central Luzon Doctors Hospital in Tarlac, West Metro Medical Center in Zamboanga, Sacred Heart Hospital of Malolos, Inc. in Bulacan and St. Elizabeth Hospital, Inc. in General Santos City.
MPIC is one of three Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT, Inc. Meralco’s controlling stakeholder, Beacon Electric Asset Holdings, Inc., is partly owned by PLDT.
Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls.
By Victor V. Saulon, Sub-Editor