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Lopez Group expands into education

The Lopez Group is diversifying into new businesses, including healthcare and education, top executives said Monday.

First Philippine Holdings Corp., an investment company under the Lopez Group, acquired a 68-percent  stake in Asian Eye Institute and set up a senior high school program that offers vocational training, according to FPHC president Francis Giles Puno.

“We have also acquired majority stake in Asian Eye Institute and are developing new strategies to reimagine healthcare and wellness beyond current investments,” Puno said after the stockholders’ meeting.

FPHC chairman and chief executive Federico Lopez said the company was investing in healthcare as a part of its transition. “We felt we needed a new platform to address the new ways of healthcare practices. The Asian Eye will be a very good base for us to be able to do that,” Lopez said. 

The company is spending about P100 million in Asian Eye Institute and between P100 and P200 million in education this year, executives said.

FPHC has interests in key industries such as energy, property, construction and energy services.  It recently took over Asian Eye Institute, a world-class eye care center and the only ambulatory health facility in the Philippines with international health care accreditation.

It was established in 2001 and currently serves 60,000 patients annually. It provides a full range of specialized eye services using some of the most advanced technologies in the world.

“As a company anchored on wellness in all its forms, we are excited about developing a healthcare platform and creating impact in that space,” Puno said.

FPHC senior vice president Joaquin Quintos said  eye care was largely an unserved area.  He said with Asia Eye Institute now controlled by FPHC, expansion in the sector would be accelerated.

“There’s a huge case of blindness in the country, particularly in cataract, non-reversible…With FPH backing, it will accelerate expansion. We’re in various malls in Metro Manila. We just set up our new surgical center in Batangas,” Quintos said.

FPHC also recently launched First School, a senior high school program that offers vocational training to complement the needs of the locators at the First Philippine Industrial Park.

“First School has a unique model of eduction through a dual experimental system, where students are trained and equipped with the latest technologies and be given the opportunity to work with leading industrial companies located in our industrial park after they graduate,” Puno said.

Quintos said locators at the industrial park were looking at employing the graduates of the program.

“The intent as a technical vocational school is right after they graduate Grade 12, they are ready to be employed by the locators,” Quintos said.

Puno said graduates from the program would serve the needs of the industrial parks.

“The industrial park is very important for the country. Obviously, locators who invest in the country through industrial parks has increased manufacturing base and we visit our locators in the industrial park, there are a lot of jobs that are available. The school is important because it fills the requirements of all the locators of the park,” Puno said.

Puno said FPHC planned to expand the program to other industrial parks.

“This year is sort of a test case, but the motivation is to help the Philippine growth,” he said.

FPHC chairman and chief executive Federico Lopez said there was a need to “bridge the gap between the jobs and the skills.”

“We find that we’re able to do this if we collaborate with the locators closely.  There’s a big need on their part but we have to be able to refine the skills of the Filipino workers,” Lopez said.

Topics: Lopez Group , First Philippine Holdings Corp. , Francis Giles Puno , Federico Lopez
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