Metro Pacific Hospital Holdings Inc., the hospital unit of conglomerate Metro Pacific Investment Corp., expressed interest to acquire a stake in The Medical City.
Metro Pacific chairman Manuel Pangilinan said his company was in talks with both camps involved in the ownership battle at TMC, a world-class healthcare organization serving around 40,000 inpatients and 400,000 outpatients annually.
“Yes, [we are talking to both of them],” Pangilinan said when asked which camp he was in talks with for the acquisition.
TMC is embroiled in an ownership issue between TMC chairman Jose Xavier Gonzales and his uncle, former health secretary Alfredo Bengzon.
“They’re in the middle of a serious legal battle…It’s deep into the fight between Dr. Bengzon and Eckie. We don’t know if other shareholders are willing to buy their shares. So we have to wait for the outcome, what will happen. We remain interested in Medical City,” Pangilinan said.
Pangilinan said he has known Gonzales since 1977 in Hong Kong while Bengzon was a colleague in Ateneo de Manila University, where Bengzon served as the dean of the Ateneo Professional Schools.
“We are friendly to both... Yes, we could buy the foreign stake,” he said. He said Metro Pacific has yet to conduct due diligence on TMC.
Pangilinan said he was hoping the dispute would be settled soon to protect the interest of the public.
“We’re just bystanders. It’s a very interesting situation. For whatever reason and by whatever means, I hope it is settled. It is not an ordinary company. It is a major hospital in the city. Its mission is to promote the well-being of the people. I hope the SEC and so forth would resolve the issue. You know the welfare of the people is at stake,” Pangilinan said.
TMC’s primary hospital is located in Ortigas, Pasig City which has about 800 beds being served by about 1,500 physicians. The TMC network is composed of the Ortigas flagship healthcare complex, four provincial hospitals and 35 clinic sites in Metro Manila and selected provinces.
Bengzon’s camp filed a case with the Securities and Exchange Commission against Gonzales and the Clermont Group. Bengzon’s camp alleged that Gonzales entered into an alleged “anomalous” corporate deal with Clermont of Singapore.
Gonzales and Clermont claimed to have a combined 54-percent stake in TMC.
Pangilinan said a stake in TMC would expand MPIC’s hospital footprint, which currently includes Makati Medical Center (33 percent), Cardinal Santos Medical Center (100 percent), Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital (100 percent), Asian Hospital and Medical Center (86 percent), De Los Santos Medical Center (51 percent), Manila Doctors Hospital (20 percent), Mega Clinic (51 percent), Marikina Valley Medical Center (93 percent) and Delgado Memorial Hospital (65 percent).
MPIC also owns hospitals in Malolos, Tarlac, Davao, General Santos and Zamboanga.
St. Luke’s Medical Center and TMC are the only major hospitals in Metro Manila where MPIC has no stakes. “We know St. Luke’s will never be for sale. It’s [TMC] the last remaining major hospital in Metro Manila,” Pangilinan said in explaining his interest to acquire TMC.
Pangilinan said Metro Pacific was also looking at several hospitals in Mindanao.
It expressed interest to invest in more hospitals to expand the chain with a target of 5,000 beds and better coverage. MPIC currently has more than 3,000 hospital beds.