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Ayala to infuse P4B in health care businesses

/ 04:59 AM March 18, 2019

The Ayala conglomerate is investing up to P4 billion this year to deepen its involvement in the health care space by expanding its network of pharmacies and grassroots-based primary care clinics, harnessing digital technology and going into the specialty hospital business.

“Our strategy is to build a health care ecosystem where you have front-line access to the patients,” Ayala Healthcare Holdings Inc. (AC Health) chief executive Paolo Borromeo said in an interview with Inquirer on Friday.

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The P4-billion capital outlay includes the budget for the expansion of its existing businesses like Generika and FamilyDoc, investments in prospective acquisitions such as hospitals and pharmacies and “greenfield,” or build-from-scratch opportunities.

“Hospital is an important part of that care continuum but it’s important to first build that front-line care or access and then you build the hub. In our case, we are targeting to have 1,000 beds—and that’s a modest target—by 2022,” Borromeo said.

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Borromeo said AC Health, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ayala Corp., had a “strong pipeline” of hospital acquisitions.

He said about six to eight existing hospital groups were on its horizon. “We continue to monitor the Medical City situation very closely and we remain very interested to partner with their medical leadership but we just have to see how the situation (internal shareholder squabble) unfolds,” he said.

AC Health is also awaiting what affiliate Ayala Land Inc. and its partner Mercado group intend to do with startup hospital chain QualiMed. AC Health is interested to either partner with QualiMed or take over the portfolio.

AC Health also plans to build brand-new specialty hospitals, or those that will specialize in certain fields, for instance oncology or cardiology. Each hospital would be modest in size, possibly offering only 100 beds, but “innovative” and “game-changing,” Borromeo said. This year, AC Health may be able to finalize plans and start building the first of those specialty hospitals.

Also part of the firm’s strategy is to scale up its pharmaceutical retailing footprint.

Based on World Health Organization standards, three beds are needed for every 1,000 people, which means the country needs 300,000 beds or around 3,000 hospitals, assuming an average capacity of 100 beds. To date, the country has only 100,000 beds from both public and private hospitals, or a backlog of around 200,000 beds or 2,000 hospitals.

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