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KKR invests in Philippine higher education group
Transaction marks US firm’s first Global Impact investment in the Philippines
The Asset 22 May 2024

Global investment firm KKR is investing in a Philippine private group that provides affordable tertiary education to underserved youth.

The New York City-based firm, through its Global Impact Fund II, has agreed to invest an unspecified amount in Phinma Education Holdings, the education arm of Filipino conglomerate Phinma Corporation, with participation from existing shareholder Kaizenvest.  Phinma Corporation will remain the majority shareholder in Phinma Education.

Established in 2004, Phinma Education seeks to provide quality, affordable higher education to students from low-income families, equipping them with professional and vocational training that supports gainful employment.

Guided by Phinma’s mission to “Make Lives Better Through Education”, it is one of the largest private higher education groups in Southeast Asia, serving around 150,000 students through its fast-growing network of colleges and universities, including nine in the Philippines and one in Indonesia.

KKR has had a long history of investing in the Philippines across multiple asset classes and strategies, including private equity, infrastructure, and growth equity. But this transaction marks the firms' first investment in the country out of its Global Impact strategy, which invests in companies whose core business contributes meaningfully towards one or more of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Phinma Education’s mission directly contributes towards SDG 4 (quality education), KKR says.

Outside of Global Impact, KKR has invested across multiple themes in the Philippines, including digitalization and enablement of small and medium-scale enterprises (Maya, GrowSari, Voyager Innovations), healthcare (Metro Pacific Health), and infrastructure (Pinnacle Towers, First Gen).

Supporting management vision

“We will look to leverage KKR’s deep experience investing in education companies globally to support the management team’s vision to scale the company and become a leading education platform across Southeast Asia,” says George Aitken, KKR’s managing director and head of global impact for Asia-Pacific.

Chito Salazar, president and chief executive officer of Phinma Education, says KKR’s investment will support the group’s ability to scale its systems, enter new markets, and empower the youth to achieve their goals.

“While our network has grown significantly over time, there continues to be so many more prospective students to reach, existing students to help keep in school and so much more to do to make college education more accessible to those who need it most. We are fortunate, therefore, to have an investor of KKR’s quality to help us make the lives of the underserved youth in Southeast Asia better,” Salazar adds.

Phinma Education marks the latest education and workforce development investment by Global Impact. The fund has invested in EQuest Education, an education group in Vietnam with offerings covering K-12, edtech and vocational training; and Education Perfect, a learning, assessment, and analytics platform in Australia and New Zealand.

It has also invested in Graduation Alliance, which works with students of all ages through partnerships with educators, government agencies, community leaders, and employers to provide versatile pathways to graduation and employment in the United States; Lightcast, a provider of labour market analytics software that delivers real-time data and planning tools to educators in the US; and Master Distancia, a leading vocational education provider in Spain, Portugal and Italy.

Established in 1956, Phinma Corporation (Philippine Investment Management Consultants) is a Filipino conglomerate engaged in various businesses, including oil and gas, agriculture, steel and cement, energy, education, banking and finance, business process outsourcing, paper, insurance, housing and property development, hotels and hospitality, as well as business intelligence and consulting.

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