Two of the country’s richest school owners, the Ayala and Yuchengco families, are teaming up to merge their education units and create what could be one of the most innovative and technologically savvy school networks in the country.
In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) on January 9, listed conglomerate Ayala Corp. said that its subsidiary, AC Education Inc. (AEI) has signed a non-binding term sheet with iPeople Inc., the listed holding company for the education sector of House of Investments Inc., a member of the Yuchengco Group of Companies, for a potential merger.
“Under the non-binding term sheet, the parties agreed to an exclusivity period to complete due diligence, and to finalize the terms and conditions of the proposed merger within the first quarter of 2018,” the statement read.
iPeople, through its subsidiary Malayan Education System, Inc., operates one of the country’s top engineering and IT schools, Mapua University. The Yuchengcos acquired the 93-year-old institution in 1999 and has since expanded its operations to two branches under the brand Malayan Colleges. Like Mapua, Malayan Colleges Laguna and Malayan Colleges Mindanao also specialize in engineering and technical courses.
Ayala Corp.’s direct investment in education came about more recently, in 2014, when AEI began to build a chain of private high schools called Affordable Private Education Center Schools or APEC Schools. The institution offers Grade 7 to 12 following the K-12 curriculum. It now has 23 branches all over Metro Manila and some provinces in in Southern Luzon.
APEC was established in partnership with UK-based education and publishing company Pearson Plc. The institution is 60-percent owned by AEI and 40-percent owned by Pearson. Aside from APEC, AEI also acquired a 59-percent stake in University of Nueva Caceres in Naga City in 2015.
iPeople and AEI’s potential merger would bring together a population of 40,000 students. Both education groups are known for employing innovative technology and systems to deliver quality education at the least cost. APEC claims its all-in tuition fee is in the lowest fourth among all private schools in Metro Manila.
APEC says it employs progressive teaching methods developed in collaboration with Pearson to encourage active and collaborative learning. It offers full English immersion, technology-based learning system and employment readiness through its network of employer partners.
On the other hand, Mapua University is a world-ranked QS-3 star university and the school with the most Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Centers of Excellence in Engineering. Its subsidiary, Malayan Colleges Laguna, is the best board exam performing private school in the Southern Luzon region.
The Ayalas and Yuchengcos are among the country’s richest family-based business groups, according to a ranking by Forbes magazine. Jaime Zobel de Ayala, the family patriarch, was listed as the fifth richest person in the Philippines in 2017 with a net worth of $3.7 billion. Before his death in April 2017, Alfonso Yuchengco, who built the family fortune, was ranked by Forbes as the 32nd richest Filipino in 2016 with a net worth of $400 million. They are among eight Philippine rich-listers who also own schools.
Elyssa Christine Lopez is a staff writer of Entrepreneur PH. Follow her on Twitter @elyssalopz