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Ayala gets 'disruptive' with latest health investment

Philippine conglomerate buys into startup behind online pharmacy

MANILA -- Ayala Corp. has bought into a medical startup, adding some disruptive technology to its fledgling health care operations, the Philippine conglomerate said on Thursday.

Ayala Healthcare Holdings, an investment vehicle known as AC Health, took a minority stake in Wellbridge Health, which owns an online pharmacy business called MedGrocer, AC Health chief executive Paolo Borromeo said. The details of the deal are confidential, Borromeo added.

AC Health hopes "to seed disruptive health care solutions" that improve efficiency. "The investment of AC Health into MedGrocer fits well with both our pharmacy and health tech aspirations," Borromeo said.

MedGrocer's online platform enables buyers to compare drug prices and obtain detailed information on medications before ordering. The venture also caters to corporate clients.

AC Health's portfolio already includes retail pharmacy chain Generika, along with FamilyDOC, a chain of primary care clinics.

Generika has over 670 stores nationwide, while FamilyDOC has six clinics on the southern outskirts of Manila. By 2020, AC Health plans to expand Generika to 1,000 stores and FamilyDOC to 100 clinics.

Apart from health care, Ayala, the Philippines' oldest conglomerate, has also pushed into education, transport infrastructure, power generation and motorcycle manufacturing in recent years. It aims to ensure continued growth as its traditional businesses -- real estate, banking, telecommunications and water distribution -- mature.

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