Catholic Church has billions invested in BPI, Philex, San Miguel

James Ryan Jonas

For most of us, it’s a given that the Catholic Church is rich. Obvious proof of that are their sprawling acres of land, large Church-owned structures and buildings, and millions of pesos of cash collected from mass goers every week.

What a lot of people do not know, though, is that part of the Church’s wealth is its multi-billion peso investments in several Philippine companies. In fact, reports submitted to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) show that the Church and affiliate Catholic groups are top stockholders in companies such as the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), Philex Mining Corporation (PX), San Miguel Corporation (SMC), Ayala Corporation (AC), and Phinma Corporation (PHN), among others.

Philippine Church invested in banks, mining, construction, etc.

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila, for example, owns more than 300 million shares of BPI and is the bank’s 4th largest owner.

How much are these shares worth? As of May 2011, this is valued at more than P17 billion. Yes, that’s seventeen billion pesos, with a B.

Interestingly, aside from banking, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila (RCAM), together with its subsidiary hospitals and companies, is also invested in mining and construction.

As of March 31, 2011, the RCAM is the 15th top shareholder of Philex Mining Corporation (PX), the country’s largest mining firm. It owns 3.2 million shares of PX currently worth more than P66 million.

(Update August 22, 2011: Did the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila sell all its Philex shares to Manny Pangilinan?)

RCAM is also an investor in Concrete Aggregates Corp. (CA), a supplier of construction materials such as processed aggregates, ready mix concrete and crushed sand. Its investment in CA is currently valued at around P4.5 million.

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila is not the only diocese invested in Philippine stocks. Other dioceses with significant stock investments include:

  • Roman Catholic Bishop of Tuguegarao, Cagayan – owns 856,639 shares of SMC worth P94 million
  • Roman Catholic Bishop of Nueva Segovia de Vigan – owns 428,067 shares of SMC worth P47 million
  • Roman Catholic Archbishop of Jaro, Iloilo – owns 491,385 shares of BPI worth a total of P28 million
  • Roman Catholic Bishop of Tuguegarao, Cagayan – owns 24,015 shares of Ayala Corp worth P9.3 million

Affiliate Catholic groups also have huge investments in Philippine companies. More than P500 million pesos worth of San Miguel Corp (SMC)‘s shares, for example, are owned by three (3) Catholic groups:

  • El Superior de la Corporacion Filipina de Padres Agustinos Recoletos – 2.37 million shares worth P260.7 million
  • Superior de la Corporacion Archicofradia de N.P.J.N de Recoletos – 1.23 million shares worth P136 million
  • Carmel of the Divine Infant Jesus of Prague, Inc. – 957,000 shares worth P105 million

All this talk of the wealth of the Church is merely the tip of the iceberg since our compilation only includes the Church’s investments in PSE-traded firms. We do not know how much more is invested in private entities, in companies outside the Philippines, in bonds, in time deposit accounts, or in real estate properties.

Church should play more active role in educating its flock about finances

We understand that the Church has to invest money in various assets, including equities, in order to finance and sustain itself. This is actually good since this shows how financially-literate the Church is.

Here at PinoyMoneyTalk, our only call is for the Church to take an active role not just in shaping the morality of its flock but also in developing a more practical and productive attitude towards money and finance.

The weekly Sunday sermons should, therefore, include not just lessons about being morally upright. The Church should also convince mass goers to work and pursue livelihood and to not simply leave their fate to God (“Ipagpasa-Diyos niyo ang lahat ng inyong mga problema.”).

The Church should educate its people about the value of earning, saving, and investing money and should not condone Catholics who are already content in life even if they are penniless (“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven”).

More importantly, we urge the Catholic Church to play a more pivotal and proactive role in helping solve the ills of the country. The billions of pesos of investments (as seen in the table below) can go a long way in uplifting the lives of poor Filipino people who, admittedly, form the critical mass of supporters of the Catholic Church.

Yes, the Church is already doing its share by running hospitals and orphanages, by providing assistance to those who come to them for help, and by offering moral guidance. But with billions of pesos worth of assets that can even surpass the assets of the Philippine government, they can do more and should do more.

They owe it to the millions of Filipinos who donate their hard-earned cash every Sunday to the Church that religiously invests in stocks.

Stock Investments of Catholic Church and affiliate Catholic Groups


* Rank in Top 100 – rank in the Top 100 Stockholders of the Company, a report submitted by the company to the PSE

** Total Investment Value – peso value of total shares owned, as of May 27, 2011 closing prices

Source: Company reports submitted to the Philippine Stock Exchange

James Ryan Jonas teaches business management, investments, and entrepreneurship at the University of the Philippines (UP). He is also the Executive Director of UP Provident Fund Inc., managing and investing P3.2 Billion ($56.4 Million) worth of retirement funds on behalf of thousands of UP employees.