Gokongweis to become 2nd biggest stockholder of BPI | Inquirer Business

Gokongweis to become 2nd biggest stockholder of BPI

/ 04:02 PM January 06, 2023

The Gokongwei Group is edging out the Roman Catholic Church to become the second-biggest shareholder of Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) after agreeing to acquire a P20-billion stake in the banking giant from a Singaporean sovereign wealth fund.

Gokongwei-led Robinsons Retail Holdings Inc. said on Friday its board had approved the purchase of a 4.4-percent BPI stake from Arran Investment Pte. Ltd., an affiliate of Singapore’s GIC Private Ltd.

The group will also take another 6-percent stake in BPI after the country’s third-biggest lender completes a P27-billion merger with Robinsons Bank.


The Gokongwei group will then own 10.4 percent of BPI, larger than the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila’s 7.3 percent stake and just behind the controlling Ayala Group and affiliates, led by the Zobel family.


Robinsons Retail said on Friday the investment was beneficial since it will open business opportunities between the vast client and supplier bases of the two family-led groups.

The listed supermarket and speciality store operator will also receive a “steady stream of dividends from one of the largest and most profitable banks in the country.”

“We envision Robinsons Retail to become a leading retailer with excellent financial products for customers and suppliers alike – and the partnership with BPI simply accelerates this aspiration,” Robinson Retail CEO and president Robina Gokongwei-Pe said in a statement.

“We expect to generate more value by combining BPI’s premium banking ecosystem with the consumer-oriented ecosystem of Robinsons Retail, complemented further by our digital businesses,” she added.

BPI became the country’s first bank when it was established during Spain’s colonial rule in 1851 as El Banco Español Filipino de Isabel II.

It is one of the biggest lenders in the Philippines today with 9.1 million depositors and total assets of P2.5 trillion as of September last year.


Once the merger is completed this year, the Gokongwei family conglomerate JG Summit Holdings Inc. will own 3.6 percent of BPI while Robinsons Retail will own 2.4 percent. The additional investment via the Arran shares will bump up Robinsons Retail’s stake to 6.8 percent of BPI.

“Prospects are good for the banking sector as a recovering cyclical [segment]. On top of the increased loan demand, the high interest rate environment is benefitting their [net interest margin] as well,” Gabryle D. Aguila, head of equity research at stock brokerage house Unicapital Securities Inc. told the Inquirer on Friday.

He said the Gokongwei family has also been an active investor in other large companies.

JG Summit is one of the biggest stockholders in telco giant PLDT Inc., where it owns an 11.23-percent stake, and Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), where it owns a 26-percents stake.

Last July, the Gokongwei conglomerate sold a P12.4-billion block of Meralco shares to boost its investment war chest and strengthen its balance sheet.

“I think the additional 4.4 percent [BPI acquisition] is a synergistic placement post the BPI-Robinson’s bank merger,” Aguila noted.

Apart from BPI, the Gokongwei Group owns GoTyme, a digital bank venture with multinational financial group Tyme.

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BPI shares rose P0.8 percent to P100.60 each on Friday. Robinsons Retail also added 1.33 percent to P57.25 while JG Summit shed 1.19 percent to P53.75 per share.

TAGS: BPI, Gokongweis, merger

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