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The Price of Faith: Chinese Buddhist Sites Plan IPOs

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on September 28, 2012

STR / AFP / Getty Images

STR / AFP / GETTY IMAGES
Shaolin monks perform for visitors on Oct. 24, 2010. The temple makes millions every year from entrance fees and online sales of Shaolin items

In China today, there’s little that money can’t buy — even when it comes to faith. Many of the country’s most popular Buddhist sites are chock-full of cure-all tonics and overpriced incense. For the most part, people seem happy, or at least willing, to oblige. That changed this summer, though, when it emerged that China’s four most sacred Buddhist mountains were hatching plans to list on the Shanghai stock exchange.

In July, Mount Putuo Tourism Development Co. announced it would attempt to raise 7.5 billion yuan in a 2014 initial public offering. The company operates the tourist facilities at Putuo Shan, located on an island 20 miles (32 km) off Shanghai. Chinese state media quoted representatives of Wutai Shan in Shanxi province and Jiuhua Shan in Anhui province as saying they too had plans to raise funds on the capital markets. The fourth of China’s sacred mountains, Emei Shan in Sichuan province, completed a public listing in Shenzhen in 1997, under the incredibly auspicious ticker symbol “888.” Read the rest of this entry »

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