A number of state and private companies are exploring the possibility of forming a consortium to purchase a stake in the Bakrie family’s most valuable company and the world’s largest exporter of thermal coal, PT
State miners PT Tambang Batubara Bukit Asam (PTBA), PT Aneka Tambang (Antam) and PT Timah are in serious talks to seek a way of acquiring some 35 percent of the family’s Bumi stake, estimated at Rp 14 trillion (US$1.42 billion).
Antam corporate secretary Bimo Budi Satriyo told The Jakarta Post Thursday some of the state firms involved were still studying the plan, and no progress had been reached thus far.
“This is not going to be an easy decision. We want to make sure the purchase will benefit the companies. We also need to seek sources of funding,” he said.
When asked about the exact time for the arrangement, Bimo said it depended on PTBA, which was the most active in trying to secure the stake as it bids to add its coal reserves into the firm’s portfolio.
PTBA executives could not be reached for comment.
State enterprises minister Soyfan Djalil said the deal would be based on a business-to-business agreement, and the government would not interfere, other than by approving the deal.
“The state firms need to team up with the private sector to acquire the stake because the cost will be huge. This is a strategic decision for the companies to take. We will not interfere,” he said.
The powerful Bakrie family, headed by none other than Coordinating Minister for the People’s Welfare Aburizal Bakrie, is being forced to sell assets to help settle financial obligations to a number of creditors.
The family’s flagship PT Bakrie & Brothers, the nation’s largest publicly listed investment company, borrowed $1.43 billion in short-term loans between April and September from, among others, Oddickson Finance, JPMorgan, and India’s ICICI Bank for refinancing, funding investment and working capital.
Shares in Bakrie units were put up as collateral, including in Bumi, plantation firm PT Bakrie Sumatra Plantation and energy firm PT Energy Mega Persada, whose subsidiary Lapindo Brantas sparked the massive mudflow disaster in Sidoarjo, East Java, in 2006.
But the plunge in the value of the shares following the global financial downturn has sharply slashed the collateral value, forcing Bakrie to either pump in fresh capital or face the risk of losing control of the pledged shares.
On Oct. 12, Bakrie & Brothers offered investors shares in its units to help raise some $1.2 billion to repay its debts.
Bakrie announced late Thursday it had completed the first phase of the offering.
Avenue Luxembourg SARL has taken an additional 15 percent stake worth $46 million in PT Bakrieland Development, and Longines Offshore Co. Ltd., through the Royal Bank of Scotland, has purchased a 5.6 percent stake worth $10 million in PT Bakrie Sumatra Plantation.
Bakrie also announced that negotiations with a domestic consortium interested in buying PT Bakrie Telecom were still underway, as well as a discussion with a number of local and foreign strategic buyers for Bumi.
Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) president director Erry Firmansyah said three Bakrie companies would be allowed to resume trading on Friday, as they were expected to submit a complete disclosure of the ongoing stake offerings.
“We need to know how the restructuring process is being settled and who the buyers are. We will not lift the suspension until there is a clear disclosure,” he said, refusing to name the firms set to resume trading.
Besides its prominent role at the helm of the country’s biggest business empire, the Bakrie family is also politically powerful, having helped finance President Susilo Bambang’s campaign in the 2004 presidential campaign. (iwp)
Ika Krismantari, The Jakarta Post