Indonesian Companies Cash-in Booming

Indonesian Companies Cash-in Booming
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State-owned Garuda Airlines and Krakatau Steel are among a clutch of Indonesian firms planning public offerings as investors clamor to gain a foothold in Southeast Asia's emerging giant.

Foreigners have been pouring money into the region's biggest economy, which was largely unaffected by the global financial crisis due to strong domestic demand and limited reliance on wobbly Western export markets.

The Jakarta Composite Index has soared threefold from its low in October 2008, hitting historic highs as the country's improving prospects continued to attract foreign capital, dealers said.

"Stable economic and political conditions in Indonesia continue to be attractive to international investors," Sucorinvest Central Gani analyst Gifar Indra Sakti said.

The World Economic Forum's 2010-11 Global Competitiveness Index rankings, released this month, showed Indonesia as the third biggest mover, up 10 notches to 44th place.

A survey of business leaders from 523 companies by UK Trade and Investment and the Economist Intelligence Unit, published last week, put Indonesia fourth behind China, Vietnam and India as a destination for investment capital over the next two years.

"As (Asia's) third-fastest growing economy, with huge upside potential for our markets, Indonesia is one of those exciting growth stories and our companies are increasingly receiving wider access to financing," Indonesia Coordinating Investment Board chief Gita Wirjawan said.

Foreign direct investment in the archipelago of 240 million people -- the fourth biggest country in the world by population -- soared 53 percent on-year to 35.6 trillion rupiah (four billion dollars) in the April-June period, official figures show.

But analysts said concerns about corruption and the rule of law made equities -- rather than direct investments in plant and infrastructure -- a more attractive entry point.

Around 20 local companies will have raised more than five billion dollars on the sharemarket by the end of the year if current plans come to fruition. Many say they want to pay off debt and cash up for expansion.

Fourth-ranked lender Bank Negara Indonesia is targeting 10 trillion rupiah in a December rights issue, while another state-owned bank, PT Bank Mandiri, is marketing a 14-trillion-rupiah issue in the same month.

Indofood Sukses Makmur is expecting to raise about 700 million dollars from offering 20 percent of its subsidiary PT Indofood CBP in October.

State-owned Krakatau Steel, the country's biggest steel producer, aims to list in November.

"Hopefully we can get fresh funds up to 600 million dollars. We plan to use the funds to expand our business and modernize our machinery," Krakatau president director Fazwar Bujang said.

Another state-owned enterprise, flag carrier Garuda, wants to raise around 300 million dollars to strengthen its capital structure and help fund six new Airbus A330-200 aircraft valued at 1.15 billion dollars.

The airline -- which was on an EU safety blacklist from 2007 to 2009 -- has announced aggressive expansion plans, codenamed "Quantum Leap", running through to 2014.

Equities are seen as the easiest way to get into the Indonesian market, with investors regularly citing legal uncertainty, chronic corruption and poor infrastructure as obstacles to direct investment in the mainly Muslim country.

In a major review of Indonesia's financial stability, the International Monetary Fund warned last week that foreign investors would be cautious until more is done to fight corruption and improve the rule of law.

"Lingering concerns over weak enforcement of the rule of law, transparency, and governance issues weigh on market perceptions. Addressing these weaknesses should be a priority," it said.

Source: AFP

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