Star Shines So Bright in Indonesia

Star Shines So Bright in Indonesia
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Rising commodity prices and savvy dealmaking have made it a huge year for Indonesia's wealthiest. More than half are billionaires.

Despite recent volcanic activity, Indonesia's star is shining bright. Its stock index has outperformed those of all other major Asian economies, up more than 50% in dollar terms so far this year. Only Mongolia's and Sri Lanka's markets did better. No surprise then that the country's richest enjoyed big gains. Their total worth surged to $71 billion, up from $42 billion last year, hitting an all-time record.

In another first, more than half of the top 40 are billionaires, up from last year's dozen. The Hartono brothers retain the top spot for the second year in a row with a net worth of $11 billion. They inherited clove cigarette maker Djarum from their father, but these days get the bulk of their wealth from Bank Central Asia, the country's largest bank, which returned to the ranks of the Forbes Fab 50 this year.

Behind them is Susilo Wonowidjojo, the year's biggest dollar gainer, worth $8 billion, up from $2.6 billion. His family still gets the bulk of their wealth from Gudang Garam, the country's largest clove cigarette maker. Sixteen of the 21 billionaires made their fortunes in coal or palm oil.

We were able to identify seven new entrants, worth a total of over $8 billion. Several, including Kiki Barki of coal miner Harum Energy, debut thanks to recent initial public offerings, of which Indonesia was one of the most ­active markets in Asia. He is one of five coal tycoons to make their first appearance on this top 40 list.

The richest of all newcomers is Sri Prakash Lohia, a native Indian who is now an Indonesian citizen and controls Indonesia's largest polyester manufacturer, Indorama Synthetics. His brother Ashoke, who is based in Thailand, is also a billionaire, as is his brother-in-law Lakshmi Mittal, who is Asia's second-richest citizen but lives in London, where the Indonesian Lohia too has a home.

It was also a notable year for deal-making for Indonesia's richest. Chairul Tanjung, for instance, bought a 40% stake in Carrefour's Indonesian operations for $300 million. Peter Sondakh's Rajawali sold its stake in cement firm Semen Gresik for $1.1 billion. The Bakrie family announced a $3 billion deal with Europe's Rothschild family, in which it traded shares in its coal outfit for a stake in London-listed Vallar.

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