Antara seeks Rp 450 billion
in aid to revitalize business

State-owned news agency LKBN Antara is asking the government for a Rp 450 billion (US$41.5 million) bailout to in part modernize its business capabilities, a top executive says.

CEO Ahmad Muklis Yusuf said Friday the agency had submitted the proposal for the bailout funds to the State Ministry for State Enterprises, which oversees state companies.

“I have discussed the matter with the secretary of the minister for state enterprises, and the response was very positive,” Ahmad said without elaborating.

Under existing regulations, the ministry can propose that state money be injected into ailing state companies providing the House of Representatives approves.

Ahmad said the cash package, if approved, would be used mostly to revitalize and enhance the firm’s business performance, including by refurbishing its website.

“We are planning to become a content providing company and to enrich our website with multimedia content, and we need help from the government to carry this out,” he said, adding that Antara aimed to become an independent business entity by 2012.

At present, Antara — which provides news to media outlets — is operating at a financial loss.
“We only get around Rp 10 million each year from the media (for supplying news), while our yearly production cost is Rp 40 million,” he said.

Antara, he went on, had been suffering average annual losses of Rp 20 billion for the last five years.

Said Didu, secretary to the minister for state enterprises, said the office stood ready to support the development of the news agency and would process the proposal as soon as possible.

“Currently, the State Development Finance Comptroller is auditing Antara’s assets, and the government is assessing how much capital the company needs,” Said added.

According to Ahmad, Antara is currently also seeking funds from other sources, including bank loans. (dis)

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