Headlines

Sinar Mas owner is RI’s
richest man again, Bloomberg
finds

Billionaire Eka Tjipta Widjaja has once again exceeded the Hartono brothers as Indonesia’s wealthiest man, says the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Eka, who Bloomberg claims controls the world’s second-largest palm oil producer through Singapore-based Golden-Agri Resources, was reported to possess US$8.4 billion in total wealth and was ranked 139 on the index of the 200 richest people as of Sept. 13.

Budi and Michael Hartono, both heirs of the Djarum cigarette empire, were ranked 176 and 177, respectively. Their wealth reportedly amounted to $7.3 billion and $7.2 billion, respectively.

Besides Djarum, the brothers’ fortunes are also attributed to Indonesia’s largest private lender Bank Central Asia (BCA) as they are listed as the bank’s biggest shareholders through Mauritius-based Farindo Investments.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg shows that 90-year-old Eka holds a four-star confidence rating, which means that the majority of his fortune is held in publicly listed companies or private operations in a country, where transparent data is available.

“[But] the billionaire may hold shares through a holding company where ownership is not transparent. The billionaire or their representatives may provide insight on the net worth calculation,” the index says. The confidence rating ranges from one to five stars.

In Indonesia, Sinar Mas is considered one of the largest conglomerates, the main businesses of which include pulp and paper, agriculture, property and development, financial services, energy, infrastructure, and telecommunications.

Some of its companies are palm oil producer Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Technology, pulp and paper firm Asia Pulp and Paper Group, financial firm Sinar Mas Multiartha, property developer Sinar Mas Land, telecommunications provider Smartfren Telecom and power producer Dian Swastatika Sentosa.

Eka’s business record took a hit when Asia Pulp and Paper went into default with almost $14 billion in debts in 2001. His bank, Bank Internasional Indonesia, was taken over by the government in the same year as it failed to make its debtors, including Sinar Mas, pay off their loans.

Eka and Sinar Mas are also often the targets of environmentalists’ attacks, who claim that their operations are destructive to the environment.

Contacted separately, Sinar Mas Group spokesperson Gandi Sulistiyanto denied all results presented by the index, saying Eka was no longer involved in the group’s business and therefore could not be named one of the wealthiest businessmen.

“Besides, there is no such thing as a Sinar Mas holding company and we have never carried out a consolidated financial calculation. Each company is independent on its own and 13 of them are also owned by the public,” he said during a telephone interview on Monday.

However, he acknowledged the group’s pulp and paper division had the largest assets.

Two of Sinar Mas’ pulp and paper companies — Pabrik Kertas Tjiwi Kimia (TKIM) and Indah Kiat Pulp and Paper (INKP) — had $2.68 billion and $6.66 billion in total assets, respectively, as of June 2013, according to their latest financial reports.

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