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Jakarta Post

Owner does not always deserve to be boss: Hary

  • Raras Cahyafitri

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, April 1, 2014   /  12:57 pm
Owner does not always deserve to be boss: Hary

Bambang Hary Iswanto Tanoesoedibjo. JP/Ricky Yudhistira

Media magnate Bambang Hary Iswanto Tanoesoedibjo, 48, who is widely known as Hary Tanoe, is adamant that becoming a majority shareholder in his business empire does not necessarily mean that his family should be in charge of the business.

Hary, a father of five, may have told his children not to expect to claim an executive space on the 28th floor of the MNC tower simply because they belong to the Tanoesoedibjo family.

'€œMy children will inherit my ownership. That'€™s for sure. However, who continues my leadership will be someone with competence,'€ said Hary, who is popularly referred to by his initials HT, especially during this year'€™s presidential race in which Hary hopes to run for vice president on the Hanura Party ticket.

'€œIf they [the children] want it, they have to learn. My oldest daughter is now at the Channel [MNC Channel '€” an MNC Group unit operating in the content business]. She is learning how to do programming, marketing and other operations,'€ he said.

Hary'€™s MNC Group operates in various business sectors, yet its media lineup is among its biggest assets. There are currently seven companies under the MNC Group, which is listed on the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) with total market capitalization of about Rp 108 trillion (US$9.6 billion) as of the end of March 28.

Under the MNC flag, Hary has biggest share of the free-to-air market with three television stations, namely RCTI, MNCTV and Global TV. The group also has three pay television networks, which are Indovision, Okevision and Top TV. Cable TV network Sindo TV is now expanding.

The group also owns Koran Sindo newspaper and There is also another Internet gateway called

Other businesses under the group operate in the financial sector, energy and infrastructure.

Hary'€™s current portfolio began with investment firm PT Bhakti Investments, which Hary established in 1989 in Surabaya to initially focus solely on capital-market related activities. It moved its headquarters to Jakarta in 1990, changed its name to PT Bhakti Investama and entered the stock trading business in 1997.

Bhakti Investama, which was said to have been an investment vehicle of prominent American fund manager George Soros, expanded its business after moving to Jakarta through a number of corporate moves, particularly acquisitions.

In 2000, Bhakti Investama, operating under the new name of MNC Investama, acquired a majority stake in PT Bimantara Citra, a holding company once controlled by Bambang Trihatmodjo, the second eldest son of former president Soeharto. Bhakti has gradually increased its stake in Bimantara since then.

Bimantara, which has been renamed PT Global Mediacom, owns a majority stake in RCTI, the flagship of Hary'€™s business portfolio. Meanwhile, Bambang officially left his position as a commissioner in 2012.

'€œMNC Group has grown very well and we only need to strengthen it. I want to emphasize that MNC Group won'€™t expand into all sectors. Each business group must have its own focus,'€ Hary said.

Media, property, financial services and infrastructure are Hary'€™s top picks for his business focus.

Hary still holds key positions in companies under his business group either as president director or president commissioner, but in the past four years he has limited his role to only a '€œpolicymaker'€ and left all operational matters to his subordinates.

'€œI only need 10 to 15 minutes to roll out policies to the board of directors. They need days to implement them. I'€™m now at the managing, not operating, level. This is how an organization must be built,'€ he said.

Thus, he is now able to dedicate time to political activities with presidential hopeful Wiranto, who is the Hanura Party chairman and former Indonesian Military commander.

Hary'€™s achievements have not been trouble free. In October last year, shares in MNC Investama (BHIT), Global Mediacom (BMTR) and parent company PT Media Nusantara Citra (MNCN) were briefly suspended following a Supreme Court ruling on the ownership of one of the television station.

The court ruled in favor of Siti Hardiyanto Rukmana, aka Mbak Tutut, over the ownership of MNC TV. Tutut, the eldest child of the late Soeharto, claimed that Hary '€” through a company called Berkah Karya Bersama '€” had illegally taken over the television station, which was previously named TPI, in 2005.

Berkah has appealed the Supreme Court ruling.

Hary said that whatever the result of the appeal, it would not affect MNCN'€™s ownership as the company purchased a stake in TPI in 2006 before the ownership dispute happened. Tutut took legal action against Berkah in 2010.

The case has complicated the relationship between Hary and the Soeharto family, which is also known as the Cendana family.

'€œI have no hard feeling toward them,'€ Hary said. '€œI have no relations with Cendana except that I bought Bimantara from Pak Bambang.'€

Another low point of his carrier was when he lost his telecommunication business line. In 2009, Hary, through BHIT, decided to divest its ownership in CDMA-based telecommunication operator PT Mobile-8 Telecom, the main products of which were branded FREN. The company was sold to another business group, Sinarmas, and then merged with another company and is now called PT Smartfren Telecom.

'€œI established FREN and for some reason it did not do well. I sold it at a huge loss. However, I was not traumatized. It was a lesson for me to do better in the future,'€ said Hary, who spends his free time exercising, such as jogging, body lifting, doing Muay Thai and swimming, to keep fit.

Notwithstanding, Hary still uses a mobile telephone number whose numeral digits are the same as FREN'€™s, as seen on his business card.

'€œ[Mobile-8 FREN] had no idea how to compete in the cellular market, took the wrong strategy and then ended in a mess. That'€™s why if I'€™m looking for a person to continue my business, I need to look that person'€™s integrity and competency,'€ he added.

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