06 November 2008
Bakrie -- Will They or Won't They?
The Indonesian Stock Exchange (IDX) announced on Wednesday (5/11) that they were going to lift the suspension on trade that had been in effect on PT Bumi Resources. However, not long after this announcement was made, and presumably a few phone calls later, another announcement was made. The second announcement was that the suspension in trade would remain in force.
The issue is seemingly becoming less transparent and more complex. The press release issued by the Bakrie Group of Companies suggested that the deal was between Northstar and Bumi Resources with a number of SOEs also buying into the USD 1.3 deal. Word on the street is that the role of the SOEs is far from certain as is any stake they might take up. It seems that the current state of affairs is that there is a tentative deal in place for Northstar to provide finance.
In terms of the announcements, there are relieable sources suggesting that the current Coordinating Minister of Economic Affairs / Minister of Finance, Sri Mulyani, was in favour of lifting the suspension. This would suggest that the subsequent announcement to reinstate the suspension came from someone higher up the food chain. This would most likely be the President.
It is unlikely to be the Vice President. Simply, the more trouble Bakrie is in the easier it will be for Kalla to exert his influence over Golkar. It is reported that the current President ascended the top job in part because of funds supplied by Bakrie (this might explain the loyalty shown to one of cabinet's most poorly performing Ministers). The reality is that the deeper the hole Bakrie finds himself in the less likely it is that he can be King or Queen Maker in the upcoming elections.
Nevertheless, the mere fact that the government became involved in the lifting of the suspension is a loser in the "court of public opinion", as it will be seen as protecting the interests of a cabinet Minister and not about protecting the interests of the State. Whether this is true or not is irrelevant in the court of public opinion, if it smells bad and it looks bad, then it is bad! The fact that the presidential spokesman comes out and says that Bakrie companies are not his concern is hardly reassuring.
That said, the logic on keeping the suspension in place is that as soon as the suspension is lifted it is likely people holding Bumi shares will seek to offload even with a purported deal in place.
The deal between Northstar and Bakrie plus the SOEs is supposed to be complete within 28 days. I wonder whether the suspension will stay in place until the deal is signed, sealed, and delivered?
Ah, must be nice to be the Coordinating Minister of the Bakrie Family Welfare, oops I meant to say the Coordinating Minister of People's Welfare (photo -- always smiling and why wouldn't you be?).