Thu, 13 Apr 2000

Astaga!com plans listing on Nasdaq

JAKARTA (JP): Local Internet company Indonesia Online said on Wednesday its news portal Astaga!com would launch its initial public offering (IPO) later this year to raise fresh funds to boost its portal operation.

Company chief executive Jonathan Morris said the news portal would also list its shares either on the U.S. over-the-counter stock market Nasdaq or on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

He said the Internet portal, which would become the first Internet-related company to go public, would also list shares on the Jakarta Stock Exchange (JSX) if the local market authority revised the regulation.

"JSX is finalizing the new regulation that will allow start-up firms to list their shares on exchange," he said.

The JSX allows only long-established companies with adequate financial track records to trade their shares on the bourse.

Morris refused to reveal the estimate amount of funds to be raised from the IPO, saying that it would very much depend on the company's need for the development of its portal.

He said in addition to the IPO for Astaga!com, the company also planned IPOs for its other Internet subsidiaries, including Nextweb, which is an Internet solution company, and Proxis, an online B-to-B procurement service provider.

"Indonesia Online has up to 10 Internet-related subsidiaries and all of them will proceed with their IPOs in turn, starting with Astaga!com," he told a news conference.

He said in order to prepare for the IPOs the company had appointed international investment bank Lehman Brothers as its financial advisor.

He said Lehman Brothers would be the lead underwriter for all the IPOs.

"Lehman Brothers was chosen because it has successfully led IPOs for other Internet firms, such as, Softbank, Pacific Internet and America Online," Morris said.

He said Indonesia Online was currently under negotiations for strategic alliances with foreign investors from Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan.

Indonesia Online has expected to raise between US$20 million to $40 million of funds from the private placement.

Morris said he was optimistic about the Internet business in Indonesia but he did not issue any figures about the news portal's future revenues.

He said the business prospects of the news portal were quite promising given the positive response from the public to the company, which launched its service only two months ago.

"Within six weeks, we have had over 100,000 registered members and over 500,000 page views per day," he added.

Head of Marketing and Sales Margie Djajakusuma said she was sure the company would be able to break even within two years after it opened its advertisement section next month.

The chief representative of Lehman Brothers Indonesia Limited, Brian O'Connor, said his company was upbeat that international investors would certainly welcome the IPO of Astaga!com.

"Indonesia has become an important Internet market for international investors. With its huge population of over 200 million, Indonesia is undoubtedly a potential market for Internet business," he said.

According to the Association of Indonesian Internet Service Providers, the number of Internet users in Indonesia is expected to surge from approximately 1 million in 1999 to 1.45 million in 2000 and 1.98 million in 2001. (cst)