Fri, 03 Mar 2000

Inghie Kwik denies selling state assets at PT HTP

JAKARTA (JP): Inghie Kwik, a son of Coordinating Minister for Economy, Finance and Industry Kwik Kian Gie, denied on Thursday being involved in the sale of state assets to Hutchison Port Holdings, as implied by Minister of Investment and State Enterprises Development Laksamana Sukardi on Wednesday.

Laksamana said Inghie could not be involved in the sale of PT Humpuss Terminal Petikemas (HTP), which operates a container terminal at Jakarta's Tanjung Priok Port, as the company was among the thousands of debtor companies under the management of the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency.

The minister asserted that therefore only IBRA had the right to sell HTP.

Inghie, a director of Asset Management Group of Indonesia argued, however, that HTP was not owned by IBRA but had had its debts taken over by IBRA. He said that the agency therefore only acted as creditor and not the owner of HTP.

"The right to sell HTP remains in the hands of its majority owners, publicly listed PT Humpuss Intermoda Transportasi and other minority shareholders," Inghie asserted.

Humpus Intermoda is controlled by Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra, the youngest son of former president Soeharto.

He also denied his company, Asset Management Group of Indonesia, was acting as broker in negotiations for the sale of HTP to Hutchison Port Holdings, a public company in Hong Kong which operates 17 container terminals around the world.

"The Asset Management Group of Indonesia is acting as a consultant, not a broker, for Hutchison in the process of acquiring HTP majority shares from Humpuss Intermoda," Inghie said.

He said his company in January officially briefed Laksamana on Hutchison's plan to acquire HTP and on the role of Asset Management Group of Indonesia as a consultant in the proposed transaction.

Hutchison reportedly is interested in acquiring Humpuss Intermoda's controlling shares in HTP at a price of US$145 million.

He said HTP sales to Hutchison would not only increase foreign investment in Indonesia but would also contribute to improving container port management in the country.

Separately, IBRA executive Eko Santoso Budianto said on Thursday that any talks concerning the sale of Humpuss Intermoda's stake in HTP were taking place between prospective buyers and the management of the company, not with IBRA, arguing that allegations that the younger Kwik was involved in selling off state assets were baseless.

"We deal with the borrower; the owner of Humpuss Terminal Petikemas can change, but the borrower remains the same," Eko was quoted by Dow Jones Newswires as saying.

Eko added that IBRA as a creditor was aware of the talks between Hutchison and Humpuss.

IBRA, which manages over Rp 220 trillion (US$29.7 billion) in bad loans taken over from state banks and banks closed down or taken over by the government, has been hit with nationalistic opposition to selling assets to foreign investors.

"Many people complain that IBRA is too slow in performing its tasks, but this is the kind of thing that slows us down," Eko added.