Wed, 15 Mar 2000

Travel firm Sona Topas reschedules $26.5m loan

JAKARTA (JP): Publicly listed travel company PT Sona Topas Tourism Industry secured on Tuesday a six-year extension period for US$26.5 million in matured loans for its subsidiary PT Inti Dufree Promosindo (IDP).

The debt rescheduling agreement with five foreign and three Indonesian banks requires IDP, the operator of duty free shops in the country, to make an initial, upfront payment of debt principal amounting to 15 percent of the total debt, with the remainder to be settled in six-month installments.

The interest on the remaining debts was set at two percentage points above the Singapore Interbank Offered Rate (SIBOR) for the first two years, 2.25 percentage points above SIBOR for the next two years and 2.5 percentage points above SIBOR for the remaining two years.

"Our debt negotiations that started last August ran smoothly and amicably due to the full transparency on our part. This full cooperation greatly helped our creditors to work out a good restructuring program both for our business and our creditors," Sona Topas vice chairman Tahir said at the signing ceremony.

He added that the negotiations were facilitated by the full cooperation on the part of IDP in continuing to pay monthly interest charges, including after the loans matured last October.

"Had we stopped paying, we would have faced tough negotiations," Tahir said.

The creditors are Sakura Bank Limited, The Royal Bank of Scotland PLC, PT Bank DBS Buana, Sembawang Capital PTE, PT Bank Sakura Swadharma, The Sanwa Bank Limited, Schroeder & Co. Inc. and PT Bank Sumitomo Indonesia.

Sakura Bank acted as the coordinating bank during the negotiation process.

Sona Topas provided the loans to IDP for financing the expansion of its duty free shop enterprises in Bali, which account for 90 percent of its total income.

IDP president Djoni J. Lesmana said the company's net profits, amounting to Rp 21.4 billion (US$2.9 million) last year based on an unaudited report, would most likely double this year as a result of its investment expansion in Bali.

Djoni said despite the economic crisis, IDP managed to book a net profit of Rp 822 million in 1998.

"We did quite well because our sales are in U.S dollars," he said.

IDP commands 70 percent of the duty free shopping business in the country, a business that heavily relies on tourists, he said.

"Some 75 percent of our customers are Japanese, with Koreans, Taiwan nationals and other foreign tourists making up the remaining 25 percent, " Djoni said.

Djoni said besides three duty-free shops in Bali, IDP also owns outlets at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta.

"We are now seeking to make Duty Free Shoppers (DFS) of the United States a strategic investment partner in our business," he said. (bkm)