Sat, 17 Apr 2010

From: The Jakarta Globe

By Faisal Maliki Baskoro, Irvan Tisnabudi & Muhamad Al Azhari
A subsidiary of the Para Group, which is chaired by powerful businessman Chairul Tanjung, has acquired a 40 percent stake in Carrefour stores in Indonesia and will add two well-known former security officials to the company’s board.

The move puts a well-connected Indonesian face atop a company that has been plagued by legal troubles and allegations of monopoly practices in the fiercely competitive retail sector.

The subsidiary, Trans Corp, acquired the stake from Carrefour SA, the world’s leading retailer, with an estimated value of between $300 million and $400 million, Chairul announced at a news conference on Friday.

“As of midday Friday, Trans Corp, through its subsidiary PT Trans Retail, has acquired 40 percent of PT Carrefour Indonesia’s shares, making it the largest shareholder,” said Chairul, the former dentist who founded and controls the Para Group.

The remainder of the shares are controlled by Carrefour SA with 39 percent, Carrefour Nederland BV with 9.5 percent and Onesia BV with 11.5 percent.

At a shareholder meeting of Carrefour Indonesia on Friday, AM Hendropriyono, former chief of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN), and former National Police chief Surojo Bimantoro were appointed as commissioners representing Para Group.

“Hendropriyono and Bimantoro are national figures, and with their networks we expect everyone to feel sure that Carrefour’s ideals will be in line with our ideals,” Chairul said. “We want to be the host at home.”

As part of the deal, Para Group has the right to appoint four commissioners and two directors.

To help finance the acquisition, Para received a $350 million bridge-loan facility from four banks: Credit Suisse, Citibank, JPMorgan and ING.

Carrefour Indonesia operates 79 stores - 63 hypermarkets and 16 supermarkets - in 22 cities. In 2009, Carrefour Indonesia had sales of Rp 11.7 trillion ($1.3 billion). Shafie Shamsuddin, president director of Carrefour Indonesia, said the company plans to open 13 new stores this year.

Para Group has interests in banking, broadcasting, financial services and high-end retail, controlling Bank Mega and TransTV among other businesses.

The powerful local partner could be a help to Carrefour in its ongoing battle with the Business Competition Supervisory Commission (KPPU), which filed an appeal on March 1 to the Supreme Court seeking to have its decision ordering Carrefour Indonesia to sell its 75 percent stake in a local retailer reinstated.

On Feb. 17, the South Jakarta District Court annulled a ruling by the KPPU that Carrefour must sell its stake in retailer PT Alfa Retailindo and fining it Rp 25 billion ($2.7 million). The court accepted Carrefour Indonesia’s argument that it did not have a monopoly over the supermarket sector.

Chairul said he will try to “have an audience with the KPPU to find a solution.”

KPPU official Didik Akhmadi said the commission “will wait and see whether there will be new policies in Carrefour” after the deal.