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Rajawali Group Courting Garuda Indonesia?

Is PT Rajawali - Indonesia's Large and Diversified Conglomerate Looking to Add an Airline to its Business Portfolio?

(1/14/2007) Indonesia's large Rajawali Group - a conglomerate owned by Indonesian businessman Peter Sondakh, is reported to be considering purchasing shares in the national airline Garuda Indonesia as part of the current restructuring being pursued by the financially crippled state-owned air carrier.

In a report carried in the Indonesian-language Bisnis Indonesia, the Managing Director and Chief Business Development Officer of PT Rajawali, Darjoto Setyawan, said: "We have not been given the chance to have a detailed look at Garuda, which would allow us to (then) state our intentions. In principle, if the conditions are conducive, we would certainly use the opportunity to join in Garuda ... just wait for more news over the coming few days."

Setyawan told the press that no formal meetings have yet been held with Garuda or the Ministry of State-Owned Enterprises (BUMN). He also denied rumors that Rajawali was forming an alliance with the Texas Pacific Group to purchase a share of the Airline.

The BUMN is thought to be targeting a share-sale worth US$300 million in order to secure funds necessary for Garuda's business expansion. No specific share block has been mentioned in connection with the proposed sell-off, but observers suggest that no more than 49% of the State-owned Airline's shares are potentially on offer from the Indonesian Government.

The Rajawali Group

According to Bisnis Indonesia, The Rajawali group is one of Indonesia's largest corporations owning shares in the Indonesian cement producer PT Semen Gresik (24.9%); cigarette-maker PT Bentoel International (40.77%); telecommunications company PT Excelcomindo Pratama (15.96%); PT Metropolitan Retailmart, the owners of Metro Department Stores; PT Karya Agung Kisma Lestari, owners of the Sheraton Laguna, Nusa Dua hotel; PT Express Transindo Utama; and the Guardian pharmacy chain.

Garuda: Mum's the Word

Garuda's top officials are refusing to comment on reports of Rajawali's interest in their company, saying any statement would be premature and that the final decision on new investors rests with the specially appointed restructuring team appointed to financially rescue the Airline.

Garuda has reportedly begun preparations that would allow an initial public offering (IPO) of 37.5% of the shares held in its ground handling subsidiary PT Gapura Angkasa.

Other Garuda subsidiaries said to be candidates for future IPOs include their hotel and airline catering division PT Aerowisata; the distribution and reservation system of the Airline PT Abacus Distribution; and Aero Asia, Garuda’s aircraft maintenance facility.