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Sunday, 29 April 2012

Indonesia delays S$9.1b DBS-Danamon deal

JAKARTA: Indonesia's central bank said on Saturday it would not approve a S$9.1 billion (US$7.3 billion) acquisition of Bank Danamon Indonesia by Singapore's DBS until new rules covering foreign ownership were in place.

Bank Indonesia said it would re-evaluate a current rule that allows private investors -- both foreign and Indonesian -- to own stakes as high as 99 percent in Indonesian banks before assessing DBS's planned acquisition.

"It's not that we're delaying approval for the DBS deal, we will just start evaluating DBS's plan after we issue our new bank ownership rules," Bank Indonesia spokesman Difi A. Johansyah told AFP.

"Hopefully, the regulation will be issued by the end of May or early June."

He said the new rules will apply equally to local and foreign investors, saying the regulation was for the "sake of prudence" and was not aimed at blocking foreigners.

Johansyah declined to say how the 99 percent ownership cap would be affected, but said financial institutions "with a proven track record" will be able to own "a majority".

"Non-financial institutions will only be able to own a minority stake," he added.

The new rules will also oblige banks to acquire several new licences for different services such as taking deposits, setting up ATMs and opening branches, the Jakarta Globe daily quoted Bank Indonesia Governor Darmin Nasution as saying.

The DBS-Danamon deal announced earlier this month triggered a rash of nationalistic complaints by politicians and banking executives that the 99 percent allowance for foreign ownership was too high.

The backlash echoes nationalistic comments made recently over the country's mining industry, which prompted parliament in February to strip foreigners of a controlling stake in mining assets after 10 years of production.

Danamon is already controlled by a subsidiary of Singapore's investment firm Temasek Holdings' Fullerton Financial Holdings but the deal would still require the approval of Indonesia's central bank.

- AFP/al

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