Secret of Indonesian billionaires: Put company in Singapore

Listing his company, Bumitama Agri Ltd., an Indonesian palm oil producer, in the Singaporean Stock Exchange made Lim Hariyanto Wijaya Sarwono a billionaire. The 84-year-old chairman of Harita Group, a closely held conglomerate based in Jakarta, is now worth at least $1.8 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Indonesian businessman Lim Hariyanto becomes a billionaire after listing his company in Singapore

The billionaire and his son, Lim Gunawan Hariyanto, own about 53% of Bumitama Agri, whose shares have outpaced other companies that raised at least $50 million in an initial public offering in Singapore this year. Lim had also planned to sell shares of his nickel mining business in the city-states stock exchange.

Driven by demand from Asia and principally China and India, the natural resources boom has created significant wealth both for established ultra-high net worth families already in the natural resources business, as well as for new fortune hunters riding on the commodities boom, said Noor Quek, previously the head of business development in Southeast Asia at Citigroup Inc.s private-banking unit, who now runs Singapore- based family office adviser NQ International Pte.

The richest man in Indonesia at the moment is Eka Tjipta Widjaja, also known as Huang Yi Cong, who has most of his wealth derived from the 50% stake in Singaporean-based Golden Agri-Resources Ltd., the worlds second-largest palm oil company, through his Sinar Mas Holdings, according to the Bloomberg ranking. Eka topped the Indonesian wealthiest list after fellow billionaire Susilo Wonowidjojo (Cao Dao Ping) saw his Gudang Garam stock price plunged by 21% since May.
Money playground: massive wealth staked in Singapore by Indonesian and Malaysian richest families

Another Singaporean-based company, Wilmar International Ltd. is the worlds biggest palm oil firm. Malaysian billionaire Robert Kuok owns about 28 percent of Wilmar. Sime Darby comes third, followed by Felda and IOI Corp. The last three are all from Malaysia.

Indonesian GDP may surpass Germany and the U.K. by 2030 to be the worlds seventh-largest economy, generating $1.8 trillion in annual sales from agriculture, consumer and energy companies by that year, McKinsey & Co. said in a report in September. Mining accounts for 12% of Indonesias gross domestic product.

Lim, whose family declined to comment on his net worth, is just one of the many hidden billionaires in Indonesia who has never appeared on any international wealth ranking before this.
Indonesia: all you can mine

Lims father, Lim Tju King, an immigrant from Fujian province in China, started the family business by opening a grocery store in Indonesias East Kalimantan province in 1915. The younger Lim, who has seven children, expanded Harita Group, first by trading timber logs and then venturing into plywood manufacturing in 1983. Joint ventures in 1996 saw the company expanded into coal mining and palm oil.

Shares of Bumitama has gained 35% since the stock started trading in Singapore on April, exceeding the 3.2 percent increase in the Straits Times Index. The companys IPO was more than 30 times subscribed, highlighting huge demands for the stocks. Another palm oil company to list its IPO this year was Felda, in the Bursa Malaysia. Shares of Felda currently trade for RM4.60 in Kuala Lumpur, just 1% above its IPO price.

IOI Corp., a Malaysian palm oil producer founded by billionaire Lee Shin Cheng, owns about 31% of Bumitama, its biggest shareholder after the founding Lim family. Lee is listed in Forbes as Malaysia’s fourth richest man with a net worth of $5.2 billion. All figures are in USD unless otherwise stated.

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