Indonesia banker named CEO of sovereign wealth fund targeting $20 billion

Indonesia banker named CEO of sovereign wealth fund targeting $20 billion

CEO. Ridha DM Wirakusumah, who was named as CEO of the new Indonesia Investment Authority, delivers his speech at the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta, February 16, 2021.

Photo by Muchlis Jr/Indonesian Presidential Palace/Reuters

The Indonesia Investment Authority aims to attract foreign funds as co-investors. Its first focus will be toll roads.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Tuesday, February 16, named a senior banker, Ridha DM Wirakusumah, as the chief executive of the country’s new sovereign wealth fund, which has a target of managing $20 billion and financing infrastructure projects.

Jokowi, as the president is popularly known, also named other professionals for posts on the board of directors of the fund, the Indonesia Investment Authority (INA).

The INA aims to attract foreign funds as co-investors, unlike sovereign wealth funds set up by other countries to manage oil revenue or foreign exchange reserves.

There has been scrutiny over the governance of INA particularly in the wake of a corruption scandal and massive losses involving neighboring Malaysia’s 1MDB fund.

“The INA is a professional institution, protected by the law, and will use professional judgment in its work,” Jokowi said in broadcast remarks.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, who heads INA’s supervisory council, told a news conference that Jokowi had said the fund must be managed to avoid the fate of 1MDB.

US-educated Wirakusumah, until recently the chief executive of Bank Permata, has spent over 30 years in banking and investment, including with private equity group KKR & Co., American International Group, and Citibank.

“We will strictly and clearly carry out our duties with the highest integrity,” Wirakusumah said, adding that INA will be seeded with $5 billion from the government and he expected about $10 billion to $15 billion more from investors.

The fund has already earmarked some infrastructure projects to invest in and its first focus will be toll roads.

“There is some $9.5 billion in our pipeline that we will look through to measure what will bring good returns for us,” Wirakusumah said.

Officials have previously said INA could also fund Jokowi’s project to move the capital of Southeast Asia’s largest economy to Borneo island from Jakarta.

Jokowi named 4 other directors with professional track records in business including Stefanus Ade Hadiwidjaja, managing director of private equity firm Creador, as chief investment officer.

“The team has a strong background. This should be responded to positively by the market,” said Nico Laurens, head of research at brokerage Panin Sekuritas.

The fund has faced skepticism because foreign co-investors will have to contribute a major share of investment, while Indonesia also has struggled to stamp out rampant graft and ensure legal certainty.

Indonesian officials previously said bodies like the US International Development Finance Corporation, Japan Bank for International Cooperation, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC, and some pension funds had expressed interest in investing in the INA, with total commitments reaching up to $10 billion.

Sri Mulyani said several sovereign wealth funds had written to her directly expressing interest in investing. –