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They say there is a very thin line between bravery and folly.
Today we saw something extraordinary when investor/business man/poster-boy-for-the-next-generation-of-business leaders, Sandiaga Uno pinned his flag to the Bakrie/Bumi Plc mast with his opinion piece in The Jakarta Globe.
In doing so Sandiaga has gone where most people concerned about image making – their own and others’ – fear to thread. The reason is that the Bakrie empire seem to be one of the most unlikeable business entities, if casual anecdotes are anything to go by. At any rate Unspun’s not met any business person not beholden to the Bakries for a living to like them or extol their virtues.
Defending such a hugely unpopular business entity takes guts, or great folly. Sandiaga has done it and the reaction in Twitter has not been very favorable. But that may only be the gripes of the chattering class, so rather than pass judgement if Sandiaga Uno’s brave act is one of great judgement or misjudgment, its best to let the readers of this blog judge for themselves with the survey below:
A leading Indonesian businessman has come to the defense of the Bakrie family’s companies in their bitter corporate governance feud with British businessman Nathaniel Rothschild.
In a scathing opinion piece published exclusively in the Jakarta Globe today, Sandiaga S. Uno said the Bakrie-controlled companies had been treated unfairly by a slew of parties, including the media, corporate analysts and international rating agencies.
The colorful intervention by Sandiaga threatens to escalate the year-long feud.
The conflict dates back to the 2010 move by Rothschild and his London-listed energy company, now called Bumi Plc, to embrace two Indonesian units — Bumi Resources and Berau Coal Energy — controlled by the Bakrie family.
But relations had been fraying for a year and worsened last month when Bumi Plc announced it was conducting a probe into operations at the Indonesian companies, hinting at impropriety.
While no evidence of wrongdoing has been made public, the case has attracted international attention and put the spotlight on the gulf between corporate governance in Asia and in the West.
In his article, Sandiaga claims much of the coverage has been slanted against the Bakrie companies. “Many media outlets portray the Bakrie family as being on the defensive. As part-owners of Bumi Plc, the Bakrie family is unfairly portrayed almost as a bully who violates governance standards and regulations,” he wrote.
“I say ‘unfairly’ because this is not the first negative rumor surrounding the family. It is undeniable that the endless public allegations against the Bakries have never proved to be correct, but even so, the accusers have never apologized.”
He went on to attack market sources who made critical statements about the companies to the media but hid behind anonymity.
“It is sickening because those unnamed sources act as though they want to stay neutral and professional. Yet what they have added to this saga is at best speculation and at worst further confusion.”
He later attacked rating agency Moody’s, which downgraded its assessment of Bumi Resources in the midst of the conflict.
Sandiaga’s company Saratoga Capital has investments across the Indonesian economy, including stake in coal producer Adaro Energy, telecommunications company Tower Bersama and avaiation company Mandala Airlines.
In 1997, Sandiaga co-founded Recapital Advisors with high school friend Rosan Perkasa Roeslani. Rosan is a non-executive director at Bumi Plc and Recapital Advisors is affiliated with Bumi Resources, Berau and Bumi Plc.
On Tuesday, shares in Bumi Resources fell 1.5 percent to Rp 670, while shares in Berau fell 2.6 percent to Rp 147, lagging the 0.3 percent gain in the main stock gauge on the Indonesia Stock Exchange.