Indonesia central bank says may resolve DBS-Danamon deal in May

Indonesia central bank says may resolve DBS-Danamon deal in May

JAKARTA - DBS Group Holdings Ltd's bid to buy Indonesia's PT Bank Danamon from Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings Pvt Ltd may get the go-ahead in May, but there are regulatory issues to resolve, Bank Indonesia said on Monday.

The US$7.2 billion (S$8.9 billion) deal has been stuck for a year because of regulatory obstacles, with Bank Indonesia capping ownership stakes in local banks and politicians calling for the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to grant greater access for Indonesian banks in Singapore in return.

"Hopefully in early May," said Bank Indonesia Governor Darmin Nasution, when asked about the timing. "We are still discussing it with MAS," he told reporters.

Danamon's stock price rose 0.8 per cent after the comments, versus a weaker Jakarta index.

Nasution said sticking points included central bank rules that limit single ownership to 40 per cent unless there is an exemption, as well as Indonesian wishes for a principle of reciprocity by Singapore.

DBS, Southeast Asia's largest bank, aimed to buy 67.4 per cent of Danamon from Temasek and so it was not clear whether it would be limited to just 40 per cent. DBS said it remained committed to the deal and would be guided by the central bank.

Dow Jones reported on Friday that bankers with knowledge of the transaction said DBS will be permitted to acquire 40 per cent before building up a majority stake if it meets the central bank's corporate governance and financial health standards, with legal documentation to be completed in May.

Nasution denied any approval had yet been reached. Nasution ends his term in May, after which he will replaced by Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo, who may take a tougher line as he has said there should be banking reciprocity.

"First, we have regulations. They have hopes. It requires a solution," said Nasution. "Secondly, we have wishes that some of our banks want to go there, that's what we're discussing," he said, adding a "commitment" would need to be clear to move ahead.

A source involved in the deal said Singapore would have to give access to Indonesian banks such as main state lender PT Bank Mandiri for DBS to get a 40 per cent stake.

"DBS can never buy Danamon if MAS declines to opens up. MAS needs to show that they are opening up first," said the source, who declined to be identified because the talks were private.

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