Indonesia's Bakrie property unit fails to pay $36m in debt

JAKARTA (REUTERS) - Shares in Bakrieland Development were suspended on Monday after the Indonesian property firm failed to redeem a US$29 million (S$36 million) bond, the latest in a series of financial troubles for the Bakrie Group conglomerate.

The property company has yet to raise the necessary funds to pay the debt, which matured on Monday, it said in a statement to Indonesia's stock exchange. It is aiming to pay the debt by March 14.

Bakrieland, one of Bakrie Group's main units, has agreed to sell its toll road unit and one of its resort assets to MNC Group as it aims to reduce its debt by more than US$200 million this year, but the deal has not closed yet.

Bakrieland has 4.6 trillion rupiah (S$598 million) in debt, and more than a quarter will be due this year.

"If we see their cash position as of the third quarter in 2012, then it's a bit tough for them to pay but they are selling their toll road assets as well as some land," said Mr Steven Gunawan, a property analyst at Batavia Prosperindo Sekuritas.

The Bakrie Group, founded in 1942 by Sumatran businessman Achmad Bakrie to trade local commodities such as cocoa and coffee, is known for acquisitions funded through debt. Other large Bakrie units have had their own debt woes.

Bakrie Sumatera Plantations is selling 16,000ha of its almost 100,000ha palm oil plantation to the Sinarmas Group this month, sources said. The plantation firm has a 6.3 trillion rupiah in debt, 30 per cent of which will be due this year.

Bumi Resources, Asia's biggest coal exporter, has also said it has to offload assets to help deal with its US$4 billion debt, with around US$500 million due this year.