Indonesia stock exchange keen to see local listing of the country's unicorns

(Clockwise from top left) Gojek, Bukalapak, Ovo and Traveloka are among the six Indonesia-based unicorns. PHOTOS: AFP, BUKALAPAK, LIANHE ZAOBAO, ST FILES

JAKARTA - Indonesia, which has the highest number of unicorns in South-east Asia, is keen to have these start-ups listed on the country's stock exchange, and hopes to see millennials come in as investors of the companies whose apps they use daily, a top bourse official has said.

A unicorn is a start-up with a value exceeding US$1 billion (S$1.38 billion). The six Indonesia-based unicorns are ride hailing giant Gojek, e-commerce platforms Tokopedia, Bukalapak and, airline ticketing and hotel booking company Traveloka, and e-money company Ovo.

The Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) also wants to start attracting other start-ups with lower valuation, said Pandu Sjahrir, a newly appointed board member of the IDX, on Tuesday (July 21).

Those that still incur losses but have bright prospective outlooks are now allowed to list their shares on the exchange and placed on the so-called "acceleration" board.

"We kind of have to hunt for elephants. We have to be able to track them, to go and see and sell on the idea why IDX is a very good for them to fund raise," Mr Pandu said in a webinar organised by Jakarta Foreign Correspondent Club (JFCC).

Responding to a query from The Straits Times on the outlook for initial public offer ( IPO) activities, Mr Pandu said: "If you compare us to probably large markets like China or US, the top 10 listed companies are all technology.

"Indonesia is a bit different. In the last ten years, the top ten companies really haven't changed in terms of mix. It is still predominantly led by banks, financial companies, and also led by the traditional conglomerates."

The coronavirus outbreak has prompted an irreversible trend of people moving to order items and services online.

Many have resorted to using mobile apps provided by Jakarta-based Tokopedia and Bukalapak to shop, and use ride-hailing and food-delivery apps such as Gojek and Singapore-based Grab.

Indonesia had 22 companies planning IPOs at the end of June - the largest in terms of the number of IPO deals in South-east Asia.

By total value of their proceeds in rupiah, the number was quite low compared to last year when they IDX had 55 IPO deals. Before the coronavirus outbreak earlier this year, the exchange had 28 companies lining up to list.

The total value was also lower compared to IPO deals in other South-east Asian countries.

The IDX's total market capitalisation grew to 7,265 trillion rupiah (S$690 billion) in 2019 from 7,023 trillion rupiah in the year earlier.

But the Covid-19 pandemic has battered the market, with market capitalisation declining to about 5,700 trillion rupiah currently.

Asked about the probability of a Tokopedia listing, vice president of corporate finance & investments Randall Aluwi, said in a separate webinar organised by JFCC earlier this year: "When we think about IPO, it is something of a positive development because it also signifies the scale we have achieved and also the maturity level that we have achieved as a company. That is definitely something we aspire to do in the near future."

In the same webinar earlier this year, Teddy Oetomo, Bukalapak's chief strategy officer, said that the company wants to get into a stage where it is IPO-ready, but that does not mean it wanted to do an IPO right away.

"The answer is yes and no. It is not something that we will have to do, but we want to be as soon as possible in the position that is IPO ready, ie profitable, right governance, right auditor, right everything, financial reporting. That is more important whether you go IPO or not," Mr Teddy said.

Bukalapak is, among others, backed by China's Ant Financial and Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC, while Softbank Vision Fund and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd are among main backers of Tokopedia.

Said IDX's Mr Pandu: "The good thing about those that have unicorn 'valuation', there has been a strong sense of institutional investors either from local or from foreign."

He said he would also target Indonesian millennials, as many of them check on the apps of these unicorns as soon as they wake up.

Tokopedia and Bukalapak are believed to have current valuation of between US$5 billion to US$7 billion each, while the largest unicorn in Indonesia, Gojek, is at about US$12 billion.

On the possibility of any startup or company that are incurring losses and want to do an IPO, IDX's Mr Pandu said the exchange would now accommodate those companies too.

Previously, only companies that had booked net profits for two consecutive years are allowed to go for IPO.

"We're changing that mindset. We should not just look at the past. A lot of these businesses especially tech companies, they look at the future," Mr Pandu said. "People buy businesses in the capital market is to buy potential outcomes. To buy potential likelihood of companies to succeed."

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