Indonesian banker to helm country’s new sovereign wealth fund

Indonesian president Joko Widodo (left) said Ridha Wirakusumah was formerly the CEO of PT Bank Permata. PHOTO: INDONESIA PRESIDENTIAL SECRETARIAT

SINGAPORE - Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Tuesday (Feb 16) named senior banker Ridha Wirakusumah as the chief executive of the country's new sovereign wealth fund aimed at drawing foreign funds to finance local projects, particularly in infrastructure.

Educated in the US, Mr Ridha was chief executive of Bank Permata and had an illustrious career spanning over 30 years in Indonesian and international companies, including with private equity group KKR & Co, American International Group and Citibank.

The fund, known as the Indonesia Investment Authority or INA, will be a strategic partner for both local and foreign investors to help finance development programmes, particularly in the area of infrastructure, the president said in a broadcast.

"The Indonesia Investment Authority has a very strategic position in accelerating sustainable development, increasing and optimising the long-term value of state assets and providing alternative financing for sustainable national development," said Mr Joko.

The wealth fund currently has US$15 billion (S$19.8 billion) in assets and is aimed to grow to as much as US$100 billion, Bloomberg reported.

Mr Joko also announced the fund's board of directors whom he referred to as "the nation's best sons and daughters who are experienced in the international professional arena".

Mr Arief Budiman, former chief financial officer of state energy firm Pertamina, has been named deputy chief executive while Mr Stefanus Ade Hadiwidjaja, managing director of private equity firm Creador, as the chief investment officer.

Other directors are Ms Marita Alisjahbana, risk manager at Citi Indonesia and Eddy Porwanto of private equity firm Northstar Pacific.

To allay fears of potential mismanagement, Mr Joko said the executives had been picked by a selection committee and professional headhunters.

He added: "It is guaranteed to be a professional institution, protected by law, and use professional judgment in its work."

Mr Ridha said the INA is looking for capital funds, and not loan funds, and has earmarked infrastructure deals valued at "approximately US $9.5 billion in the pipeline", pending review on whether they would bring good returns to the INA and its co-investors.

He said: "We want to create an investment climate so that investors can enter Indonesia more comfortably and confidently, so that they can participate together... in Indonesia's development whose future is extraordinary, whether in terms of demographics, size, or business potential."

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