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Bakries Haven’t Decided to Sell Media Unit, Anindya Says

The Bakrie family has no plan to sell its media business amid a report it’s seeking $1.8 billion for control of Indonesian broadcaster PT Visi Media Asia.

The family may sell part of its 72 percent stake in the owner of two national television channels, Anindya Bakrie, president commissioner of Visi Media, said in an interview in Jakarta yesterday. The Bakries want two bidders to raise their offers from $1.4 billion, Dow Jones reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The media business and a stake in mobile-phone company PT Bakrie Telecom gives the family exposure to private consumption, a key driver of economic growth in Indonesia, the fourth-most populous country, he said. Bakrie Group is seeking to cut debt and last month agreed to pay a $50 million deposit ahead of plans for its separation from Bumi Plc, the coal venture at the center of a battle for control with Nathaniel Rothschild.

“We don’t want to exit the telecom, media and technology business,” said 38-year-old Anindya Bakrie, the eldest son of billionaire Indonesian politician Aburizal Bakrie. “Is it possible since it is a listed company that we take some chips off the table? Why not? But we want to make sure it doesn’t derail the group’s vision.”

CT Corp., owned by businessman Chairul Tanjung, offered $1.2 billion for a majority stake in Visi Media, Investor Daily newspaper reported Feb. 19.

Cutting Debt

The family group, with businesses spanning mining, property and telecommunications, needs to cut its debt ratio by about half, Anindya Bakrie said from his office in the Bakrie Tower in central Jakarta. The group also plans to sell some assets to focus on areas of strength, he said, without identifying specific businesses.

Bakrie Group wants to cut borrowings to between two and three times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. That compares with four to five times Ebitda now, he said.

“We definitely have to deleverage,” said Bakrie, a graduate of Northwestern University. “We also need to streamline and focus on which business we want to be at.”

The Bakrie family has been involved in a dispute with Rothschild over some allegation of financial irregularities at Bumi. Rothschild lost a bid to regain control of the London-listed company during a general meeting on Feb. 21, which would help the Bakries wind down their partnership.

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