Indonesia’s Bakrie Group Seeks $1.8 Billion from Its Media Arm Sale

Bakrie GroupJakarta — PT Elang Mahkota (EMTK.JK) has exited from the negotiation process, the people said, leaving conglomerate CT Corp. and MNC Group competing for a stake in PT Visi Media Asia (VIVA.JK). All of the potential buyers have interests in the media industry.

“Bakrie and [minority shareholder Eric] Thohir want the bidders to raise their offer to $1.8 billion from up to $1.4 billion currently,” one of the persons said.

Proceeds from the sale could be used to help finance Bakrie Group’s investments, the people added.

Sources have previously said that the Bakrie Group is in talks to sell up to 71.9% of its stake in Visi Media, with Mr. Thohir, president of Visi Media, also in talks to sell his 4.5% stake.

News Corp. (NWS, NWSA), which owns Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal, has a 6.7% stake in Visi Media.

CT Corp. Chairman Chairul Tanjung confirmed that he’s in talks for a possible stake purchase without elaborating on how much he’s willing to spend, while tycoon Hary Tanoesoedibjo, who controls MNC Group, declined to comment. Officials from Elang Mahkota weren’t immediately available for comment.

Still, public comments made by Visi Media chairman Anindya Bakrie Wednesday suggested that the politically connected Bakrie Group may still have some reservations about letting go of its media arm ahead of the 2014 presidential election.

“There are a lot of factors to be considered” before selling an asset, he said. “The media business has huge potentials going forward, especially as consumer spending rises.”

Visi Media has two free television channels and a news portal in Indonesia, crucial avenues to help prop up the popularity of presidential hopeful Aburizal Bakrie, chairman of the Golkar party and Anindya’s father.

The Bakrie Group has been grabbing headlines in recent months over its public clash with British scion Nat Rothschild, largely over the governance of Bumi’s Indonesian mining units. Both parties agreed that a Bakrie exit from Bumi would best serve all shareholders, but they are divided over the mechanism.[]

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