Dion Bisara & Francezka Nangoy
Fitch Ratings says the central bank’s new rule on bank ownership will likely expedite banking consolidations but will pose challenges for smaller lenders.
A day after Bank Indonesia announced its new rule to cap the ownership of banks to 40 percent from 99 percent, Fitch said in a report on Thursday that “the risk of failing to maintain the Bank Indonesia criteria may be more pronounced at small- to medium-sized banks facing undue business pressure.”
“This is notably because of a concentrated shareholding structure, especially family-owned, which has been cited as one factor behind bank failures in Indonesia in the past,” the rating agency wrote.
The rule is expected to set a clear platform for future bank acquisitions, as Indonesia has been coaxing its 120 commercials lenders to consolidate through mergers and acquisitions, hoping to help them better compete with regional peers.
However, Fitch said the rule, which became effective last Friday, would have no immediate impact on the ratings of large banks because it was not retroactive.
The top 10 banks, which account for 63 percent of the country’s total banking system assets, are mostly state-owned or foreign-owned by highly-rated institutions.
Analysts welcomed the new rule but attributed an increase in Indonesian banking stocks on Thursday to expectations of positive results in the first half.
Shares of Bank Danamon Indonesia, which has been the target of a takeover by DBS Group Holdings, rose on Thursday, as did those of rivals Bank Mandiri, Bank Central Asia and Bank Rakyat Indonesia.
“It’s because banks are expected to report good earnings for the first half; it’s not solely about the bank ownership ruling,” said Raymond Kosasih, an analyst with Deutsche Bank Verdhana Indonesia.
He said major banks he covered, including Bank Mandiri, BRI, BCA and Bank Negara Indonesia, were expected to have combined first-half profits of up to Rp 23.7 trillion ($2.5 billion), up 21 percent from the same period last year.
DBS announced in April that it planned to acquire a 67.4 percent stake of Danamon from Temasek Holdings, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund. DBS would pay Rp 7,000 per share for the stake via a stock swap that would result in Temasek owning 40 percent of DBS’s enlarged capital, up from 29 percent currently. The acquisition is still waiting for approval from Bank Indonesia and the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
DBS Group spokeswoman Karen Ngui said DBS would carefully review Bank Indonesia’s new ownership rule.
“We will be guided by Bank Indonesia on next steps and will continue to work with them closely,” she said in an e-mail to the Jakarta Globe.
Danamon’s stock rose 1.6 percent to Rp 6,300 on Thursday, a 10 percent discount from the Rp 7,000 price proposed by DBS Group.
Fitch said Bank Indonesia’s rule would enable the country’s banking system to compete with its regional peers.
“Potential investors, particularly long-term investors, may not be overly deterred by the new regulations, as BI will have the discretion to allow a higher ownership limit in Indonesian banks, which ranges from 20 percent to 40 percent,” Fitch said.
Foreign ownership in Malaysia is capped at 30 percent and in Thailand at 25 percent.
Additional reporting by Muhamad Al Azhari