William Soeryadjaya, Revered Founder of Astra International, Dies Aged 87

By webadmin on 07:49 pm Apr 04, 2010
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William Soeryadjaya, founder of PT Astra International, Indonesia’s biggest automotive retailer, died in Jakarta late on Friday after being hospitalized, said Yulian Warman, a company spokesman.

William, 87, died at 10:43 p.m. after he was admitted to Medistra Hospital, Yulian said, without disclosing the cause of death.

William death follows that of Michael Ruslim, Astra’s president director, who died on Jan. 20 after being hospitalized with dengue fever in Singapore.

William founded Astra in 1957 as a trading company, and expanded it into the country’s biggest company by market value, with businesses ranging from automotive to palm oil and finance. Astra overtook PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia as the nation’s most valuable company last month.

He sold the automotive empire in the early 1990s to bailout PT Bank Summa, which was owned by his eldest son, Edward Soeryadjaya.

“He was a true entrepreneur,” said Bambang Trisulo, chairman of the Indonesian Automotive Industry Association (Gaikindo), which groups the nation’s automotive, motorcycle and auto component associations.

“Astra has been very influential in shaping the automotive industry, not just marketwise but also the people in it.”

Gunadi Sindhuwinata, chairman of the Indonesian Motorcycle Industry Association (AISI), said, “He’s a tough entrepreneur who began developing his business from a small scale.”

Erwin Aksa, chairman of the Indonesian Young Entrepreneurs Association (Hipmi), described William, more popularly known as Om (Uncle) Willem, as a role model and a true entrepreneur. “Although I’m not close to him, I admire his vision when developing Astra,” he said.

Astra sells vehicles made by Toyota, Honda, Daihatsu and BMW, among others. The company also produces and exports Toyota’s Innova vans.

Astra had 56 percent of the domestic automotive market, with sales of 31,326 vehicles in February, the company said in March.

Astra’s Honda motorcycles accounted for 45 percent of industry-wide domestic sales in February, it said.

Astra is the parent company of PT Astra Agro Lestari, the nation’s biggest listed plantation company, and PT United Tractors, the largest seller of heavy equipment. The company also owns a 44.5 percent stake in PT Bank Permata.

Shares of Astra, which posted a record 2009 profit of Rp 10 trillion ($1.1 billion), have risen 28 percent this year, outperforming the benchmark index’s 12 percent gain.

Astra International is 50 percent owned by Singapore’s Jardine Cycle & Carriage.


JG, Bloomberg