DBS mulls pitch for Bank Permata Indonesia

Singapore

DBS Group Holdings is considering joining the race to acquire PT Bank Permata, the Indonesian lender in which Standard Chartered Plc holds a stake, according to people familiar with the matter.

Singapore-based DBS is working with an adviser on the possibility of bidding for Permata, which has a market value of about US$2.4 billion, said the sources, asking not to be identified as the discussions are private.

Such a move would pit DBS against both its Singapore rival OCBC Bank and Tokyo-based Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc, which are also interested in acquiring the Indonesian bank. Standard Chartered and PT Astra International each own 45 per cent of Permata.

The DBS deliberations are ongoing and may not result in a bid, the people said. Final offers are due in about a month, they added.

A representative for DBS declined to comment.

Shares of Permata jumped as much as 3.9 per cent on Wednesday afternoon in Jakarta to their highest level since February. In Singapore, DBS slipped 0.65 per cent to S$24.60.

If the bid moves ahead, it would be DBS's second attempt to acquire a substantial Indonesian bank. In 2013, it was forced to abandon a US$6.5 billion bid to take over PT Bank Danamon Indonesia after a change in the rules on foreign ownership. Danamon was acquired earlier this year by Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc.

A key development at the time came when Indonesia's central bank signalled it would approve the purchase of a 40 per cent stake, reflecting newly-introduced foreign investment thresholds. But the acquisition of the controlling stake that DBS coveted would not be approved unless Singapore allowed Indonesian banks to build their presence in the city state, Bank Indonesia's former governor Darmin Nasution said.

Since losing out on Danamon, DBS chief executive officer Piyush Gupta has stressed expanding the bank's reach via digital services, more than purchasing other lenders with large branch networks. However, Mr Gupta said in September he remains open to "bolt-on" acquisitions if they fit with a strategy of augmenting digital services with a physical presence.

"In addition to a fundamentally digital presence, we are beginning to figure you need some points of presence for the time being to create brand credibility and to service the last mile," Mr Gupta said at the time.

As of June, Permata had 317 branches serving more than 2 million customers in 62 Indonesian cities. BLOOMBERG