SoftBank to invest $40bn for new Indonesia capital

The new capital is to be built on the island of Borneo, where the Kutai National Park is known for its rainforests and its population of orangutans and other primates. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 18 January 2020

SoftBank to invest $40bn for new Indonesia capital

  • Son joins Abu Dhabi crown prince and former British PM in steering committee for city

JAKARTA: Japan’s SoftBank is offering to invest $30 billion to $40 billion in the development of a new Indonesian capital, an official said Friday.

The billionaire founder and chief executive of SoftBank, Masayoshi Son, hinted at partnering with the Indonesian government to fund the project when he met President Joko Widodo last week in the capital, Jakarta.
Son and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair have been included in the steering committee to be led by Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to oversee the construction of the new capital city on the island of Borneo.
Indonesian Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Pandjaitan told a news briefing that SoftBank was offering $30 billion to $40 billion, though it was not immediately clear what project the Japanese conglomerate would invest in specifically.
“We have not yet decided how they would invest, it could be for education, a research center or hospital development,” Pandjaitan said. He said he will meet Son in Davos and Tokyo later this month to finalize the plan.
After meeting Widodo last week, Son told reporters that he was interested in supporting “a new smart city, the newest technology, a clean city and a lot of artificial intelligence.”
Widodo announced last August that Indonesia’s capital will move from overcrowded, sinking and polluted Jakarta to a site in the sparsely populated East Kalimantan province on Borneo, known for rainforests and orangutans.

BACKGROUND

The capital’s relocation to a 256,000-hectare (632,580-acre) site almost four times the size of Jakarta will cost an estimated 466 trillion rupiah ($34 billion). The government is set to begin the construction later this year.

The capital’s relocation to a 256,000-hectare (632,580-acre) site almost four times the size of Jakarta will cost an estimated 466 trillion rupiah ($34 billion). The government is set to begin the construction later this year.
Investors from Asia, the Middle East, the US and China have shown interest in developing the city, Pandjaitan said.
Jakarta, with 30 million people including those in the greater metropolitan area, is prone to earthquakes and flooding, and is rapidly sinking due to the uncontrolled extraction of ground water.
Monsoon rains and rising rivers early this month left more than 60 people dead and 500,000 displaced.
Mineral-rich East Kalimantan was once almost completely covered by rainforests before illegal logging removed much of its original growth. It is home to only 3.5 million people and is surrounded by Kutai National Park, known for orangutans and other primates and mammals.
Indonesia is an archipelago nation of more than 17,000 islands, but currently 54 percent of the country’s nearly 270 million people live on Java, the country’s most densely populated island where Jakarta is located.


IMF experts visit Lebanon amid worsening economic crisis

Updated 42 min 27 sec ago

IMF experts visit Lebanon amid worsening economic crisis

  • IMF team will provide broad technical advice
  • Lebanon has not requested IMF financial assistance

BEIRUT: A team of IMF experts met Prime Minister Hassan Diab on Thursday at the start of a visit to provide Lebanon with advice on tackling a deepening financial and economic crisis, an official Lebanese source said.

The IMF has said the team will visit until Feb. 23 and provide broad technical advice. Lebanon has not requested financial assistance from the Fund.

The long-brewing economic crisis spiraled last year as capital flows into the country slowed and protests erupted against the ruling elite over decades of corruption and bad governance.

Diab’s government, which took office last month, must decide what to do about upcoming debt payments, notably a $1.2 billion dollar-denominated sovereign bond due on March 9.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun meanwhile said on Thursday measures would be taken to hold to account all those who contributed to Lebanon’s financial crisis through illegal actions be they transfers abroad, manipulation of Eurobonds or other acts.

“There is information that we are still in need of with regards to the banking situation. There are measures that we will take to hold to account all who participated in bringing the crisis to where it is,” Aoun said, according to his Twitter account.

Opinion

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One of Lebanon’s most influential politicians, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, said on Wednesday that debt restructuring was the best solution for looming maturities.

Lebanon will on Friday review proposals from firms bidding to give it financial and legal advice on its options, a source familiar with the matter said on Thursday. The government aims to take a quick decision on who to appoint, the source said.

So far, firms bidding to be Lebanon’s legal adviser are Dechert, Cleary Gottlieb, and White and Case, the source said.

Lebanon has issued requests for proposals to seven firms to provide it with financial advice.

The government on Wednesday formed a committee tasked with preparing an economic recovery plan that includes ministers, government officials, a central bank representative and economists, according to a copy of a decree seen by Reuters.