Indonesia watchdog probes Singapore’s Temasek

JAKARTA ~ Singapore’s state-linked investment firm Temasek Holdings is under investigation in Indonesia for alleged monopoly practices in the telecoms industry, an official said on Thursday.

Indonesia’s anti-monopoly watchdog said it would start interviewing witnesses after concerns that the company was in breach of the nation’s business competition law.

The investigation centres on Temasek’s alleged cross-ownership of two of Indonesia’s largest mobile phone companies, Indosat and Telkomsel.

“We have started … investigations and they are expected to take three months in maximum,” said Syamsul Maarif a commissioner with the Business Competition Supervisory Commission.

“We will impose legal sanctions in the form of fines or a cease-operation if we find evidence on Temasek’s monopoly practices,” Maarif said.

Temasek officials are expected to be interviewed in coming weeks as part of the investigation.

Temasek owns a 56-percent stake in the SingTel Group, which has a 35-percent holding in Indonesia’s largest mobile telecoms firm Telkomsel, reports said.

Singapore Technologies Telemedia, wholly owned by Temasek, owns 41.9 percent of Indonesia’s second largest telecommunications company, Indosat.

The cross-ownership reportedly breaches the 1999 Anti-monopoly Law.

Commission chairman Muhammad Iqbal said it has already found “signs of a lack of competition between Telkomsel and Indosat” including similar prices for their cellphone products.

Temasek was not immediately available for comment.

Established in 1974 by the government, Temasek controls some of Asia’s best-known companies, including Singapore Airlines and Singapore Telecommunications.

Its corporate portfolio is valued at S$129 billion (US$85 billion).

It has stepped up its investments in Asia’s emerging economies in recent years, snapping up stakes in companies in the financial, telecoms and technology sectors.

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