May 18 22:10

Govt advised to be careful about Cemex`s shares sale

Jakarta (Antara News) - The Indonesian government, the state enterprises ministry in particular, should be careful in handling the sale of Cemex`s 25.53-percent stake in PT Semen Gresik, an economic observer said.

"If the ministry isn`t careful, it will tarnish the country`s image in the eyes of foreign investors," Hadi Soesastro, executive director of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), said here on Thursday.

Hadi made the remark in comment on the pros and cons about a deal reached last May 5 between Cemex shares and the Rajawali under which the Mexican company would sell its shares in PT Semen Gresik to the group.

It was learnt that the group and Cemex had reached an agreement on the shares purchase amounting to US$337 million (Rp2.9 trillion) or US$2.28 (Rp20,000) per share.

Alhough the group and Cemex had made a conditional sale and purchase agreement, the final transaction must get the government`s approval, he said.

With the pre-emptive right held by the government, the state can purchase the shares, he added.

But Finance Minister Sri Mulyani signaled that the government had no funds to purchase the shares due to the state budget condition.

Hadi said the government was very late if it wished to use its pre-emptive right because the two parties (Rajawai Group and Cemex) had already made their deal.

"Why now? Cemex has already announced it wants to sell its shares. Now the government is busy to seek for parties who want to purchase. It is not right," he said.

Hadi expressed worry if the government had to purchase through state enterprises because it could be a blunder.

The observer also touched on the unsolved arbitration issue in the international court between the Indonesian government and Cemex.

"The release of shares to the Group should also expedite the settlement of the issue. A lot of money and energy have been spent because the government broke its promise to Cemex," he added.

To respond the government`s rights to Cemex whether or not it wishes to purchase the shares which falls on May 18, 2006, State Minister of State Enterprisies Sugiharto said, "We dont`t answer it yet. There is still an injury time on Monday."(*)
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