Indonesia hails ‘historic’ $22.9bn mega-investment deal with UAE

The UAE has pledged to build a replica of Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed grand mosque in Solo, the hometown of Indonesian leader Joko Widodo. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 17 January 2020

Indonesia hails ‘historic’ $22.9bn mega-investment deal with UAE

  • Leaders agree initial $6.8bn projects plan, including initiative to build a replica of Abu Dhabi grand mosque in Java

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s business community on Thursday welcomed the UAE’s pledge to pump tens of billions of dollars into a wide range of key sector projects.

President Joko Widodo and his entourage secured an overall $22.9 billion deal during an official two-day visit to Abu Dhabi earlier this week covering the fields of energy, logistics, port construction, mining, and agriculture.

It was also revealed that the delegation brokered a UAE commitment to assist in establishing an Indonesian sovereign wealth fund.

At a bilateral meeting, the Indonesian leader and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan witnessed the signing of 11 business accords between the two countries. Indonesia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi said the UAE had committed to investing $6.8 billion out of the total agreed spending package into the initiatives.

Luhut Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s chief minister for maritime affairs and investment, described the UAE’s pledges as possibly being “the biggest deals in Indonesia’s history, secured with the UAE within only six months,” referring to the crown prince’s visit to Indonesia last July.

While most lauded the deal, some Indonesian business leaders remained cautious over the long-term prospects for the projects.

Fachry Thaib, head of the Middle East Committee and OIC at the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce, said the schemes could trigger a wide-ranging domino effect through job creation and other business ventures.

“The government needs to have a strong lobbying team that can follow up these deals and push them into investment realizations. We have had such commitments from other Gulf countries, but there was no further lobbying and the pledges were hardly realized,” he told Arab News.

Zaini Alawi, a businessman who exports and imports between Indonesia and the Middle East, said: “It would set a good precedent to attract other Gulf countries to invest here if Indonesia shows it could aptly manage these investment deals.”

Director for Middle East affairs at Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry, Achmad Rizal Purnama, told Arab News that the $6.8 billion commitment from the UAE was only the first phase of a long-term program.

Widodo and the crown prince also witnessed the signing of five government cooperation agreements in health, agriculture, Islamic affairs, and counterterrorism.

Indonesian Minister of Religious Affairs Fachrul Razi said one of the main aspects of the cooperation agreement would be the promotion of religious moderation and raising awareness of the dangers of extremism.


The UAE has pledged to assist in establishing an Indonesian sovereign wealth fund.

Noting that the UAE had pledged to fund the construction of a replica of the Abu Dhabi grand mosque in Solo, the president’s hometown in Java, the minister pointed out that the grant was part of a commitment by the two countries to establish a mosque that welcomed all people and served a pivotal role in promoting the middle path of Islam.

Riza Widyarsa, a Middle East expert at the University of Indonesia, told Arab News that the cooperation deal could help more Indonesians to understand that not all countries in the Middle East observed conservative Islam. “They are also very active in countering religious extremism and radicalism,” he said.

In addition to the multi-billion-dollar projects, Purnama said Indonesia had also secured the UAE’s commitment to assist in establishing an Indonesian sovereign wealth fund into which the UAE, the US International Development Finance Corporation, and Japan’s SoftBank would inject funding.

And according to Pandjaitan, the UAE had pledged to be “the biggest contributor” to the fund.

The fund would be used to finance Indonesia’s ambitious infrastructure development projects and the construction of its proposed new capital in East Kalimantan, a relocation that has been estimated to cost $33 billion and of which Indonesia could only afford 19 percent.

He said all parties involved would meet in Tokyo soon to set up the structure of the fund and to finalize the plan, which the government expected to launch by mid-2020, a year after the crown prince proposed the idea to Widodo.

“This could be the first time that big capitalists work together in a single project,” Pandjaitan added.

Indonesia sells Asia’s first 50-year dollar bond to fight pandemic

Updated 07 April 2020

Indonesia sells Asia’s first 50-year dollar bond to fight pandemic

  • Indonesia will use the cash raised to partially ‘fund its COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts’
  • The deal was carried out virtually, with bankers working on the transaction unable to travel to Jakarta

HONG KONG: Indonesia has raised $4.3 billion, including the longest-dated US dollar bond ever issued by an Asian nation, to help the government fund its battle against coronavirus, according to a term sheet reviewed by Reuters.
The deal was finalized in the United States on Monday and sold in maturities of 10.5 years and 30.5 years, worth $1.65 billion each, with a 50-year tranche worth $1 billion.
It was Indonesia’s largest-ever bond, according to the term-sheet which showed Indonesia will use the cash raised to partially “fund its COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts.”
The decision to sell 50-year bonds by the government came after initial conversations with potential investors found there was appetite for such a tenor, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the matter.
Asian life insurers, especially some based in Taiwan as well as US fund managers were the largest investors, the sources said. The sources could not be named because they were not authorized to speak to media.
“The mood in the market is starting to feel better, investors are starting to think we could be moving toward the end of the tunnel,” a banker working on the deal said.
The deal was carried out virtually, with bankers working on the transaction unable to travel to Jakarta which would have been normal practice.
Bankers working on the deal said the international travel ban put in place to control the coronavirus pandemic made the transaction more efficient to negotiate.
However, for syndicate bankers selling the deal to investors it was logistically more difficult because trading rooms in the major banks have been scaled back.
Indonesia’s coronavirus cases stood at 2,491 on Monday, with 209 confirmed deaths — the highest number of fatalities in Asia outside China.
Fifty-year bond deals priced in local currencies have been held in the past, Refinitiv data showed. South Korea raised 1.1 trillion won through a 50-year bond in September 2016 that at the time was worth $1 billion.
Indonesia’s government said on Monday it had raised its estimated 2020 net bond issuance to 549.6 trillion rupiah ($33.55 billion) to cover the country’s widening deficit.
It also listed a plan for sales of 449.9 trillion-rupiah ($27.47 billion) worth of “pandemic bonds” to cover additional spending for the COVID-19 response.
Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC and Standard Chartered were the joint book runners for the deal, the term-sheet showed.