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Ada Uang Abang Sayang: “Happy Ending” Kasus Astro di Indonesia

12 Apr

Ada sebuah lapangan bola; mari kita beri nama Stadion Indah Permai. Aturan mainnya bisa berubah sewaktu-waktu. Pemainnya lebih banyak daripada yang diatur. Ada yang tak pakai kaos kesebelasan, ada juga yang pakai tapi kaosnya lusuh kedodoran. Ada lagi yang kaosnya berwarna kuning atau hijau atau biru atau merah, padahal kaos aslinya berwarna putih bersih.

*priiiiiiittt*

Berbisnis di Indonesia hari ini seperti berbisnis dua puluh tahun lalu. “Saya adalah hukum, jika ingin tahu bagaimana menerjemahkan isi UU, tanyakan saja saya.” Untuk itu ada kemungkinan bahwa setiap pebisnis dari luar harus dibekali otak “animus nocendi”, atau mental berpikir seorang “perancang kejahatan” yang mengetahui segala pengetahuan dan dampak dari melanggar aturan. Terus terang memang Sigmund Freud sudah mencoba menganalisis manusia yang memiliki kecenderungan untuk berbuat jahat (id, ego, super-ego). Mau psikoanalisis atau legal-wise hocus pocus, yang penting adalah bahwa ada hasil perbuatan (tangible) dan ada pemikiran (intangible) dari setiap perbuatan, termasuk perbuatan “jahat”.

Di luar dari segala daya upaya orang untuk berbisnis di Indonesia, ada satu catatan khusus tentang bagaimana banyak pemain bisnis dari luar negeri “berkelit” untuk hidup mencari uang di negeri ini. Tentu saja dengan mitra yang cocok, atau “partners in crime”. Terkadang pula ada yang bermain cantik di kala masih bermitra mesra, dan ada kalanya bermain kaki jika sudah tak ada cinta.

Soal main tak cantik lagi ini jadi teringat sebuah JV (joint venture) antara pihak Astro All Asia Networks, plc dengan mitra mereka di Indonesia, yang sekarang sudah memasuki babak akhir dari gonjang-ganjing keretakan bermitra. Sebagai informasi, upaya kedua pihak bermitra ini di awalnya adalah untuk bermain dalam sebuah sistem yang memang masih penuh ketidakpastian atau lawlessness pasca-diberlakukannya UU Telekomunikasi dan UU Penyiaran (baca: pasca-reformasi). Yang terjadi waktu itu seakan-akan adalah sebuah usaha animus nocendi dengan situasi di mana segala masalah administratif ditempuh dengan mempertimbangkan:

  1. Aturan yang ada (dan tidak ada);
  2. Dampak dari tindakan yang diambil, apakah melanggar atau tidak melanggar aturan;
  3. Niatan untuk mengakali aturan yang tak ada (bahkan yang ada sekalipun, tapi bisa diakali?).

Di awal bermitra, JV ini bisa menyelesaikan segala isu dengan baik. Semua masalah seperti landing rights [klik sini untuk siaran pers Postel], lalu ada juga soal monopoli siaran sepakbola [klik sini soal progres di KPPU], hingga masalah kepemilikan yang tak sesuai amanat Undang-undang Penyiaran (yaitu 20%) telah “diredam” beberapa waktu terakhir sampai kemudian diangkat kembali masalah ini ke permukaan yang mengakibatkan “ditarik kembali izin frekuensi” ini [klik sini untuk baca beritanya].

Di luar itu, soal akal-mengakali peraturan di Indonesia sudah menjadi rahasia umum pebisnis global. Beberapa bahkan memberikan komentar: “No landing rights in Indonesia for [A]stro’s sattelite? No problem. [G]et themselves a reputable Indonesian lawyer to scrutinise the law, prefferably the same ones that represented [A]ir [A]sia (learn how [A]ir [A]sia got their landing rights in both Thailand and Indonesia), get a local partner to comply with the law, and lease your sattelite to this new Indonesian JV set up. Good luck.”

Itu komentar lama. Yang terjadi dua tahun kemudian adalah write-off dari aset dan hutang dari investasinya di Indonesia sejumlah RM92.4 juta (Rp 269,5 milyar) dan biaya atas penggunaan satelit dan operasional lain sejumlah RM135 juta (Rp 393,9 milyar). Per tanggal 31 Januari 2008 kerugian netto mencapai RM6 juta dengan profit netto RM160 juta setahun terakhir. Kerugian terbesar, seperti disampaikan pihak Astro Malaysia ke Bursa Malaysia, adalah JV dengan Indonesia. Sebuah “penghentian siaran sementara” ini adalah pertanda “next: exit left” sebuah investasi besar. Langkah lain adalah mencari mitra lokal baru, yang pastinya akan membeli saham di angka terendah dalam sejarah perusahaan induk 21,6% milik pemerintah Malaysia itu. Gonjang-ganjing Astro di Malaysia juga menghengkangkan 2 CEO (David Butorac dan Robert Odendaal) dalam tiga tahun terakhir ini. Di Indonesia? Lebih ramai lagi. Oh yeah, after the love has gone…

(below is the latest update on Astro’s holding in Malaysia)

***

25 Feb 2008

Corporate: Astro not decoupling operations
By Cindy Yeap

Owners of Astro All Asia Networks plc have no plans to take the company private or decouple its domestic and foreign operations, according to a source close to the company.

“There’re a lot of people looking for (corporate finance) work,” the source says, adding that the foreign operations are not self-sustaining yet to be decoupled.
Speculation over corporate exercises being mulled at Astro are not new. Since the surprise announcement of Maxis Communications Bhd’s privatisation in May last year, Astro’s shares have been active on rumours ranging from a potential privatisation and a reverse takeover by sister company Measat Global Bhd to talk of Astro spinning off its foreign operations from its cash cow Malaysian operations.
Talk of Astro being taken private was reignited recently following news of its executive deputy chairman Ralph Marshall assuming the duties of group CEO upon the departure of Robert Odendaal, effective April 15.

Speculation over Astro decoupling its domestic and foreign operations became louder following news of the company joining the bid for UK’s pop and rock radio station Virgin Radio from British media group SMG plc. Some investors regarded the news as more reason for Astro’s foreign operations to be hived off, as a new acquisition would add to existing concerns that start-up losses at its foreign ventures will drag the group into the red. At present, the steady cash flow from the dominant pay-TV provider’s Malaysian operations is being used to fund its expansion abroad.

On Astro’s privatisation, back-of-the-envelope calculations show that the cash generated is still not sufficient to facilitate such an exercise above its initial public offering price of RM4.06. An offer below that price is unlikely to ensure a successful privatisation. Astro generated RM160 million free cash from its operations for the nine months ended Oct 31, 2007.

To be noted is that cost of content, which makes up about a third of Astro’s operating expenditure, is on the rise. In the past six months, Astro has denied, at least twice, knowledge of any plans to take the company private. On Oct 8 last year, the Astro board of directors said they were “unaware of any information that would provide a basis for the speculation”. The more recent rumours revolved around Khazanah Nasional Bhd accumulating Astro shares on the open market. At press time, filings did not show any change in the shareholding of Astro’s top two shareholders.

As at May 2007, businessman Ananda Krishnan controlled 42.35% of Astro while Khazanah had 21.40%. Of its substantial shareholders, only the Employees Provident Fund and its fund managers have been buying and selling Astro shares in recent months. In the past six months, the pension fund has sold about 2% of Astro. It had 102.92 million or 5.32% of Astro shares as at Feb 18, down from the 142.7 million or 7.43% it had six months ago on Aug 16, 2007, filings show.
That a Middle East investor was taking up a minority stake in Astro Malaysia and a majority stake in Astro Indonesia also set tongues wagging. It points to Maxis’ partnership with Saudi Telecom – where the Middle East telecommunications player has acquired a majority 51% stake in PT Natrindo Telepon Selular from Maxis.

While it is possible for a Middle East investor to take up a stake in Astro Malaysia, it would be impossible in the case of Astro Indonesia, if it remains an Indonesian broadcaster. In October 2005, Indonesia imposed a 20% cap on foreign shareholding in broadcasters, and in 2005, gave foreigners five years to pare their stake to that level or face “sanctions”. The rule is reported to also apply to indirect stakes.

Astro needs to cut its stake in Astro Indonesia to 20% from the 51% it wanted to hold when it bought the stake. Talks to resolve its shareholding issue in Indonesia are still ongoing. Astro will incur a one-off settlement cost of RM200 million (10 sen per share) if it fails to make any headway in talks with its Indonesian partner, the Riady group. It costs around RM60 million a quarter to keep its Indonesian operations running. There is no deadline for these talks to conclude.

If it is Astro’s intention to work around Indonesian regulations by transforming Astro Indonesia into an integrated multimedia player, the groundwork would not be easy. The cap on foreign shareholding for telecommunications companies is even higher at 95% to control the influence of foreign media. Astro has maintained that it will actively engage with regulators to comply with Indonesian regulations.

For shareholders willing to weather the storm with Astro, it has promised to pay 50% of profits from its Malaysian operations as dividends. This may mean that there would not be any impetus to change status quo unless the 50% dividends that is being paid out is big enough to make its owners think again.

Astro is expected to pay between RM150 million and RM200 million of dividends to shareholders this year, translating to about 2% yield. Maxis was paying out more than RM1 billion in dividends a year and its shareholders had punished its share price every time yield was deemed not up to the mark. In other words, investors had come to expect Maxis to keep topping up dividend payments as well as delivering capital growth. Astro does not face such a situation.

Maxis minority shareholders who wanted to stay with Maxis because of their faith in businessman Ananda Krishnan would have the chance to do the same with Astro. Astro closed at RM3.72 last Friday, down 52 sen or 12.3% from the RM4.24 it ended at the week before.

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Ditulis oleh pada April 12, 2008 in broadcasting, business

 

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