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Indonesia's biggest lender said to be mulling US$1b rights issue

Bank Rakyat's potential fundraising could take place as soon as first half of this year, they add

Jakarta

BANK Rakyat Indonesia, the country's largest lender by assets, is exploring a plan to raise at least US$1 billion through a rights issue, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The state-owned bank is working with advisers on the potential fundraising, which could take place as soon as the first half of this year, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private. The lender plans to strengthen its capital base to prepare for potential acquisitions with the proceeds, the people added.

Deliberations are ongoing and Bank Rakyat could still adjust the fundraising structure or even decide not to proceed, the people said. A representative for Bank Rakyat declined to comment on the fundraising plan, adding the bank's focus is to maintain and improve performance and to play an active role in the national economy recovery programme.

The planned fundraising comes after the lender in October signed a conditional deal with Bank Mandiri and Bank Negara Indonesia to combine their Syariah-compliant units that could form an entity whose assets could reach 390 trillion rupiah (S$36.93 billion) by 2025. Indonesia, home to the world's largest Muslim population, has sought to form a mega Islamic bank since at least 2015, taking on an earlier plan shelved by Malaysia.

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Separately, the Indonesian government is keen for Bank Rakyat to work with state-owned pawnshop chain Pegadaian and financing firm Permodalan Nasional Madani to provide affordable financing for small and medium enterprises, Erick Thohir, the nation's minister of state-owned enterprises, told local media last month. He didn't provide further details on the plan.

Bank Rakyat was established in 1895 in Purwokerto, Central Java, according to its website. The country's oldest lender used to be fully owned by the government until its listing in Jakarta in 2003. The bank has assets totalling 1,448 trillion rupiah as at Sept 30, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Shares of Bank Rakyat have fallen about 2.5 per cent in the past year, giving the lender a market value of around US$38 billion. BLOOMBERG

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