Capital prop for ANZ Panin

Ian Rogers

ANZ will increase its capital invested in Indonesia by “up to US$100 million”, or two thirds more than at present.

The bank opted to disclose the capital investment plans in the context of public relations around a periodic visit to Jakarta by the managing director, Mike Smith, and his attendance at a high-profile business conference in the city this weekend.

Meaningful disclosure by ANZ on its investments, current and planned, in Asia, is generally pretty thin, and out of step with its quest to generate 20 per cent of its earnings from Asia by some time late next year.

The bank’s latest investor discussion pack, published on Tuesday, recycles the same slide and the same data used in investor briefings seven months ago on the six main businesses being purchased from Royal Bank of Scotland, including the business in Indonesia that is the subject of the current public relations.

The additional investment in Indonesia will lift the capital base of PT ANZ Panin Bank to in excess of two trillion rupiah, based on the 2008 annual report on the bank. ANZ Panin does not plan to publish the 2009 annual report until May.

ANZ’s group accounts also provide little insight into its Indonesian business, though central bank data suggests that ANZ Panin’s profits were down in 2009.

The latest ANZ investment in ANZ Panin, of which it owns 85 per cent alongside Panin bank, helps bring into focus once again the bank’s options in Indonesia.

In early 2009 ANZ increased its stake in PT Bank Pan Indonesia, by eight percentage points to 36 per cent.

The long-standing assumption is that ANZ wants to move control of Panin, but the second assumption is that the controlling shareholders are highly unlikely to sell to ANZ should they opt to sell.

So might ANZ become a seller of its Panin stake itself (and worth roughly $500 million based on the valuation agreed a year)?

ANZ is seeking a buyer for its 10 per cent stake in Sacombank in Vietnam, a decision interpreted by some as a sign that the bank no longer sees merit in minority stakes in Asian banks.