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OCBC is said to mull bid for StanChart-backed Indonesian lender

People pass an OCBC Bank office in Singapore (PHOTO: REUTERS/Edgar Su)

By Fathiya Dahrul, Elffie Chew and Chanyaporn Chanjaroen

(Bloomberg) -- Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. is weighing a bid for a controlling stake in PT Bank Permata, an Indonesian lender backed by Standard Chartered Plc, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

OCBC is considering an offer for almost 90% of the $1.9 billion bank, said the people, asking not to be named as the deliberations are private. Singapore’s second-largest lender is interested in buying the stakes held by Standard Chartered and PT Astra International, said the people.

The London-based bank and the Jakarta-listed conglomerate each own about 44.6% of Permata, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Standard Chartered said in February that its Permata investment is no longer considered core, signaling it may be getting ready to sell the stake. It also named Indonesia among four countries where the bank is focused on reducing costs and engineering a long-awaited turnaround.

OCBC’s deliberations are still at an early stage and may not result in a deal, the people said. Representatives for OCBC, Bank Permata, Astra and Standard Chartered declined to comment.

Permata, the 11th largest Indonesian bank by assets, reported net income of 711.4 billion rupiah ($50 million) for the first half of this year, up from 288.8 billion rupiah a year earlier.

Speculation that OCBC is getting ready for another acquisition has been fueled by its less generous dividend policy when compared with the other Singapore banks. The bank argues the policy ensures a strong capital position which allows it to capture market opportunities when they arise.

OCBC purchased Wing Hang Bank in Hong Kong for $5 billion in 2014, and in 2016 it paid $227.5 million for the wealth assets of Barclays Plc in Singapore and Hong Kong.

OCBC already has a presence in Indonesia through its stake of about 85% in Bank OCBC NISP, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

© 2019 Bloomberg L.P.