The Financial Life

Patrick Walujo's Indonesian Adventure


Lost amid all the scary headlines about debt crises in Greece and Hungary this year has been the spectacular performance of Indonesia. Southeast Asia's biggest economy grew 5.7 percent in the first quarter, and the vast archipelago has become the emerging market of choice for private equity pros. Patrick Walujo, 34, saw its potential as a resource-rich, fast-track economy years ago, and today is one of the country's premier dealmakers. Looking to invest in the Indonesia story, TPG Capital, the Fort Worth-based buyout firm, chose to team up with Walujo's private equity firm, Northstar Pacific Partners, back in 2006.

Since then, Northstar and TPG have done five deals worth a total of $1.3 billion. They include taking investment stakes in Jarkarta-based PT Bank Tabungan Pensiunan Nasional and PT Delta Dunia Makmur, the holding company of coal mining contractor PT Bukit Makmur Mandiri Utama. While rivals such as Washington-based Carlyle Group and the U.K.'s CVC Capital Partners are now getting serious about the world's most populous Islamic nation, Walujo is looking for ways to cash out of his first round of investments. "This year is going to be a year of a few exits," says Walujo, who graduated from Cornell University with a degree in industrial engineering. "Next year is going to be a busy year for exits."

TPG'S founding partner, David Bonderman, wants Walujo to keep trolling for fresh prospects, especially in the resource sector. (Indonesia is the world's biggest palm oil producer and has large deposits of natural gas and minerals such as coal and copper.) "Indonesia seemed to us to be an interesting emerging market for investment," says Bonderman, "and Patrick and his colleagues seemed to be the best there."

Walujo earned his dealmaking chops during stints with Goldman Sachs in New York and London. Bonderman likes his conservative investment style of avoiding fancy structured-debt deals for straight equity investments in companies that benefit directly from the country's expanding consumer base or natural resources. It doesn't hurt that Walujo is well-connected—he's the son-in-law of Theodore Rachmat, the former president-director of big automobile distributor PT Astra International and one of Indonesia's richest men. Walujo gets face time once a year with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Investing in Indonesia is still risky, what with the nation's corruption and weak legal system. Still, Indonesia is far more stable than when Walujo partnered with TPG in 2006. "We saw the opportunity in the private equity space in Indonesia," says Walujo. "At that time, there were not many people [who did]." Now Jakarta is brimming with dealmakers, and Walujo is leading the pack.

Company

Northstar Pacific Partners

Strategy

Focus on companies benefiting from the Indonesian boom

Big stakes

PT Bank Tabungan Pensiunan Nasional, PT Delta Dunia Makmur

Ismail is a reporter for Bloomberg News in Singapore.

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