Indonesian Firms Demand More Loans to Buy Pandemic-Hit Assets

(Bloomberg) — Indonesia’s second-largest lender by assets says the nation’s companies are set to demand more loans, as they scoop up assets made cheaper by the pandemic.

Some buyers are interested in assets that have become available after the virus and measures to stem it hurt Indonesia’s economy, Alexandra Askandar, corporate banking director at PT Bank Mandiri, said in an interview last week. Growth in loans to large businesses will likely accelerate in the second half from an expansion of 3.4% in the first six months, she said, declining to give an exact target.

“There is demand for loans which have been triggered by this pandemic as some companies are selling their assets,” according to Askandar, 48. “Some of the financing that we provide is to support these acquisitions, such as for oil and gas assets, as well as power plants.”

Indonesia’s economy contracted for the first time in more than two decades in the second quarter, but is showing signs of recovery after the government eased some restrictions on movement. Still, a number of borrowers including property developer PT Modernland Realty have missed or delayed debt payments as the pandemic weighs on business revenues.

Of 320 trillion rupiah ($22 billion) of loans under Askandar’s supervision, 50 trillion rupiah has been restructured, she said. Askandar said she’s confident that these loans won’t turn into non-performing assets after March 2021, when a government-sponsored program to ease debt payments is set to end, citing improvements in business activity.

Some Indonesian companies are hunting for good investments at home and abroad during the pandemic. State-owned oil company PT Pertamina has been in talks to purchase some energy assets of Houston-based oil explorer Occidental Petroleum Corp., a deal that would help Occidental cut its debt pile.

For Mandiri, the bank will shift its focus to expanding its corporate loan book again after spending most of the second quarter restructuring company debt, according to Askandar. Demand for funds will also come from enterprises looking to refinance maturing bonds, as market pricing isn’t currently favorable, she said.

(Updates with Pertamina talks in sixth paragraph)

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