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Indonesian family business leaders top country’s rich list

Indonesia’s wealthiest billionaires all come from family businesses, according to a new rich list released this week.

In the wake of the southeast Asian nation’s presidential elections, held last month, Wealth-X has revealed the Hartono brothers, Michael and Robert, are the wealthiest Indonesian individuals, with a net worth of $9.7 billion (€7.2 billion) each.

The 9 July election was won by Joko Widodo, who did not come from an wealthy background, but instead grew up in a riverside slum in the city of Surakarta.

A spokesperson from Wealth-X said family businesses are important to Indonesia's private wealth, but 51% of ultra-high net worth individuals in the country are self made. ""As the country keeps growing, we expect more entrepreneurs to join the ranks of self-made UHNW individuals, thus reducing the influence of family wealth," the spokesperson said.

The Hartono brothers’ fortune is mostly derived from their clove cigarette company Djarum, founded by their father in 1951. The pair took over following his death in 1963. They also derive a significant amount of their wealth from Bank Central Asia.

Incidentally, Anthoni Salim, the son of Bank Central Asia’s founder, Sudono Salim, follows the Hartono brothers as the country’s next wealthiest billionaire, with an estimated fortune of $5.9 billion.

The Salim Group head succeeded his father in 1992, and oversees the conglomerate’s interests in food, telecom, retail, property and banking.

Fourth on the list is Eka Tjipta Widjaja who founded his family business, Sinar Mas Group, one of the largest conglomerates in Indonesia, in 1962. Widjaja, who has a net worth of $5.4 billion, has since handed over control to his children.

The final entry on the top-five list is Susilo Wonowidjojo, son of Surya Wonowidjojo, who founded Gudang Garam, another one of the country’s clove cigarette companies. Wonowidjojo’s estimated net worth is $4.6 billion.

According to Wealth-X, Indonesia has a billionaire population of 23, the seventh largest in Asia, behind China, India, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan.

Wealth inequality was a key issue in last month’s presidential elections, a factor that played largely to Widodo’s favour during campaigning. 

This month new data, published in the Journal of Indonesian Economic Studies, showed the gap between rich and poor has grown by more than 60% over the past decade – the most of any developing country. 

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