Philip Morris International Inc. plans to sell shares in its Indonesian unit, which could allow it to raise as much as $1.4 billion. In the latest such move by a foreign company in Southeast Asia’s struggling equity markets, the firm -- the maker and marketer of Marlboro cigarettes outside the U.S. -- is seeking to sell the stock through a rights issue in a range between $4.94 and $5.32 per share, people with knowledge of the plan told the Wall Street Journal. Indonesia is the world’s third-largest market for cigarettes, behind China and the U.S.
Philip Morris International owns about 98.2 percent of the equity in the PT HM Sampoerna Tbk. unit, but the sale should allow the company to comply with planned stock-exchange rules that would require members of the public to own at least 7.5 percent of Indonesia-listed firms. The country’s equity markets have not done so well in 2015 -- the Jakarta Composite Index was down 16 percent this year as of Friday -- so it is conceivable the sale could be a positive development for the nation’s stock markets.
Philip Morris declined to comment to the Journal, and its Sampoerna unit could not be reached by the newspaper.
A number of factors have led to the issues in Indonesia’s financial markets this year, one big one being that exporters in the country have been hurt by China’s recently weak demand for their products and services.
Southeast Asia’s markets have been hurting since June, when the region began to see fewer deals being done. Experts have said economic slowdown in China will continue to hurt Indonesia.
“The exchange-rate upheaval and decline in the Chinese economic growth would affect us much because China is our main trading partner,” said Tony Prasetiantono of the Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, according to the state-owned Antara News.
— Pedro da Costa (@pdacosta) September 17, 2015
If Philip Morris International’s planned deal were to go through, it would be the biggest equity-market transaction in Indonesia in more than two years.