Meet Tom Lembong, Indonesia's New Trade Minister  

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - President Joko Widodo appointed Thomas "Tom" Tri Kasih Lembong, owner of the cinema franchise Blitz Megaplez, as the new Trade Ministry replacing Rachmat Gobel.

    Tom Lembong, a Harvard University graduate, was never mentioned during the reshuffle issue was raised. Several years ago, he was known as the man who was responsible to manage Bank Indonesia’s liquidity support (BLBI) debtors at the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA).

    Tom served as the Head of Investment Management Asset Division at IBRA. Media often mentioned him for being linked with assets sales of big-time obligors, including Sinar Mas back in 2001.

    IBRA previously agreed to refinance Sinar Mas’ debt to BII if the company failed to pay their debt. Later, Sinar Mas could not repay its debt as its subsidiary, Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) announced that the company and its subsidiaries could not repay their debts to creditors. Fifty-seven percent of APP’s shares were owned by Sinar Mas.

    Tom was convinced that IBRA would still repay Sinar Mas’ debt with cash, bonds or IBRA’s liquid asset.  

    Another Tom’s notable move was when he decided to sell palm oil plantation owned by Salim family to Malaysian company, Guthrie Berhad. The decision to sell the company for US$350 million to the competitor was criticized by the House of Representatives.

    During his terms at IBRA, Tom, as reported by Tempo Magazine resembled former Finance Minister Rizal Ramli for his bold moves to quickly sell IBRA’s assets.

    Tom, along with Garibaldi Thohir and Edwin Soeryadjaya under PT Adaro Indonesia, was once blacklisted by the government for allegedly evading royalty payment to the government back in 2008.

    The followings are Tom’s career history.

    1995 – 1996: Equity Division at Morgan Stanley (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.

    1999 – 2000: Investment Banker at Deutsche Securities Indonesia

    2000 – 2002: Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency

    2002 – 2005: Investment Manager at Farindo Investment

    2006 – sekarang: Partner at Quvat Management

    2012: Chairman of Board of Commissioners at PT Graha Layar Prima Tbk.