Indonesia now has something else to brag about aside from islands. According to Forbes Indonesia’s latest list of the country’s richest people, the archipelago now has more billionaires (32) than Japan (28).
Although Indonesia’s ultra-exclusive club of wealthy coal barons was hit hard by the by the plunge of coal prices, it was offset by the growing wealth of the people behind the country’s top retail, media, banking, food and tobacco companies.
According to Justin Doebele, chief editorial adviser of Forbes Indonesia, the thing that really stands out this year is that the money of those that produce something for the middle class has been rising while those that made money mostly from commodities went down in ranking.
Listed as Indonesia’s richest persons are R. Budi and Michael Hartono, worth US$15 billion thanks largely to their holdings in Bank Central Asia. Also in the top five was Anthony Salim and family (US$5.2 billion), who are behind the world’s largest instant noodle company Indofood.
Newcomers included mall and property developer Alexander Tedja (US$790 million) and snack manufacturer Garudafood’s Suhamek (US$760 million). The ‘poorest’ rich man on the list was newbie Eddy Kusnadi Sariaatmadja (US$730 million), who made his money selling computers and now manages television stations.
Although is still smaller than the ranks in China (more than 100 billionaires) and India (more than 50 billionaires), Indonesia’s population of less than one-fourth the population of China and India means it has more billionaires per capita.
The country also expects its GDP to expand more than 6% this year and next year. It has been attracting a record amount of foreign direct investment as companies including Toyota, Nestlé and GE have been expanding in the country to better target its emerging consumers.
Indeed, many South-East Asian economies have been shining while the rest of the world slumps. The region is now home to the world’s richest country by some measures – Singapore – and hundreds of thousands of new millionaires.