As IDX commissioner, this is how Pandu Sjahrir aims to help more Indonesian startups go public
Original post by e27
On Monday, June 22, in Jakarta, the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) released the list of its new commissioners for the 2020-2023 period, which is to be confirmed through an annual general stakeholder meeting today.
One of them was a familiar name in the local, perhaps even regional, tech startup ecosystem: Pandu Sjahrir.
Currently holding the position of Founding Partner of AC Ventures, Sjahrir has a long track record in the startup scene. He is widely known for his involvement in leading names such as gojek (as Board Member) and Sea Group (Chairman of Indonesia) as well as Xurya (Board Member) and Antler (Advisory Board).
He is also the Managing Partner of Indies Capital, which controls Indies Special Opportunities Fund, the leading alternative asset manager in the region, and Indies Pelago, a secondary tech fund in Southeast Asia.
Outside of the startup ecosystem, Sjahrir is the CFO of publicly listed energy company PT. Toba Bara Sejahtera Tbk, that was selected as Forbes’ Top 30 leading companies in Indonesia.
“My goal here is to find an outlier,” he speaks to e27 over the phone.
In this special interview, the startup investor reveals more details about the vision and mission for IDX –and how he is going to bring more Indonesian startups to get listed on the stock exchange.
A fresh start for IDX
Sjahrir begins our conversation by explaining the stock exchange goals in the next period: Increasing the participation of the younger generation –particularly Gen Y and Z– in the capital market and encouraging Indonesian tech startups to go public.
“As you might be aware of, there has not been any major tech company listed on the IDX,” he points out.
“It’s a completely different story with China and the US where the top 10 capitalisations are owned by tech companies. In Indonesia, it is still being dominated by banking and telco companies –exactly how it was 10 years ago,” Sjahrir continues.
He further elaborates how these two goals will support each other. By having more younger investors, major tech companies such as the local unicorns are expected to consider listing in Indonesia instead of other capital markets.
“We need to take a more active role in preventing them from leaving to other capital markets. Because we have to remember: The bigger guys, they have options,” Sjahrir warns.
By having these “cool” tech companies on IDX, the younger generation is also expected to be more interested in investing in the capital market.
“What we are doing here is deepening the demand, particularly by having more young investors on board. This is something that starts with education about the capital market,” Sjahrir says.
Trouble in the ecosystem?
These movements had led to speculation in the media on the possibilities for major tech startups in Indonesia –particularly the unicorns and decacorns– to have their IPOs soon after. But three years have passed and we are still waiting for these companies to make their move.
What will be the stock exchange’s strategy to encourage these unicorns to get listed on IDX, and not anywhere else?
“We have to be more market-friendly in various aspects, [starting] from regulation to the founder’s shares treatment. Like in the US, there is a difference in the treatment, and this is what Indonesia is currently studying. There is also got to be minority shareholder protection, which OJK is concerned about,” Sjahrir states.
But what is actually the challenges faced by Indonesian startups that have been preventing them from being listed? According to Sjahrir, there are two main hurdles: Profitability and founder shares treatment.
“The latter is the part where we are still ‘stuck’ on. In the US, founders are allowed to have different voting rights. We aim to address these issues to remain competitive with the other stock exchanges,” he says.
In this new period, IDX aims to get 20 to 40 companies on board, but Sjahrir says that they do not wish to be burdened by quantity. There is got to be a focus on the quality as well, he stresses.
“We need to start with the mindset first, how to capitalise on tech companies in Indonesia. Because the main difference between us and Singapore and Thailand is that our capital market is smaller than our GDP,” Sjahrir points out.
“So our focus is on how to increase the market capitalisation of the companies on the stock exchange,” he closes.