Uncritical puffs

A copy of the Jakarta Post is delivered to the offices of Mata Pribadi every morning by a very nice man on a motor bike. There are days when one wonders why we pay good (if not terribly much) money for reading an organ whose content is in no small part already paid for by those they write about.

an off the cuff remark ..

We have no issue with Macquarie Capital Senior Managing Director John Walker, he is doing a job, though we fail to understand how it is possible to have a “senior” managing director. On the plus side, however, he does have a very fine name and we do wonder how often he gets called “Johnny”.

No, instead we have an issue with the uncritical “puffs” that appear so regularly and right across the JP and which can, at best, be labelled crap journalism and, at worst, something rather worse.

Take a look at this recent piece on the front page of the Business Section of the JP and, after you have read it, do you get the feeling that this is a fine example of the vigorous beating heart of challenging investigative journalism, the stuff that has brought down Presidents, Kings, Tyrants and Robert Maxwell? Or perhaps something else?

Determined to bring a bit more clarity to the situation, MP has its own version of what might have been reported instead.

Infrastructure is very important to Indonesia as it is a key enabler to the planned industrial development of the Nation. At present it is crap and often total crap, not least in the City that Really Never Sleeps™ where nightmare congestion is the daily norm. Infrastructure spending also adds to the country’s GDP, an indicator that foreign investors take very seriously.

Government is of course aware of the issue and occasionally stirs itself to do something about it, though the compulsory land acquisition legislation that would be the principle enabler to infrastructure development has hung around the DPR for years.

DPR members, rather than vigorously pass laws for the greater good of the Nation, instead argue endlessly for their vested interests and those of whom they represent. Business as usual there then.Infrastructure worldwide is generally a responsibility of Governments though, for developing countries with funding issues in particular (but not exclusively), there are attractions in involving the private sector in so called “Public Private Partnerships” or PPPs.

Macquarie Capital is an Australian “Mega” Fund with extensive interests worldwide in an asset class that has been the darling of investors for some years, that of large infrastructure projects. The asset class is popular not least because the sort of assets within in it are generally capable of consistent long term revenue growth and are not so subject to the violent swings in capital value seen in many other asset classes – and therefore just the sort of whizzo thing for those with long term liabilities to match, like Pension Funds.

Today we spoke with Johnny Walker, Macquarie Capital Senior (sic) Managing Director who has popped into Indonesia, and may or may not have met Deputy Transport Minister Bambang Susantono, in order to see if he couldn’t add a few profitable projects to his portfolio. We fearlessly asked him a few questions and equally fearlessly made up his answers for him.

MP Selamat pagi, Johnny.
JW Selamat pagi, juga, and if you don’t mind it’s John.
MP Ok, John, thanks for that, now, first question, is Macquarie a charitable institution?
JW Erm no, we are a publicly held company accountable to its shareholders
MP John, the Jakarta Post alleges that you “like the PPP model for RI airports”. Is this true and if so why?
JW Er, yes. The real reason of course is that it allows us to get in at all and then make money without offending nationalist sensitivities too much. Look at the mess all those water companies got into.
MP Quite, and thanks for your honesty, Johnny. What sort of financial terms are you looking for here in Indonesia?
JW Essentially we look to get back all our costs including depreciation and make a 15% per annum return on our capital employed either in cash or increased project interest.
MP Well, best of luck with that then Johnny – and you might check out with the oil companies regarding getting your costs back, there are, er, certain pitfalls that you might wish to take into account in your project economics.
JW Right, many thanks, I’ll get my staff on to that right away (said while paying no attention at all).
MP Johnny, did you pay for the insertion of the piece on infrastructure into the business pages of the Jakarta Post the other day?
JW Better ask my PR guy about that; I am a Senior (sic) Managing Director and am therefore shielded from such mundane detail by a large executive support staff.
MP Erm, right, well thanks for that, we hope you enjoy the rest of your time in Jakarta, have you visited Blok M yet?
JW No, but I am a keen hasher and Lick a Clit and Juicy Clam have invited me to the Monday night hash after which we will visit the Everest Cafe, they have a good girl band on at the moment apparently.
This entry was posted in Blok-M, Business, November 2011. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Uncritical puffs

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