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Indonesia's Two Stock Exchanges Plan to Merge


Indonesia's two stock exchanges are planning to merge to create one national bourse, and Australia's biggest private life insurer has posted strong full-year profit. Claudia Blume at VOA's Asia News Center in Hong Kong has more on these and other stories in our weekly look at business news from the region.

Indonesia's two bourses, the Jakarta and the Surabaya Stock Exchanges, say they plan to merge to create a bigger and more competitive stock exchange. The new entity will be based in Jakarta, and called the Indonesian Stock Exchange. The two exchanges will hold shareholder meetings at the end of October to approve the merger, which is scheduled to take effect in December.

Australia's largest private health insurer, Medibank Private, has posted full-year profit of about $250 million, up almost 50 percent from a year earlier.

The company said the result was driven by strong growth in the number of customers and market share, as well as a surge in investment income.

Medibank Private's chief financial officer, Michael Sammells, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that he expects the growth to continue.

"It's a strong result but we still think there's upside in future years," he said. "We've already got a stable operating platform and a strong balance sheet to further drive profitability through next year."

U.S. private equity firm Blackstone Group has bought a 20 percent stake in a Chinese chemical company. Blackstone paid $600 million for the stake in China National Blue Star, a unit of the state-owned China National Chemical Corporation. It was the Blackstone Group's first deal in China.

In May, the Chinese government bought a 10 percent stake in Blackstone, in a move to invest part of the country's huge foreign reserves.

HSBC Bank says it will buy a 10-percent stake in Vietnam's leading insurance company, BaoViet, for $255 million. The London- and Hong Kong-listed bank will provide technical assistance and training to BaoViet, which is based in the capital, Hanoi. BaoViet is Vietnam's market leader in both general and life insurance.

A South Korean court suspended the jail sentence of business tycoon Kim Seung-youn. Kim, the chairman of South Korea's Hanwha Group, was sentenced to 18 months in prison in July for assaulting bar workers in Seoul who had allegedly scuffled with his son. The appeals court said the prison sentence for Kim was too hard, citing his health condition. He was ordered to do 200 hours of community service instead.

Kim is the second South Korean businessman in a week to have his prison sentence suspended. Last week, a court suspended the three-year term of the chairman of Hyndai Motor Corporation, Chung Mong-koo, who had been convicted on charges of embezzlement.

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