UPDATE 1-Bank of China among bidders shortlisted for Indonesia bank auction-sources

Tue May 20, 2014 6:25am EDT

* Hong Leong Bank, Bank Rakyat among 11 bidders shortlisted

* Non-binding bids due next month (adds detail about the auction, Indonesia's banking outlook)

By Saeed Azhar and Fathiyah Dahrul

SINGAPORE/JAKARTA, May 20 (Reuters) - The Hong Kong unit of Bank of China and Malaysia's Hong Leong Bank are among the bidders shortlisted to buy Indonesia's state-owned Bank Mutiara Tbk, people with knowledge of the bidding process said on Tuesday.

Bank Rakyat Indonesia has also qualified to bid, its finance director Achmad Baiquni told Reuters.

Poltak L. Tobing, an official at the state-run Indonesia Deposit Insurance Corporation, told Reuters 11 bidders had been shortlisted. He declined to identify any of the bidders.

Bank Mutiara offers investors a rare opportunity to own 100 percent of a lender in Southeast Asia's largest economy. Higher interest margins and stronger loan growth in Indonesian banks compared to those for lenders in neighbouring countries have also attracted foreign institutions.

Bank Mutiara could fetch about $300 million, one person familiar with the process said, lower than the 6.7 trillion rupiah ($593.3 million) the government spent in 2008 to rescue what was then called Bank Century. The rescue was part of the government's efforts to avert a crisis in the banking system after the global financial crisis.

The government said qualified firms can make offers for Bank Mutiara in early June.

The relevant officials at Bank of China were not immediately available to comment and Hong Leong did not reply emails seeking comment. The sources could not be named because the bidding process remained confidential.

The government can offer investors a 100 percent stake in Bank Mutiara because it bailed it out, bankers said.

Two years ago, the Indonesian central bank imposed a 40 percent limit on single ownership in domestic banks. The restriction forced Singapore's DBS Group Holdings to abandon its bid to buy PT Bank Danamon last year and also halted the planned sale of Indonesian units of some foreign banks.

Indonesia's central bank said late last year that total loans will expand between 15.3 percent and 16.6 percent in 2014, slower than its initial forecast of 20 percent, in line with a weakening in the economy.

Moody's Investors Service said in February that Indonesian banks will continue to report strong financial fundamentals, including high profitability and capital levels, despite the economic slowdown that will put some pressure on asset quality. (Reporting by Saeed Azhar and Fathiyah Dahrul; Additional reporting by Eveline Danubrata in SINGAPORE; Editing by Denny Thomas and Miral Fahmy)