September 14, 2008 / 9:17 AM / in 9 years

Lachlan Murdoch Jakarta trip spurs Riady deal talk

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Lachlan Murdoch, son of media magnate Rupert Murdoch, met Indonesian tycoon James Riady in Jakarta last week, a Riady official said on Sunday, prompting talk that Murdoch may invest in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy.

The Riady family’s business interests, known as the Lippo Group, span property, hospitals, and media in Asia. Earlier this year, they announced ambitious expansion plans to invest as much as $10 billion in the region in the next few years.

Murdoch visited Riady property projects and its newspaper offices in Jakarta on his trip to the Indonesian capital, said Marshall Cooper, a commissioner at First Media, an internet company owned by the Riady family.

He added that there had been no discussions of any investments or deals between the two businessmen.

“Nothing is brewing,” said Cooper, in a text message to Reuters.

“He (Murdoch) is just a friend and has been visiting Asian markets to learn the various regional media markets, presuming looking at investment opportunities. There have been no discussions on any joint ventures or investments and do not expect one.”

However, a source at one of the Riady family’s businesses told Reuters that Murdoch may be looking at investing in their media ventures in Indonesia.

The group publishes Globe, a glossy monthly magazine on Indonesian business, and is preparing to launch an English language daily newspaper in Indonesia this year. Murdoch could not be reached as calls to his office, Illyria Pty Ltd, went unanswered on Sunday.

He formed Illyria in 2005 after he resigned from executive roles with News Corporation and moved with his family to Australia, but he retains a seat on the board of News Corp, run by his father.

The Riady family’s listed firms include Lippo Karawaci and Lippo Cikarang, two satellite town developments near Jakarta with their own hospitals, universities, malls, housing and offices.

The Lippo group also has Singapore-listed real estate investment trusts (REITS) -- First REIT, which is backed by Lippo’s Indonesian hospitals, and Lippo-Mapletree Indonesia Retail Trust, a joint venture with a unit of Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings.

Lippo also controls Indonesian retailer PT Matahari Putra Prima, Singapore retailer Robinson & Co, and Indonesian multimedia company PT First Media Tbk, which provides internet services.

Reporting by Sara Webb and Karima Anjani in Jakarta, and Anirban Nag in Sydney; Editing by Kim Coghill

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