Putera Sampoerna’s £115m London casino bet

Last week a few British newspapers picked up on a very juicy piece of business news indeed.

So incredible in fact that I didn’t bother to cover the story as I thought that it would soon be covered by other bloggers such as
Yosef Ardi who does such a great job in digging up dirt in the murky world of Indonesian business and politics.

But as of yet nothing. And nothing in the Indonesian press either.

So I guess I’ll be the first to break the news:

Putera Sampoerna, a former tobacco tycoon, has made a £115m approach to buy Les Ambassadeurs, the upmarket Mayfair casino owned by London Clubs International!!!

If this is not taking the mick, I don’t know what is.

Just think about it: Sampoerna made his fortunate by exploiting millions of smokers in Indonesia and now he wants to buy a business overseas! Wouldn’t it be better for him to invest the money in Indonesia (around 2.4 trillion rupiah!) – where many people still live below the poverty line - and create jobs here rather than see such a huge amount of money flow out of the country? Isn’t this the least this dollar billionaire could do?

Apparently not. And his choice of business raises the eyebrows too. Not because casinos don’t make money, but because gambling is illegal in Indonesia. So this little deal isn’t going to please the conservative elements in society one little bit - if it is accepted - especially as religious tensions have flared recently following the Danish cartoons controversy.

I just wonder if the Indonesian press is deliberately holding off on this story.

But then again, why would they?


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