The Right Time for a Comeback
    Category: Companies & People By : Ardian Wibisono Read : 1041 Date : Friday, February 19, 2016 - 08:28:01

    Ahmad Zamroni / Forbes Indonesia

    Last year was very challenging for Indonesia as the economy slowed down to below 5% with the commodity prices slump. It was a tough year for the banking sector as well. The latest Bank Indonesia statistics showed that commercial bank profitability declined 9%, even as credit growth rose 11% as of August 2015. The nonperforming loans ratio had also picked up to 2.7% compared to just 2% at the end of 2014.

    In the midst of this, in April 2015, senior Citibanker Batara Sianturi returned to Indonesia to become chief executive officer of Citibank Indonesia. He had three decades of experience with the bank, and he was returning after 12 years overseas. He replaced Tigor Siahaan who led Citibank Indonesia from 2011 and left to run CIMB Niaga. Batara is responsible for developing all of Citi’s businesses in Indonesia and reports to Michael Zink, head of ASEAN and Citi Country Officer for Singapore.

    “It’s good to be back, Indonesia has lots of opportunity,” says Batara, 55, when asked whether now is a good time for a comeback. Batara, who started at Citibank in 1988, has seen far challenging situations. Before being appointed to lead Citi Indonesia, Batara was the Chief Executive for the Philippines and the Cluster Head for the Philippines and Guam, and he was also Chief Executive for Hungary and Cluster Head for the other twelve Eastern European countries for six years since 2007. The European economy turned south after Greece default in 2010, and it also affected Hungary.

    In 2011, the Hungarian economy contracted 1.3% and the banking sector booked a $1.5 billion loss, but Citibank managed to come out from the crisis just fine and even it won awards such as Best Foreign Bank and Best Investment Bank in Hungary in 2011 from EMEA Finance magazine. Given his experience and achievements, Michael has high hopes for Batara in leading Citibank’s business in the biggest market in Southeast Asia and his home country. “The appointment of senior Citibanker Batara to lead our business in Indonesia signals the priority we place in a market where we plan to invest and grow in the years to come,” Michael said in a release announcing Batara’s appointment.

    Citibank is already one of the leading foreign banks in the country and Batara plans to push it further. Batara notes three global trends that Citibank could benefit from and will focus in, which are: globalization, urbanization and digitization. As a globalizing Indonesia raises its profile in the worldwide business community, Citibank with its international footprint in over 100 countries has plenty to offer. For the last five years, for example, Citibank helped Indonesian companies to raise over $20 billion, according to Dealogic. “If our clients want to invest or trade with Indonesia, or our clients in Indonesia want to do the opposite, we can offer them better connectivity with our extensive network,” he says.