Taking the Long View
    Category: Issues & Ideas By : Justin Doebele Read : 953 Date : Monday, May 09, 2016 - 05:14:11

    Toto Santiko Budi for Forbes Indonesia

    Sweden’s Wallenberg family stands as one of the enduring dynasties in the world. The family’s business empire can be traced back 160 years and five generations to Andre Oscar Wallenberg, who started in 1856 what would become Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB (SEB), one of Sweden’s largest banks. From there, the family branched out and now is linked to major Swedish multinationals such as ABB, Ericsson and Electrolux. It has become one of the world’s wealthiest families. Brothers Marcus and Jacob continue the family tradition, with Marcus as chairman of SEB and Jacob as chairman of Investor AB, the family’s private investment arm. The family’s interaction with Indonesia stretches back at least as far as 1907, when Ericsson first entered here. The two were recently in Jakarta as part of a delegation of top Swedish and Nordic business leaders to learn about the Indonesian market and explore opportunities. Each brother rarely speaks to the media, and even rarely do the two give joint interviews.

    What is the purpose of your visit?

    Marcus Wallenberg: The purpose is very simple. The bank decided—actually Jacob started it when he was the chairman of the bank 15 years or so ago—that we should bring our largest customers to see different points of interest. These are Nordic corporations with global operations, which means they are in most countries around the world, but the chairmen or the CEOs don’t always get to see those operations on a regular basis. Last year, we were in Silicon Valley to look at digitization efforts. This year we chose Indonesia, because this market holds tremendous opportunities in terms of market size, but I think it’s not so well known by many Nordic people. What is the structure of this market? What is the cultural and ethnic background? What is the political situation—and so on? If I may say so, we want to put more emphasis on this market going forward. I’m not sure everyone realizes ASEAN is a market of 600 million, and Indonesia is an important part of that block. So that’s a little background on why we’re here.

    In which areas do you see Nordic companies and Indonesia creating the most value?

    MW: I think one of the key aspects here is the push for infrastructure. Jacob, for example, is on the board of ABB.

    Jacob Wallenberg: Most companies that we’re associated with have been in Indonesia for a long time—Ericsson has been here since 1907. It’s not a lack of awareness, but if you look at the group with us, I’d say that more than half have never visited Indonesia before. One goal is to raise this group’s interest and improve their knowledge base. On infrastructure, obviously ABB and Wartsila, a Finnish company where we are also shareholders, and which produces very large engines that produce energy, have a real interest in engaging with Indonesia—or, for example, Ericsson in telecommunications. So many companies have something to offer this country. Hence our interest to understand its dynamics and development.