Monday, December 11, 2006

Reuters opens second office in Indonesia

Thursday, December 07, 2006
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Reuters Group Plc. has opened a second office in Indonesia to provide training to clients on how to use its news and information programs, and to display the full range of Reuters business products that are available here.

"The opening of the office reflects the growing demands from our clients in line with the dramatic development of the Indonesian financial markets over the last few years," Reuters business manager Tony Wong said Wednesday.

Jerry Norton, Indonesian bureau chief said that apart from general services provided by the company's main office in the Wisma Antara building in Central Jakarta, the new office would specifically service clients from the financial sector.

"It's not designed to be a general office, but is more for the purpose of training and displaying our products," he said.

Established in 1851, Reuters is the biggest multimedia company in the world with 196 bureaus in 130 countries. It provides more than 30,000 news reports in 19 languages every day, which are used by currency markets, business professionals and individuals around the globe.

The Reuters office in Indonesia was established in 1920 and continues to grow rapidly, widening the range of its business products and expanding its global reporting network for media, financial markets and the private sector.

The real-time data covers stocks, bonds and derivatives from 300 stock exchanges. It also provides historical information about more than 35,000 companies. (02)

Citigroup offering finance education to the poor

Thursday, December 07, 2006
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

As part of a global strategy to empower the disadvantaged, Citigroup has picked Indonesia as the third country where it will introduce its financial education for the poor project, which started in Peru and the Philippine two years ago.

The project, which basically provides training for trainers, is costing some US$5.3 million worldwide.

As part of the project, a one-week workshop, which started Tuesday, is being held in Jakarta, with around 30 participants taking part from Cambodia, Mongolia, Sri Langka, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Shariq Mukhtar, Citibank country business manager, said that teaching good money management practices would help people understand money management and financial law, thereby hopefully helping them to improve their well-being.

"This is a model I feel very proud of because it educates the consumers.

"When you have an educated consumer, it will result in a stable banking industry as people will pay back their money at the right time and the money will then go to the next eligible family," explained Mukhtar.

The project kicked off two years ago with a study to identify the needs of clients around the globe and identify key learning objectives. After the creation of modules and pilot programs, the team came up with a generic module design, which in turn can be localized and adapted to the needs of specific countries.

The module covers such areas as budgeting, savings, debt management, banking services and financial negotiations.

For the preparation of the module, Citibank spent about $3.9 million out of a total of $5.3 million. The remainder of the money is now being used for the dissemination of the curriculum around the globe through in-country training.

"There is a long way to go, and many things to do regarding this program, such as how to localize and adopt the module's materials to enable it to be implemented it in Indonesia," said Danielle Hopkins, Financial Education Manager of Microfinance Opportunities, a micro enterprise resource center, who had helped developed the financial education curriculum, based on successful micro finance practices in several countries.

Six educational institutions and microfinance institutions with good track-records in microfinance sector in Indonesia have been selected as dissemination partners by the bank. They will now be trained as service providers for the program.

Ditta Amahorseya, senior vice president and country corporate affairs head of Citigroup Indonesia, said Citigroup would be targeting the members of 75 different institutions from around the country to receive training in 2007. (02)

Sentul could be an inspiration

The Jakarta Post, Dec 11, 2006

The A1GP race is entering its second year and although it has yet to be as popular as the Formula One, it has started to attract more racing lovers around the globe. The Jakarta Post's Matheos Messakh spoke to A1GP Chief Operating Officer David Clare on the sidelines of Indonesia's race at Sentul circuit, south of Jakarta, over the weekend, on the challenges and the future of the sport.

Question: What are the problems the A1GP has faced?

Answer: We are very much a young series and I think our main challenge is awareness, making sure people understand what we do and aware we are different to the other series.

You talked about focusing on the Asian market. Why are you interested in the market?

The Asian market is the market that we are trying to develop. A lot of the Asian markets are fairly new in motorsports. The traditional European or North American markets are well developed.

So as a series, A1GP is in the opposite side of the other series. It makes sense and we have a lot of interest within the Asian market. So it's a very important part of our future. Also a lot of manufacturers and a lot of development in the automotive industry is around the Asian market.

Is it true that in the first year you suffered financial losses? How do you see the future of A1GP?

It's like starting any other business. At the first year, there's a lot of capital investment.

But since the end of last season, we had significant interest from major international corporations, slightly coming in. Most of them will invest in the series. They seem to approve of what we have done in the first year and we are in to the second season.

We may be able to announce initial sponsorship partnerships in the next few months.

About the sport itself, in other series you would say that technology plays maybe 75 percent of the quality of the car. But we hope here is the driver-engineer team combination that makes up the majority of the performance.

So if you have a good engineer and a driver working together closely then the car can improve significantly.

As a new championship, is the A1GP going to have one or two main established sponsors or are you looking for several different sponsors?

Currently, we're thinking of arranging global sponsors to run every car as well as a national sponsor on each car. We haven't considered having a serious type of sponsor yet. We haven't been looking to do that because we want to make sure that the brand in itself is strong.

Do you have any plans to expand the number of teams?

There is always a plan to have some more teams, maybe in the autumn. Twenty-five is a good number, 28 is probably the maximum. But if you look at most series around the world, lots of them are in 18, 20 or 22 cars. So already we are competitive within the numbers.

In the future, are you going to make A1 the final destination of top drivers?

In many situations we hope we have our own group of drivers who want to race in A1. One or two of our drivers, for example Alex Yoong of Malaysia has spent half of his carrier with A1 and he has been very supportive.

I think you'll find opportunities in certain markets. We will be the pinnacle of opportunity to certain countries.

What is your opinion about Sentul in terms of its liability for racing? Is there anything that needs to be improved?

Definitely it needs to be upgraded a little bit. Track service and things like that need to be improved. But as a venue, the location is good, it's very popular, it creates very good TV images, which is good for us and for Indonesia.

From a technological point of view, there are certain things that need to be done to the circuit. Developing awareness about the facilities, getting people to want to come here to compete themselves.

The important thing is Indonesia as a country with (a big) enough population, should be a significant player in the industry, both in the automotive side and also from the sport side.

Indonesia needs to use this (circuit) as a catalyst for the development of motorsport, not only the domestic thing but also having a major event here gives people the start to aspire to "One day I would like to drive those cars".

New Zealand's twofold win at Sentul

The Jakarta Post, Sentul, West Java

New Zealander Jonny Reid claimed his first ever double victory at the rain-disrupted A1GP race in Sentul circuit, south of Jakarta, on Sunday.

Racing from the starting grid, Reid won the feature race after clocking one hour 10 minutes and 36.607 seconds. He had earlier won the 15-lap sprint race in 19 minutes 41.054 seconds.

He had a tough race against championship leader Nico Hulkenberg of Germany, who finished second with 1:10.37.785, followed by France's Nicolas Lapierre with 1:10:40.869.

Indonesia's Ananda Mikola, who had hoped to reach the podium in front of the home crowd, finished 11th with 1:10:44.586. Ananda also failed to make a mark in the sprint race, finishing 14th in 20:07.032.

"It was not a straightforward race at all and the weather came in and played a big part in that race," Reid said in a press conference.

"After the start of the race I was struggling quite a lot and at the pit stop we made a change and the car was much, much better, as you could see in the lap times. I snatched back the lead and pushed hard to get a gap. We put a lot of push on at the end and I just got my head down," he added.

Speaking on his chances in the next race in Taupo, New Zealand, from Jan. 19-21, Reid said he has never driven there.

"I think the track will be slippery because it's a new circuit," he said.

The race was delayed for about half an hour after a heavy downpour.

Reid made an excellent start and retained his advantage over Hulkenberg to win by 1.178 seconds, his first A1GP Feature race victory.

"Fortunately I was able to take the win today. Germany and myself have shown a clear pace in qualifying for the first half of the season and I am confident we can keep that pace up," the German driver said.

The wet track caused some problems, with Great Britain's Robbie Kerr spinning out on the 38th of 47 laps. The safety car came out due to the incident.

Germany still leads the overall standings with 48 points after five races, followed by Great Britain with 36 points and Mexico with 33 points. Indonesia is tied with Ireland at the bottom with one point. (02)

New Zealander secures A1 pole

Sunday, December 10, 2006
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Jonny Reid of New Zealand's A1 Team snatched the pole position Saturday for Sunday's Sprint race at the Gudang Garam A1GP Sentul, with a last-gasp flying lap in the final minutes of the qualifying session.

Reid's total time was just 0.034 seconds quicker than Great Britain's Robbie Kerr, who also moved up in the last minute to secure second position from Germany's Nico Hlkenberg for Sunday's 15-lap Sprint race.

Reid performed powerfully throughout the four segments, setting top five times in all sessions, but it was his last lap that grabbed pole.

"It's quite hard in today's qualifying due to the weather conditions, but I'm glad to be on the pole position, and looking forward to the race," said Reid.

He now looks to achieve a better result in Sentul than when he competed in Brno, Czech, the last race he started on pole, where he ran into the wall before the first corner after a clash with Hlkenberg.

Meanwhile, Kerr could only post the fifth quickest in the third until a massive push in the final minute moved him into second ahead of Hlkenberg.

"It was an unfortunate situation. I think we both have misjudged the circuit corner but we have been moving on and will be focusing on winning the race tomorrow," Kerr said.

After recording the fastest time in session one, 0.064 seconds quicker than Reid, Hlkenberg looked set to score yet another pole position, however he failed to match the pace in the remaining three 15-minute portions and dropped down to third overall.

Hlkenberg said he had made minor set-up adjustments between sessions, and felt the car was better Saturday.

"Yesterday I actually had a problem, but today, I felt much better and enjoyed the track. For me the weather does not really matter. I like both, the wet and the dry conditions. I'm ready for both conditions."

Mexican Salvador Duran, after setting the fastest time in the morning's earlier practice session, steadily improved his lap times to start the race from fourth position. Duran's combined times were enough to win the position against Phil Giebler of the USA, who posted the fastest time in the third session. Defending champions France will start the race in seventh behind Australia.

Ireland's A1 Team's new racer, Richard Lyons, had an eventful first A1GP qualifying when he ran wide into a tire wall at Turn Three during the second session and caused a red flag period.

He returned to the pits to repair the car and continued in the remaining sessions to start Sunday's Sprint race from 18th on the grid.

Team Indonesia's Ananda Mikola, with an aggregate time of 2.35.519, will start from seventeenth position, after India's Armaan Ebrahim.

The Sprint race is due to start Sunday morning at 11 a.m. with the result determining the grid for the afternoon's 50-lap Feature race, which will be moved back half an hour from the original scheduled time of 3 p.m. in anticipation of rain later in the afternoon. (02)

Ananda wants more than just points in A1 race

Friday, December 08, 2006
The Jakarta Post, Lido, West Java

Weather conditions and quick newcomers are threatening Indonesian driver Ananda Mikola's ambition to reach the podium during the A1 Grand Prix races at the Sentul circuit, south of Jakarta, this weekend.

"I know the circuit better... but it's easy to make a mistake when you push too hard. We set some good lap times here last season so I know I can be up there," Ananda said Thursday.

"Hopefully the spectators will help us. I want to be on the podium, even though the team only expects me to get points."

So far, Indonesia has collected one point from four races and is at the bottom of the standings.

A huge crowd, similar to last season's audience in February, is expected to attend this weekend's extravaganza.

"I hope we will have very good attendance this year because we are better prepared. We have worked closely with the Indonesian government and the organizers to ensure the spectators have more enjoyable experience. Yes, it's a last-minute preparation but more people are aware of this event than last season's," said David Clare, A1GP chief operating officer.

Drivers are facing competition from quick newcomers at the A1GP.

"There are four or five new young stars appearing in the A1 this year. I'm sure more will appear in the future and I think that will be a challenge to established drivers, like Ananda," Clare said.

Malaysian driver Alex Yoong, who won the A1GP Sentul leg in February, said all drivers, including Ananda, would have an equal chance to win.

"He had the toughest time this year, but in Europe last season he was as quick as anybody else. He just needs to stay up for the whole weekend," Yoong said.

"I'm expecting an exciting race here and hopefully we can do as good as what we did here last season."

Malaysia is currently third on the leaderboard with 24 points after Germany, backed by Nico Hulkenberg, with 37 points and Great Britain with 31 points.

One of the newcomers, Ho-Pin Tung of China is hoping for a quick debut.

"Maybe I will suffer a bit. I'm not familiar with the car and the track and I have no experience at all in the race," he said.

Ho-Ping Tung is the newly crowned 2006 German Formula 3 Champion and comes to Sentul after testing a World Series Renault car at the Valencia track in Spain for the Belgian KTR team.

The weekend's action kicks off Friday with a practice session, followed with qualifications rounds on Saturday and the sprint and feature races on Sunday.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is scheduled to officially open the event. (02)