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Red carpet for Jakarta giants

Jakarta, Aug. 26: After the Salim Group, it's their turn to come to Bengal. That was what Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee told another group of top Indonesian businessmen before he left for home this afternoon.

The group included several big names such as James Raidi, chairman of the Lippo group, and Mukhtar Vijaya, owner of a major Indonesia-based conglomerate, whose paper mill here is the largest in the world.

Another business giant, Brantwood, was also represented by its chairman, D. Subowo. The company, in partnership with the Salim group, has a monopoly of the road construction business in Indonesia and the Philippines.

Budhiasa Shastra Vinata, chairman of the Ciputra group, which has already teamed up with Salim for building a west Howrah township, was also there.

The chief minister, who visited the Indomobile factory in the morning at a place 50 km from Jakarta, said that provisions had been made to give 20 more acres to the Salim group in future for its two-wheeler project at Uluberia.

The Salim arm has already been given 65 acres at Uluberia for the project, which would have an initial investment of $50 million.

It will start with a production capacity of 30,000 two-wheelers in the first year and eventually raise it to a million in five years.

Bhattacharjee, who saw in the plant the two-wheelers that are to be manufactured at Uluberia, said that the vehicle could transform rural transport in Bengal. The motorcycle costs about $1,000 in Indonesia, but could cost less in India.

In Indonesia, the Salim Group has a tie-up with Suzuki for the manufacture of the two-wheeler. But it was also looking at Chinese technology for the Uluberia project.

The chief minister left Indonesia a 'satisfied' man.

Benny Santoso of the Salim Group and Jakarta-based Bengali entrepreneur Prasoon Mukherjee will act as 'Bengal's ambassadors' to carry on the negotiations with other Indonesian companies to try and attract them to Bengal.

On his part, Bhattacharjee has to set things in order on administrative and political fronts at home in order to smoothen the rites of passage for Indonesian and other foreign investors in the state.

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