SINGAPORE — Salim Group Founder Sudono Salim, also known as Liem Sioe Liong, died on June 10 in Singapore at the age of 95 after a long battle with illness, the Jakarta Globe newspaper reported on June 11.
Born in China, he came to Indonesia in the mid-1930s to join his brother in Medan, North Sumatra, where he diversified their peanut trading business into the clove market. Over the next 50 years, Liem built one of the most formidable business groups in the country, with interests in cement, banking, property, food products, automobiles and trading, the newspaper reported.
Among its assets was Indofood, the world’s largest producer of instant noodles, and First Pacific, a Hong Kong-based company that operates in more than 40 countries. The group employs more than 100,000 workers in Indonesia and throughout the region.
Liem was Indonesia’s first industrialist, and his efforts helped build the country’s economy in the years after the anti-Communist purge. According to Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan, who is also chairman of the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM), Liem was one of the few Indonesian business leaders who succeeded in building a global brand.
The 1997 Asian financial crisis hit Liem and the Salim Group hard. He was forced to hand over assets worth billions of dollars to the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency to help clear government loans to BCA, the newspaper reported.
Following riots in May 1998, when his house was raided and ransacked by mobs, he went to Singapore, leaving the day-to-day running of the business to his son Anthony, according to the Jakarta Globe.