January 4, 2017 / 11:32 AM / 2 years ago

Indonesia tries to assure banks they won't be penalized if research is 'credible'

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia’s finance ministry sought on Wednesday to assure banks and research firms that they will not be sanctioned for their assessment of the country as long as it is “credible”.

A view of the exterior of the JP Morgan Chase & Co. corporate headquarters in New York City May 20, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Segar/Files

Indonesia cut its business ties with JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) because its research was “not credible and not objective”, Suahasil Nazara, head of the Ministry of Finance’s fiscal policy office, told reporters.

Some analysts have said that the decision has raised concern about whether the government would penalize other research providers for reports that are deemed to be negative.

Nazara dismissed such worries.

“There is no need to be afraid as long as it’s credible,” he said.

“The point is, don’t worry, go ahead with an analysis of Indonesia’s economy that is as credible as possible, by using the available data and facts.”

In a note dated Nov. 13, JPMorgan analysts downgraded their investment recommendation on Indonesia stocks to “underweight” from “overweight”, citing higher risk premiums for emerging markets after Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election.

Indonesia has dropped JPMorgan’s services as a primary dealer for domestic sovereign bonds and as an underwriter for bonds sold to the global markets, Nazara said.

The U.S. bank is also no longer what Indonesia terms a perception bank.

The government said in a 2006 decree that perception banks are appointed by the finance minister to receive transfers of state revenue not related to imports, including tax, onshore excise and non-tax revenue.

JPMorgan is allowed to continue its business in the private sector, Nazara said.

The government assurances are unlikely to dispel the worries.

“This has made us more cautious although we’ll still try our best to safeguard our research independence,” said a Jakarta-based analyst at a foreign bank, who declined to be identified.

Reporting by Hidayat Setiaji and Eveline Danubrata; Editing by Robert Birsel

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