There are many people in Indonesia who love watching TV and all of them now RCTI as the earliest private owned TV station. Peter Sondakh is the man behind Rajawali Citra Televisi Indonesia, TV station that initiated the birth of private TV stations in Indonesia. Despite only continuing family business, he managed to make the company grow bigger, and he even continuously improves his business to other fields such as property and mining.
From Family Business to Private TV Station
Born in 1953, Peter Sondakh is the son of a plywood and palm oil exporter business owner. When his father unexpectedly died when he was still 20, he continued the business until he managed to improve the small business into large company. At the age of 22, he started PT Rajawali Corporation, which dealt with property. However, he soon realized that property was still not a trend back then, so he worked together with Bambang Trihatmodjo, the son of the ex-president Soeharto, to established Rajawali Citra Televisi Indonesia in 1984. The TV station soon became hit thanks to its diverse shows and broadcasts, including music shows, box office Hollywood movies and imported cartoons.
When the monetary crisis hit Indonesia in 1998, Peter Sondakh kept his main businesses by selling several of his stocks. RCTI also stayed strong thanks to Indonesian viewers’ enthusiasm and strings of commercial broadcast demands during prime time. He also took brave decision by taking over Bentoel Group, a cigarette company that was almost bankrupt. He used his business skill and instinct to turn it into profitable company.
Other Business Expansions
Peter Sondakh is not a businessman that will sit down and watch when business opportunities arise in front of him. In 2005, he sold some of his stocks in Exelcomindo, in order to buy another stock in PT Semen Gresik, Indonesian cement giant. This decision helped him to run his company after crisis before he finally decided to venture back to his family business root: palm oil business. In 2006, he bought stocks from PT Jaya Mandiri Sukses Group and later entered palm oil business in Papua, after selling PT Bentoel stocks. He did this because he saw that palm oil had started to gain popularity in world industry.
Later, he expanded to property business through partnership in developing Novotel, Sheraton and Hyatt Hotel lines in several areas in Indonesia. He also acquired an Australian hotel, Surfer Paradise Resort Hotel, in 2009.