(Bloomberg) — Tan Siok Tjien, the Indonesian billionaire whose family controls the country’s third-largest cigarette maker, has died. She was 91.
Tan passed away on Oct. 25, in Kediri, a city in East Java where PT Gudang Garam is based, according to a family statement on Wednesday that didn’t mention the cause of death. A funeral was held on Tuesday, and her body now rests in a family grave at the company’s factory complex.
“Throughout her life, Mrs. Tan Siok Tjien has given the best example about the company’s values that have been preserved until today, as had been exemplified by the founder of the company, Mr. Surya Wonowidjojo,” the company said in the statement.
Tan, whose family controls Gudang Garam, had a net worth of $6 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. She was the nation’s third-wealthiest person.
Her husband, Surya Wonowidjojo, founded Gudang Garam more than six decades ago in Kediri. She inherited control of company when he died in 1985. Today, it has about 26% of Indonesia’s cigarette market, mainly producing the clove kind known as kreteks, named for the crackling sound made by burning cloves. The spice, which is native to Indonesia, is added to tobacco, imparting a sweet scent and emitting eugenol, a chemical that numbs the throat. Nine out of every 10 cigarettes smoked in the nation are kretek.
Little is known about Tan, whose children run the company. Rachman Halim, who took over the reins after his father’s death, modernized the manufacturing plants. Susilo Wonowidjojo became the president director in 2009, while his sister Juni Setiawati Wonowidjojo was appointed as the president commissioner. Gudang Garam employs more than 32,000 people.
Indonesia is one of the world’s largest markets for cigarettes makers, with an estimated 66% of the adult men smoking, according to the company. Gudang Garam, which means “salt warehouse,” managed to increase its market share to almost 26% last year from 23% in 2018, even with growing competition from units of Philip Morris International Inc., Japan Tobacco Inc. and Indonesia’s Djarum Group.
By : Grace Sihombing – Bloomberg News