Sukanto Tanoto

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Sukanto Tanoto
Born25 December 1949
Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia
Spouse(s)Tinah Bingei Tanoto
ChildrenAndre Tanoto

Imelda Tanoto Belinda Tanoto

Anderson Tanoto
Sukanto Tanoto
(Chinese Indonesian name)
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese

Sukanto Tanoto (Chinese: ; 25 December 1949)[2] is an Indonesian businessman involved primarily in the lumber industry. As of 2013 he was considered to be one of Indonesia's wealthiest individuals with a net worth of US$ 2.3 billion.[3][4] After starting as a supplier of equipment and materials for the state-owned oil firm Pertamina, Tanoto moved into the forest industry in 1973.[5] Tanoto's business interests are represented by the Royal Golden Eagle (RGE) group of companies (previously known as Raja Garuda Mas).[6]


Born in Medan, North Sumatra province, Tanoto is the oldest of seven boys.[2] His father was a Chinese immigrant from Putian, Fujian province. In 1966, Tanoto's education was abruptly interrupted after Chinese schools were shut down by then-President Suharto's new regime. He was prohibited from attending national schools due to his parents' Chinese citizenship.[2]

When his father suffered a stroke, Tanoto was left to run the family business. He gradually moved beyond basic trading to winning contracts in building gas pipelines for multinationals. During the 1972 oil crisis that increased prices dramatically, Tanoto took advantage of clients rapidly expanding their operations. With this injection of capital, Tanoto turned his attention to another business in 1973, noticing that Indonesia exported raw logs for conversion into plywood in countries like Japan or Taiwan, before importing the finished plywood back to Indonesia at great cost.[2]

Tanoto recognized an opportunity to develop his own plywood mill in Indonesia. However, he required a permit to do so. Under the Suharto regime, permits were sought from politicians who often served as army generals. Tanoto was forced to work with a general who gave his blessing and was quickly convinced of the mill's potential after seeing the completed factory, with Tanoto citing the potential value-add to Indonesia's economy and the creation of new jobs. The plant began operations in 1975 after being inaugurated by Suharto.[2] Slowly, from the plywood business, his company branched out into palm oil as well as pulp and paper.[7]

Tanoto is a self-educated entrepreneur but regretted his interrupted education. He learned English word-for-word using a Chinese-English dictionary and finally attended business school in Jakarta in the mid-1970s. He also undertook further studies at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France.[2]

In 1997, Tanoto elected to settle in Singapore with his family, establishing his company's headquarters there.[6]

Three of his children are active within RGE and its businesses. His son, Anderson, is an RGE director.[8][9] His eldest daughter Imelda is a member of the RGE executive committee[10] while his younger daughter Belinda dedicates most of her time to the family's philanthropic arm, Tanoto Foundation. All four of Tanoto's children are also trustee members at Tanoto Foundation.[11]

Business activities[edit]

Tanoto's business interests are represented by the Royal Golden Eagle (RGE), a global resource-based group of companies with manufacturing operations in Indonesia, China, Brazil, Canada and Europe, and sales offices worldwide. Since Sukanto Tanoto started his entrepreneurial journey in 1967, the business has grown considerably, with a workforce of over 60,000 people and its assets exceeding US$18 billion.[12] The business has five key operational areas: pulp and paper (Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings or APRIL, Asia Symbol), agro-industry (Asian Agri), specialty cellulose (Bracell Limited) and viscose fibre (Sateri) and energy resources development (Pacific Oil & Gas). APRIL has been involved in conservation controversies related to the use of native Sumatran growth forests,[13] which led to the company withdrawing from the Forest Stewardship Council in April 2010. In September 2011, Fuji Xerox ceased selling paper manufactured by APRIL.[14] The company has denied the claims, stating it has a commitment to implement practices that mitigate climate change and promote sustainability.[15] Furthermore, in June 2015, APRIL pledged to eliminate deforestation from its entire supply chain. The announcement was well received by both Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund.[16]

In early 2016, Tanoto announced an update of the RGE groupwide business principles - to do what is good for community, country, climate and company.[17] In 2017, marking his 50th year as an entrepreneur, Sukanto Tanoto introduced 'Customer' as the fifth C.[18][19]

Philanthropic activities[edit]

Tanoto and his wife, Tinah Bingei Tanoto, began their philanthropic work in 1981 in Indonesia with the opening of a kindergarten in Besitang.[12][20] They formally established the Tanoto Foundation[21] in 2001. Its numerous educational initiatives have included the funding of teacher training and the provision of over 700 scholarships a year. The Foundation also delivers basic amenities such as clean water and sanitation, as well as healthcare. Through the provision of access to productive assets, startup capital, technical skills and links to markets, it helps to empower families and deliver sustainable livelihood.[12]

Tanoto recognized the importance of establishing strong corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs in the Riau province.[2] Through Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (RAPP), Tanoto built schools and established farming systems that teach villagers an alternative cultivation to slash-and-burn techniques, as well making regular sustainability reports to NGOs, such as the World Wildlife Fund after the organization expressed concerns over the conservation of forests in Riau.[22]

The reach of Tanoto Foundation's activities now extends to China, Hong Kong and Singapore and the US. It has provided more than 20,000 scholarships, built several schools and educational facilities that produced 27,000 graduates, developed 60,000 hectares of community livelihood plantations and created more than 1,800 jobs in local communities through Small-and-Medium-size Enterprise (SME) programs.[23]

Sukanto Tanoto[24] also awards professorship awards. In 2007, the award valued at US$130,000 was granted to two Indonesian academic scientists for their efforts to enable socially-responsible technological research programs. He also funds a support professorship in metabolism and endocrinology at the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore and is a regular donor to Carnegie Mellon, where his contributions fund the Tanoto Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering position.[25] Three other professorship awards in the area of oncology,[26] diabetes[27] and cardiovascular diseases[28] were also awarded in year 2016, 2013, 2014 respectively. The Foundation has also supported disaster relief efforts across Asia.[29]

Tanoto donated the building of the INSEAD library in Singapore in 2005, which was renamed Tanoto Library in 2005.[30] He was the first donor to the construction of the Beijing National Stadium in 2006.[31] He also donated to the building of the Beijing National Aquatics Center.[32]

Tanoto Foundation and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania launched the Tanoto Initiative in July 2013. It is a multi-component program to promote studies and research on ASEAS, with a focus on Indonesia.[33] The Wharton faculty works closely with selected Indonesian universities to offer research grants, academic courses, exchange programs and scholarships aimed at deepening thought leadership and business education in the ASEAN region.[34]

Tanoto donated 30 million yuan for the construction of a public library in Rizhao, Shandong in 2010. He later donated 200,000 children's books to a public library in June 2016.[35][36]

In Dec 2015, Tanoto launched the Tanoto Forestry Information Center at the Bogor Agricultural University. The Center supports the development of forestry science in Indonesia.[37]

In Feb 2016, it was announced Tanoto Foundation would collaborate with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to support work with the Riau provincial governments in implementing sustainable development goals at provincial and district levels.[38][39][40] It is working with the Riau government and UNDP to localize the sustainable development goals.[41]

In March 2016, Tanoto Foundation donated 100 million yuan to fund and develop training programs under the One Belt, One Road framework for 10 years.[42][43] The training program involved collaborations with Tsinghua University, Fudan University and Huaqiao University.[44]

In September 2017, Tanoto Foundation renewed its donation to the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST)'s Tanoto Centre for Asian Family Business and Entrepreneurship Studies.[45]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 2010福布斯 印度尼西亚40富豪榜. Forbes China (in Chinese). 2010.Archived 2011-09-28 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Laurel Teo (2007-04-07). "From rags to US$2.8b fortune". Business Times Singapore. Archived from the original on 2007-07-05. Retrieved 2007-10-15.
  3. ^ "Indonesia's 50 Richest List". Forbes. November 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2014.
  4. ^ "Five Indonesians on 'Forbes' rich list". The Jakarta Post. 2008-03-08. Retrieved 2008-03-13.
  5. ^ "Sukanto Tanoto and family". Forbes. 2006-08-06. Retrieved 2007-10-15.
  6. ^ a b Ratnasari a, Evi (June 24, 2012). "THE PULP & PAPER KING SHARES HIS STORY" (PDF). Fortune Indonesia. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
  7. ^ "CNBC Lasting Legacy: Hard work the key for the family behind Singapore-based resources giant RGE".
  8. ^ Fong, Dominique (2015-10-26). "An Indonesian Scion Grapples with His Family's Past". Wall Street Journal.
  9. ^ Gough, Neil (2015-12-21). "Higher Interest Rates Lower Expectations in Emerging Economies". The New York Times.
  10. ^ "Wharton Magazine - The Business Family: Imelda Tanoto W04 & Belinda Tanoto C06 W06 & Anderson Tanoto W11". 2017-10-12.
  11. ^ "Wharton Magazine -The Business Family: Imelda Tanoto W04 & Belinda Tanoto C06 W06 & Anderson Tanoto W11". 2017-10-12.
  12. ^ a b c "South China Morning Post: The Outward-looking Family Philanthropy". Archived from the original on 2017-10-13.
  13. ^ "Paper/Tiger". ABC Foreign Correspondent.
  14. ^ "Fuji Xerox ceases procurement from Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL)". Fuji Xerox.
  15. ^ Devanesan, A.J. (November 2011). "APRIL's commitment to being part of the "sustainability solution"" (PDF). Retrieved 28 April 2014.
  16. ^ "APRIL, APP Get Forest Certification from PEFC". The Jakarta Globe.
  17. ^ "Sukanto Tanoto announces Fourth C. WEF Davos highlights & behind-the-scenes". Inside RGE.
  18. ^ "RGE marks its 50th year in business". 2017-09-25.
  19. ^ "South China Morning Post:The Outward-looking Family Philanthropy". Archived from the original on 2017-10-13.
  20. ^ "Commitment To A Cause: The Continuing Evolution Of The Tanoto Foundation". Forbes. Forbes. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  21. ^ "Tanoto Foundation Founder: Sukanto Tanoto". 2015-09-08.
  22. ^ "Pulp mills put heavy pressure on forests: Study". The Jakarta Post. 2002-02-09. Archived from the original on 2007-11-17. Retrieved 2007-10-15.
  23. ^ "BizInsight@HKUST Forum Examines the Future of Chinese Family Businesses".
  24. ^ "Sukanto Tanoto, a Sustainability-Focused and Successful Businessman". 8 September 2015.
  25. ^ "Larry Pileggi, Tanoto Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering". Carnegie Mellon University.
  26. ^ "Tanoto Professorship in Oncology". 2017-09-07.
  27. ^ "Tanoto Professorship in Diabetes". 2017-08-10.
  28. ^ "Tanoto Professorship: Cardiovascular Disease". 2017-07-27.
  29. ^ "About the Founder". Retrieved 2016-11-25.
  30. ^ "About Tanoto Library". INSEAD. 2015-10-06.
  31. ^ "Serve the people". China Daily.
  32. ^ 对话20110827 对话:华商领袖陈江和Chen Jiang and-HD高清完整版. iCNTV 对话 官方频道 Dialogue Official Channel.
  33. ^ "Wharton News: Tanoto Initiative". 2013-07-29.
  34. ^ "Wharton News: Tanoto Initiative".
  35. ^ 这是真的!全市小朋友收到了500万元的儿童节大礼!. Weixin QQ.
  36. ^ 金鹰集团向日照再捐500万!. Weixin QQ.
  37. ^ "Sukanto Tanoto Inaugurates Forestry Knowledge Hub Tanoto Forestry Information Center". Yahoo! Finance.
  38. ^ "Commentary: From Wall Street to Villages, Indonesia Needs Innovative Financing to Achieve SDGs". Jakarta Globe.
  39. ^ "Support the Roll-Out of the SDGs in Indonesia". Partnerships for SDGs.
  40. ^ "UNDP and Tanoto Foundation to Support SDGs in Indonesia's Riau province". UNDP Indonesia.
  41. ^ "Country Briefs on SDG Integration into Planning". UNDP.
  42. ^ "Tanoto donates 100 Million RMB to OBOR Training Projects". China Education International.
  43. ^ "Tanoto Foundation Donates RMB 100 Million Training Fund to Support 'One Belt, One Road' Programme". PRNewswire.
  44. ^ "The "Belt and Road" Talent Training Program ·Facilities Connectivity Seminar 2018 at Tsinghua University". Tsinghua University.
  45. ^ "HKUST Press Release on Tanoto Center".

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