James Riady
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James Riady

Showing the new face of Asia

Director, Lippo Group

James Riady, a youthful Indonesian-Chinese billionaire, is an enigmatic figure in the hard, polished world of international business, politics and diplomacy. As head of the the Lippo Group - the Riady family's financial-services and real-estate empire - valued at $12 billion before the Asian financial meltdown, the 41-year-old moves easily in the political and financial elite of Indonesia, China, Singapore, the US and Australia.

He is at once charming and amusing, and disciplined and ruthless in the pursuit of Lippo's interests. At the request of the Indonesian president, BJ Habibie, he is now touring the Asia-Pacific region as one of seven Indonesian special envoys whose task is to try to lure foreign investors back to Indonesia.

One of Riady's most notable contacts is Bill Clinton. Riady's close links with the US president were forged more than 20 years ago when Riady - a trainee at an investment bank in Little Rock, Arkansas - met Clinton, who was then the state's attorney-general.

Now, with most Indonesian financial institutions in trouble, Lippo remains strong and viable, despite a major run on its banks in 1995.

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