Unexpectedly, in mid-1997, a severe currency crisis hit South East Asia. Most local currencies were weakened, sharply diminishing their purchasing power. The Malaysian economy dropped its annual growth rate from about 8 to 2 per cent. The aspirations of many foreign contractors, including Transfield's, were thwarted, and most curtailed their presence in the region.
In the final analysis, Transfield learnt a salutary lesson from its foray in Asia. As Luca Belgiorno-Nettis put it, it was a success insofar "we did attempt to do something in South East Asia. Had we not done it, we would have felt we missed an opportunity. We learnt it was not a golden egg. Now we understand what are the pitfalls".
Video: Trans-Bakrie Factory, Indonesia.