JAKARTA, Feb 17 (Reuters) - PT Hanjaya Mandala Sampoerna Tbk , Indonesia's largest cigarette maker by market capitalisation, plans to divest a 5.68 percent stake valued at $1.27 billion by January 2016 to comply with a new rule to boost trading liquidity.
All listed companies must have a minimum free float of 7.5 percent, according to a regulation introduced by the Indonesian stock exchange in January 2014. The rule will take effect in January 2016.
When the rule was announced, there was market speculation that Sampoerna may choose to delist instead of releasing more shares to the public.
PT Philip Morris Indonesia, the Indonesian affiliate of U.S. cigarette giant Philip Morris International Inc, owns 98.18 percent of Sampoerna. Only 1.82 percent of Sampoerna's outstanding shares are in public hands.
Sampoerna has a total market value of 284.8 trillion rupiah ($22.3 billion), based on its current share price.
"As a listed company in Indonesia, PT HM Sampoerna Tbk is committed to comply with existing rules and regulations," Elvira Lianita, head of regulatory affairs, international trade and communications at Sampoerna, told Reuters in an email.
On Monday, local media quoted the head of the Indonesian stock exchange, Ito Warsito, as saying that Sampoerna's potential free float increase could be worth more than $1 billion.
Sampoerna competes with PT Gudang Garam Tbk and Djarum Group.
$1 = 12,755 rupiah Reporting by Cindy Silviana and Fransiska Nangoy; Writing by Eveline Danubrata; Editing by Anand Basu