Fate of Bumi rests on replacing board, says Rothschild

Bumi plc co-founder Nathaniel Rothschild said the fate of the troubled coal miner rests on ousting managers, ahead of a highly anticipated shareholder meeting Thursday.

Bumi plc co-founder Nathaniel Rothschild said the fate of the troubled coal miner rests on ousting managers, ahead of a highly anticipated shareholder meeting Thursday.

Shareholders will meet later to vote on Rothschild's proposal to replace 12 of 14 members on the board in an effort to end company infighting and shake-up the business.

In a televised interview with Bloomberg on Thursday morning, Rothschild urged shareholders to side with his recommendation.

"This is not a vote to unlock more shareholder value, it's a vote about the board of the company, it's a vote on how to investigate the missing funds, it's a vote on who should run this business," he said.

"We need to change the management of the business."

Bumi was formed in 2010 when Indonesia's influential Bakrie family reversed their coal mining assets into Rothschild's London-listed cash shell, Vallar.

However, Rothschild and the Bakries had a falling-out following an investigation into financial wrongdoing.

Just days ahead of the extraordinary shareholders meeting Indonesian investor Rosan Roeslani sold his pivotal 10% stake in the group.

Roeslani sold his interest after the UK's Takeover Panel ruled in December that he was acting "in concert" with the Bakrie family and ordered the party to sell down their majority stake to 29.9%.

His stake was sold to Avenue Asia Capital Management, Flaming Luck Investments, and Argyle Street Management Ltd and Argyle Street Management. The panel ruled that it did not consider the three to be acting with the Bakries so they will be able to vote at the meeting.

Rothschild said he believes the move may see votes against his favour.

"To be honest the sale of a 10% stake is a very big event in this this story," he said.

"Last week would have been a landslide victory."

Minority shareholders have already voted four to one on the proposal, he said.

If he fails in his bid to boot off members of the board, Rothschild will examine ways to see how the board is reconstituted based on how minority shareholders vote.

"It's a very unusual situation," he added.

The Bumi debacle is shaping up to be one of the dirtiest shareholder battles to hit the London market, pitting one of Asia's most powerful families against one of Europe's oldest financial dynasties.

The Bakrie family is a powerful business and political elite in Indonesia while British tycoon Rothschild comes from a big family tree of bankers.

RD

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