ARMS race heats up as ACE puts on the pressure with £100m offer

Adam Hignett
Nat Rothschild offered to underwrite ARMS shares
THE BATTLE to control Asia Resource Minerals (ARMS) took another turn yesterday after Asia Coal Energy Ventures (ACE) submitted a £98.8m bid for the beleaguered company.

ACE, backed by Indonesia’s Sinarmas Group, is run by the Widjaja family and Hong Kong based Argyle Street Management (ASML). The move is a response to Nat Rothschild’s plan in February to renegotiate around $950m (£642m) of debt with the firm’s bondholders and inject $100m into the company.

Rothschild offered to underwrite ARMS shares at 25p per share with the option of buying out investors, to expand his 17.5 per cent stake.

Fuganto Widjaja urged voters to reject the plan, claiming it will result in a deeply-dilutive rights issue to raise the required sums. “Once Nat has control... minority shareholders get diluted, and there’s no way out,” he said.

The vote on the terms of the Rothschild’s offer, which was to take place on 22 April, was postponed after Rothschild said he was could be prepared to offer a sweetened deal.

The current offer from ACE values ARMS at £98.8m, or 41p per share, with plans to inject $150m equity into the firm.