Bumi split plan under fire from Nat Rothschild

Michael Bow
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FINANCIER Nat Rothschild yesterday criticised the terms of a fresh deal to unwind the stake held by Indonesia’s Bakrie family in London listed company Bumi, the coal miner he cofounded with them in 2010.

The proposal, which could be signed off as early as this week, would see the Bakrie family’s 23.8 per cent share holding sold to Bumi’s chairman Samin Tan for cash, with the proceeds returned to shareholders.

“This behaviour is exactly what UK regulators and competent boards are designed to protect against,” Rothschild said. “Tan should step down immediately as he is acting against the very shareholders he is supposed to be protecting.”

The Bakries would use the money to buy Bumi out of their Indonesian coal assets arm, Bumi Resources. The plan is different to an original proposal voted on by shareholders for the Bakries to cancel their shares in the company and pay $278m outright to Bumi to buy back their stake.

The switch from a cancellation of shares to a sale process follows the emergence of another potential bidder for the Bakrie’s stake, former Manchester City chairman Thaksin Shinawatra, who is thought to have hired UBS to work on a plan. Rothschild, who owns about 20 per cent of the company, co-founded Bumi with the Bakries in 2010 before relations between the two soured amid tumbling coal prices. He said he did not support a Thaksin bid unless he made an offer to minority shareholders for the whole company.

Bumi declined to comment.