Bumi stock sale deals blow to Nat Rothschild

THE BITTER battle for control at coal miner Bumi was blown wide open yesterday as a key Indonesian investor sold his 10 per cent stake just days before the crunch vote, potentially scuppering co-founder Nat Rothschild’s bid to gain control of the coal miner.

Recapital Group, which owns 13 per cent of Bumi voting rights, offloaded its stake yesterday just days before the emergency meeting on Thursday, where investors will vote on proposals by Rothschild to remove 12 out of 14 current directors.

Controlled by former Bumi non-executive director Rosan Roeslani’s, Recapital’s stake has been sold to the Tanoesoedibjo’s family Flaming Luck Investments and to hedge funds Avenue Asia Capital Management and Argyle Street Management. Sources with knowledge of the situation said the last-minute share sale could prove positive for the Bumi board.

Yesterday’s sale lifts voting restrictions on the shares. The UK Takeover Panel ruled in December that major Indonesian shareholders the Bakrie family and Roeslani should be considered a concert party and have their voting power reduced to 29.9 per cent.

Recapital said in a statement yesterday that the Takeover Panel confirmed the buyers of Roeslani’s shares are not considered a concert party with the Bakries, which is likely to tip the vote in Bumi’s favour.

Many investors have already shown their hand in advance of this Thursday’s meeting.

Schroders, Taube Hodson Stonex and Artemis are three large shareholders that have declared support for Rothschild. And, St James’s Master Fund, led by Rothschild’s cousin Tom Daniel, has recently bought shares in a move understood to have raised their combined stake to 25 per cent. However, hedge fund Route One has spoken out in favour of the board.

The Abu Dhabi Investment Council is one of the last Bumi investors yet to voice support for either side, but its four per cent holding could be enough to sway the vote.

A spokesman for Rothschild had no comment yesterday.

Shares in Bumi closed up 4.4 per cent.