Investor body gives backing to Bumi ahead of board battle

BELEAGUERED coal miner Bumi has won the support of shareholder advisory service Glass Lewis in the run-up to its boardroom showdown next week with company co-founder Nat Rothschild.

The US proxy shareholder advisory firm has backed the Bumi board

proposal, recommending that shareholders vote against all but three of co-founder Nat Rothschild’s proposals at the general meeting on

21 February.

But the influential body has backed Rothschild on the removal of three board members – Nalin Rathod, Lord Renwick and Sony Harsono.

Last month, Rothschild demanded a meeting to overhaul the board by removing 12 out of 14 current members, and replace it with executives of his choice, including himself. He has proposed Australian Wal King as new Bumi chairman and Brock Gill as chief executive.

His proposal has garnered support from several large shareholders, including Schroders and Taube Hodson Stonex.

The Bumi board instead has vowed to move towards a divorce from shareholder the Bakries and Indonesian Bumi Resources.

Separately, Liberum Capital yesterday backed the board in a note, adding that the company “needs to make a clean separation from Bumi Resources and to reduce its financial leverage, both of which can be achieved under the board’s proposal”.

Liberum conceded that Rothschild has “assembled a high calibre chairman and chief executive”, but his proposal would be compromised by the relationship agreement dispute and “lack of a defined strategy in relation to the disposal of Bumi’s Bumi Resources stake”.

The broker added that the current share price of the miner – it closed up yesterday at 385p – is “baking in a high probability of success of the board’s proposal” next week.