Rothschild’s venture is turning out to be a rather bumpy ride

Elizabeth Fournier
UK BUSINESSES aren’t the only ones hit by the wet summer. Bumi’s production problems certainly put a dampener on this set of figures, but investors will be far more interested in the firm’s long-term plan to turn its fortunes around.

For such a young public company Bumi has had more than its fair share of controversy, not least the boardroom bust-up between Nat Rothschild – whose faithful backers must be questioning his judgement – and the Bakrie family.

With shares now hovering well below the £10 float price, shareholders are looking for commitment, and Nalin Rathod’s promise of asset sales may have gone some way to appeasing them.

The coal-focused miner is right to narrow its remit in the face of rising prices, so the plan to sell non-core assets should be welcomed.

But investors won’t rest easy until Bumi’s debt pile is addressed – and plans to expand in China at a time when the country’s economy looks to be slowing won’t do much to allay fears.

Boardroom rifts may be settled for now, but shareholders shouldn’t expect a smooth ride anytime soon.