Business

Saga continues as Rothschild
plans new bid

Troubled London listed Bumi plc sees no end to its saga as one of its shareholders is planning to submit new proposal related to the release of one of the company’s subsidiaries.

“NR Investments is working on a revised proposal which it intends to resubmit in order to reach a consensual solution in the interests of all shareholders,” the company said in an email statement.

NR Investments is a business unit controlled by British financier Nathaniel Rothschild, the co-
founder of Vallar plc, which was then changed into Bumi plc following the entry of Indonesian investor Bakrie Group in 2010.

NR Investments previously submitted a proposal to Bumi plc in response to the Bakrie Group’s offer
to exit the London venture. The Bakrie Group offered to take over Bumi plc’s shares in subsidiaries PT Bumi Resources (29.2 percent) and PT Berau Coal Energy (84.7 percent) in a share-swap and cash transaction.

Part of NR Investments proposal looked like the Bakrie Group’s bid for Bumi Resources, which offered to swap the group’s 23.8 percent stake in Bumi plc for Bumi plc’s 10.3 percent stake in Bumi Resources and purchase of the remaining 18.9 percent for US$278 million. In other points, NR Investment said that it would bring new investors to Bumi plc if two other shareholders — PT Borneo Lumbung Energi & Metal and PT Bukit Mutiara — also divested their stakes in Bumi plc.

Given that both proposals support the divestment in Bumi Resources, the board of Bumi plc said that it would progress on the separation. The board also said that it would keep Berau in the company as it had no intention of disposing of it and stated that Rothschild’s proposal on Berau was undeliverable as Borneo and Bukit Mutiara refused to sell their stakes.

Rothschild said that his support of the divestment in Bumi Resources was misinterpreted.

“NR Investments only supports a divorce deal from the Bakrie family if Macfarlanes is given unrestricted access to Bumi Resources historic accounts and existing management, which to date neither has been forthcoming,” he said.

Macfarlanes is a UK firm appointed to probe alleged financial irregularities in development funds and assets in Bumi Resources and Berau. Rothschild claimed that Bumi plc, chaired by Indonesian coal tycoon Samin Tan, was hesitant in supporting the investigation.

Bumi plc said that it had received “a near final version” of the report from Macfarlanes. The London company also stated that illegal hacking issues relating to the source of documents, which have been used as the basis of Macfarlanes’ investigation, did not affect “the seriousness with which the board is treating the allegations”.

The Bakrie Group took Rothschild’s attempt to table a new bid lightly.

“We doubt Mr. Rothschild has the ability to raise the funds that would be of any significant interest to shareholders. Mr. Rothschild’s inherent lack of operational business experience underpins the risks that he brings to institutions and individuals that may consider aligning with him. His contacts in [London] may be well established but they are a long way from the jungles of Borneo,” Bakrie Group senior vice president Christopher Fong said over the weekend.

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