Bumi Move to Oust Rothschild Will Improve Board, Bakrie Says
A proposal to replace Bumi Plc directors, including billionaire founder Nathaniel Rothschild, is aimed at strengthening the coal producer’s board and adding value for investors, shareholder Bakrie Group said.
“This proposal for changes is not about Nat,” Chris Fong, Bakrie Group’s spokesman, said today in an e-mailed statement. “It’s purely about providing the strongest and most manageable- sized board.”
Bumi, listed in London by Rothschild, said Feb. 3 that shareholder Borneo Bumi Energi & Metal Ltd. called a meeting to seek his removal and that of Chief Executive Officer Ari Hudaya. Rothschild, a co-chairman of Bumi, had said only last month that relations with Chairman Indra Bakrie had improved after he previously criticized Bakrie’s coal company PT Bumi Resources.
“The relationship with Nat Rothschild remains professional,” Fong said today.
Borneo Bumi Energi is seeking to appoint Bakrie and Samin Tan as chairmen of Bumi Plc. It also proposed to oust fellow founder James Campbell, a former Anglo American Plc executive, Chief Financial Officer Andrew Beckham and directors Badung Tariono and Amir Sambodo.
New CEO, CFO
“Our intention has always been to further strengthen the board with a dedicated chief executive officer and chief financial officer based in London,” Fong said. Bakrie’s family are the equal-biggest shareholders in Bumi with PT Borneo Lumbung Energy Tbk, which bought a stake last month.
“The Bakrie family and Samin Tan’s latest move to try to oust Nat Rothschild raises some questions,” Lanang Trihardian, a Jakarta-based analyst at Syailendra Capital, said today. “Investors again are questioning Bumi’s main shareholders’ commitment to uphold the highest standards of corporate governance.”
Rothschild, a former co-chairman of New York hedge-fund firm Atticus Capital LLC and the son of U.K. financier Jacob Rothschild, said in January he had mended relations with Bakrie. Ties were weakened in November when Rothschild made public a letter to CEO Hudaya calling for a “radical cleaning up” of Bumi Resources.
Bakrie Group and Borneo Lumbung jointly own a 47.6 percent stake in Bumi Plc, according to PT Bakrie & Brothers Tbk, a unit of Bakrie Group.