Nathaniel Rothschild, the billionaire founder of Bumi Plc, may be deposed as co-chairman of the company while retaining a seat on the board, according to the joint largest shareholder of the Indonesian coal producer.
Samin Tan, president director of Indonesian coal supplier PT Borneo Lumbung Energi & Metal, will be nominated as chairman at a March 26 board meeting, Bakrie Group spokesman Chris Fong said in an interview in Jakarta today. The Bakrie Group and Tan’s Borneo Lumbung jointly own 47.6 percent of London-listed Bumi, and have voting rights over 29.9 percent.
Rothschild founded Bumi last year after striking a $3 billion deal in 2010 with two Indonesian coal companies including PT Bumi Resources, which was controlled by the Bakrie family. He said last month that relations with co-chairman Indra Bakrie had improved after he previously criticized the family’s PT Bumi Resources.
The only son of U.K. financier Jacob Rothschild raised 707.2 million pounds ($1.1 billion) with former Anglo American Plc executive James Campbell in July 2010 with a plan to buy a mining asset for as much as $5 billion. A spokesman for Rothschild said Feb. 10 the move by Borneo and the Bakries had been “disastrous for shareholder value” and urged them to “see sense and stop damaging the company.”
Rothschild said today that Tan and the PT Borneo team had “made a made a great impression during their visit to London last week” in what was an “excellent meeting,” according to an e-mailed statement.
The addition of Tan to the board was “in line with the relationship agreement between Bumi Plc and Bakrie Borneo and I think the introduction of PT Borneo management can only be viewed as a positive,” Rothschild said.
London-listed Bumi said on Feb. 3 that shareholder Borneo Bumi Energi & Metal, the venture jointly owned by Bakrie Group and Tan’s Borneo Lumbung, had called an extraordinary general meeting to seek the removal of Rothschild and Chief Executive Officer Ari Hudaya.
“The Independent Directors have provided a solution that we hope resolves any uncertainties so we can move forward,” the Bakrie Group’s Fong said, highlighting the prospect of further announcements on the issue. “For us it’s important about how we’re perceived. We want to be perceived correctly.”
As well as proposing to appoint Tan as chairman, Borneo Bumi said it was seeking to appoint Nalinkant Amratlal Rathod as CEO and Scott Merrillees as chief financial officer to replace Andrew Beckham. On Feb. 14 Borneo Bumi said it had dropped a proposal for an EGM in favor of using a March 26 board meeting to raise its proposals.
“We are still getting what we want,” Fong said today. “It’s just being approached in a different way. We expect that these nominations will be accepted” at the board meeting.
A spokesman for Bumi declined to comment. Bumi fell 0.8 percent to 742 pence at 11:27 a.m. in London trading.
“We also expect that Nat will remain on the board,” though his future role with the company will be for him and Tan to decide, Fong said. “It’s not about Nat. It’s about a board 100 percent focused on the asset.”