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Asia Resource Minerals Says Loss Widens as Coal Prices Decline

Asia Resource Minerals Plc, the coal-mining venture founded by Nathaniel Rothschild and Indonesia’s Bakrie family three years ago, reported a wider full-year loss after prices for the power-station fuel fell.

The underlying loss was $173 million, or 72 cents a share, for 2013, London-based Asia Resource Minerals said today in a statement. That compares with a loss of $60 million, or 25 cents, a year earlier. The company owns 85 percent of PT Berau Coal Energy, Indonesia’s fifth-biggest coal exporter.

Asia Resource Minerals this week completed the sale of its 29 percent holding in Indonesia’s biggest coal exporter for $501 million in a deal designed to sever ties with the Bakries. Chief Executive Officer Nick von Schirnding has promised to return more than $400 million to shareholders of the company, whose stock has slumped 66 percent in the past two years.

“In the continuing weak environment for thermal-coal prices, we remain resolutely focused on cost reduction and asset optimization,” von Schirnding said in the statement. “We now look forward to maximizing the opportunity at PT Berau as we begin a new chapter in the company’s life.”

Asia Resource Minerals dropped 0.6 percent to close at 235 pence in London trading yesterday.

The two-part deal completed this week to cut ties with the Bakries also saw former Chairman Samin Tan buy the family’s stake in Asia Resources Minerals for $223 million to increase his holding to 47.6 percent.

Rothschild and the Bakries founded Asia Resource Minerals, formerly known as Bumi Plc, in a $3 billion tie-up announced in 2010 that grouped stakes in two Indonesian coal producers. The Bakries are among Indonesia’s most powerful families, with business interests from commodities to real estate and media. Aburizal Bakrie is chairman of Indonesia’s second-biggest political party and a candidate in the presidential election to be held in July.

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