Bumi Rivals Both Claim Shareholder Interests With Opposing PlansMadelene Pearson and Thomas Biesheuvel
Bumi Plc Chairman Samin Tan and co-founder Nathaniel Rothschild are as united by claims of putting shareholders first as they are divided on how to get that done.
“My interests with the rest of the shareholders are aligned because we are all the victims of the Bumi saga,” Tan said in an interview with Mark Barton on Bloomberg Television. “I’m the person who lost a lot more money than anyone else.”
Bumi has urged investors to reject plans by Rothschild, co-founder with Indonesia’s Bakrie Group, to regain control of the company by removing 12 of 14 directors and returning himself to the board. The London-traded company, which slid 69 percent last year as Rothschild and the Bakrie family fought for control of its coal assets, is also seeking a separation from the Bakries.
Shareholders will vote at an Extraordinary General Meeting on Feb. 21 over Rothschild’s motion to oust directors including Tan and Chief Executive Officer Nick von Schirnding. Wallace King, the former head of Leighton Holdings Ltd., would become chairman, while Brock Gill would be the replacement CEO.
“My interest here is to try to win this EGM and bring the value back for the shareholders,” Tan said today in the interview. “I am absolutely sure we will win.”
The creation of Bumi in 2010 bundled the assets of two coal companies in a $3 billion deal. A boardroom feud and financial probes in the U.K. and Indonesia have since prompted the Bakries and Rothschild to seek to unwind their collaboration.
“I am still fighting for the regular shareholders,” the financier said in a separate interview on Bloomberg Television.
Rothschild said he had invested more than 120 million pounds ($189 million) in the company and was proposing a “serious, qualified, no-nonsense” board. Tan said he had invested about $1 billion in the business.
Julian Horn-Smith, a senior independent non-executive director at Bumi, today called on Rothschild to return bonus shares he was granted after the company’s creation.
There’s “growing pressure” from shareholders for the financier to give back the stock, Horn-Smith said in a statement that Rothschild described as “pretty extraordinary.”
Bumi said last week it was progressing with negotiations to sever ties with the Bakries. An announcement on the separation may come this week, Tan said today. He plans to quit as chairman once the split is complete. “Assuming that we win, and I believe that we will win this coming EGM, the process for the separation is very, very close,” Tan said.
Bumi’s plan won’t achieve a full exit by the Bakries, said Rothschild’s NR Investments Ltd. in a separate statement. “My job is to provide an alternative from the status quo because the status quo has been nothing short of a tragedy,” Rothschild said. “We need a new management team and a new board.”
Bumi fell 0.2 percent to 356.7 pence by 10:19 a.m. in London.