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Board hits back at Rothschild in Bumi spat

by Sarah Miloudi on Jan 08, 2013 at 08:03

Board hits back at Rothschild in Bumi spat

The board of scandal hit Bumi has said Nat Rothschild must shoulder some of the blame for the position it has found itself in.

Just a day after it emerged Rothschild had emailed one of Bumi's senior independent directors to consider quitting his post in light of the firm's 'placatory' response to allegations of financial irregularity, Bumi issued its own statement and used it to hit back at the financier who holds 15% of the company's vote.

'Nat Rothschild must take a significant amount of responsibility for the situation in which the company finds itself.  He was instrumental in identifying the targets and creating the structure of the original acquisition by Vallar Plc of its stakes in Bumi Resources and Berau and it was Nat Rothschild's entity, Vallar Advisers LP, which acted as the principal adviser on that transaction,' Bumi argued.

The company confirmed it received a letter from NR Investments, a vehicle controlled by Rothschild, to requisition a general meeting of Bumi to remove 12 of its 14 directors.

Rothschild, who quit his non-executive role at the resources firm last year, said he wants to see new board members appointed and a more suitable response to the allegations against it.

While Bumi said it takes the claims seriously, it pointed out the gains Rothschild had made from his creation of the London-listed firm with Indonesia's Bakrie family roughly two years ago.

As a result of the transaction, Bumi said Rothschild received shares equal to around 6% of the company's issued share capital, which at the time were worth more than £100 million, and Vallar Advisers LP also received fees.
It added: 'Nat Rothschild's ongoing actions with regard to the company are serving only to distract and delay the board and management further from executing its plan to address the company's issues and maximise shareholder value.'

However Nick von Schirnding, Bumi's chief executive officer, acknowledged that by calling the general meeting shareholders were offered a 'clear choice' between the board and its strategy of separation from the Bakrie Group - a proposal approved unanimously by the independent directors - and Nat Rothschild and his associates' strategy.

The spat between Rothschild and Bumi has seen some high profile investors take action - BlackRock's Evy Hambro sold down his position in the company after Rothschild left the board, and speaking to Wealth Manager last year Schroders' Richard Buxton said the scheme by the Bakries to sell down their position at t a profit was not acceptable.

‘Them attempting to buy it all back as coal prices are significantly lower [than] before the deal was done is not acceptable,' said Buxton, who at the time owned 2% of the firm.

Buxton has continued to back Rothschild's plight over Bumi and yesterday told the Financial Times the 'change of personnel Nat is suggesting would be hugely constructive.'

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