Rothschild voted down over Bumi board change

Feb 22, 2013
<p>Financier loses bid to rejoin mining giant Bumi and expel 12 members of the board</p>

Nat Rothschild has failed to oust 12 of the 14 Bumi board members, including the chairman and CEO, while trying to get himself back on the board of the company he helped set up in 2010.

Despite keeping his place on the board with almost 57 percent support, chairman Samin Tan announced that he would in fact be stepping down once a new independent chairman is found, says a company statement.

‘The recruitment of a new chairman, who has experience in, and is familiar to, the London market is underway and will take place in consultation with the company’s largest independent shareholders,’ continues the statement. ‘The board will be re-structured and will be significantly smaller while retaining a majority of independent directors,’ it adds.

CEO Nick von Schirnding, who was also up for removal, received a 61 percent vote of confidence. Of the board members Rothschild was seeking to remove, only Von Schirnding and deputy chairman Julian Horn-Smith received more than 60 percent support.

Shareholders voted out just two Bumi board members – Jean-Marc Mizrahi and Nalinkant Rathod – while Richard Gozney, former UK ambassador to Indonesia, was appointed to the London-listed coal mining firm with the support of Rothschild.

Rothschild, who was hoping to have himself reappointed to the board, received less than 37 percent support. He publicly criticized the firm in 2011, calling for a ‘radical cleaning up’ of PT Bumi Resources, Bumi’s Jakarta affiliate, a year after setting up the company in a $3 bn deal with Indonesian co-investors the Bakrie family – part of the country’s political and business elite.

Rothschild stepped down from the board in October last year after the relationship further deteriorated following accusations of financial irregularities, which in turn led to an investigation by law firm Macfarlanes.

Announcing its general meeting in January, the board said it ‘is taking significant action to deal with the issues arising out of the Macfarlanes investigation including engaging with Indonesian and UK authorities,’ including the UK Serious Fraud Office, adding that Rothschild’s proposed changes would not make the board any more effective.

Talking to Bloomberg, Von Schirnding said shareholders would vote in April or May on plans to separate from the Bakries. The board had advised shareholders that a vote in favour of Rothschild’s proposals could jeopardize any separation plans.

Rothschild had put forward former Leighton CEO Wallace King to replace Samin Tan as chairman and Brock Gill as CEO.

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