* ARMS gives no timeframe for $400 mln return
* Also does not specify in what form return will take place
* Shareholders say hope ARMS will return more
* UK market watchdog investigation into ARMS ongoing
* Founders exchange insults on Twitter
(Adds Nat Rothschild, ARMS CEO comments, Twitter spat)
By Silvia Antonioli and Stephen Eisenhammer
LONDON, March 25 Coal miner Asia Resource
Minerals Plc (ARMS) has completed a long-awaited
separation from its co-founding Bakrie family and intends to
return $400 million to shareholders, the company said on
Indonesia-focused ARMS, previously known as Bumi, was
founded in 2010 by the influential Bakries and financier Nat
Rothschild, with the aim of giving London investors access to
promising Indonesian coal assets.
But the business suffered from boardroom rows, allegations
of wrongdoing and falling coal prices. Its shares have lost
almost 80 percent of their value since the business was set up.
Evidence of the extent to which the relationship between the
company founders soured was visible in a fiery exchange on
Twitter after the separation was announced, in which Rothschild
and Adika "Aga" Nuraga Bakrie, a member of the Bakrie family,
exchanged insults calling each other "dumb".
To revive the business's fortunes, shareholders voted in
December to split from Indonesia's Bakrie family, but this took
longer than expected due to difficulties of raising the
With the split completed, ARMS will focus on turning around
its other main Indonesian subsidiary, Berau Coal,
while giving up a stake in Asia's top thermal coal exporter PT
"I feel vindicated. There were a number of stakeholders
saying this would never happen. I can't say it has been easy, it
was a complicated transaction, but to have achieved this is
excellent for our shareholders," ARMS Chief Executive Nick von
Schirnding said in a phone interview.
"Our focus is on our subsidiary now. We need to regain
credibility and today's announcement is the first step in that
As part of the separation process, outgoing ARMS Chairman
Samin Tan bought the Bakries' 23.8 percent stake in ARMS through
investment vehicle Borneo Lumbung Energy & Metal Tbk.
ARMS sold its 29.2 percent stake in Jakarta-listed miner PT Bumi
Resources to the Bakries for $501 million. The deal
pushed Borneo's ARMS stake to 47.6 percent.
GIVE ME MY MONEY
ARMS said it would return $400 million to shareholders but
did not give any timeframe and did not specify in what form the
money will be returned.
Shareholders welcomed the completion of the separation but
said they hoped ARMS would return closer to the $501 million it
got from the deal.
"I think it's important to return the maximum amount of
money because there is no appetite from the major shareholders,
certainly not from me, to entrust money with the management team
in London to redeploy that capital," Rothschild said.
"We want the business ... to be run as efficiently as
possible and for all dividends to be passed through to
ARMS said it was cooperating with regulatory investigations.
Britain's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Takeover
Panel, an independent body that supervises takeovers to ensure
fair treatment for all shareholders, are investigating the
company's formation in 2010 and subsequent events.
Last year Rothschild, who has a stake of about 16 percent in
ARMS, had asked the FCA to look into whether ARMS made
misleading statements to the market.
ARMS said it would now try to trace and return to
shareholders money the company says is owed by the former head
of its Berau subsidiary Rosan Roeslani.
The company in November started arbitration proceedings
seeking to recover $173 million from Roeslani in Singapore, but
said on Tuesday it will take all appropriate actions with
authorities in the UK, Indonesia and other relevant
(Editing by Jane Merriman and David Holmes)