June 12, 2014 / 10:31 AM / in 4 years

UPDATE 1-Coal miner Asia Resource Minerals removes CEO von Schirnding

(Adds shareholders comments, details)

By Silvia Antonioli and Karen Rebelo

June 12 (Reuters) - Indonesian coal miner Asia Resource Minerals Plc (ARMS) has removed its chief executive Nick von Schirnding and replaced him with independent non-executive director Amir Sambodo.

Sambodo will take over from von Shirnding on June 28, the company said in a statement on Thursday.

It said the board had made the decision to change the chief executive as it felt the role should move from London, where von Schirnding is based, to Indonesia, near the Berau coal mine, ARMS’ sole coal asset.

But sources close to the company said von Schirnding had been ousted after losing the support of some large shareholders who did not agree with his strategy focused on growing the company rather than maximise returns to shareholders.

ARMS, previously known as Bumi, is going through an overhaul as it tries to improve its performance after its shares dived about 80 percent since its London listing in 2010, hit by shareholder infighting and weaker coal prices.

Bumi co-founder and large shareholder, financier Nat Rothschild, said in a tweet he welcomed the change. Referring to Sambodo he tweeted: “Experienced and safe pair of hands. Von (Schirnding) should never have been given the job.”

Other shareholders were less certain.

One said Von Schirnding had been expected to stand for re-election at the annual general meeting on June 27.

“We have great concern when a CEO is leaving at the same time they are to be reappointed to their position in a shareholder meeting only weeks away,” the shareholder said.

“Nick has been instrumental in helping us navigate a bridge between Nat, the Bakries and (former chairman) Samin Tan. Seeing him go is certainly a cause for concern.”

Under von Schirnding, the company achieved a split from the co-founding Bakrie family which together with Rothschild founded the company in 2010 to bring Indonesian assets to London investors.

The relationship between shareholders however soured quickly impacting the company’s ability to make strategic decisions.

After the split, former chairman Samin Tan became the largest shareholders in ARMS.

However some critics say von Schirnding failed to recoup $173 million the company says is owed by the former head of its Berau subsidiary Rosan Roeslani.

Sambodo has been an independent non-executive director of ARMS since 2011, proposed by the Bakrie family.

Shares in ARMS were down 0.25 percent by 0937 GMT vs a 2 percent decline of the London-listed mining sector. (Editing by Sunil Nair and Susan Thomas)

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