LONDON (Reuters) - The Indonesian Bakrie family, the major shareholder in Bumi Plc BUMIP.L, is in talks to sell its stake in the coal mining group to its chairman Samin Tan, Bumi Plc said on Wednesday.
The proposed deal would increase Samin Tan’s existing holding in Bumi Plc to around 47 percent from about 30 percent. He became a major shareholder in Bumi last year.
London-listed Bumi Plc was co-founded by financier Nat Rothschild and the influential Bakrie family. But Bumi Plc and the Bakries have been seeking to part ways after two years of boardroom battles and a probe into financial irregularities.
The latest separation plan would also involve the Bakrie family buying Bumi Plc’s stake in Jakarta-listed Bumi Resources (BUMI.JK) for over $500 million in cash.
Bumi said that independent shareholders would have to approve Samin Tan’s acquisition of the Bakries’ stake in Bumi Plc.
The new separation deal differs from one originally proposed last year. In that scenario, the Bakries had agreed to exchange cash and their shares in London-listed Bumi for the group’s minority holding in Bumi Resources.
Rothschild, who owns a 14.8 percent stake in Bumi Plc, criticized the latest proposal.
“The new deal which was proposed today optically looks the same but in reality is very, very different,” he said. “Samin Tan would own 47 percent of the company. He would be in control of a company for which he has not made a takeover offer for minority shareholders.”
Rothschild’s relationship with Bumi’s board and the Bakries has soured and earlier in July he asked Britain’s financial watchdog to look into whether Bumi had made statements which have misled the market.
A source close to the company said that if the new deal went ahead, it was likely that the majority of the $500 million cash proceeds would be returned to shareholders.
Trading in Bumi’s shares has been suspended since April after irregularities found in the accounts of a key subsidiary forced it to delay its full-year results.
Reporting by Sarah Young. Editing by Jane Merriman