Bumi CEO pushes for Bakries split



Nick Von Schirnding, chief executive of Bumi (Other OTC: VLLRF - news) , is to lobby the Indonesian coal company's major institutional shareholders in a bid to receive backing for its planned separation from the Bakrie family.

The meetings, set to begin later this week, are part of his plan to revive the company's fortunes, along with a planned name change to Asia Coal (HKSE: 0835.HK - news) or Asia Resources and the appointment of a headhunter to help recruit an independent chairman. Mr von Schirnding, who, along with the majority of the company's board last week, survived an unseating attempt by founder investor Nat Rothschild, is to meet shareholders including Standard Life (LSE: SL.L - news) , Legal & General and the Abu Dhabi Investment Council to lobby for support.

Bumi has 23 long-only institutions, and Mr von Schirnding is expected to meet all of them in the coming weeks. The intended separation will see the sale of Bumi's stake in Bumi resources in return for $278m (£183m) in cash and the Bakries' 23.8pc stake in the company.

But the deal is dependent on the support of more than 75pc of investors, as it is a Class 1 transaction under UK listing rules. Mr Rothschild and allies control 25.2pc of the shares, and could technically block the deal, a vote on which is expected at an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) at the end of April.

At last week's high-profile EGM, Mr Rothschild managed to remove two of the 12 Bumi directors he was hoping to unseat, and had one of his nominees elected to the board.

It is also understood the board is close to appointing Russell Reynolds, the head- hunter, to lead the search for a new chairman to replace Samin Tan, the outgoing Indonesian chairman.

Institutional shareholders will have a say in the naming of the new chairman, alongside members of the board's nomination committee. The executive search firm is also expected to be involved in a wholesale refresh of Bumi's board, reducing it from 14 members to fewer than 10, replacing the majority of non-executive directors.

Sir Julian Horn-Smith and Lord Robin Renwick, the two non-executives who have been the most high-profile throughout the battle with Mr Rothschild, are expected to step down in due course. The one current non-executive who is likely to stay on the board is Graham Holdaway, a former KPMG partner with expertise in Indonesia and Australia.

Bumi declined to comment.

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