Financier Nat Rothschild has spent more than £16m buying shares in Bumi, boosting his firepower in the bitter struggle for control of the bombed-out Indonesian coal mining group.
The deal to buy 5.2m more shares at about 315p lifts Mr Rothschild’s voting stake from 14.8pc to 18.2pc.
His voting power has already been boosted by last month’s “concert party” ruling from the Takeover Panel that restricts Indonesia’s Bakrie family, chairman Samin Tan and 9.8pc shareholder Rosan Roeslani to a combined 29.9pc of the votes.
Mr Rothschild last week called an extraordinary meeting to oust 12 of Bumi’s 14 directors and yesterday claimed further support. Taube Hodson Stonex Partners (Frankfurt: A0JJY6 - news) , with 3.1pc, joined 4pc shareholder Schroders (LSE: SDR.L - news) and 1pc holder Sofaer Capital (Other OTC: CGHC - news) in indicating they were leaning towards backing Mr Rothschild.
Added together, both sides appear to have a similar number of votes, though the Bakries insisted that Mr Rothschild lacked the powers to appoint his own directors because of a “relationship agreement” with the company that gave them the right to nominate Bumi’s chairman, chief executive and finance chief.
Mr Rothschild contests that, saying the agreement "does not inhibit shareholders' power to remove the board and appoint a new one". He also claims the status of the agreement will be open to challenge after the publication of a looming report by law firm Macfarlanes into alleged “financial irregularities” at Bakrie-controlled operations.
Mr Rothschild added: “The Bakries are vastly leveraged and owe $550m against their Bumi shares. Their creditors will decide what happens to their shares, and we look forward to negotiating with those creditors when appropriate.”
The Bakries hit back, saying: “If shareholder value was a concern for Mr Rothschild, he would surrender his 16m bonus shares awarded him to put the Bumi structure in place.”