Bumi bid to repair image undermined by key no-show at protest-hit AGM

Bumi, the Indonesian coal miner that has been at the centre of a storm over corporate governance, took a significant step towards improving its reputation yesterday when the chairman, Samin Tan, and co-chairman, Indra Bakrie, waived their joint 29.9 per cent voting block at the company's annual general meeting.

But the impact of the move – intended to sidestep criticism that the company's top executives are wielding too much shareholder influence – was undermined immediately by the fact that the co-chairman did not turn up to the meeting. Mr Bakrie, who was Bumi's chairman until a board shake-up in March, was called away on urgent business in the Far East a few days ago, a company spokesman explained.

Speaking at the AGM, Andrew Hickman, a shareholder and campaigner for anti-corruption group Down to Earth, said: "I find it quite surprising and disappointing that Mr Bakrie isn't here," adding that he'd wanted to address most of his questions to the co-chairman.

Tom Powdrill, of the shareholder advisory group Pirc, added: "It's fairly standard to expect board members to attend AGMs as it is the principal point at which formal contact is made with shareholders.

"It may not be a red-card offence, but if you're a director of a company it is your business to attend – especially if you hold a large stake in that company," he added.

Nat Rothschild, the financier who created Bumi a year ago by reversing two Jakarta-based coal miners into a London-listed cash shell, was keeping a low profile at the meeting in Mayfair yesterday.

Mr Rothschild, a non-executive director of Bumi with a substantial minority shareholding, was ousted from the co-chairman's seat in March after falling out with the Bakrie brothers and Mr Tan. The dispute erupted after a letter Mr Rothschild sent to then chief executive Ari Hudya criticising corporate governance at the company was leaked to the press.

After greeting members of the audience with a handshake on entering the room, Mr Rothschild sat on the edge of the scene and was silent throughout the meeting.

Answering accusations that Bumi was conducting the AGM in an non-transparent manner, Mr Tan said: "Transparency – that's exactly what we're here for. I know there have been some problems in the past…but things cannot be changed overnight, they take some time."

However, four shareholders separately accused the Bumi board of failing to engage with their concerns in a grumpy meeting. At one point, Sir Julian Horn-Smith, the former Vodafone chief executive who is Bumi's senior independent director, said of one shareholder claim: "Frankly speaking, this is the first we've heard of it."

He added that he would be perfectly happy to discuss specific points of substance with shareholders, except that he hadn't heard any made. The shareholders, whose grievances included concerns about the environment and Bumi's treatment of its workers, were unimpressed.

"It's sounds to me as if you don't care," said Roger Moody, one of the shareholders.

A spokesman for Bumi said: "It's unfortunate that these shareholders made no attempt to engage with us [before the meeting]. We would be very happy to engage, it would achieve a lot more. If there are detailed allegations, come and talk to us, we are not hiding behind anything."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Client Services Assistant

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Client Services Assistant is ...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Ashdown Group: Training Coordinator - Financial Services

£32000 - £38000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A highly successful, inte...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Affiliates & Partnerships

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This multi-award winning foreig...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor