Bumi scandal delays return to market

 

Bumi, the Indonesian coal group co-founded by the banking scion Nat Rothschild and under scrutiny by the Serious Fraud Office, will not meet a self-imposed deadline of next week to resume trading in its shares.

The company’s chief executive, Nick von Schirnding, asked the UK Listing Authority to suspend trading in April while he sorted out a scandal involving a $201m (£130m) black hole in one of Bumi’s key business units.

However, he said last month that investors would be able to buy and sell stock by the time of next Wednesday’s annual meeting. Yesterday, Bumi admitted it was seeking “approval for the resumption of trading as soon as possible after” the meeting.

Mr von Schirnding, who inherited the mess when he took over at the end of last year, has been trying to tighten internal controls. These have included making sure any transaction of more than $1m is approved by the board, rather than the previous ceiling of $20m.

Mr Rothschild co-founded Bumi three years ago, but fell out with his partners, the Bakrie family.

Investors had been expecting to vote at the meeting on a split between Bumi and the Bakrie family, but yesterday’s statement said negotiations “pertaining to the separation are ongoing”.

A large protest vote is expected on Wednesday. Mr Rothschild yesterday said that he would vote against the  re-election of all of the Bumi board, apart from the non-executive director  Sir Richard Gozney.

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