Spotlight On... Nat Rothschild, co-chairman of Bumi

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The Independent Online

Isn't he the guy from the Bullingdon Club?

It's true, Mr Rothschild was a member of the notorious Oxford University dining club that also boasts David Cameron, George Osborne and Boris Johnson among its alumni. But his latest appearance in the newspapers has nothing to do with that.

I know that. He's in the news for losing his libel case against the Daily Mail, right?

Also true... but that was last week. This time, it's the latest twist to his spat with some meaty shareholders in the Bumi Indonesian mining business he co-founded that's propelled him to the headlines.

How meaty is their shareholding and what's their beef?

Indonesian business mogul Samin Tan and family investment firm the Bakrie Brothers – who own 30 per cent of Bumi between them – want Nat – a 12 per cent shareholder and co-chairman – off the board. They are peeved because in November he called for a clean-up of corporate governance at Bumi.

They took it personally then?

You could say that. They retaliated by requesting an emergency general meeting (EGM) to vote on a radical overhaul of Bumi's board – most significantly Nat's removal from it. The problem was, it backfired. Fears his removal would reduce corporate governance standards at the group saw its shares drop nearly a fifth over the next few days.

So Nat's opponents saw the light then?

It's difficult to know for sure. In a terse press release, Bumi simply said: "Bumi plc announces that it has received notification from Borneo Bumi Energi & Metal Pte Ltd to withdraw their request for a Bumi plc General Meeting."

What does that mean?

It seems the share price dive has focused Mr Tan and the Bakries' minds and made them realise a public spat with Mr Rothschild at an EGM could make things worse. They now plan to deal with the matter at a board meeting on 26 March. It is understood their aim remains the same but they are more likely to achieve it by chipping away at the situation privately.