Bumi says has no proof Bakrie family has cash for split deal

LONDON (Reuters) - London-listed coal miner Bumi Plc said on Friday it was pressing ahead with a December vote on a planned split with the Bakrie family, its Indonesian co-founders, despite having no guarantees the family will have the cash to finance the deal.

Bumi was created in 2010 to bring Indonesian mining assets to London investors, but has faced bitter shareholder battles against the background of tumbling thermal coal prices.

The company said late on Thursday that shareholders would vote on Dec 4 on the complex separation deal which the miner's board hopes will allow it to start afresh and bring the Bakrie family's involvement to an end.

The planned split will see the Bakries selling their stake in the London-listed firm to their current partner and outgoing chairman Samin Tan.

The Bakries will then buy back London-listed Bumi's 29.2 per cent stake in troubled Jakarta-listed unit PT Bumi for US$501 million (S$624 million), above the current market price.

Both deals should happen simultaneously.

However, unless the Bakries can provide the cash portion - just under S$280 million, to account for the difference in price between the London stake price and the Jakarta-listed holding - the agreement would collapse before its estimated completion date of mid-December, leaving Bumi unable to move ahead with plans to rebrand and refocus the group around its Berau unit.

"We have repeatedly sought assurances on financing," Bumi chief executive Nick von Schirnding said, adding none had been provided.

"Obviously, it would have been (better) to have all the money in escrow ... but these are challenging times."

Though one of Indonesia's most influential families and rich in assets, the Bakries have on occasions only narrowly averted critical financial squeezes. A deal to sell free-to-air television station ANTV, owned by the Bakries' Visi Media Asia and thought to provide cash for the Bumi split, collapsed in September.

Bumi has separately been trying to recover cash lost at Berau, after it reached a deal with a former executive, Mr Rosan Roeslani, to claw back US$173 million. It said on Thursday that it had now begun arbitration proceedings, after Roeslani failed to make an initial payment of US$30 million in cash by Sept 26.

"We have a clearly set out agreement with Rosan Roeslani, which is enforceable under English law," Mr von Schirnding said."We are going to enforce this agreement."

Financier Nat Rothschild, a co-founder of Bumi alongside the Bakries and a critic of the current management, said the failure to recover the cash from Mr Roeslani "represents a material change to the terms of the previously announced separation".

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