Coal miner Bumi Plc said Thursday it will likely side with Indonesia's powerful Bakrie family in a tussle with British tycoon Nathaniel Rothschild for control of the country's lucrative mines.
The Bakries -- who control the Jakarta-listed Bumi Resources -- have offered to sell their 23.8 percent stake in Bumi Plc and split from the company in return for control over several key mines in Indonesia.
"The infighting has gone on too long and a separation from Bumi Resources is what everyone wants, including both the Bakries, Nat Rothschild, as well as the majority of our independent shareholders," investor relations head Nick von Schirnding, told AFP.
After a board meeting on Wednesday, London-listed Bumi Plc released a statement saying it was "working towards a transaction which separates the Bakrie Group from the company and divests the minority interest in Bumi Resources".
Rothschild's NR Investments said in a statement it would "continue to explore all possible avenues to achieving proper corporate governance at the PLC and its companies".
"We are disappointed that the board has not backed our alternative proposal regarding the future of the company," the statement said, adding that the board had "ignored the stated wishes of minority investors".
If the Bakries' proposal is accepted, the Bakrie Group would take away around a third of its 29 percent stake in Bumi Resources, Asia's biggest thermal coal producer, and buy the rest for $278 million leaving them completely divested.
The Bakrie Group has also offered to buy Bumi's Berau Coal, Indonesia's fifth-biggest coal mine, also eyed by Rothschild. Bumi, however, said it has no intention to sell Berau.
Bumi Plc was co-founded by Rothschild and the Bakries in 2011 in a bid to become one of the biggest global players in the coal industry and leverage Indonesian coal firms, including Bumi Resources, to London.
The Jakarta-listed Bumi Resources is the country's biggest thermal coal miner and is and is the heartbeat of Bakries' business empire.
The rift peaked last year when Bumi ordered an independent probe into allegations concerning potential financial irregularities in Bumi Resources, which was followed by the Rotshchild's resignation and one of the Bakrie brothers from the board.
The board said it could not recommend a course of action until the probe ended.
The Bakries have blamed Rothschild over the battle that has caused Bumi to see its share slumped more than 70 percent this year.
"We find it extraordinary that Mr Rothschild continues to blame others while refusing to accept that he alone is responsible for this financial bloodbath," a Bakrie Group Senior Vice President, Chris Fong, said.
"His outrageous hunger for complete control over these assets are his own undoing, he now needs to stand up and accept that we have all had enough of his baseless ranting," Fong said.