Rothschild says Indonesia's Bumi can shake up coal world

17th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

The company formed by the union of PT Bumi Resources and PT Berau Coal Energy is looking to acquire coal mines around the world and become a global giant, investor Nathaniel Rothschild said Friday.

Rothschild said the combined entity aims to raise cash from the likes of Chinese sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp. -- which bought 1.9 billion dollars of Bumi Resources' debt last year.

"This could become a global coal company, as opposed to an Indonesia-focused coal company," Rothschild told Dow Jones Newswires in an interview during a visit to Beijing.

He added: "... it's certainly institutions like CIC that we would look to involve in the future plans, because they are inextricably linked to Bumi through this debt instrument".

Rothschild designed the Bumi-Berau deal through his investment firm Vallar PLC. Vallar listed on the London Stock Exchange in July after raising about 1.1 billion dollars from investors.

It completed a "reverse takeover" deal worth three billion dollars on November 16, giving it 25 percent of Bumi Resources, Indonesia's biggest coal miner by output, and 75 percent of Berau, the fifth biggest.

Indonesia's powerful Bakrie family, which controls Bumi Resources, will own 43 percent of Vallar, and Indra Bakrie will become its chairman. The family also includes billionaire Golkar Party chief Aburizal Bakrie.

Analysts have said the move looks like a good way to take advantage of Indonesia's position as a key raw materials supplier to the booming Asian economies of India and China.

But they have also raised red flags over allegations of corruption and poor governance in Bakrie-related companies.

Rothschild said the Indonesian market was "very, very undervalued" compared to other major emerging countries like Brazil, Russia, India and China.

"And whether the naysayers like it or not, it's a democracy," he added.

Bumi Resources and Berau this year will produce about 78 million metric tons of thermal coal used in power plants in China and India.

"What I like about this industry is that you're effectively selling dirt," Rothschild told Dow Jones.

Shares in Vallar jumped more than nine percent on the London Stock Exchange on Friday, as they resumed trading for the first time since the company announced the deal.

© 2010 AFP

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