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Rothschild hit by epic defeat



BUMI co-founder Nat Rothschild yesterday suffered an embarrassing defeat at the coal miner’s EGM, with 19 out of 22 proposals for a board overhaul flattened by shareholders in a public City showdown after months of increasingly bitter exchanges.

Rothschild, who arrived at the extraordinary meeting with his mother Lady Serena Rothschild, proposed last month ousting 12 out of the 14 current Bumi directors and bringing in a team of his own.

Investors yesterday chose to back the current Bumi board, with more than 61 per cent of stakeholders supporting incumbent chief executive Nick von Schirnding and the deputy chairman director Sir Julian Horn-Smith.

Rothschild’s proposed appointment as an executive director was rejected by 63 per cent of investors, which marked the weightiest defeat of all the resolutions.

The outcome of the EGM, held at the Honourable Artillery Company on City Road yesterday morning, will see two current Bumi board members – former chief executive Nalin Rathod and independent non-executive director Jean-Marc Mirzhai – step down.

In a narrow victory, one of Rothschild’s proposed new team, former British ambassador to Indonesia Sir Richard Gozney, has been voted onto the Bumi board.

In a statement following the results of the meeting, the FTSE 250 coal miner welcomed Sir Richard’s appointment and the “decision of shareholders to support the board on substantially all resolutions”.

The board will now speed up the divorce of Bumi Resources from the London-listed Bumi PLC, as well as a restructuring of the board, which will be “pursued with a sense of urgency”.

“The board will be re-structured and will be significantly smaller while retaining a majority of independent directors,” the firm said last night.

Speaking at the EGM, von Schirnding said that the agreement signed last week with the Bakries, which saw them put $50m (?33m) in a ringfenced account for the buyback of Bumi Resources, was a “tangible step forward” for shareholders.

The powerful Indonesian investors last night welcomed the outcome of the meeting.

Hedge fund veteran Rothschild, also speaking last night, labelled the result a “pyrrhic victory” for the Bumi board, adding that a “substantial majority” of non-aligned shareholders voted for his proposals.

Calling again for the full release of the probe by law firm Macfarlanes, the financier added that he will continue to remain a shareholder of Bumi, and he will “continue to fight for the rights of the minority independent shareholders”.

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Competition body slams audit firms



THE COMPETITION Commission will this morning find that the Big Four accountancy firms have too much control over the industry, and call for measures to encourage Britain’s largest companies to change auditor regularly to boost competition.

In its long-awaited provisional report, the commission is expected to find no evidence of collusion, but will raise concerns that PwC, KPMG, Deloitte and Ernst & Young have an unfair grip on the books of big UK companies.

Many blue-chip firms have “Big Four-only” rules in place, and the commission is set to propose a ban on such measures, according to Sky News.

But it is expected to be less forthright about imposing mandatory rotation, in a move likely to upset mid-sized accountancy firms attempting to crack the FTSE audit market.

The Competition Commission will also urge investors to become more vocal about a firm’s choice of auditor.

All but a handful of the FTSE 100 use one of the Big Four to audit their accounts, and a firm will keep their auditor for an average of 48 years, according to a House of Lords report in 2011.

At least four blue-chip companies are believed to have put their audit contract out to tender in 2012, but only two – asset manager Schroders and oil explorer BG Group – decided to switch. Both continue to use the Big Four.

The Competition Commission declined to comment last night.

  T Vintiner & Co  

ADDRESS: 24 Crouch End Hill

CITY: London

COUNTY: London


TELEPHONE NUMBER: 020-8340-1237

CATEGORY: Framing Services


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German GDP slumps 0.6 per cent in Q4



The German economy shrank in the last three months of 2012, with a plunge in exports driving the contraction.

Seasonally adjusted data from the Federal Statistics Office confirmed an earlier flash estimate showing that German GDP fell by a more-than-expected 0.6 per cent in the last quarter of the year.

It marks the biggest fall since the economy contracted by 4.1 per cent at the start of 2009.

Foreign trade deducted 0.8 per cent from GDP while domestic demand added 0.2 per cent.

The data showed that exports dropped by two per cent in the fourth quarter while imports fell by 0.6 per cent, boding ill for struggling Eurozone states that had hoped to offload more of their goods on Germany, where rising wages, high employment and moderate inflation have boosted domestic demand.

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