Legal Business Blogs

HFW and Gibson Dunn lead as Rothschild exits troubled Asia Resource Minerals

A four-partner team from Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW) has spearheaded ACE’s high-profile purchase of Nat Rothschild’s stake in troubled Indonesian coal miner Asia Resource Minerals with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher acting for the British financier and Ashurst for Indonesia’s Widjaja family.

An investment vehicle for Hong Kong-based asset manager Argyle Street Management, ACE takes Rothschild’s 17.2% stake in the London-listed company just five years after he founded it with Indonesia’s politically influential Bakrie family. Rothschild, who has vowed to never invest in Indonesia again after years of attempting to wrestle back control of the company and a costly litigation process to recover $173m allegedly misappropriated by former shareholders, nets £23m from the sale. A long-time adviser, Gibson Dunn’s City corporate partner Nigel Stacey was instructed by Rothschild on the deal.

The Singapore and London offices of HFW are advising both Argyle Street Management and its bid vehicle, ACE, on its proposed all cash offer of Asia Resource Minerals. The HFW team was led by Singapore M&A partner Brian Gordon, as well as London-based corporate finance partner James Lewis and corporate partners Nick Hutton and Jayson Marks. Ashurst advised the Widjaja family, which is also involved in ACE, on the deal.

ACE paid Rothschild 56p per share, a 52% premium on Asia Resource Minerals’ share price. The company’s board has recommended the ACE offer which values the company at more than $200m.

The scandal hit company, renamed from Bumi to Asia Resource Minerals following the bitter feud between Rothschild and the Bakrie family, was probed by the SFO in 2013 over a missing £48m linked to former director Rosan Roeslani.

Brian Gordon, HFW corporate partner, said: ‘The deal, which is yet to close, has involved considerable interaction with the UK Takeover Panel and a number of interested parties. Investor appetite for the Indonesian coal sector is currently strong, and with some Indonesian miners posting an impressive return on equity exceeding 20% it is clear to see why. Nonetheless, the requirements of bodies like the UK Takeover Panel must be adhered to in order to capitalise on this commercial benefit.’