DEALTALK-Trimex may soon make play for Indonesia's Bumi

By Nick Trevethan

SINGAPORE, Nov 27 (Reuters) - Trimex, a Middle East investment vehicle, may throw its hat into the ring for control of Indonesia's top coal miner PT Bumi Resources Tbk, after a private equity firm reportedly scaled back its ambitions to acquire the miner. Private equity firm Northstar Pacific may buy only 10-20 percent of Bumi, rather than a recently agreed 35 percent stake, a business newspaper said on Thursday, citing Northstar's chief, opening the door for other investors. [ID:JAK360200]

A source close to Trimex Group said the company has received details on the Bumi (BUMI.JK: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) deal through several channels and was examining options.

"In the light of recent developments, Bumi is fast running out of options. One potential source of funds is investors in the Middle East, who have been active in injecting funds into Citi and Barclays," the source said.

No one at Trimex was available for comment, but in the past it has tended to opt for majority stakes.

Bumi's owner, debt-laden conglomerate Bakrie & Brothers (BNBR.JK: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), said on Nov. 1 it would sell 35 percent of the miner to Northstar for $1.3 billion, but details remain sketchy and Bumi's shares have since slumped, prompting speculation Northstar may back out or try to pay less.

Bumi is the crown jewel of the Bakrie group, whose interests stretch from property to palm oil. But the group borrowed heavily using Bumi shares as collateral, forcing it to look for a sale when the shares fell as the commodities' bubble deflated.

Trimex, through a joint-venture company RAK Minerals and Metals Investments and backed by one of the United Arab Emirates, committed $1.5 billion to Indonesian investments earlier this year.

Bumi was Indonesia's most valuable listed firm briefly in June, but its price has since fallen 87 percent, though the stock has risen this week as investor focus returned to the bid.

Smaller local mining rival PT Tambang Batubara Bukit Asam (PTBA.JK: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), said earlier this week it was pulling out of the Northstar-led group buying the Bumi stake, blaming deteriorating share and credit markets.

Philippine conglomerate San Miguel Corp (SMCB.PS: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) has said it plans a rival bid for 51 percent of Bumi, but has not said how much it would offer.

Bumi, which has announced plans to spend more than $700 million on a share buyback, was briefly the biggest firm by market capitalisation on the Indonesian bourse when its share price peaked in June at 8,750 rupiah.

The stock fell 10 percent on Thursday to 920 rupiah. (Reporting by Nick Trevethan; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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