Inbred Etonian titty Nat Rothschild takes on legendarily dodgy pribumi carpet baggers, the Bakrie brothers (led by Rothschild lookalike Aburizal). I guess the takeaway is that there is little to choose between the British aristocracy and a bunch of Third World wideboys when it comes to moral conduct. The Bakries have been coining in money in Indonesia ever since the Benteng programme of the 1950s was set up by Sukarno to support ‘downtrodden’ indigenous traders. They weren’t downtrodden then, and they aren’t now. The Bakries made a killing out of exclusive trading licences that did nothing to support Indonesian development. Nat ‘Mr Offshore’ Rothschild, meanwhile, showed how naturally at home he is in a south-east Asian, Latin American or Russian business environment by cutting a deal with the Bakries to ‘reverse list’ their coal assets in London. This is a favourite Third World tycoon game whereby you find a failed listed business and have it take over your real business, thereby avoiding the intrusive due diligence and transparency that can go with an Initial Public Offering. Nat then got in a terrible bait that having gone into business with some of the dodgiest characters in Indonesia they turned out to be dodgy. (His own efforts to ‘tool up’ by bringing in the likes of Hashim Djojohadikusumo, a B-grade tycoon and elder brother of former Indonesian special forces commander Prabowo Subianto, were a flop.) Meanwhile, despite the recent global financial crisis, British regulators let the entire sordid affair carry on, presumably on the assumption that British aristocrats who live in Switzerland can be trusted to keep their own moral counsel. What happened afterwards with the London-listed business is precisely the sort of shenanigans and fleecing of minority shareholders that happens in places like Indonesia. Quelle surprise!
The Guardian explains some of the background.
Here is the Bloomberg coverage.
Here is the FT coverage (subscription needed).