02 December 2011 – Reuters
LONDON Dec 2 (Reuters) – Britain’s billionaire Reuben brothers are setting up a partnership with Transasia Minerals Holdings to tap Indonesia’s coal and metals deposits, lured by the country’s vast mineral wealth.
The project means a return to natural resources for the siblings, who built their fortune with Russian aluminium company Trans-World Metals, but later sold out and put their money in private equity and property.
The pair will buy a 30 percent stake in the venture, the Asian Metal Resources Corporation (AMRC), the parties told Reuters on Friday. Transasia, which is owned by the Aslanov family from Uzbekistan, will hold the rest.
“Reuben Brothers has huge experience and knowledge in terms of the business of natural resources, and attracts the support of the world’s largest institutions as a result,” a spokesman for Transasia said in an emailed statement.
The two parties did not disclose financial details, but a source close to the two families said that the brothers would pay an initial $500 million in equity and debt, valuing the entire venture including debt at $1.7 billion.
The brothers, who are making their investment through Reuben Brothers Resources, have also negotiated the right to raise their stake to 49 percent at a later stage.
The deal follows Nat Rothschild’s venture into Indonesia, where the banking family’s scion holds 11.7 percent in miner Bumi Plc after a tie-up with the politically well-connected Bakrie family.
Spread across 17,000 islands, Indonesia has some of the world’s largest deposits of coal, gold, copper and tin, and there is increasing interest from investors in the strategic potential of Southeast Asia’s largest economy.
The joint venture between the two families will acquire and develop mining interests in Indonesia, specifically coal in Borneo, copper and gold in Sumbawa and surrounding islands, and nickel on Sulawesi, the parties said.
David Reuben, 71, and Simon, 69, are rarely in the public eye despite holding one of the UK’s largest fortunes. They rank 114th on the 2011 Forbes list of the world’s richest people, with an estimated wealth of $8 billion.
Their website lists a range of real estate investments in the UK and in Europe, but also cites natural resources as a focus, such as oil and metals trading and distribution and an “increasing mining portfolio”.
The two were born in Mumbai but made their fortune from London, where Simon went into property and his older brother David started trading in scrap metal.
The Uzbek Aslanov clan is the sole owner of Jakarta-headquartered Transasia Minerals Holdings, which exploits coal, nickel, copper, iron ore and uranium in Indonesia and Africa, according to the spokesman.
The Aslanov spokesman declined to put a number on the value of the partnership, but said: “We believe it could be worth several billion dollars within a few years.”
The partnership will also have offtake agreements, the ability to buy output, for mines owned by the Reuben Brothers.
The two parties have worked together for two decades. Their most recent project is the Tuhup2 coal mine in Kalimantan, which is due to see first production soon.