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NEW UPDATES Asean Affairs  1 April 2014  

BRAU suffers $165m loss as coal demand remains sluggish

Publicly listed coal miner PT Berau Coal Energy (BRAU) remained with a massive net loss last year as slow demand and excess supply squeezed coal prices.

BRAU reported US$165 million in net losses in 2013, slightly better than a similar loss of $180 million a year earlier, according to its financial report published on Friday evening.

The loss was particularly due to lower selling prices despite higher coal sales, BRAU’s parent company Asia Resource Minerals Plc said.

BRAU booked $1.42 billion in revenue last year, around 7 percent lower compared to $1.53 billion in 2012. The company sold 11 percent more coal last year, 23.3 million tons compared to 21.1 million tons in 2012.

However, its selling price fell by 16 percent to $59.6 per ton in 2013 compared to $70.9 per ton a year earlier.

BRAU sold 36 percent of its coal to China, 19 percent to Taiwan, 12 percent to India, 10 percent to South Korea, 8 percent to the rest of Asia and the remaining 15 percent to the domestic market in Indonesia. China has been showing signs of economic slowdown, thus cutting demand from the world’s second biggest economy.

Shares in BRAU dropped 1.76 percent on Friday, closing at Rp 167 apiece versus Rp 170 each on Thursday.

Coal companies have been suffering from the decline in prices following oversupply in the global coal market while growth in demand is still affected by the sluggish recovery of the global economy.

Indonesia’s coal reference price was set at $77.01 per ton in March, lower than the $80.44 per ton in February. Thermal coal at the Australian port of Newcastle stood at $72.98 per ton on March 14, which was the lowest level since October 2009, according to London-based data provider globalCOAL.

Asia Resource Minerals said a continuing weakness in coal prices would be “crunch time” for the company and its Indonesian operation.

“Our most challenged pit is Lati, and we are looking at it very carefully. Clearly, if thermal-coal prices continue at this level for a significant time, we are, as others are, going to be very challenged,” Asia Resource Minerals chief executive officer Nick von Schirnding said in London as quoted by Bloomberg on Friday.

Asia Resource Minerals, which was previously named Bumi plc, is the 84.7 percent owner of BRAU. Until last Tuesday, the London listed company also owned a 29.2 percent stake in the country’s major coal mining player PT Bumi Resources (BUMI).

BUMI is planning to hold an extraordinary meeting next week to obtain shareholders’ approval about its plan to divest part of its stakes in subsidiaries PT Kaltim Prima Coal and PT Bumi Resources Minerals, to settle debt to the China Investment Corporation (CIC).

The company obtained the approval last January, however the regulator asked that it put it to the vote again in another meeting as the previous approval was not followed by approval on a related issue — the approval to pledge assets.

“Basically they [the regulator] think agenda items one and two are interrelated. Therefore, the full agenda should be opted for again with a quorum of 40 percent. We are confident to get approval,” BUMI director and corporate secretary Dileep Srivastava said.

Shares in BUMI were closed at Rp 269 apiece on Friday, declining by 2.18 percent from a day earlier.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More






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