Nathan Tinkler skips out on Wilkie Creek mine

Nathan Tinkler claimed he had sold his racehorse ­business and estate for $130 million, enabling him to finance the Wilkie Creek acquisition. Photo: Nic WalkerNEWCASTLE Jets owner Nathan Tinkler’s return to the resources sector is in doubt after the former billionaire missed a scheduled payment on his $150 million acquisition of Wilkie Creek coalmine in Queensland.
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The Australian Financial Review reported on Wednesday that Mr Tinkler had committed to paying a portion of the sale price by June 30, but no payment was made.

US coal giant Peabody Energy is understood to have granted an extension to Mr Tinkler and his New York-based financiers, although it’s not clear for how long.

Mr Tinkler, who has a reputation for late payment, announced the Wilkie deal in May telling the media that a lot of people would like to be ‘‘as broke as me’’.

It is understood the mine purchase was initially dependent on the sale of Mr Tinkler’s thoroughbred racing operation Patinack Farm, which is still on the market.

The Herald reported last month that retail magnate Gerry Harvey is owed tens of millions of dollars by Mr Tinkler over racing interests.

Mr Harvey said that he had a caveat over all of Mr Tinkler’s horseracing and breeding assets and was considering selling the horses that race in the name of Patinack.

The revelation threw into doubt the veracity of claims made in May that Mr Tinkler had done a deal to sell his bloodstock interests to a Dubai-based firm, Cibola Capital.

In late June Mr Tinkler admitted in a media report that he had not met conditions associated with the funding of Wilkie Creek.

But he claimed the deal still had the backing of financing secured from US investment bank Jefferies and its parent private equity firm, Leucadia National.

‘‘The conditions precedent on the funding package included Patinack Farm settling and we have solved that another way now and moved on,’’ Mr Tinkler said.

According to the AFR, Stanmore Coal, a junior miner focused on the Surat Basin where the Peabody mine is situated, was among the two rival contenders, as was a private equity-style investor. Both bids were some distance from the hefty amount ventured by Mr Tinkler.

Stanmore, the immediate underbidder, offered close to $20 million, excluding liabilities, for Wilkie Creek, which was mothballed at the end of last year after successive attempts to sell the mine by Peabody Energy fell flat.

Peabody listed the Wilkie Mine – near Dalby, north-west of Brisbane – for sale in mid-2012.

At the time, it was exporting 2.5 million tonnes of thermal coal a year through the Port of Brisbane and a $500 million price tag was touted to prospective buyers.

The mine closed in December last year, with the company blaming the carbon tax.

It has no employees or equipment left, but Mr Tinkler said he planned to put the mine back in production by the end of the year.

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