The failure of a $28.4 million placement by Blackwood to Mulsanne, leading to the wind-up subject of Thursday's court proceedings, had seemed much ado about nothing.
But when taking the stand, Nathan Tinkler made clear there was a much bigger plan, backed by Noble Group, including the $400 million acquisition of the underperforming Australian coal assets of Brazilian mining giant Vale.
In the wake of the April merger of his Aston Resources and Boardwalk Resources with listed Whitehaven Coal, Mr Tinkler and Noble, which was rolling its Gloucester Coal assets into the separately-listed Yancoal, planned to turn Blackwood into a substantial company. The share placement to Mulsanne - at a hefty 50 per cent premium to the company's then share price - was just the start. "The whole reason [for the placement] was to grow Blackwood," Mr Tinkler said on Thursday.
The idea was to marry Tinkler Group's skills in greenfields development with Noble's skills in commodity marketing. The putative deal, which could also have involved listed junior Guildford Coal, unravelled as coal markets turned adverse in the second half of 2012 and coal stocks fell, making it tougher to raise finance. "Noble didn't expect Yancoal shares to be under $1 and I didn't expect Whitehaven to be trading at $3," he said.
By the end of last year, Mr Tinkler said Noble was a "company under stress" and around October it came back and offered half the previously discussed valuation for the Middlemount royalty. The offer was rejected and alternatives considered. Potential financiers were approached, including hedge fund Och Ziff - which has a stake in Guildford - and investment bank Barclays.
Whitehaven shares struck a fresh low of $2.31 on Thursday, valuing Mr Tinkler's 19.4 per cent stake at just $454 million, while Yancoal shares were at 84.5¢.