Coastal's power play clouds

Coastal may be attacking the Billabong board but it is fending off attacks on its other major Australian investment, Redbank Energy.

It may be gaining headlines on its daring Billabong play, but the brains trust behind Coastal Capital is nursing serious problems in its other major Australian exposure.

In 2011, Coastal snapped up an 18% stake in Alinta Energy in an effort to stymie TPG's ambitions to hoover up the power company's  assets.

The strategy failed. TPG had bought Alinta's massive debts at a huge discount, rammed through the asset swap, and left Coastal with the corporate shell and just one asset, the coal fired Redbank Power station in the Hunter Valley.

That business is now jeopardy. The renamed Redbank Energy was late filing its accounts and was suspended from trading this week, but the now released numbers paint a picture of a corporation skating on thin ice.

The headline figures show a 271% lift in net earnings to $29.39 million. Deduct the $46.78 million tax credit, however, and the company slid into the red.

But the trading position pales into insignificance when compared to the parlous state of its balance sheet. Redbank has a current asset deficiency of $155.8 million. And refinancing negotiations with its bankers have floundered since a two year old bank support agreement - struck after covenants  were breached - expired in May which in turn had been extended in January.

"If negotiations with the lenders for a permanent restructure are ultimately unsuccessful and the lenders withdraw their support, it is likely the group would not be able to meet its financial obligations when they fall due and payable," the company warns.

Coastal has two directors on the Redbank board, Todd Plutsky and Vlad Artamonov, the pair who have spearheaded the Billabong board spill after snapping a 5% stake in the struggling surfwear group.

As they were planning the Billabong spill, the pair were forced to fend off a similar attack from a Singapore investor with a 10% stake in Redbank that wanted to gain board representation.

The obscure New York based hedge fund is Redbank's  biggest shareholder followed by Sydney based Bronte Capital with 15%. Bronte joined forces in the failed push against the TPG debt for asset swap.

Ironically, Babcock and Brown founder Jim Babcock retains a small holding in Redbank Energy.

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