Email highlights Tinkler's plight

An email from Nathan Tinkler's phone to his main banker last September showed how much pressure the coal baron was coming under, as lawyers for Blackwood Corp moved to wind up his shelf company Mulsanne Resources.

An email from Nathan Tinkler's phone to his main banker last September showed how much pressure the coal baron was coming under, as lawyers for Blackwood Corp moved to wind up his shelf company Mulsanne Resources.

It was September 24 and Mr Tinkler, in Australia, had just got a letter from Clayton Utz telling him Blackwood's board had given instructions to apply for the wind-up of Mulsanne - culminating in the liquidator's examinations that put Mr Tinkler in the witness box this week.

In the email and on the stand, Mr Tinkler blamed commodities trader Noble Group - and specifically Will Randall, director and head of Noble's coal division - for failing to keep its side of a largely undocumented deal.

Noble was supposed to buy Mr Tinkler's 75 per cent share of a royalty stream from the Middlemount coal mine for between $20 million and $25 million, giving Mulsanne a big chunk of the $28.4 million it needed to pay for a one-third stake in Blackwood it had committed to buy under a share placement agreement.

Noble, which owned 51 per cent of Blackwood, was effectively at both ends of the deal - buying the royalty, and selling the shares. Why wouldn't it complete?

Mr Tinkler's email, contained in an exhibit to the affidavit of Mulsanne's liquidator, forwarded the Clayton Utz notice on to Raymond Zage, principal at Noonday Asset Management, the Asian arm of hedge fund Farallon Capital, which was a major lender to Tinkler Group.

Mr Tinkler warned: "You [need] to [be] aware of the below, it is going [to] be more good press for me. I have met with Will several times over the last few weeks to extend timing [of the Middlemount royalty deal] and have been assured it is fine, but they have gone ahead and done this.

"I have grounds for defence but Mulsanne is a $2 company [so] can be wound up if necessary and they [know] that but have chosen to be dramatic regardless.

"Just another one lining me up ... it does not [affect] any structure of ours as I am sure you were aware. I do have funding lines [lined] up but no doubt that will disappear now for a third time following the press."

The theme continued throughout Mr Tinkler's appearances over two days under examination by the liquidator's counsel, Robert Newlinds, SC. Mr Tinkler blames Noble for his predicament, telling the courtroom: "I pretty quickly worked out I'd been hung out to dry."

Mr Tinkler was questioned on whether there were letters, emails or any other documentation of the expected Middlemount royalty deal, before a letter dated October 18 referring to "recent discussions" about the offer. It was addressed to Mr Randall at Noble, well after the funds were due under the Blackwood share placement agreement but before Mulsanne was placed into liquidation in November.

Asked if there was any previous letter documenting the offer of the royalty to Noble, Mr Tinkler said, "I believe there was an offer. I'm not sure it was in the form of a letter."

When Mr Newlinds suggested there was no such previous document, Mr Tinkler disagreed.

"I'm not sure ... if the Middlemount royalty stuff has been searched as extensively as the Blackwood stuff," he said.

The liquidator has attempted to establish whether Mr Tinkler or his fellow Mulsanne directors Troy Palmer and Matthew Keen, who also gave evidence on Friday, had reasonable grounds to believe Mulsanne could service its debts - if not, they could be liable for a compensation claim for breach of director's duties.

Related Articles