Liquidator puts heat on Tinkler
WHITEHAVEN Coal shares hit fresh lows on Friday, putting Nathan Tinkler under maximum financial pressure ahead of a public examination next week by the liquidator of his Mulsanne Resources.
Whitehaven shares have plunged more than 25 per cent since the start of the year, in the wake of a sharp January profit downgrade and the announcement that respected managing director Tony Haggarty will retire by Easter.
The shares fell 12¢ or more than 4 per cent to $2.68 on Friday - a level not seen since well before the $5.2 billion merger with Mr Tinkler's Aston Resources last May.
The value of Mr Tinkler's main asset, a 19.4 per cent stake in Whitehaven, fell to just $527 million at Friday's close. That is significantly less than Mr Tinkler's total debt to hedge fund Farallon Capital, believed to be about $700 million including principal and accumulated interest, as reported previously.
The new low comes as his luxury Dassault Falcon jet and Agusta helicopter were listed for sale on Friday for $US20 million.
Mr Tinkler faces examination alongside fellow Mulsanne directors Troy Palmer and Matthew Keen, and company secretary Aimee Hyde over a failed $28.4 million share placement by listed coal explorer Blackwood Corporation. Ferrier Hodgson is investigating possible insolvent trading by Mulsanne's directors - which could leave them personally liable for debts incurred by the company. The examination will begin on Friday and will continue on March 14-15.
New South Wales Supreme Court registrar Joanne Hedge ordered documents relating to the Blackwood placement to be produced by mid-February but granted an extension and a box of records was delivered to Ferrier Hodgson on Thursday. Mr Tinkler's co-directors were ordered to provide their own personal financial documents by the close of business on Friday.
Mr Tinkler's personal financial affairs will also be subject of the examination and he was ordered to provide bank statements by March 8 and other documents by March 13.
Mr Tinkler nominated four possible lenders to Mulsanne including locally based Credit Suisse and EIG Global Energy Australia, which were also subject to court orders. EIG confirmed it has no documents to provide and Credit Suisse has indicated it will serve documents by the due date of March 6.
Mr Tinkler also nominated foreign entities Noonday Asset Management - an arm of hedge fund Farallon Capital, his principal lender - and Jefferies Singapore Ltd, and the liquidator Robyn Duggan has requested delivery of any documents relating to the Blackwood placement. "Noonday has communicated with us and we expect to have a response from them next week," Ms Duggan said.
Ms Duggan said the hearings could be avoided only if Mulsanne paid the $28.4 million owed to Blackwood or reached an agreement that Blackwood, the major creditor, was prepared to accept.
Mulsanne agreed last July to pay $28.4 million for 95 million shares in Blackwood at the premium price of 30¢ a share, to gain a 34 per cent stake. Blackwood shares closed on Friday at 12.5¢, valuing the entire company at $23 million.
Blackwood is 51 per cent owned by Hong Kong-based commodities trader Noble Group, which lent Mr Tinkler $5 million at the height of his cash flow crisis last year - a loan that has since been repaid.