Tinkler's backers take $50m hit

Financiers to beleaguered magnate Nathan Tinkler appear to have taken a haircut of about $50 million on their identifiable exposure to the businessman on the deal outlined on Wednesday when the financiers seized control of his 20 per cent block of shares in Whitehaven.

Financiers to beleaguered magnate Nathan Tinkler appear to have taken a haircut of about $50 million on their identifiable exposure to the businessman on the deal outlined on Wednesday when the financiers seized control of his 20 per cent block of shares in Whitehaven.

A detailed statement lodged with the ASX on Thursday indicates the total size of the Tinkler loan raised against his holding in Whitehaven, a coalminer, was $US634 million ($690 million).

Mr Tinkler's block of about 200 million Whitehaven shares was taken off him at $2.96 a share, with the prospect of a further top-up payment being made if the shares trade at above this price for a sustained period between February and March next year.

Wednesday's move by Mr Tinkler's financial backers was worth an estimated $600 million, leaving them short by more $US34 million, with the recent slide in the Australian dollar adding to their losses.

On Thursday, US investor Burlingham International and some associates said they had bought a tranche of the Tinkler debt in April last year from Credit Suisse Singapore, picking up $US12.54million of the $US634 million loan at face value. This investor has been acquiring Whitehaven shares in recent months as they fell closer to $2, picking up about 46.4 million shares which, with the portion of the Tinkler holding acquired Wednesday, gives it a total holding of 59.7 million shares in the company, equal to 5.8 per cent of the capital.

The Tinkler loan was secured against his Whitehaven holding. The price he lost control of his Whitehaven holding at was well below the $5.20 "indicative" offer Mr Tinkler said he would make for Whitehaven last year, just months after the $US634 million financing appears to have been put in place.

That announcement helped to propel Whitehaven's share price above $4 for a time, but the gains were not sustained.

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