Nathan Tinkler’s $150 million Wilkie Creek coal mine on track
Australian electrician turned mining entrepreneur, Nathan Tinkler, denied Tuesday media reports saying his $150 million agreement to buy a Peabody Energy (NYSE:BTU) coal mine could be delayed or derailed, as he has not satisfied contractual financing conditions.
Speaking to The Australian, the 38-year-old tycoon said finalizing the sale of his horseracing empire, Patinack Farm, had taken longer than expected, which had forced a tweak to his funding arrangements for the purchase of the Wilkie Creek coal mine in Queensland.
However, he said the deal still had the backing of New York investment bank Jefferies, a subsidiary of Leucadia National Corp.
Sources quoted by The Herald had said Tinkler’s failure to meet the conditions of the financing had prompted Jefferies to sound out other potential investors over the past month.
Peabody shut Wilkie last year, blaming the carbon tax, falling coal prices and increased costs of doing business, but Tinkler announced it was acquiring it last month, two years after the collapse of a multibillion-dollar bid for his Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC), once the country’s largest independent coal producer by market value.
The former billionaire, listed for years as the richest man in Australia under 40, quit Down Under for Singapore two years ago after a series of disastrous deals and has since been trying to patch up his business finances, selling assets to repay creditors.
He shot to fame after he and his partner brought in $1 million to put his foot on the Middlemount coal deposit in Queensland in 2006. Borrowing the rest of the $30 million purchase price, Tinkler sold Middlemount to Macarthur Coal just a year later and got over $440 million in cash.
Not long after, Tinkler pulled off the same trick. In 2009 he borrowed heavily to buy the Maules Creek deposit in New South Wales from Rio Tinto for $480 million, which later sold for $1.2bn in 2010.
Tinkler’s most immediate plan is to put Wilkie Creek, which has approval to produce 2.5 million tonnes of coal, back into production by the end of the year.
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