Australian tycoon Nathan Tinkler sells Whitehaven stake to pay off debt

Nathan TinklerAustralian tycoon Nathan Tinkler has sold his stake in Whitehaven Coal Ltd in order to pay off his lenders, but just a year after he abandoned plans of buying the whole company.

Tinkler, 36, who made his fortune selling a coal tenement to Macarthur Coal in 2007 and recently shifted residence to Singapore, sold 9.91 per cent of his 19 per cent holding in Whitehaven to US-based hedge fund Farrallon Capital Management, which had lent him around $600 million, while others lenders bought the rest of Tinkler's stake.

Farallon Capital, already an investor in Whitehaven, increased its stake in the coal miner to 16.62 per cent by buying the shares for $2.96 each for a total of just under $300 million.

The sale at $2.96-a-share is considerably low to the $5.20-a-share offer tabled by Tinkler last year for the whole of Whitehaven.

Tinkler became Whitehaven's largest shareholder when the Sydney-based coal miner acquired Tinkler's Aston Resources and unlisted Boardwalk Resources in 2011.

The Tinkler Group said, ''Many will be aware of the emotional attachment that Mr Tinkler has to the assets of the company, specifically Maules Creek, and that selling this stake was a difficult decision.''

Last year worth $825 million at 35, Tinkler, who was listed by Forbes magazine as Australia's 26th-richest person, with a net worth of $825 million in 2012, was featured on its cover (see: photograph above) as a member of the magazine's rich list. He was slated to turn a billionaire within a few months, once his Aston Resources merged with Whitehaven Coal. "However, by then the price of coal was sinking, falling from $120 a ton to $87 And his fortune sank with it," the magazine noted. This year he failed to make it to the Forbes list.

He also owed around $700 million to a lending syndicate, including Farallon, Credit Suisse and Kuok Group.

The electrician turned miner, also has infrastructure investments, a horse-breeding operation, and owns the Newcastle Knights rugby league team.