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How Australia's Coal Baron Lost a Billion Dollar Empire in a Year

By James Burgess | Sun, 13 January 2013 00:00 | 0

Nathan Tinkler, once regarded as Australia’s pre-eminent coal baron, has lost the title of Australia’s youngest billionaire almost as fast as he won it, last year losing an average of A$2 million a day of his on paper value.

He rose to fame and fortune after investing A$1 million into an unpopular coal mine in 2006; after just two years he had a billion dollar fortune and ran a portfolio of more than 40 companies, including sports and horse racing franchises.

Fears that he was borrowing too much, too fast were quickly realised when the price of coal fell as Chinese demand dropped last year. Cracks appeared in his empire, and although he managed to pay off millions of dollars’ worth of debt, other creditors, including the Australian Tax Office, are continuing with several cases against him to try and recover their money.

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Now China’s Shenhua Group Corp. Ltd. and an unidentified Japanese partner have approached Noonday, the asset section of U.S. hedge fund manager Farallon Capital Management LLC, to buy Tinkler’s 20% stake in Whitehaven, Australia’s largest private mining company.

At its peak his shares, which represent the bulk of his wealth, were worth around A$1.1 billion, yet due to the drop in coal prices they has fallen to A$690 million; the sale would just cover the A$600 loan that Noonday extended to Tinkler and leave him with virtually no assets.

A source close to the Whitehaven deal has stated that on a financial front “Tinkler is dead.

By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com

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