RPT-Australian coal magnate Tinkler faces court grilling over finances
(Repeats story first published late Tuesday; no change to text)
SYDNEY, March 12 (Reuters) - Embattled Australian coal tycoon Nathan Tinkler faces a public grilling this week on the state of his finances after failing to persuade junior coal miner Blackwood Corp Ltd to accept a A$15 million out-of-court settlement.
Tinkler also lost a legal battle to avert the cross-examination, which would be his first appearance in court over a string of lawsuits related to failed deals and disputes.
Lawyers for liquidators Ferrier Hodgson plan to question the former billionaire about the state of finances at his Mulsanne Resources, which was wound up by an Australian court after Tinkler reneged on a deal for a A$28.4 million ($29.1 million) share placement in Blackwood.
The Blackwood case is one of a series of lawsuits against Tinkler, which have raised questions about the future of his main asset, a near one-fifth stake in Whitehaven Coal, Australia's largest independent coal miner.
Tinkler, circled by his creditors for unpaid bills and commercial disputes, has paid off debts worth millions of dollars in recent months to stave off some creditors and avoid public scrutiny of his finances through the courts.
LAST MINUTE OFFER
Lawyers for both sides on Tuesday presented a chain of emails to the Supreme Court in the state of New South Wales that revealed Tinkler had offered A$15 million to settle the case late last week.
A source with knowledge of the negotiations said the talks were halted on Friday when Tinkler failed to appear in court as originally scheduled. The tycoon's lawyers filed action to stop him being questioned, citing an abuse of process because a lawyer for liquidator Ferrier Hodgson also represented Blackwood.
In response, Ferrier Hodgson's lawyers threatened the entrepreneur with arrest and contempt of court should he fail to front court on Thursday.
The court ruled against Tinkler's bid on Tuesday.
The source, who was not authorised to speak publicly, said that Blackwood was now considering whether it could legally resume talks about a settlement -- and whether it wanted to.
If liquidators find that Mulsanne does not have enough assets to cover the Blackwood liability, Tinkler could face charges or fines for insolvent trading.
A former coal mining electrician, Tinkler, 37, turned a A$1 million bet on a coal deposit into a billion dollar fortune, spending millions on racehorses and sports clubs. But his wealth has plummeted as coal prices have slumped.
Tinkler's main backer, U.S. hedge fund manager Farallon Capital Management LLC's asset manager Noonday, has been looking at options including pressing for the sale of shares or converting some of the loans into equity, sources have previously told Reuters.
Tinkler, who moved his family to Singapore last year, has been selling assets including horses and his private jet and helicopter. (Reporting By Maggie Lu-YueYang and Jane Wardell; Editing by Stephen Coates)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this