Coal baron Nathan Tinkler’s private company Mulsanne Resources is in liquidation after failing this morning to come up with $28.4 million owed to listed coal junior Blackwood Corporation.
The NSW Supreme Court appointed Ferrier Hodgson as liquidators, after settlement negotiations which had been going on for the past fortnight, failed.
Mulsanne, a shelf company of which Mr Tinkler is a director, earlier this year agreed to take up 95 million shares in a placement at 30 cents a share - then a 50 per cent premium to the prevailing share price - to fund Blackwood's exploration campaign. The share placement would have meant an about 34 per cent stake in Blackwood for Mr Tinkler.
Blackwood shares slumped 4 cents, or 22 per cent, to 14 cents after the liquidation was announced this morning.
Mr Tinkler has faced a series of legal actions against various of his private companies but has managed to settle each time at the last minute, and avoid liquidation.
But Mulsanne did not come up with the money it owed Blackwood today and if a liquidator finds it has not had enough assets to cover the Blackwood liability, Mr Tinkler could be charged with insolvent trading.
A Tinkler Group spokesman said the liquidation of Mulsanne would not affect its other companies, which include Hunter Ports, International Ports and Logistics, Hunter Sports Group and Patinack Farm.
‘‘The liquidation of Mulsanne Resources does not affect any other part of the Tinkler Group,’’ he said.
In recent legal action, Mr Tinkler's Ocean Street Holdings and Buildev Group completed the $18 million purchase of an industrial site in Newcastle from a subsidiary of developer Mirvac, after being ordered to settle by the NSW Supreme Court. His Tinkler Group Holdings and Hunter Sports Group also settled a $2 million dispute with contractor Sedgman.
Last week Mr Tinkler's troubled thoroughbred stud Patinack Farm avoided liquidation after settling disputes - said to be worth "millions" combined - with the NSW Office of State Revenue, the tax office and Workcover.
Patinack was at one point estimated to be losing $500,000 a week and head trainer John Thompson recently told Sky News the stable had experienced cash-flow problems. ''I've gone weeks without vets, farriers, bedding and ran out of feed a number of times,'' he said.
On Monday, Tinkler Group Holdings, Mr Tinkler's main private entity, is believed to have paid $345,000 owed to Gilbert and Tobin, but it has yet to pay a further $145,000 owed to security firm Internet Fraud Watchdog.
Turnbull Hill lawyer John Woodward told Fairfax on Monday that Internet Fraud had applied to substitute as a creditor in wind-up proceedings against Tinkler Group Holdings.
Tinkler under pressure
Mr Tinkler has faced intense speculation about his financial position as weak coal markets and uncertainty halved the share price of Whitehaven Coal, his biggest investment.
Mr Tinkler owns 19.4 per cent of Whitehaven, but since its April merger with his private Boardwalk Resources and listed Aston Resources, the company's shares have fallen from $5.58 to $2.82 this morning, taking the value of his Whitehaven stake from $1.1 billion in April to $555 million.
Mr Tinkler holds substantial debts against that stake, principally believed to be consolidated with Singapore-based Noonday Asset Management - an arm of hedge fund Farrallon.
BusinessDay estimates Mr Tinkler's total maximum liabilities may be as high as $638 million although Mr Tinkler's spokesman has consistently said the true figure was "a mere fraction" of that amount, while declining to nominate a figure.
Mr Tinkler has failed in two corporate actions against Whitehaven Coal since the April merger - a private takeover bid at $5.20 a share, and an attempt to spill the board at its most recent annual meeting.
Morning & Afternoon Newsletter