Friday, 15 March 2013

Tinkler's notebooks telling no tales - yet

Nathan Tinkler
Photo: SiN Images
LIQUIDATORS Robyn Duggan and John Melluish are playing a long game with slimmed down coal upstart Nathan Tinkler.

The public examinations into the failure of Tinkler's Mulsanne Resources are intended to help the Ferrier Hodgson
duo determine if an action for breach of director’s duties is an option.

Whether this will ultimately lead to any recoveries for Blackwood Corporation, the creditor that sought Mulsanne’s winding up and is funding the examinations, is anyone’s guess. But they obviously think the fishing expedition worthwhile.

Blackwood applied for the winding up in September last year after Mulsanne defaulted on a $28.4 million payment it was required to make as part of a share purchase agreement (SPA) Tinkler signed on May 6, 2012.

Under the terms of the SPA, Mulsanne was required to pay the funds by mid-July 2012. 

Yesterday Tinkler told Robert Newlinds SC he had been involved in fund raising negotiations for the Blackwood purchase on a number of fronts, including with Blackwood’s controlling shareholder Noble Group, with investment banks such as Bank of America and Credit Suisse and hedge funds like Och-Ziff.
Robert Newlinds SC (L) and David Sulan
are acting for Ferrier Hodgson
Photo: SiN Images

Confirming he’s a note taker, Tinkler told Newlinds he regularly fills notebooks with details of his discussions and negotiations. 

But, Newlinds told the cherubic dealmaker, among all the notes and records and books delivered to the liquidators in compliance with orders for production, none referred to the negotiations Tinkler insisted were afoot. 

Not with investment banks, and not with Noble Group, which Tinkler said had wanted to buy a royalty stream from the Middlemount coal mine.

Tinkler’s wife Rebecca owns 75 per cent of the $1 per tonne royalty stream through an entity called Oceltip. Former business partner Matthew Higgins controls the remainder.

Tinkler told Newlinds he had expected that the royalty deal would deliver between $25 million and $30 million – enough to cover Mulsanne’s looming obligation to Blackwood.

But by October 2012 – after Blackwood had applied to have Mulsanne wound up – Tinkler said Noble offered to buy Oceltip's share of the Middlemount royalty for half the price originally discussed.

And the notebooks containing details of all these SPA financing options are yet to be located. Tinkler said he had instructed staff to search for them. 

He agreed with Newlinds that producing specific notes of his discussions with Noble etc would be advantageous to his cause. Not that there's any suggestion at this stage Tinkler breached his duties as a director of Mulsanne.

Tinkler returns to the witness box this morning at 11.00am. Not long after we should know if the missing notebooks are turning up too.

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