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Tinkler sells Whitehaven shares

Embattled millionaire – previously billionaire – Nathan Tinkler has sold around half his stake, 9.9% in Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC) to hedge fund Farallon Funds.

According to the Australian Financial Review (AFR), the shares were ‘seized’ to repay debt, with the AFR reporting that the remainder of 9.5% expected to be sold within days to his other lenders. 101 million shares held by Tinkler’s Aston Resources and Boardwalk Resources companies were sold at a price of $2.96 each, well above yesterday’s closing price of $2.11.

In a statement, Farallon announced that it now held around 16.2% of the shares in Whitehaven. Farallon also said that has agreed to purchase a further 16,672,031 shares from ASM Equities Fund.

Mr Tinkler said the decision to sell had been “difficult” but that the sale was in the best interests of all shareholders. Analysts seemed to agree, with the presence of Tinkler creating a degree of uncertainty for Whitehaven. Last year, the former electrician turned miner made a $5.3 billion bid for Whitehaven, which collapsed after coal prices slumped.

Mr Tinkler is reported to have debts of as much as $700 million, and last year failed to make a $28.4 million payment to ASX listed Blackwood Corp Ltd (ASX:BWD). A deal has now been reached which will see Nathan Tinkler pay just $12 million before June 30, in exchange for Blackwood dropping liquidation proceedings against his private company, Mulsanne Resources.

At the age of 35, Nathan Tinkler was named Australia’s youngest billionaire, until his empire crumbled in the face of falling coal prices. After selling his house in 2006 and borrowing heavily to invest in the Middlemount coal mine, Mr Tinkler made massive profits as a majority of the mine was sold to Macarthur Coal, which then became the subject of a takeover offer, and Macarthur Coal’s shares doubled. That set him on his way, but falling coal prices have seen him forced to sell off assets, including race horses and homes.

Foolish takeaway

Mr Tinkler has now reportedly moved to tax haven Singapore, and his influence over Whitehaven appears over.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King doesn’t own shares in any companies mentioned.

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