Australia's Tinkler sells horse stud in coal comeback bid

Wed May 21, 2014 3:38am EDT
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By Jane Wardell

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Nathan Tinkler, a former pit electrician who became Australia's youngest billionaire by riding the country's mining boom before losing it all, is narrowing his focus as he attempts a comeback.

Tinkler said on Wednesday he had found a buyer for his beloved thoroughbred racing and stud empire, one of many sidelines on which he splurged millions of dollars after making his fortune.

The deal comes just a week after Tinkler announced his return to mining, with the purchase of a closed thermal coal mine from Peabody Energy for next to nothing.

The sale of Patinack Farm for an undisclosed sum to a mystery consortium led by UAE-based investment firm Cibola Capital would help fund his renewed coal ambitions, Tinkler said.

"My focus is on our core operations in resources and mining," he said in a statement. "The sale will allow further capital to be used in the development of our existing operations."

Almost a decade has passed since Tinkler, now 38, made his first investment in coal, buying the undeveloped Middlemount prospect in 2006. Within two years he made a profit of more than A$625 million on the deal and went on to buy another project, Maules Creek.

Riding a China-driven coal boom, his fortunes peaked in 2012, with the $5-billion merger of his Aston Resources and Boardwalk Resources with Whitehaven Coal Ltd.

Tinkler rocketed up the rich list and his name was routinely mentioned in the same breath as iron ore heiress and Asia's richest woman, Gina Rinehart, and Fortescue Metal Group Ltd's Andrew Forrest.   Continued...

Former Australian billionaire Nathan Tinkler (L) talks to a journalist as he arrives to the New South Wales Supreme Court in central Sydney March 14, 2013.  REUTERS/Steve Christo