Nathan Tinkler at ICAC Inquiry in 2014
1 February 1976 |
Port Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia
|Occupation||Director and Owner Tinkler Group|
|Net worth||A$235 million (2013)|
Nathan Tinkler (born 1 February 1976) is a former mining magnate and businessman from the Hunter Region, New South Wales, Australia. He started out as a mining apprentice in the Hunter Valley, in New South Wales and set up his own business at age 26. Much of his wealth, most subsequently lost, was acquired from investments in the mining industry.
Born in Port Macquarie, New South Wales on 1 February 1976, Tinkler qualified as an electrician at the Muswellbrook Technical and Further Education institution (TAFE). He worked as an apprentice at BHP's Bayswater open-cut mine for a time until he was either fired or given a redundancy package. He was allegedly often in debt during his time at the mine and refused to pay or abused his creditors. At the age of 26 he started his own mine machinery maintenance business.
His rise began in 2006 when he borrowed A$500,000 to buy the Middlemount coal mine in Central Queensland for A$11.5 million. In December 2007 he agreed to sell 70% of Middlemount to Macarthur Coal for A$57 million in cash plus a parcel of Macarthur shares valued at A$184 million. Then Macarthur became a takeover target and its share price doubled. In May 2008 Tinkler sold his Macarthur shares for A$422 million. By 2008 he was on the BRW Young Rich list, quoted as being worth about A$441 million, and the second-richest man in Australia under 40 years of age.
In July 2010, Tinkler floated the company Aston Resources with A$400 million worth of shares offered, valuing his holdings at A$600 million.
On 22 September 2010, Football Federation Australia announced that Tinkler had purchased the A-League club Newcastle Jets from Con Constantine, on the advice from fellow mining magnate Justin Newlan, holding the licence temporarily. On 2 October 2010, he extended his ownership until 2020, again advised by Justin Newlan.
The Newcastle Jets hosted a community day at which 10,000 fans were admitted free for the clash against Melbourne Heart on 31 October 2010. Membership of the club increased to over 10,000 and the club obtained the Hunter Medical Research Institute as a new sponsor.
On 31 March 2011 Tinkler assumed ownership of the Newcastle Knights rugby league club by a landslide vote of the eligible club members. The Knights signed Wayne Bennett to a four-year coaching contract with the club, starting in 2012.
In April 2012 Tinkler handed back the Newcastle Jets A-league licence to the FFA. The Federation said that Tinkler's Hunter Sports Group could not just hand back its licence, and was breaching a binding contract by walking away from the Jets. Federation chief executive Ben Buckley refused to rule out the possibility of launching a damages claim against Tinkler that could go as high as $80 million.
In May 2015, after Newcastle Jets players and staff had not been paid for a month, Tinkler placed the Newcastle Jets into voluntary administration, listing debts of $2.7 million. That resulted in the Football Federation of Australia terminating Tinkler's A-League licence, held by Hunter Sports Group. It was the culmination of a football season in which the Jets recorded their worst-ever results on the way to collecting the competition's wooden spoon.
In April 2012, Tinkler was worth over A$1.18 billion, but this had dropped to A$630 million by September 2012, due to slowing demand and dropping coal prices. Several of Tinkler's companies were facing financial challenges, with one company potentially facing administration.
On Melbourne Cup day 2012, Tinkler's private horse racing trainer, John Thompson, revealed that Tinkler's stable of horses had been forced to go without feed because the group was unable to pay suppliers. Thompson also said that Tinkler's racing and breeding company, Patinack Farm, had been asked to leave its Hawkesbury private training facility because "the owner of the property just got sick of us being late with our rent". However a spokesman for Tinkler said Patinack Farm had never run out of feed.
In December 2012, the Australian Taxation Office filed court documents to wind up Tinkler's Hunter Sports Group. The action came two weeks after two of Tinkler's companies were placed into liquidation. Hunter Sports Group owed around A$2.7 million in unpaid taxes and was notified of this debt in September 2012.
On 18 February 2013, it was reported that the liquidator of Nathan Tinkler's private company, Patinack Farm Administration, was considering an insolvent trading claim against Tinkler and his fellow director Troy Palmer. On 2 April 2013 it was revealed that Tinkler had put his entire racing and breeding business up for sale, including stock and properties.
In May 2013, it was reported that Tinkler and his wife could be made bankrupt over A$440,000 in allegedly unpaid bills to a corporate adviser. The same month, the BRW Rich 200 estimated that Tinkler was beset by a series of debt problems and falling asset values that devalued his 2012 net wealth of A$915 million to A$235 million.
On 19 June 2013 it was announced that Tinkler's biggest remaining asset, a 19 per cent share in coal miner Whitehaven, had been bought by his main financial backers including Farallon Management. It was estimated that the sale price of $2.96 per share represented a substantial loss by Tinkler's backers on their loans to him. Nevertheless, the sale of Tinkler's share in Whitehaven was seen as part of his struggle to repay debts accumulated by other parts of his crumbling empire. The funds raised by the sale of his Whitehaven shares enabled Tinkler to repay a $12 million debt to coal exploration company Blackwood Resources on 27 June, a day ahead of schedule.
On 3 September 2013, Tinkler's Aston Metals, a base metals explorer then owning five projects around Mt Isa, was placed in the hands of receivers.
On 21 May 2014 it was reported that contracts had been exchanged to sell Patinack Farm, for an undisclosed sum, to a consortium consisting of "local and overseas parties from the Middle East".
On 20 July 2015, an arrest warrant was ordered for Tinkler after he failed to appear in the Supreme Court in Adelaide to answer questions about the liquidation of his Patinack horse farm. The liquidator had taken action in the South Australian Supreme Court over unpaid debts, and asked the court to issue a warrant for Tinkler's arrest, saying he had shown a "flagrant disregard" for the court.
On 19 and 20 November Tinkler was served with two statutory demands by the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation, alleging that his company Aston Resources Investments owed $6.4 million in tax, and that Tinkler Group Holdings Administration owed $3.5 million. On 9 February 2016, he was the subject of a bankruptcy hearing over a $2.8 million debt to GE Commercial Finance relating to the sale of his private jet aeroplane. Federal Court judge Jacqueline Gleeson ruled GE was entitled to make Tinkler, now resident in Singapore, bankrupt, but stayed the order pending an urgent appeal. On 2 March 2016, Tinkler failed to lodge an appeal in the required time and so was officially declared bankrupt. He told his bankruptcy trustee that he only had one asset, a farm near the NSW north coast town of Port Macquarie, which has caveats held on it by retailer Gerry Harvey and the local council.
At a hearing of the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) on 28 April 2014, it was revealed that Tinkler's Patinack Farm horse stud paid $66,000 to "Eightbyfive", a slush fund set up by an advisor to the allegedly corrupt NSW politician Chris Hartcher. A few days later, text messages presented at the commission revealed that Tinkler's property development company Buildev had secretly paid $50,000 to produce anonymous flyers attacking local state parliamentarian Jodi McKay in the lead-up to the 2011 state election, because she opposed the billion-dollar plan by Buildev to establish a coal terminal in Newcastle.
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