M&A

Boganaire back with $150M acquisition

MINING magnate Nathan Tinkler is hoping his ability to pick up coal assets from major companies at the bottom of the cycle will re-establish him in the Australian coal industry - after buying the Wilkie Creek thermal coal mine from Peabody Energy in a $US150 million ($A159 million) deal.

Lau Caruana
Boganaire back with $150M acquisition

His Singapore-based Bentley Resources has picked up the Surat Basin mine for approximately $70 million in cash, and the assumption of rail-port obligations and other liabilities.

The mine, which was closed by Peabody and put off 200 workers, is a clean slate for Tinkler to squeeze as many tonnes out of the operation using a keen local workforce and then waiting for the coal price to lift from the doldrums and an expected depreciation of the Australian dollar.

On top of the $70 million cash, Tinkler will have to be responsible for other charges, including $34.5 million for potential port and rail contractual liabilities, $21.1 million for the acceleration in the timing of asset retirement obligations and $4.8 million for other charges.

Tinkler reportedly told the Financial Times: “I think we are at the bottom of the cycle, but whether we are at the bottom or not I’m certain this is the ‘value’ part of the cycle.

“While the market is oversupplied we are still in a market where I believe high-quality thermal coal is hard to secure, so now is the time to buy it.”

If Tinkler could get Wilkie Creek to produce 2.5 million tonnes of thermal coal per annum, he would have paid approximately $70 per tonne of coal – the level of the thermal coal price currently.

In typical Tinkler style, he is buying the asset with a large debt component – this time US investment bank Leucadia and Jeffries.

Tinkler successfully bought the Maules Creek coal mine in New South Wales from Rio Tinto Coal at the height of the global financial crisis as it was busy trying to repair its balance sheet and made it his foundation investment of his Aston Resources, which was eventually spun into Whitehaven Coal.

After getting into too much debt and making extravagant purchases of thoroughbreds, he was forced to sell his stakeholding in Whitehaven and retreated to Singapore where he has been operating ever since.

His rapid rise through the ranks of the rich list - and subsequent fall - was the subject of a 2013 book Boganaire: The Rise and Fall of Nathan Tinkler by journalist Paddy Manning.

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