More details of Nathan Tinkler’s troubled financial situation are set to be made public, after the lifting of a super-injunction against Fairfax.
The Victorian Supreme Court yesterday agreed to partially lift its super-injunction after a settlement between Nathan Tinkler and Fairfax. The injunction had prevented Fairfax from reporting on the existence of the embattled asset shuffler’s $700 million debt. The super-injunction, which prevented even the reporting of information already in the public domain, had been in place since December 21 last year.
The basis for the super-injunction was an article being written by gun Fairfax business scribe Paddy Manning detailing that a loan issued in early 2012 had grown to around $700 million (including interest). The current value of Tinkler’s stake in Whitehaven based on this morning’s market price is less than $500 million.
In an unrelated matter, in the Supreme Court of NSW last week, Tinkler claimed he was the beneficiary of a $1.2 billion trust. Tinkler’s claims come only months after an arm of his horse training empire, Patinack Farm, was placed into liquidation, as was his private (shelf) company Mulsanne. Meanwhile, the former billionaire has also sold his helicopter, private jet and best racehorse.
According to the findings of former Scotch Old Boy and Melbourne Club member Justice John Digby of the Victorian Supreme Court, revealing Tinkler’s actual financial position would damage Tinkler’s reputation and the Tinkler Group’s. The original decision of Digby, whose background is in construction litigation, was curious given Tinkler’s creditors (as well as shareholders of Whitehaven) would have a very substantial interest in determining whether the highly leveraged trader had debts that significantly exceeded the value of his assets.
The notion that disclosing Tinkler’s liabilities would disadvantage him by revealing internal financial arrangements to business associates appears to contradict one of the most fundamental tenants of corporate law: disclosure of material information.
Tinkler joins a long list of highly litigious entrepreneurs — including Alan Bond, “Last Resort” Laurie Connell, Phil Sullivan (who also unsuccessfully took legal action against Fairfax) and Eddie Groves — who have tried, often in vain, to prevent sordid financial details from becoming public. Similarly, former Elders IXL boss John Elliott once took legal action against the NCA, which not only failed, but also had the effect of hastening his personal bankruptcy. The main link is: businesspeople who resort to litigation, especially against the press, are often doing to do conceal inconvenient truths.
Meanwhile, the market value of Whitehaven continues to slump, dropping to only $2.25, down from $6.13 last April.