Chinese miner may snap up Tinkler’s stake in Whitehaven

Speculation that Chinese miner Shenhua Group could purchase Nathan Tinkler’s stake in Whitehaven Coal was renewed on Monday and investors reacted cautiously.

Reuters reported that Tinkler’s lender Noonday, a subsidiary of US hedge fund Farallon Capital, was in talks with Shenhua and an unnamed Japanese firm, about the sale of Tinkler’s 19.4 per cent stake in Whitehaven, estimated to be worth $675 million.

The SMH reported that Tinkler’s debts to Farallon are about $700 million and are secured against his Whitehaven shares.

Tinkler’s fall from billionaire status has been widely reported, with a number of his companies facing wind-up actions and his private jet and helicopters being seized.

Yesterday, Whitehaven shares closed up 1.2 per cent at $3.43, a significant increase from their November low of $2.74.

In mid December Whitehaven announced it had held talks with Shenhua, stating there were “obvious potential synergies” between the two companies and their assets in the Gunnadah Basin.

However, Shenhua had not proposed to sell its assets to Whitehaven, or acquire the company, SMH reported.

With the final federal approval pending for Whitehaven’s Maules creek project, Octa Phillip analyst Lawrence Grech said it “made sense” that the Chinese miner would be interested in getting involved with Whitehaven.

Grech added that Shenhua’s proposed Watermark mine, located in Gunnedah is “undeveloped and controversial”.

Just last week Australian Mining reported that Whitehaven’s managing director Tony Haggarty said  it would be “ideal” for Whitehaven if Tinkler sold his stake to institutional investors.

Whitehaven Coal was forced into a trading halt last Monday after a fake press release resulted in $314 million temporarily being wiped off the company's value.

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