Nathan Tinkler’s move this morning to put his horse racing empire on the market reveals the true state of the embattled coal baron’s finances.
At a recent NSW Supreme Court hearing, Tinkler was very cagey about the extent of his assets and debt.
He put a value of $1.2 billion against the assets held in his family’s trust, all in his wife’s name but this is an aggressive valuation.
He also revealed he had as much as $600 million debt against these assets.
Tinkler has fought hard to hang onto Patinack Farm despite being more willing to give up other luxuries in life, like his private jet and helicopter.
The thoroughbred stable is one of the biggest in the land, with more than 1,000 horses and 150 staff despite recent sales of horses in a bid to raise cash.
Liquidators were appointed to Patinack Farm in November last year after an unpaid levy to WorkCover South Australia of around $17,000.
But Tinkler fought back to save Patinack Farm, which is at the centre of his horse racing interests.
He sold his champion colt, All Too Hard, for a reported $28 million, and had also sold $2.8 million worth of horses at Gerry Harvey’s Magic Millions Auction at the start of this year, and paid off the levy so Patinack Farm escaped the liquidators.
But that fight has come to an end, with Tinkler releasing a statement announcing the sale of the operation, which includes more than 1,000 racehorses, broodmares and stallions and high quality facilities.
Tinkler said in a statement that Patinack Farm represents a “terrific opportunity” for a local or international owner.
“As I am spending more time overseas, I do not have the time to manage the business,” Tinkler said in the statement, referring to his decision to reside in Singapore.
More likely, Tinkler desperately needs the money, given that he has ploughed between $200 million and $300 million into Patinack Farm.
Critics who claim he overpaid for many of the thoroughbreds may find some justification in the estimated sale price of around $100 million for the operations.
In the past, Tinkler has done everything possible to hold on to Patinack Farm, and selling up sticks gives more indication of his perilous financial position than any statement made in the Supreme Court.