Nathan Tinkler has sold his main asset, a 19.4% stake in Whitehaven Coal for $2.96 a share which equates to about $600 million.
The embattled former billionaire sold up to clear his most significant debt owed to his financial backer, Farallon Capital, and its subsidiary Noonday Asset Management.
Farallon announced it had taken 9.91% of Tinkler’s interest, which boosts its stake in Whitehaven to 16.62%.
The $2.96 a share paid is significantly less than the $5.20 a share Tinkler offered Whitehaven when he attempted a takeover last year, a discount acknowledged by Tinkler.
“While we are happy with the price we have received, being a 40% premium to the current market price and a recent high for the company, we feel strongly that this still significantly undervalues the company’s underlying asset base,” the Tinkler group said in a statement.
“Many will be aware of the emotional attachment that Mr Tinkler has to the assets of the company, specifically Maules Creek, and that selling this stake was a difficult decision. However, we believe that no longer being a substantial shareholder of Whitehaven will benefit all existing shareholders.”
The former coal baron and billionaire reached the height of his wealth at the start of last year after merging two of his mining interests into Whitehaven Coal in a $5.2 billion deal in December 2011, emerging with a stake valued at $1bn.
Since then, Tinkler’s once charmed run has been hit by deteriorating market conditions and he has been pursued through the courts by various creditors.