TWO of the remaining assets in Nathan Tinkler’s once vast business empire have fallen under the control of Westpac Bank with receivers appointed to sell properties in Newcastle and Brisbane.
The move comes just days before the former tycoon is due to renew a $10.3million bank guarantee, held with Westpac, that underpins his ownership of the Newcastle Knights.
If Mr Tinkler’s Hunter Sport Group fails to have the bank guarantee in place by March 31, the Knights members club will begin to assume control of Newcastle’s NRL flagship for $1.
Said Jahani, of Sydney insolvency specialist Grant Thornton Australia, confirmed yesterday that he had been appointed by Westpac to oversee the disposal of properties held by Tinkler companies Merewether Investments and Oceltip Investments No.2.
These include a commercial property at 401/1 Honeysuckle Drive, Newcastle, and a vacant block of land at 447 Grandview Road, Pullenvale, Queensland.
Mr Tinkler’s Sydney-based spokesman said the Tinkler Group was ‘‘working closely with Westpac to restructure the group’s borrowings’’.
He said they were ‘‘separate to the Knights’ bank guarantee’’.
‘‘As stated previously ... the bank guarantee remains in place with Westpac and will continue to be following March 31, 2014,’’ he said.
The Honeysuckle property was purchased in September 2011 for $1.115 million, and Westpac registered a mortgage over the property about six weeks later.
It used to be the Newcastle headquarters of Mr Tinkler’s thoroughbred racing empire Patinack Farm and was held by Tinkler company Merewether Investments.
The four-hectare block of land in Queensland was purchased by Oceltip Investments No.2 for $2million in 2008.
Westpac registered a mortgage over the property on August 12, 2011, a week after Mr Tinkler took control of the Knights, which included him securing an initial $20million bank guarantee with Westpac.
Both companies, now under external administration, are owned by Mr Tinkler’s wife, Rebecca, and Mr Tinkler and Hunter Sports Group chief Troy Palmer are directors.
Mr Said refused to reveal the amount owed to Westpac or if the sale of the two properties would cover the debt.
‘‘The process will be that I will be taking these properties to market,’’ he said. ‘‘We have not yet had valuations done as this is in the very early stages.’’
Asked if there would be other properties seized by Westpac to cover the debt, he replied: ‘‘No comment’’.
Merewether Investments also holds two properties in Ocean Street, Merewether, where Mr Tinkler was going to build a $13.3 million beachside castle, before scrapping the plans and moving overseas.
It is understood that New York-based investment bank Jefferies lent Mr Tinkler – through Merewether Investments – $24 million on October 29, 2011, in return for a mortgage over the Ocean Street properties.
They have been for sale for some time.
The Herald reported on Monday that HSG secretly negotiated in January an unprecedented interim two-month bank guarantee agreement with the understanding it would be replaced by one encompassing the balance of the 12-month tenure before March 31.
Under the original terms and conditions of the former billionaire’s takeover of the Knights, he agreed to provide the surety, initially worth $20million for two years, then a $10million guarantee for the next eight years, renewed annually to account for Consumer Price Index (CPI) adjustment.
A guarantee worth $10.3million expired on January 31 and was supposed to have been replaced with one worth $10.52 million, valid for 12 months.
Instead an ‘‘interim’’ bank guarantee for a period of two months was put in place on the understanding it would be replaced by March 31 by one covering the balance of the 12-month tenure.
A loan for an additional $220,000 to cover the cost of CPI was secured by Hunter Sports Group from the Greater Building Society, not Westpac, on February 5.