Australian tycoon sells racing empire to Mideast group

SYDNEY- Australian coal tycoon Nathan Tinkler on Wednesday said his thoroughbred breeding and racing empire had been bought by a consortium of local and Middle Eastern parties for an undisclosed sum.

Singapore-based Tinkler put Patinack Farm on the market in April last year, reportedly for Aus$100-200 million (S$116-231 million), saying he no longer had the time to devote to the business.

Sale contracts have been exchanged and the transaction will be completed in weeks, a statement from the Tinkler Group said, adding that it was negotiated by UAE-based investment firm Cibola Capital.

"I am extremely pleased to agree the sale of Patinack Farm to an ambitious group who will continue to build on the foundations we have laid over the last six years," Tinkler said.

"As I now reside overseas and my focus is on our core operations in resources and mining, I am pleased to secure new owners who will take this project forward. The sale will allow further capital to be used in the development of our existing operations." Patinack Farm includes a 3,300-acre (1,335-hectare) breeding facility in the Hunter Valley north of Sydney and a 1,000-acre training facility and stud on Queensland's Gold Coast.

The farm, founded in 2007, also includes 950 acres of undeveloped horse country close to the racecourses of Melbourne. Current bloodstock is close to 600 horses.

Cibola Capital's chief executive Daniel Kenny said the consortium was delighted to secure the farm, which has produced eight Group 1 winners.

"We are planning to expand the current operation offering a mixture of proven and new stallions for every breeder in Australia," he said.

Once Australia's richest man under 40, with a fortune estimated at Aus$1.13 billion in 2011 thanks to a series of canny coal deals, Tinkler was burned by plunging commodity prices.

Now 38, he reportedly revealed in 2013 that his family trust had debts worth Aus$600 million and his taxable income for the 2011 financial year was just Aus$9,384 - all bank interest.