Coal backs richest resource investors

WHILE ongoing market volatility may have led to some more recent changes, Australian coal sector stocks have been held as the primary investment for many of the leading individual resource speculators last year.
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Ken Talbot.

Blair Price

Detailed in the latest RESOURCESTOCKS Offshore Rich List, second place getter Hans-Juergen Mende had Felix Resources as his primary investment.

With an estimated wealth of $A284.35 million as of early December, Felix non-executive director Mende holds his shares on behalf of American Metals & Coal International, a company he established and still holds a significant stake in.

German-educated but American resident Mende is also a non-executive director of Whitehaven Coal, a company which boasts many a high-net-worth individuals on its shareholder registry.

In third place for overseas-based Australian resource stock investors was Alex Krueger who had an estimated wealth of $A137.57 million and is also a fellow American Whitehaven non-executive director.

Holding Whitehaven as his primary investment through a subsidiary of private equity manager First Reserve Corporation, Krueger is in his late 30s and boasts degrees in chemical engineering, and finance and statistics from the University of Pennsylvania.

Whitehaven again featured with Fritz Kundrun holding the company as the main investment in his portfolio, placing him ninth in the magazine’s Offshore Rich List.

At an estimated wealth of $22.39 million, Kundrun has links to Mende as both founded private resources company AMCI Holdings Australia, which was sold to Brazilian mining major Vale for $A835 million in 2007 and has since been renamed Vale Australia Holdings.

Looking at RESOURCESTOCKS Australian Rich List 2008, coal-to-liquids hopeful Linc Energy’s chief executive officer Peter Bond had an estimated wealth of $540.1 million, placing him as the third-richest Australian resource company investor.

At tenth place came former Macarthur Coal founder Ken Talbot and his related entities.

Last year Talbot Group Holdings offloaded a 10% stake in Macarthur to Korean steelmaker Posco for $A424 million, and held a 4.74% share in the company at the end of February.

Talbot sold his stakes of the company as he has become tied up in upcoming court proceedings concerning 35 corruption charges relating to alleged payments totalling $300,000 he made to former Queensland industrial relations minister Gordon Nuttall between 2002 and 2005.

Nuttal’s pre-trial hearing is on April 14 with the trial expected June 29.

The Talbot Group Holding’s primary investment is 8.11% of Australia-listed, South African coal miner and explorer Riversdale Mining.

Felix again features highly in the Australian Rich List, with non-executive chairman Travers William Duncan ranked eleventh, with an estimated wealth of $182.15 million, while managing director Brian Flannery took twelfth place with a resource stock holding estimated at $A156.4 million.

Aquila Resources, which has the working Isaac Plains coal mine near Moranbah, plus several Bowen Basin coal projects in Queensland, and a Western Australian Pilbara iron ore play in development, has its non-executive director Charles Bennett Bass claiming fourteenth position with an estimated wealth of $A126.5 million.

Fellow Aquila non-executive director Derek Cowlan has taken thirty-second position with his estimated wealth of $38.25 million.

Whitehaven again boasts another wealthy individual investor, in none other than former Excel Coal managing director and current Whitehaven managing director Tony Haggarty, who had an estimated wealth of $A29.95 million.

At forty-fourth place sits Whitehaven executive director Andrew Plummer with an estimated net wealth of $27.35 million through his family’s holding company, while Michael Quillen at eighty-third place also has Whitehaven as the primary investment of his $11.8-million estimated wealth.

Engineering and coal seam gas services firm AJ Lucas scores a mention with non-executive director Andrew Lukas taking forty-first place with a wealth estimate of $28.4 million.

Other notable coal-sector individuals ranked in the last 50 places by estimated wealth include Stephen Jermyn (Centennial Coal) at $21.45 million, James Graham (Wesfarmers) $19.5 million, Geoffrey Pigott (Aquila) $18.7 million, Bob Cameron (Centennial Coal) $17 million, Trevor Eastwood (Wesfarmers) $16.2 million, Steven Fierro (Linc) $16 million, Neil Lithgow (Aquila) $15.7 million, Milvia Poli (Aquila) $12.35 million, Brian Wides (Anglo Pacific) $11.9 million and Peter Boycott (Anglo Pacific) $10.3 million.

All figures referenced are based on data collected by the first week of December.

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