Billionaire tech boss abandons plan to buy one of Australia’s biggest energy providers and shut down its coal-fired power plants after his $9BILLION offer is rejected
- AGL has turned down a takeover offer by Australian software billionaire
- Mike Cannon-Brookes partnered with Brookfield had offered to buy company
- The electricity supplier said on Monday the offer undervalued the business
- Cannon-Brookes would have fast-tracked AGL’s transition from coal power
Software billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes and global asset manager Brookfield are scrapping their takeover bid for AGL which would have seen its transition from coal fast-tracked.
Mr Cannon-Brookes used Twitter on Sunday night to announce it would not proceed with plans to buy Australia’s biggest electricity generator and largest emitter.
‘The Brookfield-Grok consortium looking to take private & transform AGL is putting our pens down – with great sadness,’ he tweeted.
The consortium had lifted its offer to $8.25 per share, worth about $9 billion plus debt, from an initial unsolicited bid of $7.50 in late February.
AGL has knocked back a takeover offer and is set to continue to burn coal (pictured) into the 2040s
The target’s board confirmed on Monday the increased offer was still not in the best interests of shareholders.
The company will run with its own demerger and decarbonisation plans instead.
Chair Peter Botten said the revised offer was still well below fair value of the company, given the gains expected to be generated by AGL’s demerger plans that will split the company in two by June 30.
Both firms will pursue their commitment to ‘responsibly decarbonise without impacting energy reliability and affordability’, Mr Botten said.
‘It will allow each business to be valued separately and more positively by the market on the basis of their own specific fundamentals.’
Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes (pictured with his wife Annie) offered to buy AGL in a bid that would have closed coal power stations this decade
The two listed entities – green energy retailer AGL Australia and coal-fired electricity generator Accel Energy – have emissions reductions targets for net-zero emissions in 2040 and 2047 respectively.
Accel Energy will continue to burn coal into the 2040s.
The Brookfield and Grok Venture consortium had planned to take the company private, close coal-fired plants this decade and use $20 billion in capital on developing renewable energy and battery storage.
The plan would have been the ‘world’s biggest decarbonisation project’ and significantly reduced Australia’s emissions, with AGL plants contributing 8 per cent.
‘This is not crazy futuristic technology,’ Cannon-Brookes said in February.
‘This is taking the technologies we have today and deploying them very pragmatically and sensibly at scale to bring that transition here as quickly as we can to bring down prices for power customers, industrial manufacturing all the way down to residential.’
Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility spokesman Dan Gocher said shareholders should be sceptical of the AGL board’s plans.
Cannon-Brookes is a passionate green energy advocate and has already invested in the $30billion Sun Cable project (pictured) that involves 125sqm of solar panels built in the Northern Territory
‘The board of AGL has overseen a catastrophic decline in the share price of more than 70 per cent since its highs in 2017,’ he said.
After surging above $7.90 last month on CEO Graeme Hunt’s view that the opening bid should be boosted by 30 per cent, AGL shares were trading lower by almost one per cent at $7.36 as at Monday 1130 AEDT.
David Ritter, CEO of Greenpeace Australia Pacific, accused AGL of having an ‘ideological obsession with coal’ at the cost of the environment and its shareholders.
‘AGL has chosen to hide the company’s climate pollution behind a tokenistic and value-destructive dodgy demerger,’ he said.