Mike Cannon-Brookes doesn’t rule out 3rd AGL takeover bid amid board seats push

- May 31, 2022 2 MIN READ
Mike Cannon-Brookes
Mike Cannon-Brookes
Atlassian founder Mike Cannon-Brookes is looking for a place at the AGL board table after routing the company’s CEO and chairman and derailing the company’s demerger plan, and may make a third takeover bid for Australia’s biggest energy supplier.

Cannon-Brookes spent around $650 million through his family venture capital firm, Grok Ventures, to take an 11.3% stake in AGL, launching a high-profile PR campaign against AGL’s plan to separate the business into a distribution arm and Accel Energy, which would have owned the company’s existing half-dozen fossil-fuel generators as well as its renewable energy plants.

Yesterday AGL announced it would abandon the demerger because it was unlikely to get the 75% approval threshold needed for it to proceed.

Chairman Peter Botten is resigning, non-executive director Jacqueline Hey left the board yesterday and Diane Smith-Gander resigning from the Board following the release of AGL’s FY22 full-year results in August.

CEO Graeme Hunt is stepping down once a replacement is found for his role.

The defeat leaves Australia’s largest energy generator without a plan. A review of the company’s strategic direction will be overseen by a Board sub-committee co-chaired by Vanessa Sullivan and Graham Cockroft to report back by September.

In a statement issued Monday afternoon, Grok Ventures said it welcomed “the sensible decision by AGL to abandon its value destructive demerger plan” and renew its board.

“AGL’s retail and institutional shareholders have sent an emphatic message to the Board and management of AGL that the company needs to be kept together to take advantage of the economic opportunity presented by decarbonisation,” the statement said.

“As AGL’s largest shareholder, we have requested a meeting with Vanessa Sullivan and Graham Cockroft who are co-chairing the “strategic review”. Grok has strong views about the future direction of the company – including a Paris-aligned plan, taking advantage of the electrification transition and the renewable generation opportunity.”

Grok said it will seek assurance from the co-chairs that the review “is not code for selling off AGL’s assets piece by piece” and plans to seek board representation.

“We want to ensure that AGL has the talent, capital, capability and oversight that is required to embrace the opportunity presented by decarbonisation,” a Grok spokesperson said.

Cannon-Brookes did rule out making another takeover bid speaking to the ABC last night, but added that for now he was focused on rebuilding the company.

“No one can know what can happen in the future in any real sense, but it [another takeover bid] is not something that we’re spending any amount of calories on at the moment,” he said.

“As the largest shareholder in the business, that’d be a pretty silly thing to do,” he said.

“Look, there’s been a lot of mud thrown around about our motivations. And every time people ask us, we’re very clear … we’ve done everything we said we were going to.

“People said we wouldn’t actually have the shareholding — we have the shareholding. [They said] we wouldn’t actually put up the cash. But we put up the cash.

“We continue to believe the opportunities for this company are very large. That is why we are here.”
















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