Mike Cannon-Brookes lends Sun Cable $65 million to keep the show on the road as its administrators look for a buyer

- January 24, 2023 2 MIN READ
Mike Cannon-Brookes
Mike Cannon-Brookes
Atlassian cofounder and billionaire investor Mike Cannon-Brookes has lent Sun Cable, the startup behind a $30 billion project to send solar power to Singapore, $65 million to keep operating as the company’s voluntary administrators look to sell the business.

Cannon-Brookes is making the no interest loan through his family venture capital firm, Grok Ventures after the administrators, FTI Consulting, sought short-term funding to continue Sun Cable’s operations.

Grok is one of the cornerstone investors in Sun Cable alongside mining billionaire Dr Andrew Forrest, having co-led a led a $210 million Series B round in March 2022, as well as the initial funding in 2019.

But the company was placed in voluntary administration earlier this month after the billionaires parted ways on the strategic vision for the energy startup.

The pair are now both eyeing off the business as the administrators put it up for sale.

The ambitious Sun Cable Australia-Asia PowerLink (AAPowerLink)  is a 17-20-gigawatt (GW) solar farm and 42GWh battery storage in the Northern Territory, connected to the world’s longest undersea High Voltage Direct Current cable system, at around 4,200km running from Darwin to Singapore along the Indonesian archipelago. The solar farm is roughly four times the size of the current Snow Hydro scheme.

Dr Forrest wants to scrap the undersea cable project believing it has too much “sovereign risk”, to focus on supplying Singapore with green hydrogen instead.  Grok and Cannon-Brookes back the AAPowerLink concept.

The AAPowerLink project could generate up to A$2 billion in exports for Australia annually and deliver carbon emissions abatement of around 8.6 million tonnes annually, so Cannon-Brookes is enthusiastic about its potential.

The administrators held a creditor’s meeting on January 20, choosing the funding offer from Cannon-Brookes and said the sale process would begin at the begin by the end of January and is expected to take about three months.

Because the business has no real revenue – and other pending projects on its books – keeping the team and their intellectual property together on such major infrastructure projects will be key to the ongoing viability of Sun Cable

John Park, Leader Australia, Corporate Finance & Restructuring for FTI Consulting said there was a  strong level of interest in Sun Cable.

“As Administrators we have looked to preserve the value of Sun Cable and keep all options for the  future of the project on the table. We will seek to crystalise the interest expressed in the future of  Sun Cable into a firm offer for the benefit of creditors and other stakeholders via the sale process,” he said.

“Ultimately, the successful bidder will have the opportunity to take the business forward in line with  their vision.”

Park said a second meeting of creditors was normally due by February 14, but they will apply for an extension amid the sale process.