Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes has backed renewables funding firm Infradebt with $200 million from his private family VC firm Grok Ventures.
The funding announcement emerged less than 48 hours after Cannon-Brookes had a $5 billion takeover offer for energy supplier AGL rejected as undervaluing the business by the company’s board.
Infradebt is a specialist infrastructure project finance fund manager/financier, providing capital for renewables and battery storage projects, stepping in where traditional finance models don’t fit. It has financed 27 projects to date.
The Grok funding is complemented by a “meaningful investment” in the ACT firm, which was undisclosed, for a minority stake.
Cannon-Brookes previously backed Infradebt via its ethical fund, IEF – Australia’s first ethically screened infrastructure debt fund. That fund has provided capital for 22 projects ranging from several solar and farms to a Queensland school and Victorian hospital. The fixed income fund has delivered an IRR of 6.7% since inception.
Infradebt CEO Alexander Austin said: “Grok Ventures are one of the foundation investors in Infradebt’s ethical fund. We are extremely pleased to welcome them as a shareholder as Infradebt moves to the next phase of its growth.”
The funds are already being deployed at the Tesla-backed Bouldercombe 50MW/100MWh big battery project in Queensland.
Infradebt is lending a $35 million debt facility to project developer Genex towards the construction. Bouldercombe
Bouldercombe is expected to be fully operational in the second half of 2023– providing timing shifting/arbitrage services to the grid.
Cannon-Brookes said that as a a foundation investor in IEF, “we know capital flow is critical to our transition to a greener economy”.
“Bouldercombe proves that battery and storage is not only sustainable, but delivers solid rates of return. It’s a win-win for Australia’s economy,” he said.
Last year, Cannon-Brookes pledged to invest $1 billion via Grok in climate change startups, so the Infradebt investment represents 20% of that promise.
Grok Ventures has now backed more that a dozen sustainability-focused startups, ranging from Sun Cable’s giant $30 billion solar farm in the Northern Territory, to solar cell startup SunDrive, home solar finance company Brighte, to Michael Fox’s mushroom-based “alt-meat” venture, Fable Food Co, e-bike startup Zoomo, which this week announced a further $28 million raise, WeaveGrid, which tackles the integration of electric transport and the grid Zoox