Venture Capital

CommBank plants funding in $220 Series A for climate change investor Wollemi Capital

- July 17, 2023 3 MIN READ
Wollemi Capital and CBA execs
CBA's global carbon MD Yasmina Elshafei, Wollemi Capital cofounder Tim Bishop, CBD exec Andrew Hinchliff , CBA sustainable finance MD Charles Davis (and Wollemi's Paul Hunyor. 
A Sydney venture fund that co-led agtech startup Loam Bio’s huge $105 million round, has raised $220 million in a Series A.

Sydney-based Wollemi Capital, founded in 2021, is the brainchild of former Macquarie Capital boss Tim Bishop and Boston Consulting Group’s Asian venture exec Paul Hunyor. The pair set out to raise $100 million, but upped the ante when the Commonwealth Bank came on board as a strategic partner.

The fund ramped up last year with RBA board member Carol Schwartz and her husband Alan backed the business with a $50 million cornerstone investment through their family fund, Trawalla Group. Alan Schwartz joined the Wollemi board and the couple have pledged to invest $100 million in carbon reduction companies.

Others backing the climate change fund include Square Peg’s Paul Bassat, the University of Sydney, Vincent Fairfax’s family office Cambooya, former Macquarie boss Nicholas Moore, and Caledonia Investments co-founder Mark Nelson.

Wollemi – named after the ancient conifer only discovered in the 1990s in a remote part of the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney – invests in three key areas verticals: sustainable food and agriculture, energy transition, and climate services. It has offices in Sydney, New York, Seattle and San Francisco.

Bishop, the firm’s managing director, said the funds will enable further scaling of Wollemi’s global team across both North America and Australia, continued investment from the balance sheet, and accelerated development of a funds management business.

“We are climate specialists. We only invest in businesses that reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

“But a key point of difference is our ability to invest in the emerging parts of the climate space. We do that by being hands-on partners to our portfolio companies, bringing technical and operational expertise matched with flexible and patient capital.”

Alan Schwartz believes climate tech is “the greatest commercial opportunity we have ever seen.”

“We concluded there was a market opportunity for a pure-play climate specialist with a truly end-to- end offering and an integrated strategy,” he said .

“Between Paul’s venture capital experience and Tim’s exceptional career at Macquarie, they are uniquely well positioned to deliver that integrated strategy.”

CBA’s institutional banking & markets group exec Andrew Hinchliff said the bank’s strategic investment in Wollemi is intended to accelerate the innovation needed to drive Australia’s transition across key sectors, as well as develop carbon markets as an important transition tool.

“It will significantly contribute to the development of CBA’s climate, carbon and biodiversity expertise and our ability to play a leadership role in supporting investments in climate linked businesses as they scale their operations,” he said.

“Wollemi’s highly credentialed founders have strong networks and proven track records combining climate impact, private equity and venture capital expertise with experience financing, building and scaling global business across infrastructure, renewables and technology.”

Alongside co-leading Loam Bio’s $105 million Series B in February this year, Wollemi capital most recently backed US agtech Pluton Bio in a US$16.5m Series A. Its first investment was nature-based carbon credit platform Pachama, on a cap table that includes Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Jeff Bezos’ Amazon Climate Pledge Fund and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone’s Future Positive. Pachama uses AI, satellite imagery, remote sensing and machine learning to measure the carbon stored in forests.

Tim Bishop said they are currently pursuing a pipeline of further investment opportunities.

“We will use the proceeds from the raising to continue to invest in the thematics that we believe in,” he said.

“We are excited by the opportunities that are rapidly emerging in food, agriculture and natural capital, among others. We’re already world-class on natural capital and the decarbonisation of agriculture, so that’s been an early focus for us.”

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