Australian billionaire Cannon-Brookes settles 11.3% stake buy in AGL Energy

(Reuters) – Australian tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes’ firm Grok Ventures said on Wednesday it settled a 11.28% stake purchase in AGL Energy (AGL.AX) worth A$650 million ($455.33 million) with J.P. Morgan.

Cannon-Brookes, the co-CEO of software firm Atlassian and a vocal climate activist, had gained the AGL stake earlier this month by converting a part of his derivatives-based holding in the company, having failed in a takeover attempt with Brookfield Asset Management (BAMa.TO).

AGL is looking to split into two companies called Accel and AGL Australia following a 75% slump in the group’s value over the past five years, hammered by an influx of cheap solar and wind power and government pressure on utilities to slash power prices to households.

The stake purchase by Cannon-Brookes was aimed at blocking the country’s biggest power producer and polluter from going ahead with the demerger – one of which would be a bulk power generator and the other a carbon-neutral energy retailer.

AGL’s plan needs 75% of votes cast to be in its favor to pass. With Cannon-Brookes holding 11.28% of the shares, only a further 14% would be needed to oppose the split and block the demerger.

The billionaire’s investment company said in a statement it had instructed JPM to carry out a series of trades to “simplify” its interest in AGL by converting them into physical shares.

“Grok is confident they will be able to vote the full 11.28% at the relevant time, against the demerger,” the company’s spokesperson said.