AGL will no longer attempt to sell-off its coal-fired power assets after pressure from Mike Cannon-Brookes and Grok Ventures who argued vehemently that keeping the company in one-piece would allow for a more rapid decarbonisation of its assets.
In a spectacular example of the influence that a sufficiently motivated (and wealthy) investor can have on the path of a public company, Mike Cannon-Brooks has precipitated a major overhaul of Australia’s biggest power company and biggest carbon emitter.
The decision to shelve the demerger plans has also come with the resignation of the Chairman, Peter Botten, and the CEO, Graeme hunt.
The company’s announcement to the ASX was held firm on its view that the demerger was in shareholders’ best interests, arguing that pressure from key investors, and poor voter turnout, would sink the vote.
“While the board believed the demerger proposal offered the best way forward for AGL Energy and its shareholders, we have made the decision to withdraw it,” says outgoing Chairman Peter Botten said.
“The board will now undertake a strategic direction, change the composition of the board and management, and determine the best way to deliver long-term shareholder value.”
Mike Cannon-Brookes has led a determined campaign to shift the direction of the company. He attempted to buy the company outright earlier in the year, but was rebuffed.
With this outcome, it seems he managed to bend AGL to his will at a far lower cost than having to take complete control.
His current voting power comes from building an 11.5% stake in the company, which makes him its largest single shareholder.
He’s also requested two board seats, and it looks like there’s now a few empty seats.
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