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Who is Mike Cannon-Brookes and why does he want to buy AGL?

Peter Switzer
21 February 2022

Green crusader Mike Cannon-Brookes has joined forces with a Canadian company, Brookfield, to buy AGL and the aim is to close down its coal-fired power stations.

MCB became famous with his Atlassian tech business that listed on the US-based Nasdaq exchange, which late last year was said to be worth more than US$100bn. And as you can see that’s US dollars!

This chart shows how this hi-tech project management software business for the IT industry has embraced success.

Atlassian (TEAM)

It’s now a $298 stock, even after the tech sell-off has taken 14% off its share price. And you have to remember that when Atlassian listed in 2015 it had only a $28 share price!

MCB is now worth about $US18.6bn putting him ahead of Andrew Twiggy Forrest — a budding green crusader — but below no-green crusader Gina Rinehart, who’s said to have about $US22bn in wealth.

These are all guesses, but as you can see, MCB is very rich and in a position to join forces with the Canadian private equity firm Brookfield to buy energy business AGL but the board wants the partnership to pay more than $7.50 a share or $7bn.

The plan is to speed up the closure of coal-fired power stations to replace them with renewable energy alternatives. MCB thinks he could make AGL Energy have net zero emissions by 2035.

This bid for AGL comes as the company is preparing for a demerger with the retail energy and clean power assets remaining in AGL Australia and the ‘dirty’ coal-fired power energy assets in a new public company called Accel Energy. This is expected to happen in June this year and the latest news is that the board has rejected the bid, but that doesn’t mean that this is the end of the move.

History has shown that the first bid in a takeover move is seldom the last. Often an initial play can draw out other players but you have to wonder how many potential buyers would want to purchase AGL and then close down the coal-fired power stations as quickly as MCB and Brookfield, that is, by 2030!

And the partnership says it could reach net zero emissions by 2035 and this action shows us that private companies are keen to get into the green crusade caper, which are doing the kinds of things many environmentalists want from governments.

Last week Origin Energy decided it would close the Eraring generator up to seven years early and this led energy experts to suggest that this would leave a “considerable gap” in reliable electricity generation. And that could be the price we pay for the green crusade — power blackouts!

That said, I don’t think MCB and Brookfield would want their potential assets to become less valuable going forward by seeing them become unreliable and cursed by its customers and possibly the country.

I’m betting they believe technology will progress making the closure of old, dirtier power generation assets easier to achieve without undermining businesses and consumers who want and need reliable power.

If MCB and Brookfield succeed and get the reliable power challenge wrong, they both could end up considerably poorer!

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