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Australia’s largest power firm rejects green takeover bid

SYDNEY (AFP) – Australia’s largest energy firm and biggest carbon emitter AGL yesterday rejected a takeover bid from green-minded tech billionaire Mike Cannon Brookes, who planned to shutter the firm’s coal-fired power plants.

Atlassian co-founder Cannon Brookes had teamed up with Brookfield Asset Management to offer USD5.8 billion for the electricity production and distribution firm with a view to shutting major coal power plants 15 years early.

Cannon Brookes has long been vocal in his criticism of the Australian government’s pro-coal policies and the energy industry’s lack of ambitious climate goals.

The bid would have seen AGL move much more rapidly to decarbonisation, including by shutting coal power plants by 2030 – rather than 2045 as currently planned. But AGL’s board decided the unsolicited offer, which priced the firm at 4.7 per cent more than Friday’s closing stock price of AUD7.16, undervalued the company and was “not in the best interests” of shareholders.

Cannon Brookes said that decision was “disappointing” but he vowed to press ahead with efforts to acquire the firm.

“I’ve long said that decarbonisation is the greatest economic opportunity facing Australia, but it requires vision and action,” he told public broadcaster ABC. He said the takeover could benefit AGL’s 4.5 million customers and the environment.

“We strongly believe it will result in lower bills for consumers, we can fund this transition ourselves and we can build out the replacement capacity,” he said.

People walk past the offices of AGL Energy in Sydney. PHOTO: AFP