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Heads roll at Aussie power giant after green takeover bid

SYDNEY (AFP) – Australia’s biggest carbon emitter AGL abruptly announced yesterday the departure of its chairman, CEO and a string of board members, while scrapping a long-planned move to spin off its lucrative coal business.

In a statement to investors, the company said Peter Botten would resign as chairman and Graeme Hunt would step down as CEO when a replacement is found.

Operations at AGL – Australia’s largest energy company – have been under fierce scrutiny since billionaire green activist Mike Cannon-Brookes tried to buy the firm for about USD6 billion, which was rejected by the company in March.

AGL said the offer was “well below the fair value of the company”.

Cannon-Brookes, a 42-year-old tech mogul, launched his audacious bid to acquire the company in order to shutter its highly-polluting coal-fired power plants and repurpose the network to focus on renewables.

He had opposed a “demerger” of AGL’s coal and retail business, saying if it was allowed to be spun off his takeover would no longer make sense.

Australians – hit by a series of droughts and floods – overwhelmingly support more action to tackle climate change and recently voted in a government to do just that.