Australian tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes and his business partner, international asset manager Brookfield, have walked away from their bid to buy energy giant AGL and accelerate its transition from coal to renewables, writes Gavin Dennett.

In February, 2022, the consortium revealed a shock $8 billion bid to take over Australia’s biggest power supplier, which was rejected by the company’s board. This was followed by a juicer bid of $9 billion, but it was similarly knocked back.

Following this latest setback, Cannon-Brookes and Brookfield have decided to cease their ambitious plan to get hold of the company, which is one of the nation’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, at about eight per cent of Australia’s total emissions.

On 6 March, 2022, Cannon-Brookes, the co-founder of software developer Atlassian and Australia’s third-richest person, said in a Twitter post that the consortium was “putting our pens down, with great sadness” in regards to the takeover bid.

The increased offer represented $8.25 per share.

“The [AGL] board rejected our raised offer of $8.25 – 46 per cent more than the price of $5.55 about 90 days ago,” continued the Tweet.

“Our path was the world’s biggest decarbonisation project … The board are proceeding with their demerger path. This path is a terrible outcome for shareholders, taxpayers, customers, Australia and the planet we all share.

“Shareholders now vote on that path. Thank you to everyone who supported what we were aspiring to. The response has been amazing.”

Cannon-Brookes and Brookfield were prepared to spend up to $20 billion to take control of AGL to turn it into a clean energy giant and accelerate its exit from coal by closing its coal-fired power plants by 2030 – 15 years earlier than the company’s forecasts – and targeted net-zero emissions by 2035.

While they have indicated the latest bid was their final offer, and they are giving up on the takeover plan, sources close to AGL indicate they may not have heard the last from them.

“We think [the revised bid] is still well short of what is traditionally required in these kinds of circumstances,” said AGL chief executive Graeme Hunt.

“We had no conversation with Cannon-Brookes at all, and what he means by [‘pen’s down’], I have no idea.

“Whether they’re hitting the pause button, or they’re walking away, who knows? I guess that’s a question for them.”

* This updated story supersedes the AGL takeover feature in the upcoming issue of EcoGeneration, which had already gone to print before this latest development.