Atlassian co-founder launches $320m tilt at renewable energy group Genex Power

Atlassian co-founder launches $320m tilt at renewable energy group Genex Power

A private investment fund controlled by Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar and his wife Kim Jackson has teamed up with US-based alternative asset manager Stonepeak Partners to make a $320 million play for renewable energy producer Genex Power (ASX: GNX).

The move is seen as the latest attempt by Atlassian’s rich-listers to influence change in the renewable energy sector after Mike Cannon-Brookes earlier this year successfully thwarted AGL Energy's (ASX: AGL) plans to demerge its retail energy business from its power generation operations in his bid to see a shutdown in coal energy production.

While the proposed takeover of Genex Power is on a completely different scale, Farquhar’s Skip Capital consortium has seized on the growth prospects of Genex which owns solar and wind power assets in Queensland and NSW. Although Genex reported a net loss of $4.4 million in the first half of FY22, revenue surged 51 per cent to $11.96 million.

Skip Capital, which already controls 19.9 per cent of Genex after taking an 11.2 per cent stake in March this year, has offered 23c per share for full control of Genex, or a 70 per cent premium to the company’s share price last Friday.

While investors have jumped into the stock today, they failed to reach the offer price after hitting a high of 20.5c.

Genex says the indicative proposal is subject to several conditions, including due diligence and a unanimous recommendation from the board. The deal is also subject to Foreign Investment Review Board approval.

The Genex board says the takeover offer was the result of an ‘unsolicited approach’ by the potential suitors and it has recommended shareholders take no action.

Genex, which listed on the ASX in 2015, has three power projects under way including its flagship Kidston Clean Energy Hub where it is transforming the former Kidston gold mine in north-west Queensland into a solar, wind and hydro power generating facility.

The company’s Bouldercombe battery project has secured contracts with Elon Musk's Tesla to create a large-scale 50-megawatt battery storage system near Rockhampton.

Genex also operates the Jemalong Solar Project at Forbes in central western NSW, currently producing 50 megawatts of power.

Skip Capital - a private investment fund with a diverse portfolio of investments including the unlisted graphic design success story Canva - has turned its attention to renewable opportunities in the past two years.

The company says its investments include ‘future-aware infrastructure projects in areas like wind, solar, waste processing, recycling, food and data infrastructure’.

Stonepeak is on the same page with a dedicated investment portfolio comprising interests involving energy transition and renewables.

Farquhar and Cannon-Brookes have been putting their money where their mouths are by ramping up their corporate activism to fast-track Australia’s transition to renewable energy. Although Cannon-Brookes failed in his $9 billion bid to buy AGL, he has not ruled out another attempt. He and his wife Annie retain an 11.28 per cent interest in AGL.

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