Here to stay: AGL appoints interim CEO Damien Nicks as permanent boss

Here to stay: AGL appoints interim CEO Damien Nicks as permanent boss

AGL interim CEO Damien Nicks has been appointed as the company's permanent boss, effective immediately. 

Almost eight months after a boardroom shake-up saw four AGL (ASX: AGL) executives resign, the energy giant has appointed interim CEO Damien Nicks to the role on a permanent basis effective immediately.

Nicks, who became interim CEO three months ago, joined AGL in 2013 and was promoted numerous times in the finance division before being appointed CFO in August 2018.

Now at the helm of a 186-year-old company, Nicks has significant energy, customer and multinational experience across a number of sectors including logistics, industrial and professional services.

His appointment comes two months after Australian billionaire and Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes – who owns an 11 per cent stake in AGL via his investment vehicle Grok Ventures – succeeded in his attempts to install four nominees onto the board of the energy giant.

“It is an honour for me to be appointed managing director and chief executive officer of AGL at this important time in AGL’s history as we accelerate the transition of both our customer and generation portfolios to an integrated low carbon energy leader,” Nicks said.

“I’m excited to lead this great organisation and I’m looking forward to getting on with the job of implementing our new strategy for a sustainable future in line with shareholder and community expectations.”

AGL’s former CEO and managing director Graeme Hunt resigned from his role in May 2022 after Cannon-Brookes thwarted the company’s plans to demerge and create two listed entities: AGL Australia and Accel Energy.

According to a letter sent by Cannon-Brookes to AGL shareholders in that month, the new business would have relied on fossil fuels for 90 per cent of its energy generation.

The move to demerge was proposed by AGL on 31 March 2021 and would have seen Accel Energy close its black coal-fired power station Bayswater Power Station by no later than 2033, and Loy Yang A Power Station by 2045 – a date that has since been accelerated to 2035.

The decision to abandon the demerger was made because AGL no longer believed it would be able to hit the 75 per cent approval threshold for a scheme of arrangement, considering the “small number of investors”, including Grok Ventures and superannuation fund HESTA, that would have voted against the proposal.

AGL chair Patricia McKenzie said the board had unanimously determined that Nicks is the best person to lead AGL as it undertakes one of the most significant decarbonisation initiatives in Australia.

“The board has been particularly impressed by Damien’s leadership of the business, including his role in championing AGL’s new strategy and his commitment, vision and fresh approach to accelerate the energy transition and to deliver value for AGL’s customers and position AGL for future growth,” McKenzie said.

“Damien’s leadership, deep energy expertise and project delivery experience in complex and large organisations is well established and he has the strong support of AGL’s employees, as well as other key stakeholders.”

AGL appoints new CFO

The energy generator also announced today that Gary Brown has been appointed chief financial officer on a permanent basis, effective immediately.

Brown joined AGL one year ago as CFO-elect for Accel Energy, previously serving as CFO for Paris-based renewable energy semiconductor ENGIE, as well as other ASX-listed companies prior to joining AGL.

“These appointments complete the board and management renewal process that the board commenced in May 2022,” McKenzie said.

“AGL now has nine experienced non-executive directors and a strong management team that are aligned and focused on accelerating AGL’s decarbonisation and delivering value for shareholders.”

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