Atlassian Co-CEO Cannon-Brookes Becomes Owner of 11% of AGL Energy

Atlassian co-CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes poses for a photo with Utah Jazz co-owners Dwyane Wade and Ryan Smith during Game 3 of Round 1 of the NBA Playoffs on April 21, 2022 in Vivin .SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Melissa Majchrzak | National Basketball Association | Getty Images

Atlassian co-CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes has taken an 11% stake in Australia’s largest utility company, AGL Energy, in a bid to force it to burn less coal, a contributor major contributor to climate change.

The Australian software billionaire, who became a co-owner of US basketball team Utah Jazz in 2020, bought the stake through his private investment group Grok Ventures. He is now the company’s largest single holder.

Cannon-Brookes has spoken out against climate change threats and is now acting on its concerns after the company rejected a previous takeover bid from it and other investors.

The new campaign aims to stop AGL’s proposed split into two companies: energy retailer AGL Australia and power producer Accel Energy. AGL Energy Chairman Peter Botten wrote in a letter to investors that the split would help Australia’s energy system move responsibly towards decarbonisation and create long-term value.

Cannon-Brookes does not share this view.

“The split makes no sense, or pennies. We believe it destroys value for everyone – shareholders, employees, Australia and the planet,” he wrote in a Tweeter Monday. He urged other AGL Energy investors to vote against the proposal.

He clarified his position in a letter on the board of directors of AGL Energy.

“As part of the proposed split, AGL A [Australia] will continue to source its majority from Accel Energy, which today generates electricity with 50% higher emissions intensity than the rest of the grid,” he wrote. “We believe this exposure to coal-fired power generation is inconsistent with your proposal. than AGL A [Australia] will be a leader in sustainability.”

Cannon-Brookes and his friend from the University of New South Wales, Scott Farquhar, founded Atlassian in 2002. The collaboration software maker went public in 2015, and with revenue growth rates typically in excess of 30 %, the stock has become a favorite of growth investors.

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Growing software companies, especially typically money-losing ones like Atlassian, have lost steam in recent months as interest rates rise.

But Cannon-Brookes remains one of the richest people in the world. He and Farquhar each own 19% of Atlassian’s outstanding Class A shares, which together are worth $25 billion.

In October, Cannon-Brookes and his wife, Annie, had a “green pledge”, pledging to spend more than $1.5 billion on climate initiatives by 2030. Grok Ventures has invested in the renewable energy company Sun Cable, which is developing infrastructure to store solar energy in Australia and transfer it to Singapore. Grok Ventures has also backed WeaveGrid, a San Francisco-based electric vehicle software startup.

AGL Energy mentioned on Monday that its Loy Yang A coal-fired power station in southern Australia was taken out of service on April 15 due to generator failure and may not be back in service until August, which would reduce earnings expectations for the full year.

“Far from leaning into opportunities, dividing them [AGL Energy] puts additional pressure on struggling coal producers. We see it today with Loy Yang A,” Cannon-Brookes wrote in a tweet.

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