HESTA "unlikely to support" AGL demerger without faster closure of coal-fired stations

By

HESTA is "unlikely to support" the demerger of AGL unless the company sets a clear strategy to invest in renewables and storage and "strong commitments" to close coal-fired power plants earlier than currently proposed.

"To lower systemic risk and protect members' investments HESTA is pushing for a timely, orderly transition to a low-carbon future and we're not convinced the proposed AGL demerger will achieve emissions reduction and coal asset closure aligned with the Paris Agreement, nor that AGL's plans provide an equitable transition for affected workers or communities," says HESTA CEO Debby Blakey.

HESTA owns $21 million, constituting 0.36% of AGL.

hesta agl demerger mike cannon brooks

Mike Cannon-Brookes' Grok Ventures announced that they are now a substantial holder of AGL with 11.5% stake in the company, making it the largest shareholder in the company. Grok intends to vote every AGL share that it controls at the relevant time against the demerger, and actively encourages all AGL shareholders to do the same.

"We are at a critical point in Australia's energy transition, and in AGL's future," Cannon-Brookes says.

"This is about delivering cheap, reliable and clean energy to millions of families and businesses. We believe by keeping the company together, AGL can continue its long and proud history as a pioneer through energy market transitions."

Grok "firmly believes the AGL Board has made a series of mistakes and was far too slow to act on decarbonisation or adopt new technologies, which has resulted in this sub-optimal demerger plan.:

Earlier this week, AGL t announced it will take a $73 million profit hit and cut its guidance for annual earnings following the breakdown of a unit at its Loy Yang A coal-burning power station. GL currently expects that the unit will return to service by August 1, 2022.

"HESTA is unlikely to support the demerger unless we see a clear strategy to invest in renewables and storage, and strong commitments to close coal-fired power plants earlier than currently proposed," Blakey says.

"AGL should also provide investors with some certainty that the demerger will not result in emission-intensive assets being taken off listed markets and their lives extended."

In response to the substantial shareholding announcement by Grok and related entities, AGL's board said it had considered the development and "continues to believe that AGL's proposed demerger is in the best interests of AGL shareholders as it creates the potential to maximise growth in the value of shares by giving each company the freedom to pursue individual strategies and growth initiatives; supports shareholder returns through distinct dividend policies and capital structures; and leaves the future value of two ASX listed companies with shareholders."

This article first appeared on FS Sustainability

Get stories like this in our newsletters.

Related Stories

TAGS

Rachel Alembakis is the Managing Editor of FS Sustainability, a Rainmaker title that examines how investors and companies integrate environmental, social and corporate governance issues into their decision-making processes. She has more than a decade's experience covering investment issues for a range of publications in Australia and overseas.
Comments
Christina Faulk
May 8, 2022 2.59pm

I have been a HESTA, former IRIS, et al, super member for nearly 30 years since I retired from the federal public service. On the advice of a colleague, I put some money into the now-closed Term Allocated Pension. Twice I have been locked out of my own account, though HESTA clearly had all my ID details and just promised - with

goobledegook phrases - that I I would get a call from a senior manager and all would be well.

I believe there are moves to remove the TAP provisions - which actually did not help me overall and dis-allowed me from drawing any money out at the height of the Covid crisis.

I wish HESTA CEO Ms Blakey would get her staff pay more attention to customer needs rather than seeking media coverage on environmental issues.

C. Faulk