Cannon-Brookes attacks Forrest and commits to rebuilding Sun Cable

Cannon-Brooke’s reaffirmation of his ambitions for Sun Cable comes after questions about his desire to continue as an investor. Sources said Grok’s original proposal to pour more money into the project before it collapsed included a clause that would open the door to a sale of the company if it continued to miss its milestones, suggesting that Grok might have been looking for an exit.

Sun Cable is now in the hands of its custodians, FTI Consulting, who will seek the best results for shareholders, which could include a sale or recapitalization process.

Sources said there could be a number of potential buyers or new investors, citing the number of bidders interested in acquiring renewable energy player CWP over the past year. Canadian pension fund CDPQ, local energy retailer Origin Energy, Future Fund-backed Tilt Renewables and major Spanish energy company Iberdrola had all made bids for CWP.

However, those bidders were gassed by none other than Forrest’s own Squadron Energy, who managed to buy CWP in a surprise $4 billion bid, meaning the billionaire may have to team up with his former rivals if he’s in Sun Cable wants to stay invested.

Sun Cable's proposed $30+ billion Australia-Asia PowerLink project.

Sun Cable’s proposed $30+ billion Australia-Asia PowerLink project.

CDPQ and Tilt declined to comment on Thursday. Iberdrola and Origin, which is being acquired by Canadian fund Brookfield, are unlikely to be interested.

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Sun Cable shareholders — including Craig Winkler, founder of MYOB, and Craig Scroggie, CEO of NextDC — will hold their first bondholders’ meeting for the company on Jan. 20.

Founded in 2018, Sun Cable planned to send solar-powered renewable energy via an undersea cable from the Northern Territory to Singapore. The operation is said to cost about $35 billion and had garnered broad support from investors and the federal government, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese last year calling it an exciting project.

On Thursday, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Bowen said the government remained excited about Sun Cable’s potential despite the collapse.

“The government understands that this is a commercial restructuring decision that does not represent a lack of confidence in the long-term future of the project itself,” he said.

Similarly, the company’s voluntary management has not dented its coveted Infrastructure Australia “investment-ready” status, with a spokesman confirming the independent panel’s view of the value of the project remained unchanged.

In its initial assessment of Sun Cable, Infrastructure Australia highlighted the company’s private funding and $35 billion in capital required as a key risk, citing “the sheer size of the business [capital expenditure] suggests that there is a high risk of delays and finding sufficient resources.”

Sun Cable had planned to develop a 4,200-kilometer subsea transmission line that would transmit solar power generated in the Northern Territory to Singapore, which could have met up to 15 percent of Singapore’s needs.

Acting Premier of the Northern Territory, Nicole Manison, said local government was confident that new sources of funding would be found and described Sun Cable as an important project for the territory.

https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/cannon-brookes-takes-swipe-at-forrest-commits-to-rebuilding-sun-cable-20230112-p5cc0e.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_business Cannon-Brookes attacks Forrest and commits to rebuilding Sun Cable

Brian Lowry

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