Last week AGL shared its plans to split the existing business into two. The announcement on Wednesday was not taken well by investors as shares dropped 10% when chairman Peter Botten made the announcement. The share price continued to fall through the week closing on Friday at $8.13 well below the $17.72 price a year ago. Investors are concerned that the two entities will lack the financial capacity to grow the businesses.
Accel, the coal fired part of the business will be led by current AGL CEO Graeme Hunt while Christine Corbett will run the retail business. Accel will earn its returns from carbon intense assets so institutional investors are steering clear of the business, Accel will also retain a 15-20% ownership of AGL Australia. Apart from a lower share price pushing investors away, it is also expected dividends will continue to fall for the 2022 financial year. AGLs retail business will retain the clean energy assets and the retail business.
The previous CEO of AGL Brett Redman proposed the demerger to evolve the business in a rapidly changing marketplace. Prior to the demerger AGL had consolidated to form a vertically integrated business, this worked well over recent years however the business structure is no longer optimal.
Customers are after a cleaner alternative to coal fired generation so the retail business that will retain the customers will be merged with the carbon neutral portfolio of assets resulting in customers sourcing their power from cleaner green generation sources.
While AGLs demerger does not seem to be seen by investors as a positive direction, Edge has previously highlighted that the splitting up of generation businesses is gaining momentum overseas with many fossils fuelled businesses creating businesses to develop a green focus and meet the customers’ demands. Time will tell if the demerge strategy will benefit to AGL.
Despite the negative outlook for Accel with its fleet of coal fired assets there is a positive light at the end of the tunnel. As the existing coal fired assets are retired Accel will retain their key location on the grid. Their favourable locations on the grid will allow Accel to transform the connection points from a high carbon emitting locations to low carbon hubs as new cleaner generation and storage is installed.