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Australian billionaire Forrest traps CWP Renewables for more than $2.7 billion

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By Scott Murdoch and Sonali Paul

SYDNEY/MELBOURNE (RockedBuzz via Reuters) – Squadron Energy, the privately held company of Australian mining billionaire Andrew Forrest, has acquired CWP Renewables for more than A$4 billion ($2.7 billion). cleaner energy.

Forrest said in a statement that Squadron has acquired CWP Renewables but did not disclose the price. The target company owns 1.1 gigawatts of wind farms and a 1.3 GW development pipeline of wind and solar farms, with more in the pipeline, all in Australia.

Forrest has made a big push to wean Australia off fossil fuels and grow a green hydrogen business through his iron ore company, Fortescue Metals Group, and his privately held company Squadron.

“The world has to move away from fossil fuels and we have a very competitive product. And the more we create and distribute new renewable energy, the cheaper it becomes for every Australian and for the world,” Forrest told RockedBuzz via Reuters following the announcement.

Squadron plans to develop 5 GW of wind capacity by 2030, said Jason Willoughby, chief executive officer of CWP.

“One of the things we’re so happy about investing in Squadron is that we now have the capital to fund that growth,” Willoughby told RockedBuzz via Reuters.

“That’s a really key consideration. The speed and scale of the energy transition is really material, it’s really big, and I don’t think people fully appreciate that.”

CWP was sold by Swiss investor Partners Group, which said it built the Australian business after first investing in the Sapphire wind farm in the state of New South Wales in 2016.

“We are proud to have built a major renewable energy platform set to play a key role in decarbonising Australia’s energy mix,” Partners Group Australia head Martin Scott said in a statement.

Other companies that had looked into CWP included Spain’s Iberdrola, Tilt Renewables, partly owned by AGL Energy, and Origin Energy, all aiming to expand into renewable energy as Australia accelerates its transition from coal power.

Forrest said his companies’ ambitions complemented each other, with Squadron developing the “green electrons” needed by Fortescue to produce green hydrogen, which is made by splitting water through electrolysers powered by renewable energy.

With CWP Renewables, Squadron would have the scale it needs to meet the demand of large commercial and industrial customers for reliable green energy in eastern Australia, he said. Squadron is already a majority owner of wind farm developer Windlab and is also building a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal in New South Wales and a renewable energy hub in Queensland.

Willoughby said CWP aims to green light the construction of a 400 MW wind farm by March 2023, which would cost more than A$1 billion. So in the next 12 months he wants to sign about 1 GW more wind farms.

Forrest said Squadron will provide all the necessary capital, but also plans to secure funding from Australian pension funds and large institutions.

“We have a wall of support for that. There are literally trillions of dollars of capital looking for green energy projects,” he said.

($1 = 1.4948 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Scott Murdoch in Sydney and Sonali Paul in Melbourne; Additional reporting by Andres Gonzalez Estebaran in Madrid; Editing by Leslie Adler, Sam Holmes and Lincoln Feast.)