AGL Energy, Grok Ventures at loggerheads again over board nominations

Annie Cannon-Brookes and Mike Cannon-Brookes, chief executive officer of Atlassian, attend the annual Allen and Co. Sun Valley media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, U.S., July 11, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Oct 7 (Reuters) - Australia's AGL Energy Ltd (AGL.AX) on Friday recommended its shareholders vote against three of the four directors nominated by Grok Ventures, citing they will not add to the board's effectiveness, a move that the top stakeholder plans to oppose.

Grok Ventures and AGL have been embroiled in a months-long tussle that has forced the country's top power producer ditch its demerger plans, accelerate the closure of its coal-fired power plants by a decade, and announce plans to spend up to A$20 billion ($12.84 billion) on renewable energy by 2036.

Late last month, tech billionaire and green activist Mike Cannon-Brookes, who has been vying for more influence and control at AGL, nominated four directors to the power producer's board through his private investment arm Grok Ventures.

"Given the depth of energy market and transition experience already represented on the renewed AGL board, the board is of the view that appointing all four of the Grok candidates would not add to the overall effectiveness of the board," AGL said.

AGL will only support the nomination of Mark Twidell, who will prove to be a valuable addition to the board, the Melbourne-based company said ahead of its annual general meeting on Nov. 15.

Twidell most recently worked as a director for Energy Programs at Tesla (TSLA.O), and was also an independent non-executive director at the Clean Energy Council of Australia.

"Even with the endorsement of Mark Twidell to the Board, renewal is not complete and we disagree that the incumbent Directors have the breadth of skills required to execute on this transition", a Grok Ventures spokesperson said in an emailed response to Reuters.

Grok, which owns 11.28% of AGL, will again engage directly with the firm's shareholders to push for election of its remaining three candidates to the board.

($1 = 1.5574 Australian dollars)

Reporting by Sameer Manekar and Harshita Swaminathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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