Tech titan Mike wresting control of AGL is a great thing. Having nabbed 11% of AGL in the raid, his “Grok Ventures” should get to the 25% he needs to knock out AGL’s demerger scheme, then hopefully move to full control, dump the useless old board and effect his grand plan with Mark Carney, Brookfield and Mike Bloomberg to decarbonise the world. That’s all good.
So, what’s the scam? Where have Mike’s tax-cheatin’ pardners from Brookfield gone? Seems the good-cop-bad-cop routine has been junked in favour of just good cop Mike and his Grok.
Or has it; who is behind Grok? Well, Grok is just a name. It’s the groovy branding. Actual ownership of the AGL stake is via an obscure partnership. Partnerships are ancient structures mostly used these days by people who wish to hide things like the big audit and law firms.
Here’s the small print from the ASX release: “(Cannon-Brookes’) Grok Ventures is a registered business name of Cannon-Brookes Services Pty Limited (ACN 616 170 542). An affiliate of Cannon-Brookes Services Pty Limited, the Galipea Partnership, is the holder of a more than 11% interest in AGL Energy Limited”.
So who is grokking with Mike in this mysterious Galipea Partnership? A Mike entity called CBC Co which is Trustee for Mike’s Head Trust is one partner, and the other a thing called Feroniella Pty Ltd.
The is the sort of scam which billionaires, their lawyers and merchant bankers concoct when they get together to hide stuff. Feroniella is an obscure plant which can be found in Asia and Galipea an even more obscure plant which can be found deep in the Amazon in Peru and Brazil.
Who is lurking behind Feroniella? Mike’s slick PR people, also Brookfield’s PRs, didn’t answer that one – but we are absolutely assured it was not the Canadian Cowboys themselves, Brookfield.
This is all a bit nit-picky. We will get to the logic of Mike’s bold decarbonisation plans in due course. AGL shareholders should back him because he will have clever RE money backing him all the way, which will avert the slow death of AGL under present management.
But if all this hide and seek stuff from Mike and his army of tricky advisers tells us anything, it’s that they are very likely to be scamming the Australian Tax Office for hundreds of millions of dollars.
And by the way, note to Charles and Tom, lawyers from Allens Linklaters, the ASX statutory filings in the shareholder notice don’t seem to have been signed.
Michael West established michaelwest.com.au to focus on journalism of high public interest, particularly the rising power of corporations over democracy. Formerly a journalist and editor at Fairfax newspapers and a columnist at News Corp, West was appointed Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Sydney’s School of Social and Political Sciences.