(UK) – British financier Guy Hands has been compelled to grant a lease to Sun Cable, owned by Mike Cannon-Brookes’ Grok Ventures, after legal proceedings revealed that Hands’ Terra Firma was the third bidder in an auction that resulted in Grok Ventures gaining control of the collapsed project.
Hands owns Consolidated Pastoral, a vast agricultural empire once owned by Kerry Packer, which had originally granted leases to Sun Cable for the construction of solar farms in the Northern Territory.
The dispute over the lease with Hands is not the first clash Cannon-Brookes has had with a fellow billionaire.
Sun Cable grapples with directional disagreements
Sun Cable faced administrative issues after Cannon-Brookes and his joint venture partner, Fortescue executive chairman Andrew Forrest, disagreed on the project’s direction and focus on exports.
The court documents indicate that Terra Firma not only bid unsuccessfully for Sun Cable earlier this year but also considered investing in the project.
Sun Cable’s ambitious venture to export energy to Singapore requires substantial external funding. Grok has already secured backing from Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners.
The Sun Cable project, officially known as the Australia Asia PowerLink, includes a proposed 20-gigawatt solar farm in the Northern Territory, an 800-kilometer overhead transmission line to Darwin, a high-voltage undersea cable for a 4,300-kilometer link to Singapore, and converter sites in Darwin and Singapore.
Cannon-Brookes emphasized the project’s potential and its importance as a significant Australian infrastructure initiative, benefiting Australia, Singapore, and Indonesia.
The dispute also revealed financial details of the project, including capital drawn down and a letter of support from Singapore’s Energy Market Authority.
Grok welcomed the court’s ruling in favor of the administrators, stating that it looks forward to working on Sun Cable’s renewable energy projects, with a focus on delivering the AAPowerLink and supplying green energy to Darwin and Singapore.
Under Grok’s ownership, Sun Cable has restructured its leadership, with Mitesh Patel serving as interim CEO and COO of the international aspect of the venture, and Mark Branson continuing as Chief Development Officer of Sun Cable Australia.