Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest buys Partners Group’s CWP Renewables

Squadron Energy, his renewables business, beats out competition for CWP Renewables from the likes of QIC-owned Tilt Renewables and Canadian pension giant CDPQ.

Australian iron ore magnate Andrew Forrest’s Squadron Energy is set to acquire renewable energy platform CWP Renewables from Swiss asset manager Partners Group, in one of the largest renewable energy deals seen in the Asia-Pacific region.

A subsidiary of Forrest’s family office Tattarang, Squadron has snapped up the major platform – which spans onshore wind farms and battery storage in New South Wales and Victoria – for a sum reported by the Australian Financial Review to be more than A$4 billion ($2.68 billion; €2.56 billion).

Partners Group and Squadron Energy did not disclose the financial terms of the deal and could not be reached for comment prior to publication.

Squadron beat out competition from Spanish energy giant Iberdrola, Tilt Renewables (owned by QIC, the Future Fund and AGL Energy) and a joint effort from Canadian pension giant CDPQ and Origin Energy to acquire CWP, according to the AFR.

The platform owns and operates more than 1.1 GW of operational onshore wind assets including the largest operational wind farm in New South Wales, Sapphire Wind Farm, generating roughly 270MW; Murra Warra I & II in Victoria (generating a combined 435MW); Bango Wind Farm (244 MW), and Crudine Ridge (142 MW). Its portfolio also includes a construction-ready 414 MW wind farm and 30MW battery project, as well as a 20GW project pipeline.

Squadron’s current portfolio includes a 15 percent stake in Sun Cable, as well as investments in renewable energy development company Windlab and Clarke Creek Wind Farm, a A$3 billion wind, solar and battery project in Queensland.

Partners Group invested in Sapphire Wind Farm, the first of CWP’s assets to be developed, in 2016. Sapphire became the seed asset for the Grassroots Renewable Energy Platform, which Partners Group established alongside CWP Renewables in 2018. Grassroots and CWP Renewables subsequently merged in 2020 under the majority ownership of Partners Group, retaining the CWP name.

In a statement, Partners Group head of Australia Martin Scott said: “We are proud to have built a major renewable energy platform that is set to play a key role in decarbonising Australia’s energy mix and supporting the country and its businesses in meeting their ambitious net-zero ambitions.”

The firm’s head of private infrastructure asset management for Asia, Nick Kuys, added: “The assets in the CWP platform benefit from talented operations teams and long-term contracts, which provide highly visible cashflows.”

Squadron’s investment follows a recent trend of Australian billionaires opting to invest directly in the country’s energy transition. Sydney-based billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes and his investment vehicle Grok Ventures acquired a minority stake in AGL Energy earlier this year and played a pivotal role in the company abandoning a planned demerger, which would have seen the establishment of two separately listed businesses, one of which would have housed AGL’s legacy coal-fired power stations.

Cannon-Brookes’ colleague and co-founder of software company Atlassian, Scott Farquhar, was behind a July bid for Genex Energy via Skip Capital, an investment fund established by Farquhar and his wife Kim Jackson.