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OPTrust takes 51% stake in Australian energy retailer

The investment will allow Flow Power to expand its Melbourne headquarters and establish a presence in Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane. Flow Power was the first Australian retailer to offer corporate renewable power purchase agreements in the Australian market.

OPTrust, one of Canada’s largest pension funds, is acquiring a 51 percent stake in Australian energy retailer Flow Power, executing on its previously-stated plans to invest heavily in the country’s renewables sector. The investment, whose financial details were not disclosed, also includes Flow Power’s sister company, Utilacor.

Flow Power will continue business as usual, with its leadership team and Australian shareholders remaining intact, the energy retailer said in a statement. OPTrust’s Sydney-based managing director Stan Kolenc, will join the Flow Power board.

“The owners had built the business up over a series of years,” a spokeswoman for Flow Power told Infrastructure Investor. “They were not looking to sell at the time but were approached by OPTrust,” she said, commenting on the transaction. “OPTrust recognised the strength and uniqueness of Flow Power’s business model during our negotiations on the Ararat Wind Farm power purchase agreement.”

Flow Power, which has been working with more than 200 commercial and industrial customers across the eastern states of Australia, was the first Australian retailer to offer corporate renewable power purchase agreements in the Australian market.

Ararat Wind Farm – the third-largest wind farm in Australia in which OPTrust has invested alongside Partners Group, Renewable Energy Systems and GE – secured a 10-year PPA with Olam Orchards Australia, in January, to supply renewable electricity to the Australian agribusiness under Flow Power’s arrangement.

The Canadian pension, with C$19 billion ($15.0 billion; €12.2 billion) of assets under management, has been looking for opportunities in Australia across private equity and infrastructure since it set up its Sydney office in October 2013. It has invested more than A$500 million ($390.7 million; €318.0 million) in private market assets in the country and will continue to search for private market opportunities, Flow Power said in a statement.