Sale of Sun Cable mega project attracts multiple bids


Sun Cable’s administrators, FTI Consulting (FTI), say “multiple parties” have lodged non-binding indicative offers for the ambitious $30 billion-plus (USD 20 billion) Australia-Asia PowerLink (AAPowerLink) project, which includes up to 20 GW of solar and 42 GWh of energy storage on a 12,000-hectare site in the Northern Territory (NT).

Sun Cable is largely owned by mining magnate Andrew Forrest’s private firm Squadron Energy and technology billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes’ private investment company Grok Ventures. The company entered voluntary administration on Jan. 11, 2023, citing an “absence of alignment” among shareholders.

Both Squadron and Grok Ventures were expected to make individual non-binding proposals for Sun Cable. While FTI says the sale of the company has “elicited strong interest” over the past two months with multiple parties having lodged non-binding indicative offers.

FTI did not identify the bidders but indicated external potential buyers had emerged.

“The shortlisted bidders include a range of potential buyers including parties that are not existing Sun Cable shareholders,” FTI said.

Sun Cable’s AAPowerLink project proposes to build up to 20 GW of solar and 42 GWh of energy storage in the NT’s Barkley region to help power Darwin and then Singapore via a 4,200-kilometre submarine transmission link. Sun Cable had hoped to begin construction in 2024 and was aiming to be providing power to Darwin in 2027 and Singapore in 2029. The project is estimated to cost more than $30 billion.

Grok Ventures has indicated it wants to continue with the original vision for the AAPowerLink project, while Squadron has called for an overhaul of the plans with Forrest suggesting he would scrap the cable to Singapore, potentially using the solar to power green hydrogen projects.

However, FTI says it is unlikely Sun Cable will be broken up, noting that the sale process has advertised the operation as “a complete development, including AAPowerlink, and the sale continues to be progressed on that basis.”

FTI is now looking to “progress a shortlist of bidders through to the submission of binding proposals” by the end of April, with a view to completing the sale process by the end of May.

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