AGL customer chief to become MD of newly demerged energy retailer

AGL confirms plans to demerge into two independently listed entitles and announces the CEOs and chairs for both

AGL has confirmed its chief customer officer, Christine Corbett, as managing director and CEO of its newly demerged energy retailer, AGL Australia, as the organisation embarks on a significant restructure to become two businesses.

ASX-listed AGL today announced the first details of plans to demerge, creating two standalone and separately listed businesses: Accel Energy, a baseload power producer; and AGL Australia, a multi-product energy retailer and energy trading and storage business retaining the AGL brand. The demerger is expected to be completed by Q4, FY2022.

The news comes after months of speculation as to whether the demerger plans, architected by former AGL chief, Brett Redman, would go ahead after his shock departure in April. Questions as to how any demerger would tackle the combination of AGL’s $2.8 billion in debt and coal power generation business have also plagued the embattled energy provider and retailer.

Today’s announcement solidifies the demerger plans as well as the leaders set to pursue them. AGIL has confirmed Corbett, who has been group chief customer officer since 2019, will be promoted to managing director and CEO of the proposed retail business, with Patricia McKenzie as chair.

Corbett spent 27 years with Australia Post, rising up to the role of chief customer officer from 2016 to 2018 with responsibility for group channel operations, marketing, digital and customer experience.

Christine CorbettCredit: AGL
Christine Corbett

Interim CEO and managing director of the group, Graeme Hunt, who spent nearly four years as group chair, is set to become managing director and CEO of Accel Energy, with current AGL Energy chair, Peter Botten, its chair.

In a statement, Botten, who took up the chairman’s post in April and was formerly CEO of Oil Search for 25 years, said the new chief appointments followed an extensive internal and external search.

“Graeme, in the managing director and CEO role on a fixed-term basis, will provide vital continuity of leadership amid this time of great change for our company and in the energy sector, as well as deep experience and know-how in running capital intensive industrial businesses in a complex multi-stakeholder environment,” he stated.  

“Christine’s elevation to the role of managing director and CEO reflects her outstanding performance in stabilising and growing our customer business since joining us two years ago. She will bring a passionate customer focus to the leadership of the business while also providing important continuity.” 

Under the proposed demerger terms, Accel Energy is expected to retain a 15 to 20 per cent stake in AGL Australia. Contracts will also be in place between the two companies around managing energy market price and supply risks over the short to medium term. From FY23, contracted volumes are expected to reduce as the Liddell Power Station in New South Wales shuts down. A heads of agreement will also be in place to support potential contracting activity through transition and beyond FY27.

Botten said the 180-year-old AGL Energy business had a proud heritage in the energy industry.

“However, the impact of recent challenging market conditions on our financial performance emphasises that AGL Energy is now at an inflection point, as the transition of the energy sector accelerates, driven by the rapid evolution in renewables and decentralised energy technology, customer needs and community expectations,” he said.

Moving forward as two independently listed companies is in the best interests of shareholder, Botten said.

“For Accel Energy, this means focusing on the transition of its existing electricity generation assets and investment in the long-term rejuvenation of its valuable operating sites as low-carbon industrial energy hubs, as well as new clean energy projects,” he stated.

“For AGL Australia, it means focusing on being Australia’s leading multi-product energy retailing business while investing in flexible energy trading, storage and supply and decentralised energy services.”

The newly created AGL Australia will service 4.5 million customers across electricity, gas, broadband and other services. It also retains ownership of the group’s private hydro fleet as well as gas-fired power stations, a  battery development portfolio and other wholesale and decentralised electricity and gas trading, storage and supply capabilities. AGL Australia will also own AGL Energy’s 20 per cent equity investment in PowAR and 50 per cent investment in ActewAGL’s retail operations.

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