Al Gore’s Generation Investment Management has bought a $600 million stake in the UK’s Octopus Energy, a supplier of green electricity.
Generation’s Long-Term Equity fund will own a 13 per cent stake, boosting Octopus’s valuation to $4.6 billion, the utility said in a statement on Monday. Octopus plans to use the capital to “turbo boost” its renewable-energy business.
The investment means the private company is now valued at £3.3bn - £300m more than Centrica. Centrica's stock market value has declined by almost three quarters in the six years since Octopus was founded by Greg Jackson, who remains chief executive.
The announcement comes days after Octopus was appointed by national energy regulator Ofgem to take on the 580,000 customers of failed supplier Avro Energy.
Seven utility firms have collapsed since the start of August, squeezed by an unprecedented increase in wholesale prices. The investment will help Octopus bear the costs of taking on those customers, with Ofgem’s supplier-of-last-resort process also contributing.
“While the UK energy market is currently in a tough state, it’s highlighted the need for investment in renewables and technologies to end our reliance on fossil fuels,” said Mr Jackson.
The investment will help Octopus in its work to develop cheaper, less-polluting heat pumps and to make the grid use renewable supplies more efficiently, the utility said. The deal had been in the making for several months, before the current crisis started.
In March, Octopus acquired a 2.8-gigawatt portfolio of renewables assets across Europe worth £3bn ($4.1bn), aligning its business with larger international suppliers such as EON SE and Electricite de France SA that combine renewable generation with customer supply.
Octopus has become the fifth-biggest supplier in Britain since its launch and it also has customers in the US, Germany, Spain and New Zealand. The utility has also developed a network of 100,000 electric-vehicle chargers in the UK.
The deal with Mr Gore’s firm consists of a $300m immediate investment, with $300m to follow by June 2022, subject to “certain further funding conditions".