Twiggy’s big 2021: From hydrogen to cannabis, nickel, retreat spas and… cheese?
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Last year Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest’s investment arm Tattarang bought iconic boot brand RM Williams for $190 million, and invested in Sun Cable Australia via Squadron Energy – but that was just the beginning of a tidal wave of investments.
This year Twiggy got his hands in every pie you could think of, from hydrogen and nickel, to real estate, cannabis and even cheese.
He came out guns blazing in January, announcing the pivot to hydrogen via Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) and since then the announcements have rolled in regularly.
FFI is currently being funded by sequestering 10% of FMG’s profits each year and looks to be well stocked, with the company more than doubling its profits to US$10.3 billion this year.
And if the hydrogen market could be as big as US$12 trillion by 2050, that certainly dwarfs the scale of FMG’s $150 billion a year iron ore export industry.
Thank you fossil fuel execs, but the party is over. 🤷♂️ #GreenHydrogen is the zero-carbon fuel of the future. There’s a fortune to be made, and we’re in. Are you? #COP26 #ThePowerOfNow pic.twitter.com/gJ7LhvLRj8
— Fortescue Future Industries (@FortescueFuture) November 10, 2021
Take a deep breath and let’s dive in.
In June, FFI signed an option agreement with TasPorts to exclusively negotiate all land and operating access requirements for its proposed 250 megawatt (MW) green hydrogen plant in Bell Bay in Northern Tasmania.
In July, Twiggy then tipped a cool US$50 million into Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund.
That same month, FFI entered into a framework agreement with JSW Future Energy Limited, to explore opportunities to develop green hydrogen projects in India.
Then FFI snapped up a 60 per cent stake in Dutch based High yield Energy Technologies (HyET) Group with plans to build a 1 GW solar manufacturing facility in Australia.
FFI chief executive officer Julie Shuttleworth said HyET’s hydrogen technology would support the company in reducing costs in other areas of the green hydrogen supply chain.
Also in October the company signed a letter of intent with NASDAQ-listed Plug Power Inc to build a hydrogen electrolyser Gigafactory in Queensland.
This followed a series of announcements including the move to turn Queensland’s Gladstone into a hydrogen equipment manufacturing hub, the plan to build a 1 GW solar manufacturing facility in Australia, and its commitment to work with Incitec Pivot – our largest fertiliser supplier – on converting its gas-fed ammonia production plant into a green ammonia plant.
Poised to operate in the United States, FFI Ionix will function as a technology development company focused on the global commercialisation of hydrogen technologies such as ion exchange membranes for water electrolysis, electrochemical compression, water transmission and fuel cells.
And that’s not all.
FFI also revealed plans of what could be an up to $8.4 billion green hydrogen investment in Argentina, as well as the signing of a multi-billion-pound deal with construction giant J C Bamford Excavators and Ryze Hydrogen in a move that will see the company become the largest supplier of green hydrogen (GH2) to the United Kingdom.
Twiggy also partnered with the Kingdom of Jordan to conduct studies on developing green hydrogen production through large-scale wind and solar energy production facilities.
Plus the company joined forces with Los Angeles-based Hydrogen Co, with plans to decarbonise the aviation industry through zero emissions green hydrogen.
By the time December rolled around, FFI had signed an MoU with three Indigenous Nations in Canada to help determine the viability of building green hydrogen projects using hydro and wind power.
Oh, and an MoU with AGL Energy in our neck of the woods to undertake a feasibility study at the Hunter Valley’s Liddel and Bayswater power stations.
In October, Australian Industrial Power (AIP) – an entity of Forrest’s Squadron Energy – applauded the $30 million commitment by the Federal Government towards the proposed Port Kembla Power Station, which is designed to operate on 50% green hydrogen from day one and 100% green hydrogen by 2030.
Squadron Energy said in a statement that it was “vitally important to reaffirm this project has a clear vision to create Australia’s largest dual-fuel (gas and green hydrogen) power station to deliver a new source of large-scale, dispatchable, and lower emission electricity” to support the growth in renewable energy.”
And that’s not the only gas play Twiggy has a hand in.
Forrest also has a range of nickel investments, with his Wyloo Metals on the register of Mincor Resources (ASX:MCR), Poseidon Nickel (ASX:POS) – and Western Areas (ASX:WSA) where his growing stake made him a very interesting observer to takeover talks from IGO (ASX:IGO).
Not to mention Wyloo recently peacocked all over BHP’s bid for Canadian nickel explorer Noront Resources, lodging a C$1.10 offer in mid-December at a 47% premium to BHP’s accepted C$0.75 bid.
And on 22 December BHP raised the white flag, viewing the price to trump the Forrest bid as too high after the Noront board acknowledged it as a superior proposal.
Plus, Forrest still has his eyes on iron ore assets, announcing in December that FMG had picked up a 36-month exclusive right to study the 5500km2 Belinga iron ore project in Gabon.
Cannabis and psychedelics player Emyria (ASX:EMD) also enjoyed the fruits of Forrest’s extensive investments this year.
In November the Tattarang private investment group announced it would invest$5 million via a share placement at $0.25 per share – and hold around a 7.3% interest in the company on completion.
The investment came just months after Gina Rinehart invested $15 million into Little Green Pharma (ASX:LGP).
The funding is slated for accelerated synthetic cannabinoid registration programs with the TGA and FDA, and to advance Emyria’s novel MDMA-analogue development program with the University of Western Australia.
But the company’s MDMA dreams took a hit last week when Australian medicines regulator the TGA ruled that psychedelic drugs cannot be used to treat mental health conditions.
Tattarang also increased its shareholding in Tasmanian salmon giant Huon Aquaculture Group (ASX:HUO) in August – but it wasn’t enough to stop the company being acquired for $425 million by Brazilian meat giant JBS.
In October, Fiveight – a subsidiary of Tattarang – bought Byron Bay’s Gaia retreat off a consortium including Olivia Newton-John, and earlier this month, Tattarang acquired Margaret River’s Cape Lodge Hotel.
Then in November, Tattarang nabbed 360 Capital’s stake in privately owned dark fibre network company FibreconX – which is the first telecommunications company to build a dedicated duct and dark fibre network that connects all major data centres in Sydney.
In early December, Forrest’s agri-food business Harvest Foods acquired WA’s New Norcia Farm as part of the growth of its fully integrated cattle and beef supply chain across the state – and in mid-December made a strategic investment in ProForm Foods, a plant-based food manufacturer.
Ironically named CEO Paul Slaughter said New Norcia Farm’s close proximity to the company’s Koojan Downs Feeding Facility will be strategically important once the facility opens in early 2022, with construction nearing completion.
And as if that wasn’t enough for the year, yesterday Twiggy snapped up a slice of Bega Cheese (ASX:BGA) in morning trade.
There’s still a whole six hours left to trade in 2021…