Origin invests further $163m in UK’s Octopus Energy, OZ Minerals reports production fall and Iress gains new chief

Origin ORG Octopus Energy Iress IRE CEO retires Oz Minerals OZL copper production fall Woolworths WOW Nickel Industries NIC ASX
Octopus Energy has emerged as the fifth largest energy retailer in the UK.

Origin Energy (ASX: ORG) has announced it is investing a further $163 million to maintain its 20% equity in fast-growing United Kingdom renewables group Octopus Energy.

Octopus Energy has recently emerged as the UK’s fifth-largest energy retailer, growing its customer base by 25% to 3.1 million.

Since Origin’s first investment into Octopus back in May 2020 its valuation has increased nearly fourfold and is currently valued at more than £3.5 million (A$6.1 million).

Origin chief executive officer Frank Calabria said Octopus’ ability to overcome a challenging period within the UK energy market, coming out on top as a leader is impressive.

“Octopus has already grown materially in value since Origin’s initial investment in 2020, and we believe our incremental investment provides a return well above our internal hurdle and is strategically aligned with our ambition to lead the energy transition to net zero,” he said.

“We believe Octopus provides an important avenue for future growth.”

OZ Minerals

OZ Minerals (ASX: OZL) has unveiled it’s the latest Australian miner to cop the brunt of pandemic-induced labour shortages – reporting a fall in copper production amid higher costs for the June quarter.

The Adelaide-based mining company made the announcement on Monday, declaring copper production had dropped 9.6% from 30,322 tonnes in the March quarter to 27,423t.

It cited COVID-19 labour shortages, supply chain disruptions and damage to a conveyor belt at its South Australian Carrapateena mine as reasons for the decreases.

Despite this, OZ Minerals chief executive officer Andrew Cole said the company is back on track, noticing operational performance improvements, but warns there remains uncertainty.

“However, new COVID variants and increasing infection rates across the community more broadly continue to pose a risk to operational productivity and guidance,” he said.

The company is now considering delaying its $1.1 billion West Musgrave nickel and copper project as result of the ongoing pressures from COVID-19 and inflation.

Woolworths

Woolworths Group (ASX: WOW) has announced the retirement of chairman Gordon Cairns, who served in the role for seven years.

Long-standing non-executive director Scott Perkins is set to take over the top role on the board of the nation’s largest grocery retailer.

Mr Perkins has been a non-executive director with Woolworths for eight years and has also served as Origin chairman since October 2020 and as non-executive director at Brambles since 2015.

Outgoing chair Mr Cairns said he is thankful to serve as the head of the group’s board for several years.

“I am proud of the work that the team and directors have achieved together in transforming Woolworths and delivering for our shareholders,” he said.

“Moreover, I am humbled to have been the chair of a purpose-led business dedicated to working towards a better tomorrow for our teams, customers and the community.”

During his time at the helm, Mr Cairns oversaw the establishment of digital business WooliesX in 2017, as well as the demerger of Endeavour and exit of hardware chain Masters.

Nickel Industries

Nickel Industries (ASX: NIC) has commenced commissioning of its 80% owned Angel Nickel Power Plant on Halmahera Island.

Commissioning is ahead of schedule for the 380-megawatt power plant, located within the Indonesia Weda Bay Industrial Park.

The Angel Nickel Power Plant was operating at around 80% of nameplate capacity, but as a result of its own power source coming online, production levels look set to reach 130% of nameplate capacity.

Angel Nickel’s four rotary kiln-electric furnace (RKEF) lines will reportedly also save around 20% on electricity charges as a result.

Nickel Industries’ managing director Justin Werner said the much earlier than anticipated commissioning has paved the way for earlier nickel production.

“With Angel’s power plant now commissioned this should allow us to ramp up to approximately 130% of name plate capacity, which will greatly increase nickel metal production and assist to materially decrease Angel operating costs,” he said.

Iress

Technology company Iress (ASX: IRE) has announced its chief executive officer Andrew Walsh will retire after serving in the role for 13 years. Mr Walsh is passing the baton onto Marcus Price in October, who will assume the roles of managing director and chief executive officer.

Mr Price’s previous experience includes the inaugural chief executive officer of PEXA Group, as well as senior positions with NAB and the Boston Consulting Group and other senior executive roles.

Iress chairperson Roger Sharp said Mr Walsh’s contributions to the company have been significant.

“[Mr Walsh] has been an outstanding leader and steward of Iress,” he said.

“Since taking over as chief executive officer in 2009, he has been instrumental in building Iress into a highly innovative market leader with a global footprint.”

Mr Walsh will remain with the company as a consultant from 3 October 2022 until the end of January 2023.

Meanwhile, Mr Price will assume a non-executive director position at Iress this month, before taking up the role as chief executive officer on 3 October 2022.

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