The Coal Trader

Czech coal baron wins special investigation into Callide C failures

Czech coal baron Pavel Tykac has won a legal battle to set up a special investigation into the “catastrophic failures” at the Callide C power station after long delays in the Queensland government’s review of the incident.

Mr Tykac’s family office, Sev.en Global Investments, acquired an interest in Callide C after it purchased a stake in InterGen in 2019, with the remaining shares held by Chinese energy companies. The Queensland government’s CS Energy also owns a stake.

The Queensland government has yet to explain the causes behind the 2021 and 2022 fire and failures at the coal-fired utility which caused mass blackouts.

CS Energy’s Callide power station near Biloela has not been running at full capacity since 2021. 

On Monday, Federal Court judge Roger Derrington ordered that in line with Mr Tykac’s preference, FTI Consulting be appointed as additional administrators, empowered to conduct investigations into the incidents. The ruling also opened the door to further legal action, with Justice Derrington finding that the administrators could “commence and prosecute any legal proceedings … arising from the investigations”.

CS Energy argues that the results of its own investigation are near, despite years of delay.

The company told The Australian Financial Review that the independent report into the failure at the plant is in its late stages, and it will separately share its findings into the cause “in the coming weeks”. CS Energy announced in June 2021 that forensic structural engineer Sean Brady would carry out an investigation into the incident.

InterGen Australia, now Genuity, went into voluntary administration last year after a shareholder disagreement. Deloitte restructuring partners Grant Sparks and Richard Hughes had been appointed voluntary administrators to Genuity.

CS Energy had previously raised the prospect of buying out Genuity’s stake in Callide C – worth several hundred million dollars.

Mr Tykac is one of the world’s biggest coal investors, hoping to take advantage of fossil fuel assets rejected by others for their role in global warming. He made his fortune during the mass privatisation of state assets in the 1990s and his family office has several investments in Australia.

Sev.en was represented by Quinn Emanuel and the voluntary administrators who had been previously appointed were represented by Gilbert + Tobin.