Australian climate investor Wollemi Capital has completed an A$220 million (€133 million; $177 million) series A financing, according to a statement.
Founded in 2021 by Tim Bishop, former global head of Macquarie Capital, and Paul Hunyor, former Asia head of BCG’s corporate venturing unit, Wollemi invests in early-stage companies supporting the transition to net zero, primarily in relation to food and agriculture, energy transition and climate tech.
The capital raised will be used for three things, Bishop told New Private Markets. First, Wollemi is making investments off its balance sheet, and so a portion of the funds will go towards further capital commitments. The firm will also continue to invest in building out its operations – currently at 18 full time members of staff, Bishop hopes to reach 25 by the end of the year. Finally, the firm will establish a fund management platform, whereby Wollemi will act as a GP for third-party investors.
A key aspect of the Wollemi thesis is facilitating the “bridge to bankability” for decarbonisation products. “Tim’s group at Macquarie was really at the forefront of overseeing the de-risking and re-rating of wind and solar and seeing the journey over the last 10 years of those turning into bankable infrastructure asset classes,” said Hunyor.
“We feel that today in the emerging sleeves of food, decarbonisation of agriculture, investment into natural capital, and certain targeted sleeves of energy transition, that same journey of bridge to bankability […] is yet to occur.”
To that end, the firm has secured investment from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, which has become a minority shareholder in the company.
“It’s very valuable to be able to sit down with the institutional banking teams at Australia’s largest bank and really focus in on some of the aspects of bankability that are missing from decarbonisation projects,” Hunyor explained.
The business has already completed three investments: carbon credit platform Pachama; biological agriculture solutions provider Loam Bio; and most recently Pluton Bio, which uses microbes to improve soil fertility and carbon sequestration.
Wollemi will be “flexible” when it comes to moving balance sheet investments over to the planned fund management business, according to Bishop. He said: “The investments on balance sheet today are investments in their own right, delivering appropriate returns to shareholders – however, we expect in time the balance sheet will be flexible by using it to hold assets that can be used as seed assets for a fund.
“The balance sheet can play a catalytic role for the creation of our funds business through successful investment around a particular thesis, seed assets being warehoused and also significant co-investment capability alongside LP commitments.”