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Algonquin CEO Banskota Exits, Board Member Named Interim Boss

Aug. 11, 2023
The company also has become the latest utility to put its renewable energy business on the market.

Arun Banskota abruptly resigned Aug. 10 as president and CEO of Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. after three years of leading the Ontario-based holding company that owns Liberty Utilities. He has been succeeded on an interim basis by one of the company’s directors.

Banskota joined Algonquin as president in early 2020 after spending about three years as vice president of Amazon’s data center and energy group; he took over as CEO from Ian Robertson in July of that year. Before his tenure at Amazon, Banskota held several senior roles at NRG Energy, including as president of EVgo when that electric vehicle charging venture was still under NRG’s umbrella.

His departure comes nearly four months after Algonquin’s directors and their peers at American Electric Power Co. called off the planned sale of AEP’s Kentucky Power Co. unit for roughly $2.6 billion. The transaction had been on hold after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission objected but Banskota also cited “the evolving macro environment” as a reason for spiking the deal. He also had pointed to “market pressures” in January when announcing that Algonquin would reduce its capital spending plans for 2023 by 15% and cut its dividend.

Taking over the helm at Algonquin is Chris Huskilson, who has been on the company’s board since 2020. A former CEO of energy business Emera Inc., which eight years ago bought Florida’s TECO Energy, Huskilson will lead the company while the board works with a search firm to find a permanent successor for Banskota.

“Now is the right time to transition leadership,” Board Chair Kenneth Moore said in a statement. “Chris has a record of driving significant growth in the energy industry, and he knows AQN and our business well.”

Alongside Banskota’s exit (and the reporting of second-quarter earnings that were half those of the prior-year period), Algonquin’s directors also announced they have decided to look for a buyer for the company’s renewable energy division—a move they signaled in May and one that puts them in the company of AEP, Duke Energy and Con Edison, among others. The renewables business has about $5.4 billion in assets and posted a first-half profit of nearly $39 million on about $160 million in sales.

“We believe the value of our assets is not fully realized in our current structure,” Huskilson said. “We therefore determined that focusing on our regulated business going forward and pursuing a sale of the renewables business is the best path forward.”

Proceeds from a sale of the renewables group will go toward paying down debt and buying back Algonquin shares. Those (Ticker: AQN) fell about 1.5% to $7.64 Aug. 10 but are up about 13% year to date, which has grown Algonquin’s market capitalization to about $5.3 billion.

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