Rumors Swirl as Engie Board Sacks CEO Isabelle Kocher

France’s Engie has aggressively pushed into renewable energy in
recent years, but apparently it hasn’t been enough for the board of
directors.

On Friday Isabelle Kocher, the only female CEO of a blue-chip
publicly traded French company, was dropped by Engie, ending a
period of speculation and rumor over her future. Her current
term as CEO ends in May.

Even now, there are conflicting rumors about the reasons for
Kocher’s ouster at the energy giant, which is 24 percent owned by
the French government.

In a statement, the board said that Engie needs to “take another
step forward in its transformation and to deepen the strategy
launched to make Engie a leader in the energy and climate
transition.”

But Kocher, an Engie veteran who took the CEO job in 2016, has
not exactly been sitting on her hands when it comes to the energy
transition.

Once the nation’s gas monopoly, known as GDF Suez, the renamed
Engie has made a number of significant investments in renewable
energy projects and development platforms in recent years. By many
measures, Engie’s clean power portfolio and
venturing activity
compare well to its rivals in Europe.

Last year Engie committed to investing €12 billion into its
ongoing energy transition efforts between 2019-2021. It is on track
to develop 9 gigawatts of renewables during that period, the
company has said, installing 1 gigawatt of renewables in 2018 and
another 1.8 gigawatts in the first nine months of 2019.

In the U.S., Engie has acquired both developers like Infinity
Renewables as well as portfolios of projects, and it’s a leader in
the booming corporate renewables market — with Microsoft among
its recent clients.

Earlier this year, Engie embarked on a global offshore wind
joint venture with Portuguese utility EDP, with an
initial development pipeline of
3.7 gigawatts
. Engie is also actively building a customer base
in
Africa’s
off-grid market.

Through its Client Solutions business, Engie is also a major
player globally in helping cities, companies and other entities set
and achieve targets around energy and carbon emissions.

But multiple press reports have claimed the French government
was unhappy with the prices Engine got for some of its fossil fuel
divestments under Kocher’s leadership.

There’s also been disquiet over the company’s share price.
While it now stands a little higher than when Kocher first took
over, it remains sharply down from its pre-transition levels in
2010.

News of the impending board vote triggered an unparalleled
intervention for the boss of a major corporate. An open letter of
support was published in a French business newspaper earlier this
week and signed by figures across the business and political
worlds, including the major of Paris, Anne Hidalgo.

Engie’s total generation capacity stands at 115 gigawatts,
with coal accounting for around 4 percent. Installed
renewables, including hydro, are around 19 gigawatts.

EDF, another former state monopoly turned renewables giant, had
12.5 gigawatts of renewables installed as of June 2019. Since its
asset swap with E.On, RWE
has 9 gigawatts of operational renewables and a huge 17-gigawatt
pipeline.

Source: FS – GreenTech Media
Rumors Swirl as Engie Board Sacks CEO Isabelle Kocher