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David Fickling

Why Private Equity Won’t Be the Savior of Fossil Fuels

It’s already hard to predict the price of commodities, and that’s before you factor in a sector in terminal decline.

It’s not all blue skies and profits.

It’s not all blue skies and profits.

Photographer: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg

There’s a frequent warning made in recent years to investors seeking to pressure companies to offload their fossil fuel assets: If listed businesses don’t own those mines, they’ll go over to the dark side.

Polluting businesses sold to private equity may continue to “operate under new owners in the shadows,” former U.S. Vice President Al Gore warned in the Financial Times last October. PE firms may be facing “the bonanza of a lifetime” if they invest in coal assets right now, Vale SA executive Luciano Siani Pires wrote in a LinkedIn post this month, saying that such businesses accounted for most of the potential “western” buyers who signed up to look at the books of its Mozambique coking coal assets.