Open letter calls on Ross Bhappu to withdraw investment from Ambre Energy coal export proposals

Media release - January 27, 2014
Denver - January 27, 2014 - Today 10 environmental and community groups sent an open letter to Ross Bhappu, calling on his firm Resource Capital Funds to withdraw its investment from Ambre Energy and its proposed coal export terminals and existing export-oriented mines. The letter reads in part:

“Ambre Energy shareholders have recently approved a deal that will allow your firm, Resource Capital Funds, to take majority control of the company. As you increase your interest in this company and its controversial coal export proposals, you should expect increased scrutiny. We urge you to heed the environmental, financial, and reputational risks of developing coal export terminals and mines and withdraw your investment in Ambre Energy Limited.”

The open letter was signed by representatives of organizations that have helped mobilize tens of thousands of citizens to stop controversial coal export proposals in the Pacific Northwest, as well as organizations working to reform coal mining policies in Montana, Wyoming and Colorado, including Climate Solutions, Columbia Riverkeeper, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Greenpeace, Northern Plains Resource Council, Oregon Rural Action, Rainforest Action Network, Sierra Club, WildEarth Guardians, and Western Organization of Resource Councils.

In addition to his role as non-executive director of Ambre Energy, the company behind two of the three remaining coal export proposals in the Pacific Northwest, Ross Bhappu is a partner at Resource Capital Funds, a Denver-based private equity fund that recently increased its control of Ambre Energy. Last month, Ambre Energy’s board approved a deal that would boost RCF’s share of the company from 19.9 percent to 26.5 percent, and give RCF the option of further increasing its share to 55 percent. An independent audit of the deal found that it was “not fair” to Ambre shareholders, but was nevertheless “reasonable,” since they had little other choice. Even before the recent deal, Resource Capital Funds played an important role in financing Ambre Energy, as detailed in the Sightline Institute’s report,“Ambre Energy: Caveat Investor.”

The letter details several risks to Ambre Energy’s coal export proposals, including unprecedented public opposition, unacceptable health and environmental impacts, and challenges to existing coal mining infrastructure, and highlights the recent departure of another major investor:

“Goldman Sachs recently withdrew its investment in Carrix, the company behind the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal, six months after releasing a report titled, “The window for thermal coal investment is closing.” The emerging Wall Street consensus is that coal exports are a risky bet. And beyond financial losses, your firm could face significant long-term reputational risks by association with these highly controversial projects.”

 

Contact:

Joe Smyth, Greenpeace Communications, 831-566-5647,

Svein Newman, Northern Plains Resource Council, 406-248-1154,

Kerul Dyer, Rainforest Action Network, 415-866-0005,