Australia's Macquarie Group is combining its North American gas and power marketing businesses -- Macquarie Cook Energy LLC and Macquarie Cook Power Inc. -- under Macquarie Energy LLC, effective Feb. 1, giving the firm a single brand in North America. Last year saw the firm's gas and power businesses grow through the acquisition of weaker players that had faltered.

Macquarie Energy will offer trading, hedging, transportation and physical supply across the natural gas and power sectors, the company said. "Given the growth and evolution of our gas and power operations in North America, combining them to form Macquarie Energy was a logical step," said Nicholas O'Kane, global head of Macquarie Group's energy markets division. A similar name change and common branding will be in effect for Macquarie Cook Energy Canada Ltd., the firm's Canadian energy markets affiliate.

As the North American energy marketing and trading arm of Macquarie Group, Macquarie Energy will specialize in short- and long-term energy supply, asset optimization and management, hedging solutions, risk management tools and structured transactions for various natural gas and electricity producers, utilities, industrial users and other energy sector participants in North America.

Macquarie Group is said to be one of three global players in the hunt to acquire all or a portion of the Royal Bank of Scotland's (RBS) 51% stake in a joint venture commodities trading operation with San Diego-based Sempra Energy (see NGI, Jan. 11).

Last month Macquarie Cook Power Inc. agreed to acquire nearly all of the wholesale marketing and trading business of Integrys Energy Services Inc., which has been scaling down its businesses to reduce collateral requirements.

Earlier last year the former gas trading business of Constellation Energy was integrated with Macquarie Cook Energy (see NGI, April 6, 2009; Feb. 9, 2009a). Macquarie Cook ranked at No. 5 on NGI's ranking of top natural gas marketers with a reported volume of 9.2 Bcf/d for the third quarter of 2009. That amount did not include volumes from the acquired Constellation business.

And Australia-based Macquarie Group also led the group of investors that last year privatized Puget Sound Energy in a deal worth $7.4 billion (see NGI, Feb. 9, 2009b).

O'Kane will be head of Macquarie Energy. Ben Preston and Tim Bourn will continue in their current roles as heads of power trading and natural gas trading, respectively.

Separately last Tuesday Macquarie Capital Funds, the specialist funds management division of Macquarie Group, said it appointed Bill Green senior managing director. Green will lead the expansion of the firm's focus on investments in North American renewable energy infrastructure. Previously Green was one of the co-founders of the VantagePoint Venture Partners Clean Technology (“CleanTech”) investment practice.

"Given the increasing demand for renewable energy and the related infrastructure needed to deliver it, we see a growing opportunity to put our investors' capital to work in this space. The addition of Bill as leader of the team reflects our commitment and further enhances our investment capability in the sector," said Stephen Mentzines, head of North American Macquarie Capital Funds.

Macquarie Capital Funds' investments in renewable energy total more than 2 GW of wind, solar, landfill gas, biomass and hydro projects. It has managed investments in more than 20 renewable energy infrastructure projects globally.

"Historically, investments in the CleanTech sector have gravitated towards the venture capital end of the spectrum. But as renewable energy technology matures, we've also witnessed a substantial increase in available infrastructure investment opportunities in the sector," Green said.

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