Rival bidder launches legal appeal against sell-off of Edinburgh-based Green Investment Bank to Australian merchant bank

Head office of the UK Green Investment Bank, Lothian Road, Edinburgh.
Head office of the UK Green Investment Bank, Lothian Road, Edinburgh.

A London-based energy investor has thrown a major spanner in the works of the government’s planned privatisation of the Edinburgh-based UK Green Investment Bank.

Despite objections from MPs, the UK Govt. has been progressing towards a trade sale of the bank to the Australian-based Macquarrie merchant bank.

Some MPs – including ‘founder’ and former British enterprise minster Lord Vince Cable – have urged the government not to proceed with the sale, claiming it does not represent best value for British taxpayers.

The SNP-led minority Scottish Govt has also called for the sale to be halted because of the high likelihood of the head office – and 50 of the highest-paid civil servant jobs in the country – re-locating to London.

The GIB was originally set up in 2012 with £3.8 billion of state funding to encourage private and public sector investment into environmentally friendly projects. Macquarie is thought to be planning to sell some of the assets once the deal is complete.

Now Sustainable Development Capital (SDCL) has launched proceedings in the English High Court for judicial review of the government’s decision to award preferred bidder status to another party in relation to the privatisation of the UK Green Investment Bank.

SDCL funds projects that’ improve financial, environmental and energy performance’ for public and private sector real estate and infrastructure assets.

SDCL understands that the preferred bidder’s bid was not compliant with the criteria set out by the Government. The fact that no deal was completed within the targeted timetable attests to the fact that the preferred bid was neither deliverable within the timeframe nor acceptable.

Jonathan Maxwell
Jonathan Maxwell

Jonathan Maxwell, Chief Executive, SDCL, explained: “We have has raised our concerns with the parties responsible for the process in the government since the final phase of the auction in September 2016.

“In the absence of a constructive dialogue, we have no alternative but to seek redress through the judicial review process.

“Very significant objections and concerns relating to how the privatisation has been conducted by the Government have been raised by MPs from all political parties, who have called for a review of the current process and the consequent potential for a break-up of the GIB through asset stripping.

“Our bid to keep the Green Investment Bank green and growing, backed by some of the largest financial institutions in the world, answers these concerns.”

SDCL and the Green Investment Bank recently worked together to back the second phase of a lighting project for National Car Parks which will save £34 million over the lifetime of the LEDs, whilst also cutting its greenhouse gas emissions. Miles Alexander,  Investment Director at SDCL, was previously head of commercial energy-efficiency at Green Investment Bank.

See also: Scot-Govt. in struggle to retain Green Investment Bank HQ jobs in Edinburgh


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