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UK’s Green Investment Bank Sold For $2.9B

The UK government today confirmed the sale of the Green Investment Bank to Australian investment firm Macquarie for $2.9B.

The deal process, kicked off by the government more than a year ago, has been plagued by political opposition, delays and even a legal challenge from a rival bidder.

But Macquarie, which was advised by RBC, today finally won their asset. The Universities Superannuation Scheme was also on the Macquarie bid.

The government was advised by Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, and the GIB by UBS.

City A.M. first revealed last Tuesday that the deal was set to be announced in the second half of this week.

Macquarie, whose status as preferred bidder attracted noisy political opposition, today set out a number of commitments for the future of the GIB. These include “maintaining GIB’s green purpose and green objectives”, keeping it as a discrete entity and committing to its Edinburgh headquarters.

David Fass, chief executive of Macquarie in Europe, said: “The addition of the Green Investment Bank, its people and expertise, strengthens Macquarie’s commitment to the green energy sector."

“Our combined platform will build on the legacy of the Green Investment Bank and, alongside our knowledge of energy and infrastructure, will open further opportunities in low carbon investment both in the UK and further afield." Related: What Does The Future Hold For Canada’s Oil Sands?

We are excited by a business that will take a leading role in the green economy using the specialist knowledge of our teams in Edinburgh and London.”

Lord Smith of Kelvin, the GIB's independent chair, said the deal was the best available route to securing its long-term future.

Macquarie has made significant and important commitments to the UK government to maintain GIB as a discrete entity within its business, maintaining GIB’s investment focus and approach with a target to invest more capital each year than GIB has historically.

Macquarie will also uphold GIB’s green investment principles and report transparently on GIB’s green impact. Macquarie will utilise the market-leading expertise of the existing GIB team and will build on GIB’s deep commitment to Edinburgh.

"By combining the Green Investment Bank with the largest infrastructure investor in the world, we will create a market leading platform dedicated to investment in the low carbon economy in the UK and beyond," added Daniel Wong, head of Macquarie Capital's European arm.

"We understand the responsibilities that come with this ownership, and we are fully committed to maintaining its green purpose as we grow the business.”

After noisy political opposition to the Macquarie sale earlier this year, prompted by reports the Australian firm was planning to asset-strip the GIB, a rival bidder, Sustainable Development Capital (SDCL), caused further delay by challenging the deal with a judicial review in the High Court. Related: Bullish Oil Price Predictions Should Be Treated With Caution

The legal challenge, rejected by a judge earlier this month, was viewed as the final hurdle facing the deal.

Mary Creagh, the chair of the Commons’ Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), was one of the politicians who had expressed concerns over the Macquarie deal.

After the announcement today she said the government had “got itself off the hook” by unveiling the deal now because there will not be enough time for an EAC inquiry into the deal before parliament closes for the General Election.

She said: “By announcing this sale with only days to go before Parliament dissolves for an unnecessary early election, the government has got itself off the hook and avoided proper Parliamentary scrutiny.

The government had intended to complete the deal earlier, but the process was delayed by the judicial review and political opposition. Delays are also understood to have come about as a result of the change in government last summer.

By City A.M.

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