Macquarie in pole position to buy UK Green Bank

The looming conclusion of GIB’s privatisation process is expected to see the government sell off its entire stake, bar a single ‘golden’ share, for about £2bn.

Entities managed by Macquarie Group are closing in on a £2 billion ($2.4 billion; €2.2 billion) transaction to acquire the UK Green Investment Bank, sources close to the sale confirmed to Infrastructure Investor.

The Australian asset manager is understood to have placed a higher bid than its main rival in the race, a consortium that includes the Pension Protection Fund, Mitsui, General Electric and John Hancock. Sources said, however, that a formal preferred bidder decision was unlikely to be announced before another few weeks, which would probably push the deal’s closing to early next year.

Both Macquarie and GIB declined to comment on the sale.

The UK government, which was initially considering selling at least 75 percent of GIB, is now looking to divest its entire interest in the four-year-old lender except for a single ‘golden share’. The latter is meant to allow the government to block any investment decision by the bank it deems contrary to its green mandate.

GIB has so far deployed £2.7 billion, which accounting for recycled money has generated a portfolio of about £2 billion. On top of existing assets, the ultimate buyer is expected to commit to fund the £700 million of annual investment the bank is looking to make over the coming three years.