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UK government urged to halt £2bn Macquarie deal

The Australian bank has come under intense scrutiny over its bid for the Green Investment Bank while rival bidder SDCL remains hopeful.

The UK government was yesterday warned by MPs across the political spectrum against the expected £2 billion ($2.4 billion; €2.2 billion) sale of the Green Investment Bank to Macquarie.

Calls to halt the deal came amid reports the Australian asset manager is planning to strip the Green Investment Bank of some of its offshore wind and biomass assets. Filings made with Companies House reveal Macquarie last year set up companies named Rampion Holdco, Galloper Holdco and WMR Holdco, relating to GIB’s 25 percent holdings in the 400MW Rampion, 336MW Galloper and 210MW Westermost Rough offshore wind farms. Macquarie itself is also a 25 percent shareholder in Galloper.

Questions about these companies were addressed to Nick Hurd, the UK’s Minister of State for Climate Change and Industry, in an urgent session called by Caroline Lucas, the sole MP of the Green Party. Lucas called on Hurd and the government to “stop the killing off of the Green Investment Bank” and “halt the sale process with immediate effect”.

Hurd responded that it would be “irresponsible” for him to comment on what he described as “media speculation”. While Macquarie was understood to be named as GIB’s preferred bidder towards the end of last year, this is yet to be officially confirmed.

Sustainable Development Capital (SDCL), Macquarie’s rival frontrunner for the bid and the leader of a consortium that also includes the Pension Protection Fund, Mitsui, General Electric and John Hancock, is yet to concede defeat and encouraged the government to review its offer.

“SDCL’s offer for the Green Investment Bank is the best alternative to meet the government’s objectives. We are committed to keeping it British, green and growing,” chief executive Jonathan Maxwell told Infrastructure Investor yesterday.

Hurd maintained that the government is continuing to evaluate the offers received for GIB based on the criteria of value for money and the concern of continuing to mobilise renewable energy investment.

“What [GIB] needs now is an owner committed to bringing in more capital to grow the GIB’s portfolio and allowing it to be more entrepreneurial outside of state ownership,” Maxwell added. “We are pleased to see that the Minister has today confirmed the government’s intention to continue looking at the proposals and to judge them against the transaction criteria.”