Green Investment Bank sold off in £2.3bn deal

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The Scottish Government has welcomed commitments from the new owners of the Green Investment Bank on the future of the Edinburgh-based institution.

The sale of the Edinburgh-based bank to global investment banking and financial services organisation, the Macquarie Group, was confirmed earlier today.

The UK Government announced plans to privatise the Bank in 2015, a decision that wasn’t favoured by the Scottish Government and Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Green party have previously criticised the sale, questioning Macquarie’s track record and commitment to green energy and warned that the bank, which employs 125 people at its offices in Edinburgh and London, could be a victim of asset stripping following a takeover.

Former ministers including Lord Barker and Vince Cable have also warned the taxpayer risks being shortchanged by the sale because some of its assets will be worth far more later.

Now the Green Investment Bank, which was launched in 2012 to channel investment into low carbon development, will become Macquarie’s platform for principal investments in UK and European green infrastructure.

Daniel Wong, head of Macquarie Capital, Europe, said: “It is a privilege to be selected by HM Government to acquire the Green Investment Bank. The Green Investment Bank is a pioneering business, with outstanding people, expertise, credentials, brand and networks. 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. We understand the responsibilities that come with this ownership, and we are fully committed to maintaining its green purpose as we grow the business.”

The Scottish Government said it has been working to secure the bank’s future, while highlighting the business opportunities and professional expertise available in Scotland.

Ministers said they have pledged to hold the company to account to ensure it delivers on its commitment, with the Scottish Government also stressing the need to maintain the bank’s green focus, and the role it has played in the success of Scotland’s renewable energy industry.

Economy Secretary Keith Brown said: “I welcome the Macquarie Group’s clear commitment to Scotland and the assurances we have received that it will maintain the Green Investment Bank’s unique identity and its focus on the green projects that are key to Scotland’s continued economic success.

“This announcement is testament to the talent and opportunity to be found here and I look forward to working with the Macquarie Group to ensure its ambitious plans for Scotland are realised.

“The latest statistics show the number of people employed in the renewable and low carbon industries here has risen to 58,500, highlighting the sector’s strong record of success in Scotland.

“This, alongside Edinburgh’s leading role in the financial services sector, means Scotland is uniquely well placed to support investment decision-making in renewables and low carbon projects and I will continue to work with the Macquarie group to underline this.

“The Macquarie Group has indicated that staffing levels at the Green Investment Bank’s Edinburgh offices will be maintained and are likely to increase overall in the longer term. We will follow developments closely in the months and years ahead.”

Karen Ellis, chief adviser on economics and development at WWF-UK, said: “Macquarie must guarantee that the green mission of the bank is protected and maintained and that it will provide substantial new capital for green investments.

“Numerous market failures are constraining the availability of finance for green investment, so to ensure the Green Investment Bank continues to deliver on its mandate, it should invest in novel green projects, which are less likely to be funded privately; it needs to focus on crowding in additional finance by reducing the barriers to investment.”

Macquarie has also been forced to pledge to strengthen its commitment to Scotland by providing important new opportunities for the country’s low carbon industries and financial sector, Holyrood said.

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