The new Australian owner of the UK’s Green Investment Bank has dismissed concerns about its commitment to environmental issues as “way off track”.
An executive at investment bank Macquarie, which led a £2.3bn consortium acquisition of the former state-owned entity, has also talked up the firm’s commitment to investing in the UK after Brexit.
The sale of the Green Investment Bank, which will now operate under the name Green Investment Group (GIG), was wrapped up on Friday, around a year and a half after the government kicked off the privatisation.
The sale process was marred in political controversy when it emerged that Macquarie was the government’s preferred bidder and a report suggested it was planning to asset-strip the GIG.
After the deal completed last week, Lib Dem leader Vince Cable, who was business secretary when the bank was founded, slammed the sale as “environmentally irresponsible”.
Mark Dooley, head of energy and infrastructure for Macquarie in Europe, told City A.M. that the Australian firm was “frustrated” during the sale process at not being able to challenge claims about its commitment to green energy, citing confidentiality agreements.
“It certainly was an uncomfortable passage of play,” he said. “Particularly because we were, and to some extent remain, bound by confidentiality. We were pretty mute through all of that.
“And it was also disappointing because we had and have very good answers to a lot of the issues that were being raised.
“Our rationale for the investment is that Macquarie is already very active in green investment and really wanted to have a step change to take it to an even higher level, and that’s why we’re doing this. So any suggestions that we would abandon the green objectives were way off track.”
The Macquarie consortium beat Sustainable Development Capital to the signing of GIG. Dooley and GIG’s new head, Edward Northam, suggested Macquarie would have triumphed in the bidding because of its commitment to both green finance and the UK.
On recent investments, Dooley added: “We’re particularly proud of the deals done post-Brexit. Because every one was made a little bit harder by the uncertainty and the impact on some lending appetite as a result of it. Nevertheless, the UK is really the benchmark in terms of transparency and reliability of investment and transactability.”