Treasury drafts in former British Land chief to set up infrastructure bank

Chris Grigg appointed as ‘interim senior adviser’ to help establish new investment body, which will be based in the north of England
Chris Grigg (British Land)

By Jim Dunton

07 Dec 2020

HM Treasury has appointed former British Land chief executive Chris Grigg as an adviser on the creation of the new UK infrastructure bank promised by chancellor Rishi Sunak in last month’s Spending Review.

The bank will work in conjunction with the private sector to “catalyse private investment in infrastructure projects across the UK”, according to the Spending Review blue book. Sunak said the new institution would be headquartered in the north of England but did not identify a specific location.

Grigg stepped down as British Land CEO last month after 11 years at the helm of the business, which owns and manages a commercial property estate worth more than £10bn that includes London’s Broadgate, Regent’s Place and Paddington Central developments. He is also due to leave the board and the company at the end of this year.

The Treasury said Grigg would be unpaid and would advise the department “on the design of the infrastructure bank ahead of further details being published at Spring Budget 2021”. The National Infrastructure Strategy said those details will be “comprehensive”.

The Treasury added that Grigg’s work would include “gathering expert opinion” to inform relevant government policies on how the bank should be set up. 

“This builds on work undertaken by the Treasury as part of the Infrastructure Finance Review and National Infrastructure Strategy to consider how a new bank could improve support for infrastructure financing in the UK,” it said.

According to the National Infrastructure Strategy, which takes a multi-decade look ahead at the UK’s infrastructure needs, the new UK infrastructure bank will replace some of the functions currently undertaken by the European Investment Bank. 

However the strategy notes that the new bank will provide more targeted investment than the EIB and be “better aligned” to the UK’s policy objectives.

The strategy says the bank will co-invest alongside private sector investors including banks, institutional investors, sovereign wealth funds, pension funds and global infrastructure investors – and use a range of tools to support private projects. As well as offering guarantees through the existing UK Guarantees scheme, it will be able to offer debt, equity, and hybrid products.

The bank will also be able to lend to local and mayoral authorities for significant regional infrastructure projects, and provide advice and support to those authorities on developing and financing projects.

The Treasury said the new bank would play a central role in delivering on the UK’s 2050 net-zero commitments and levelling up across the country by co-investing alongside the private sector in vital infrastructure projects, like transport, renewable energy and digital connectivity.

The National Infrastructure Strategy said the government’s intention was for the bank to be “operational in an interim form” from next spring.

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