The government has today completed the sale of the Green Investment Bank, which the Australian financial firm Macquarie has taken over for £2.3bn.
Claire Perry, the climate change and industry minister, confirmed the sale and said the bank’s new private sector status would help it “operate on an international level to tackle the global challenge of climate change”.
The GIB will now be known as the Green Investment Group (GIG) so that it can start to make overseas investments, it was announced today. This is to overcome regulatory barriers in some international markets associated with using the term “bank”.
The GIB, tasked with encouraging investment in clean energy projects, has committed £3.4bn to 100 projects since it was established in 2012. According to the government’s announcement, this sale recoups all the GIB’s taxpayer-funded set-up and investment costs, with a net gain of about £186m.
The sale was announced in April 2017, when former climate change minister Nick Hurd said it would “free it from the constraints of public sector ownership”.
The government’s decision to sell to Macquarie was backed by the GIB’s independent board, but critics, including former UK business secretary Vince Cable, who set up the bank, have warned that the firm could “asset strip” the body.
The new owner has committed to grow the business, and uphold the GIB’s target of leading £3bn of investment in green energy projects over the next three years.
Announcing the deal, Perry said: “We led the world in setting up the Green Investment Bank and it is now being copied by others. Now that it’s in the private sector, it will be able to operate on an international level to tackle the global challenge of climate change.
“It is also perfectly placed to help us finance green initiatives for our Clean Growth Plan and realise the commitments set out in the Paris Agreement [to tackle climate change].”
The government will continue to hold an interest in a portfolio of a small number of the bank’s existing green infrastructure investments, which GIB will continue to manage until they can be sold on in a way that returns best value for money, she added.
The government will provide a report to parliament on the sale in the autumn.