GIB ex-Ministers warn of asset stripping: 'Australian bank Macquarie – dubbed the vampire kangaroo for its ruthless tactics when buying firms – is set for a huge windfall at taxpayers’ expense, ministers have been warned' according to the Daily Mail. In a joint letter former Business Secretary Vince Cable and former climate change minister Lord Barker warned current Business Secretary Greg Clark that by selling assets off before they are operational the government would be gifting what 'could amount to a windfall of hundreds of millions of pounds to Macquarie, at the expense of the taxpayer.’ (The deal that will cost Britain millions: Ministers urged to block a cheap sell-off of the Government's Green Bank, 20 Feb,Daily Mail). Vince Cable had previously warned the GIB assets could be sold off despite the governments 'golden share', telling the FT that 'my understanding is . . . the objective behind [Macquarie’s] proposed purchase is to break up the assets of the Green Investment Bank and sell off most or all the 70 or so investments' (Green Investment Bank will be asset-stripped, warns Cable, 9 Jan, Financial Times)
Controversial sale to be investigated by National Audit Office: 'Government ministers are in the glare of Whitehall spending watchdog the National Audit Office (NAO) as the Green Investment Bank privatisation drags on, City A.M. has learned.' In a letter to Caroline Lucas MP, the NAO comptroller Sir Amyas Morse said the NAO was “monitoring the sale process closely” and will likely “undertake a value for money study of the Green Investment Bank at the conclusion of the sale process, however it concludes”. (Ministers set to face spending watchdog scrutiny over Green Investment Bank sale, 23 Feb, City A.M.). Concern over the takeover has reached back to Macquarie Bank's native Australia, including in The Sydney Morning Herald ('Worst kind of company': Alarm in Britain over Macquarie Bank's proposed takeover of UK's Green Investment Bank, 23 Dec).
Battle for GIB goes to High Court: 'Sustainable Development Capital, a firm which lost out in a bidding war to buy the Green Investment Bank, is asking for a judicial review over the expected decision to sell to scandal-hit Australian bank Macquarie' report the Daily Mail. In addition they report a Greenpeace Freedom of Information request that 'has uncovered how a 'special share' that has been created to protect GIB from asset strippers could be toothless. The new owners of the bank would be able to change its agenda and even invest in fossil fuels, it is claimed.' (Legal battle to block sell-off of the green bank to Australian asset-stripper dubbed the vampire kangaroo, 28 Feb, Daily Mail). The Guardian also cover Macquarie's charm offensive (Green Investment Bank: Australian bidder woos MPs as protests continue, 23 Feb), while Sky News report that Ministers are thrashing out a revised deal following the controversy: 'The Government will keep a stake in some Green Investment Bank (GIB) assets under a revised deal aimed at smoothing political opposition' (Ministers to keep green assets stake as Macquarie takeover looms, 25 Feb).
Full Disclosure: I was a Special Advisor at the Department of Energy and Climate Change from 2010-12 when the Green Investment Bank was set up, so am not an impartial observer to all this.
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