UK MPs question minister amid GIB sale concerns

Offshore wind farm in UK. Author: Archangel12. License: Creative Commons. Attribution 2.0 Generic

January 12 (SeeNews) - UK climate change minister Nick Hurd was on Wednesday questioned in parliament on the sale of the Green Investment Bank (GIB) amid concerns that the institution could be stripped of its assets.

In a debate prompted by an urgent question by Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the Green party, Hurd faced calls for stopping or pausing the sales process.

Lucas said that Australian bank Macquarie Group Ltd (ASX:MQG), which is said to be the preferred bidder, had “an appalling track record of asset-stripping” and research this week had uncovered changes to the GIB’s corporate structure, with 10 new companies incorporated, which suggested that “Macquarie is planning to fundamentally hollow out the GIB”.

Hurd said he could not comment on the identity of bidders and that Lucas drew a lot of conclusions from media speculation. “It is precisely because we want the GIB to be able to do more, unfettered by the constraints of the state, that we are seeking to put it into the private sector,” he said.    

Asked about any guarantees for the existing portfolio, Hurd said that the government had to be practical about the limitations it would place on a private-sector bid. “As for so-called asset stripping and the freedom to sell assets, let us not get ourselves into a position in which we view holding assets for ever as a good in itself,” he said. “I come back to the point that we have been very clear about the criteria we are setting for this sale, and we are looking at proposals by taking a holistic view of those criteria, which include the need for reassurance about the forward plans for the organisation and the level of ambition for mobilising private sector capital into this critical area of clean infrastructure,” Hurd added.

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Browse all articles from Plamena Tisheva

Plamena has been a UK-focused reporter for many years. As part of the Renewables Now team she is taking a keen interest in policy moves.

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