THE new owners of the Green Investment Bank (GIB) were forced on the defensive yesterday after an MSP claimed their green credentials were “now in tatters”.
A Macquarie-led consortium paid £2.3 billion for GIB, but Wightman – who has been campaigning to keep it in Edinburgh – asked for a meeting with chair Lord Robert Smith to seek guarantees over its green principles.
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He said: “The green credentials of the supposed Green Investment Bank are now in tatters. Why would the new owners allow for genuine green investments to be made if they are going to impact on the profitability of the company’s previous investments?
“I don’t expect the public to fully trust that GIB will make the right investments in renewables projects that could eventually make fossil fuel methods redundant.
“As an MSP for the capital, I’m pleased that jobs will remain in the city. Edinburgh has a proud history of financial prudence [and] with this sale I hope to see it return to responsible lending and investing that will be carried out with the due diligence that consumers expect.”
However, Macquarie said the GIB will establish “three new investment vehicles” covering offshore wind, a low-carbon lending and investment in green infrastructure, which would be its platform for principal investments in green infrastructure projects in the UK and Europe.
Daniel Wong, head of Macquarie Capital, Europe, said: “By combining the Green Investment Bank with the largest infrastructure investor in the world, we will create a market leading platform dedicated to investment in the low-carbon economy in the UK and beyond.
“We understand the responsibilities that come with this ownership, and we are fully committed to maintaining its green purpose as we grow the business.”
Macquarie denied it would asset-strip GIB, but Wong conceded that some of its investments – which could total £230m – would be offloaded.
“There are some investments in the GIB portfolio, a minority of them, that we are selling to third parties in the near future,” he said.
Sustainable business outfit the Aldersgate Group said the new owners must ensure GIB plays “a key role” in the UK’s decarbonisation challenge.
Nick Molho, executive director, said: “We are pleased to see that Macquarie has committed to investing £3bn over three years to grow the GIB’s activities. We call on Macquarie to honour these commitments and ensure that GIB plays its part in financing the green infrastructure that will be essential to delivering the UK’s climate and environmental policy objectives.”