United Kingdom

United Kingdom

UK court blocks judicial review of GIB sell-off

UK: A last-ditch attempt to derail the sell-off of the state-owned Green Investment Bank (GIB), reportedly to Australian banking investor Macquarie Group, has been thrown out in the High Court.

The GIB owns a stake in the Lynn and Inner Dowsing offshore wind project in the UK
The GIB owns a stake in the Lynn and Inner Dowsing offshore wind project in the UK

The early April judgment cleared the way for the bank's controversial privatisation. The judge rejected calls for a judicial review of a decision by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to award preferred bidder status to a consortium led by Macquarie.

The challenge was launched by rival bidder SDCL, which considered the MacQuarie bid was non-compliant with the terms of the sell-off. BEIS, as sole shareholder, should therefore have accepted its alternative bid.

Secondly, SDCL argued that its offer had been unlawfully or unfairly treated.

But the judgment noted that BEIS awarded preferred bidder status to Macquarie as its offer "was better and more likely to satisfy the government's objectives" of maintaining its green objectives and ensuring value for money for taxpayers.

Following the judgment, SDCL accepted the outcome, but noted that the judgment covered only technical issues rather than the merits of the preferred bidder.

It noted that six months after the award of preferred bidder status, no binding agreement had been signed with BEIS, though the government said it is now ready to do so.

SDCL added that its new SDCL EDGE fund, which was originally designed for investment in GIB "will now seek to invest in an international portfolio of sustainable infrastructure opportunities that SDCL has developed".

The High Court judgment effectively kills off any chance of blocking the sale through the courts. But the privatisation remains deeply divisive, with considerable pressure from MPs on the government to reconsider the sale amid continuing concerns GIB could be asset-stripped.

This article was first published on ENDS Report

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