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Ex-minister urges re-think of bank sale

A former Conservative energy minister has added his voice to calls for the sale of the Green Investment Bank (GIB) to be reconsidered amid concerns it will be stripped of prized assets.

Lord Barker (Greg Barker) used Twitter at the weekend to say he had written directly to prime minister Theresa May and added she should tell the chancellor to halt the sale.

Media reports in recent weeks have suggested that Australian bank, the Macquarie Group, will be named as the preferred bidder this month.

Barker’s concern follows a report in the Sunday Times that the bank has lined up buyers for some of the GIB’s most valuable assets such as wind farm and biomass ­projects.

The paper said that Macquarie, which owns a range of infrastructure in Britain, including a large stake in Thames Water and the gas distribution arm of National Grid, declined to comment on potential disposals.

In December, the Scottish Government called on ministers in Whitehall to offer further reassurances on the future of the GIB, with economy secretary Keith Brown criticising an “unacceptable lack of communication”.

Brown requested confirmation of a commitment from former business secretary Sajid Javid in 2015 to protect 50 jobs supported at the GIB’s Edinburgh headquarters.

When Javid put the lender up for sale, he created a ’special share’, giving the Government a say on future investments. But sources close to the GIB told the Sunday Times that, once the deal was closed, Macquarie could not be blocked from selling assets.

 

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