The Green Investment Bank (GIB) needs to be built up before it can be floated in several years' time according to a UK-based international consortium which wants to be reconsidered as a buyer for the government-owned bank.
The consortium, SDCL, is backed by the UK's Pension Protection Fund, Hancock of the US and Mitsui of Japan. It made the shortlist for GIB only to see Australia's Macquarie selected as preferred bidder for the bank which was set up by former business secretary Vince Cable to spur growth in the renewable energy industry.
The bank, whose investments include wind farms and power plants, is at the centre of a growing political storm over what is regarded by critics as a “ham-fisted” privatisation. Concerns have been mounting over Macquarie's plans for the bank, mooted to include a potential break up.
Yesterday, it emerged that ministers were considering plans to float GIB for around £3.8bn although this was denied by Whitehall sources who insisted the sale process was ongoing.
SDCL has written to the government to underscore that it is still willing to buy GIB. It is understood that the consortium would inject an estimated £2bn into the Edinburgh-based bank.
Yesterday, Jonathan Maxwell, chief executive of SDCL, said: "We believe that an IPO by 2020 is viable and this has been an important consideration behind our approach to the privatisation. An IPO should be feasible and attractive once the GIB's portfolio has been built out.
"This government could retain a stake in the GIB in the meantime to benefit from the expected future growth ahead of an IPO and achieve value for money for the UK taxpayer."
Asked if Macquarie remains the preferred bidder for the GIB, a BEIS spokesperson said: “This is a commercially sensitive process and it is inappropriate for us to comment further while that process is ongoing.”
This week, GIB's sale will be subject to a Westminster debate as sources close to the process say that the costly privatisation has been botched.
Environmental audit committee chair and Labour MP Mary Creagh said: "I hope the scrutiny that parliament has shown over this has now forced ministers to look again from top to bottom at this process and start again from first principles.”
Shadow BEIS secretary Clive Lewis said: "Whilst we welcome this embarrassing U-turn, he government should never have wasted valuable time and money prepping the GIB for privatisation in the first place.
"With our economy stalling because of their incompetent handling of Brexit, the GIB needs a laser-like focus on developing future low carbon technologies. Instead it's had to deal with uncertainty generated by this ideological and ham-fisted privatisation."