Business Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed yesterday that the ‘special share’ will be held by a company independent of both GIB and the UK Government. The shareholder’s role would be to ensure that no changes could be implemented to its green investing initiatives without consent.

Javid said: “moving the Green Investment Bank into private ownership makes sense. If you want it to have access to more capital, to make bigger investments and have a bigger impact in green sectors it is the best course of action.

“To ensure the bank’s green credentials are maintained it plans to put a special share structure in place that protects its green mission and keeps it focused on what it does best.”

Javid confirmed plans to remove ministerial powers over GIB in October last year in what many considered a major step towards the bank’s controversial privatisation.

Green mission

GIB’s green mission requires investment contributions to meet one of the GIB’s five ‘green purposes’ as well as contributing to an overall greenhouse gas emissions reduction. The other purposes include the efficient use of natural resources and ensuring its protection, promoting and enhancing biodiversity and environmental sustainability.

The objectives were set out in the ‘Objects of its Articles of Association’ and private pressure cannot lead to abandonment of these purposes without the independent share agreeing to the change.

Green Investment Bank chair Lord Smith of Kelvin said: “I have always been confident that any new investor in GIB will be strongly committed to our green mission – our commitment to, and expertise in, green investment is the very reason they would be investing in us.

“That said, I understand the concern among some of our stakeholders over the legislative changes, so I am delighted we have been able to offer them the additional commitment that a special share will bring.”

Grassroots growth

GIB has been a major investor in a variety of cleantech projects throughout the UK. As a recent example, GIB offered a £30m fund to a new biomass plant in SheffieldWaste innovation and infrastructure have also been backed through huge investments from GIB, including Northern Ireland’s largest Energy from Waste (EfW) plant.

Last June, the Bank made its 50th investment into green infrastructure through a £2m fund towards a programme of sewage heat recovery system installations across Scotland. Over the course of its tenure GIB has also raised £463m into the world’s first offshore-wind fund – aimed at developing wind farms in the UK.

Matt Mace

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