THE troubled £2 billion privatisation of the Government's flagship Green Investment Bank (GIB) is expected to be finalised today.

It is understood that the £3 billion deal to sell the Edinburgh-based bank to Australian investment bank Macquarie which has been plagued by delays, political opposition and a legal challenge, has been completed with an official announcement imminent.

The move has previously concerned Scottish ministers who feared the prospect of an asset-stripping of the bank, which supports offshore windfarms and other green projects.

Earlier this month a London High Court ruling backed the government's decision to sell to to a consortium led by Macquarie, rejecting a request from a rival bidder to review decisions about the sale made by ministers.

Sustainable Development Capital LLP, or SDCL, had asked the High Court for a judicial review of the planned sale of the bank after it failed to win preferred bidder status.

The government selected the Macquarie consortium as preferred bidder in September, last year, but SDCL argued the government was not compliant with criteria set out to guide ministers in their decision.

HeraldScotland:

It is believed the deal may include a commitment to keep the GIB's headquarters in Edinburgh. In his judgement on the judicial review, Mr Justice Lewis noted the parties “have now reached agreement in principle on the terms of the sale and are now in a position to sign a binding, contractual agreement”.

The Labour party, Liberal Democrats, Greens and former Conservative ministers have all raised concerns in the past that privatisation may see the bank lose its environmental purpose.

Earlier this year, in a letter to the Westminster business department, Keith Brown, the Scottish cabinet secretary for the economy said he was “frustrated” at being kept in the dark over the sale of the publicly owned bank.

“Reports have indicated that the completion of the transaction process will result in the complete break-up of the current Green Investment Bank portfolio and may result in an asset-stripping exercise with significant financial rewards for any new owner. This is deeply troubling,” said Keith Brown in the letter to Nick Hurd, the climate minister.

Mr Brown continued: “The Scottish government does not believe that the approach to privatisation being reported is in line with the reassurances given in the autumn of 2015.”

HeraldScotland:

Macquarie has previously refused to comment directly on the asset-stripping claim, but issued a statement saying it was one of the world’s most committed investors in renewable energy, having invested or arranged £8.5bn of investment since 2010.

Official documents last month showed that the privatisation had already cost at least £1 million of taxpayer money in consultancy fees.

Ministers have promised that the sale of the bank, which has invested in green projects from offshore windfarms to energy-saving street lights, will deliver value for taxpayers’ money.

GIB, which was set up by the government in 2012 to speed Britain’s switch from fossil fuel-fired power generation, has backed projects from wind farms to biogas plants. It was put up for sale last year as part of a drive to raise money from privatisation.

HeraldScotland:

Green Investment Bank chief executive Shaun Kingsbury at the launch of the bank

It made a net pre-tax loss of £6.2 million in its first ten-and-a-half months of doing business, when it had access to £3 billion of public money to invest in four priority sectors: offshore wind, energy efficiency, waste-to-energy, and waste recycling.

Macquarie, the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and GIB declined to comment on the sale developments.