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UK is said set to finish £2.3b Green Bank sale this week

[LONDON] The UK government is preparing to complete the £2.3 billion (S$4.07 billion) sale of its Green Investment Bank to a group led by Macquarie Group Ltd as soon as this week, according to people familiar with the matter.

The deal will be finalised on Friday, according to two people with knowledge of the transaction who asked not be identified because they're not authorised to speak publicly about a commercial contract.

The Sydney-based bank's purchase of the Green Investment Bank was controversial among lawmakers and environmental groups, who warned that changing the institution's leadership could dilute its environmental mission. A rival bidder attempted to sue the government, saying the decision wasn't compliant with the criteria ministers had set out.

Green Investment Bank was set up by the government in 2012 to speed Britain's switch away from power generation fired by fossil fuels. It has backed projects from wind farms to biogas plants and was put up for sale last year as part of a drive to raise money from privatization.

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The deal will make Macquarie and the Green Investment Bank the third-biggest lender to renewable energy assets in the UK, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The Australian bank has attempted to reassure stakeholders that it wouldn't water down any green commitments despite plans to restructure the company.

Announcing the planned acquisition in April, Macquarie said it would seek to invest 3 billion pounds in green energy projects over the next three years. It's also suggested the bank is seeking more overseas opportunities.

The GIB already set up an international fund for investments outside the UK and Macquarie has said the bank will become its platform "for principal investments in green infrastructure projects in the UK and Europe."

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