UK's green bank abandons Britain: Promise to back UK ditched in rush to privatise firm

From This is

By Rachel Millard For The Daily Mail

Published: 16:51 EDT, 25 September 2017 | Updated: 16:51 EDT, 25 September 2017

The newly privatised investment bank that was founded by the Government to develop renewable energy in the UK has quietly ditched this country.

A pledge to invest in Britain was scrubbed from the Green Investment Group’s (GIG) constitution on the day of its takeover by Australian investment bank Macquarie.

The Government sneaked in the change before handing control to independent trustees who would have had to vote on the matter.

It is believed the change was made in order to help the hotly opposed sale to Macquarie, which has made no secret of its plans to use the bank to invest heavily abroad.



But it has raised concerns that GIG now plans at the same time to invest less in the UK – harming the country’s efforts to embrace greener energy for which the bank was founded. GIG, however, rejects those concerns.

Doug Parr, policy director at Greenpeace UK, said: ‘The UK’s burgeoning green economy has likely already lost European Investment Bank funding, and if the Green Investment Group shifts its focus away from us too, we will need to work even harder than our competitors to ensure the green economy gets the finance it needs, and we secure the jobs that go with it.’

Before it was taken over by Macquarie, the stated ‘green objective’ of GIG, then known as the Green Investment Bank, included investing in projects that reduced greenhouse gases in the UK and protected the environment.


Vampire Kangaroo: Macquarie, which was heavily criticised as owner of Thames Water, bought GIG in the face of stiff opposition from campaigners

‘It said the board would consider investing in projects ‘likely to contribute to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the UK and globally’, but in articles of association filed at Companies House – which outlines the purpose of a firm – the UK has been removed from the wording.

GIG will now consider projects ‘likely to contribute to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions globally’ – and a resolution outlining the changes was signed on behalf of Business Secretary Greg Clark on August 17.

When the £2.3billion sale to Macquarie closed in August, the Australian predator said the bank, which uses private funding, would remain one of the leading investors in green infrastructure in the UK and Europe ‘with added scope to further expand internationally’.

Macquarie, which was heavily criticised as owner of Thames Water, denied any change in focus away from the UK, pointing to an announcement earlier this month of a £38million investment in an energy-from-waste plant in West Yorkshire.

A Business Department spokesman said: ‘Ministers stated as far back as 2015 that Government ownership was holding back GIB’s ambition and that it was limited to operating within the UK.’


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Curious George
September 27, 2017 6:05 pm

Is this good or bad?

Reply to  Curious George
September 27, 2017 6:39 pm

Hey, I am all for ‘private’ investment in renewable’s, but my guess they are private investors banking on government financing to guarantee collateral against the investment (i.e feed in tariffs).

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Curious George
September 27, 2017 6:42 pm

Bad! Macquarie is nicknamed “The millionaire maker” in Aus. It acquires assets, like Thames Water, borrows money against the asset, then strips it bare while customers foot the bill. Talk to anyone who is a customer of Thames Water.
Me thinks Macquarie are in it for the taxpayer funded subsidies, it’s the only reason they wanted a carbon tax in Australia.

Reply to  Patrick MJD
September 27, 2017 7:08 pm

“Is this good or bad” banks are in it to make money, that is it. I am all for ‘Private’ investment in renewable’s but returns on their investments would not be made without guarantees, as usual with renewable’s, governments mandated feed in tariffs (or other regulation) to spreadsheet returns on X investment. So bad, no risk, lots of reward.

Reply to  Patrick MJD
September 28, 2017 12:44 am

What you’re saying is that Macquarie is very entrepreneurial, which is the way merchant banks survive, or as in the case of Lehmann Bros , don’t. As a shareholder I applaud their approach.

Tim Hammondyou areusung sophistry.
Reply to  Patrick MJD
September 28, 2017 12:51 am

That’s nonsense. Water prices are regulated, and in any event debt is cheaper than equity. And how do you “strip bare” a water company? The water companies were privatised because the UK needed billions in new investments. And the EU kept piling on more and more regulation, requiring more and more investment.

Reply to  Patrick MJD
September 28, 2017 12:54 am

Get it right: it’s the “millionaire’s factory”.

Reply to  Curious George
September 27, 2017 7:25 pm

Patrick is spot on Macquarie will rape and pillage the thing then dump it leaving the shareholders and customers in a world of hurt. However they will have 3 layers of corporate entities between them and those injured and there will be no redress possible. That is something the UK government could never do and so it’s probably a good thing for the UK taxpayer as the whole thing will probably go under in what we will call in the future the renewables bubble crash.

Reply to  LdB
September 28, 2017 12:27 am

Absolutely. If HMG has recouped £2.3 Billion of taxpayers’ money from the sale of this rancid crock of sh1t, then that makes just one sensible thing that HMG had done on energy for how long? Twenty years?
Sorry, Oz. You just got suckered.

Tim Hammondyou areusung sophistry.
Reply to  LdB
September 28, 2017 12:53 am

Macquarie are the shareholders. And who will they “dump it” on? And customers? We have regulators in utilities you know.

Reply to  LdB
September 28, 2017 12:54 am

“If HMG has recouped £2.3 Billion of taxpayers’ money from the sale ”
Indeed, the big IF. That was my first reaction: did the govt recover the taxpayers money that went it to this?

Reply to  LdB
September 28, 2017 6:36 am

martinbrumby – September 28, 2017 at 12:27 am

If HMG has recouped £2.3 Billion of taxpayers’ money from the sale of this rancid crock of sh1t, then that makes just one sensible thing that HMG had done on energy for how long? Twenty years?

WHOAH there, wait just a minute, …. just because the article stated, to wit:

When the £2.3billion sale to Macquarie closed in August,

Doesn’t mean that Macquarie et el handed over £2.3billion in cash or bearer bonds to the UK Government. Most likely that sales transaction consisted of an “IOU” with a 30 year payoff.
Which gives Macquarie et el plenty of time to “default” on the payoff.

Reply to  LdB
September 28, 2017 6:41 am

Take a look at this article on the industrial scale wind industry.

Reply to  LdB
September 28, 2017 8:11 am

@Tim Hammondyou areusung sophistry
They dump it on the stock market like they do everything else
[quote]In 2017, Macquarie, via a deal in which it acquired Thames Water, a private utility company responsible for the public water supply and waste water treatment in the UK, was found to have burdened Thames Water with £2bn of debt before selling its stake in Thames Water. These disclosures followed scrutiny of the possible financial causes of Thames water’s extensive pollution of the Thames, and other rivers, with untreated sewage between 2012 and 2014, for which Thames Water was fined a record £20m[/quote]
Know the dog you are dealing with.

M Seward
Reply to  Curious George
September 28, 2017 4:28 am

If there actually is money to be made out of this green bank thing then the reptiles at MacBank will find a way. Personally I would not touch MacBank with your barge pole.

September 27, 2017 6:11 pm

Maybe, yes, no.

Tom Halla
September 27, 2017 6:16 pm

Maybe the UK gov has decided to cut loose a loser.

September 27, 2017 6:34 pm

Scrapping green energy. It is not economical to build, and not economical to financially back without massive government subsidies.

Reply to  Griff
September 28, 2017 6:25 am

Mandates are as much a subsidy as are direct payments.

richard verney
Reply to  Griff
September 28, 2017 6:51 am

But it is bill payer’s subsidy. they are the ones that have to pay inflated energy prices.
If the UK had never had a single windfarm or a single solar plant and never allowed roof top solar with feed in tariffs, the average UK electricity bill would be around half what it is today.
Wind and solar have doubled the cost of electricity in the UK as the former chairman of Scottish and Southern Energy explained when he was interviewed on Hardtalk 9for the BBC) in around 2012/13. This was straight from the horse’s mouth when he explained how the electricity bill is made up/what it comprises of.

Reply to  Griff
September 28, 2017 8:40 am

That is one of the funniest articles Griff has ever linked, talk about green idiots who don’t understand a thing about business. The writers don’t understand what the UK export finance is doing and it costs the tax payers ZERO.
UK export finance doesn’t care if it’s exporting fridges to eskimos, it simply needs supply and demand. They are not financing renewables because there is obviously no demand from the UK to the world. Marketing isn’t a UK export finance role something that completely went over the head of the green fools.
Oh look they explain the operation for even complete fools like Griff to understand
Australia does it too and it costs the Australian Taxpayers ZERO as well and we do big and small companies
Austrade does do grants but by looks UK export finance doesn’t even do that so it’s got me beat what the hell they are complaining about. The green fools want to get in on the scheme create a demand and market.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  Griff
September 28, 2017 10:28 am

I agree with MarkW
“Mandates are as much a subsidy as are direct payments.”
You don’t need subsidies when your profits are guaranteed because the risks are placed on your competitors. Green energy 101.

September 27, 2017 7:37 pm

Well here is a bit of business news about Tesla which uses the word unprecedented in the story, …
From CNBC.. “Sacconaghi reaffirmed his $265 price target for Tesla shares, representing 23 percent downside to Tuesday’s close.
He estimates Tesla will burn through $4.7 billion of cash this year reaching a total $10.6 billion of cash burn as a public company by the end of 2017, which is unprecedented for a nearly $60 billion market cap company.

Reply to  goldminor
September 28, 2017 5:03 am

Beware of the hype around any of these green energy pipe dreams. Years ago, I bought shares in Ballard power after falling for the belief that fuel cells would revolutionize the transportation industry. The shares soared to $140 and I held on for the ride. Big mistake! They now trade for $6.

Reply to  Trebla
September 28, 2017 8:31 am

I have made a bit with my meager funds playing TSLA options, calls and puts. There is good action in their options.

September 27, 2017 7:37 pm

In Australia Bank is known as “The Gorilla” for good reasons.

Reply to  ntesdorf
September 27, 2017 7:47 pm

Hairy armpits?????

Reply to  ntesdorf
September 28, 2017 12:58 am

Rubbish! I’ve never heard it called that. Besides it is only the 5 ‘th largest bank listed on the Austrakian Stock Exchange – some “gorilla”..

John of Cloverdale, WA, Australia
September 27, 2017 7:57 pm

Macquarie Bank is evil. They got into the nursing home business and bought out Church run homes and properties. As they cut costs, in the quality of food and reduction of staff, residents were made to suffer horribly. I know this because my wife once worked in one of the Salvation Army homes bought out by Macquarie. Whenever there was a government inspection (which they somehow knew in advance), things changed dramatically for the better for a few days, then back to the same below standard care. My wife said they were ********s.

Reply to  John of Cloverdale, WA, Australia
September 27, 2017 10:04 pm

“Whenever there was a government inspection (which they somehow knew in advance), things changed dramatically for the better for a few days, then back to the same below standard care.”
My sister was an RN at a local nursing home, and she told me about how her cheap boss cut corners on expenses, and the owner *always* knew when the inspections would take place.
This cheap, dangerous nursing home owner, right before inspection, would go to the local hardware store and buy up a bunch of new smoke detectors which he would install just before the inspections, and then after the inspections, he would take down the new smoke detectors and take them back to the store where he got all his money back.
It doesn’t get much lower than that.
This crime was reported to the authorities, but nothing ever happened to him, he is still running the nursing home.
Maybe one of these days this sorry excuse for a human being will find himself in a nursing home, and let’s hope he gets the same “care” he dished out to his patients. I’m counting on Karma to do its work. Justice must prevail.

Tim Hammondyou areusung sophistry.
Reply to  John of Cloverdale, WA, Australia
September 28, 2017 12:54 am

Ah yes, one person’s claims about one place at one time. No doubt your sister sat in in the board meetings and management meetings too. Or was she not evil enough?

Reply to  Tim Hammondyou areusung sophistry.
September 28, 2017 2:12 am

Your blind defense of MB is far more unfounded than those you criticize for calling out MB’s failings with only individual examples. And your talk about debt versus equity is rubbish. Hedge funds, PE firms and I banks have perfected a model. Take over a company, take it private, load it up with debt to pay themselves back handily for their investment. Slash costs, including product investments and of course staffing. Move production and everything else you can offshore to further reduce costs. Then list the company or try to flip it to make a bit more. If the company doesn’t survive and all the employees lose their jobs, that’s just too bad.

jim hogg
Reply to  Tim Hammondyou areusung sophistry.
September 28, 2017 2:21 am

You think there are no parasitic “entrepreneurs” Tim? None who rip off their customers, who exploit their staff, who fight to clamp their lips onto the public breast, who have little regard for public safety? Or even who take billions of dollars/pounds worth of public subsidy and sue others for doing the same? That Capitalism fosters only honest and productive pioneers, inventors, leaders? Some human beings don’t care about others and will use any means they can to gain power, wealth, privilege, status etc, regardless of the ideology/system, all the way from collectivist/statist to individualist to fascist. Capitalism doesn’t make bad people good, just as socialism doesn’t make good people bad. It’s the human factor that’s the problem.

Reply to  Tim Hammondyou areusung sophistry.
September 28, 2017 6:28 am

There may well be dishonest merchants, but the market place quickly eliminates them.
The story of swapping out smoke detectors is obviously bogus. The amount of time spent doing such a task is worth way more than the savings alleged.

Reply to  Tim Hammondyou areusung sophistry.
September 28, 2017 6:29 am

The difference between capitalism and socialism is that socialism rewards corruption while capitalism rewards good behavior.

richard verney
Reply to  Tim Hammondyou areusung sophistry.
September 28, 2017 6:58 am

It is funny how those who support the green agenda appear to have no human compassion for the plight of others.
All this money (or even only a small part of it) spent on the green agenda could have done so much more good, and really helped the life’s of others, if only it had not been so haplessly wasted on green projects.

Reply to  Tim Hammondyou areusung sophistry.
September 28, 2017 8:19 am

“There may well be dishonest merchants, but the market place quickly eliminates them.”
We are not talking about someone who is selling substandard products. In that case, yes, eventually consumers become aware (especially in the internet and social media age), and the company will suffer. What we are talking about are firms like Macquarie that buy up companies and then pull out capital for themselves. That leaves the company underfunded for near term problems and underinvested for the future. The fact that Macquarie used many offshore companies, including the Cayman islands, to move the money around is proof that they were trying to remove money and themselves from the water company, leaving others in the lurch when things went south.

Reply to  Tim Hammondyou areusung sophistry.
September 28, 2017 9:13 am

” MarkW
September 28, 2017 at 6:28 am
There may well be dishonest merchants, but the market place quickly eliminates them.
The story of swapping out smoke detectors is obviously bogus.”
Now how would you know about that, MarkW?. Were you there? Of course, you weren’t. Calling me a liar when you have no idea whether it is true or not is ignorant and vindictive.
In this case, *you* don’t know what you are talking about, and I don’t appreciate being called a liar by someone who has no knowledge of the facts in this case. You should apologize for making claims you cannot back up.
We have a little argument about Lukewarmers in another thread that you don’t like so you decide to take a shot at me and call me a liar. I suggest you never do so to my face.
In my book, being falsely accused of something is just about the worst thing that can happen to a person, and you have falsely accused me.
I’m not some troll you can cow into silence, as you will find out if you want to continue along these lines.

Reply to  Tim Hammondyou areusung sophistry.
September 28, 2017 2:13 pm

I work in construction.
Yes, new smoke detectors have been used to pass permits, then removed & returned. This is pennies on the dollar to perform.
MarkW, you’re naive to the world.

Reply to  Tim Hammondyou areusung sophistry.
September 28, 2017 2:23 pm

To clarify, I haven’t performed the task myself. It’s well known in the industry, and I’ve witnessed myself. And I couldn’t tell you how many remodels I’ve done where the previous inspections indicated new smoke detectors were installed, and you find old/defective ones. Just last month, at this apartment complex I found a fire extinguisher expired 2 years ago. Another one down the hall was inspected and recharged in May.

September 27, 2017 8:05 pm

Tesla getting stung? Fine by me. There does not seem to be a real plan for that company. Musk sees someone doing something and then he does it, only one better (he thinks). He’s got moonbeams in his pocket.
This renewables energy business??? (Snorrttt!) A little while ago, the was a story about Solar City, a company that promised XXXXX!!! return on a HUUUUGE investment for a renewable. electric utility and did not deliver as promised. It’s near Buffalo,NY. Now, Solar City must pay a $30 million fine for its failure.
Since the record of failures is pulling ahead of and outstripping the successes, I’m disappointed that greed outstripped the possibilities. Some use of renewables makes sense, but it has to be done right or it fails,as we can all see.

Alfred (Melbourne)
September 27, 2017 8:15 pm

Macquarie started as a subsidiary of the British investment bank Hill Samuel. It was originally called Hill Samuel Australia. Just another part of the City’s Empire.

September 27, 2017 8:36 pm

What about principles?

Reply to  Jones
September 27, 2017 9:33 pm

Their principles are purely Marxist: ‘These are our principles
and, if you don’t like them, we have others…’ [after Grouch Marx]

September 27, 2017 8:45 pm

Green/Renewable energy businesses are losers. Literally. Show me one that is profitable without subsidies. Failures are rampant. Governments are bribing businesses and entrepreneurs to get them on the renewable map and they don’t care about profits….. they can’t because there aren’t any unless you count the subsidies. Price fixing to force renewables hurts the people and no one in government seems to care. The UK is lucky to lose this albatross and don’t realize it.

Leo Smith
Reply to  markl
September 27, 2017 8:56 pm

Oh, I think we do realise it

September 27, 2017 9:00 pm

As a Brit, all I can say is Hooray. Good riddance.

John M
Reply to  mark4asp
September 28, 2017 10:54 am

Yet, they are clearly corporate raiders. What past cost is being overlooked?

September 27, 2017 10:51 pm

Macquarie? Predator? I’m shocked.

September 28, 2017 12:15 am

Perhaps our UK government is hedging its bets.
I get the sense there is shift in government opinion about climate change. Almost imperceptible, but there seems to be a few questions being asked by some lower tier politicians and opinion makers than is comfortable for some.
When things go belly up for the alarmists, our government have the opportunity to roll this out as a triumph of foresight, selling a failing institution to the commercial sector.
Tangled web and all that.

September 28, 2017 12:31 am

‘Britain is open for business!’ is the mantra the Tories keep proudly repeating. What they mean is that the Tory Government welcomes supposed foreign investors, believing that money flowing into Britain creates jobs and tax revenues. But foreign investors do not come to Britain because they love us and because they have our best interests at heart. They usually come to take as much of our money from us as they can.
There are two main ways foreign investors plunder Britain – ‘Buying the Brand’ and ‘Milking the Cash Cow’
Buying the Brand
American Kraft’s takeover of Cadburys is a perfect example of this. Kraft made an absolute promise to worried MPs that their takeover of Cadburys would not lead to job losses in Britain. But the ink had hardly dried on the takeover deal than Kraft began shutting British factories and firing British workers so they could move production of traditional British products to Poland where pay is one third of the equivalent British worker.
Milking the Cash Cow
This is perhaps the most blatant and iniquitous way foreigners fleece us. We see it most clearly in our utility companies – water, gas and electricity suppliers. These companies are wonderfully reliable cash cows – they all have virtual monopolies and produce huge amounts of operating profits every year. So they are hugely attractive to foreigners looking for easy billions.
Macquarie’s looting of Thames Water is an excellent example of how the Tory Government and our pathetically supine supposed regulators (Ofwat and Ofgem) allow foreigners to fleece us.
In 2000 the company was bought by the German RWE for £6.8 billion. Over the six years of its ownership, RWE pocketed around £1 billion in dividends. It then sold Thames to Macquarie for £8 billion. So RWE made around £2.2 billion – about £30 million a month or £1 million a day -from its brief ownership of Thames. Yet during its ownership RWE was allowed to increase water bills well above inflation by claiming it needed the money to invest in reducing leakage.
In addition to its exploitative high prices, for years Thames further increased its profits by selling off land and facilities to people like property developers. When asked why it had closed twenty five bulk water storage facilities, Thames (Macquarie) explained, ‘all these sites were shut down when they became surplus to operational requirements following upgrades to our network.’ At the same time as Thames was saying this, it had imposed a hosepipe ban due to a lack of water.
Then the looting of Thames Water’s unfortunate customers really moved up a few gears. Being smart, Maquarie used Thames Water’s abundant cash flow to borrow money – £11.4 billion. Supposedly these billions were for ‘investment in upgrading London’s water system.’ In fact, Macquarie used much of this borrowed money to pay itself huge dividends year after year. Who lent these billions to Macquarie? It was companies owned by Macquarie and based in a tax haven (Jersey) which were the lenders.
Macquarie loaned itself billions at a very generous rate of interest. This had two benefits. Firstly, the interest payments were tax-deductible. In the 10 years Macquarie has owned Thames Water, it has paid a miserable £100,000 in corporation tax. Secondly, by loaning itself money at a high interest rate from companies based in a tax haven, Macquarie made much of its profits from owning Thames Water by lending money to itself and these profits were, of course, out of reach of the British tax authorities.
What has happened at Thames Water has been repeated at many other water, gas and electricity suppliers. In 1999 British water companies had debt levels of 20%. By 2015 they were over 80%, and, as with Thames Water, much of this borrowed money has been used, not to invest and create jobs in Britain, but to pay massive dividends to rapacious foreign owners.
In yet another example of our pathetic Government, the Tories begged the Chinese and French to build nuclear power stations in Britain based on a design that does not work, then sell us the electricity generated at three times the current price.
Britain is definitely open for business – open for foreign businesses to fleece us.

Reply to  Sasha
September 28, 2017 1:16 am

A sorry tale indeed. However, this can’t be held up as a failure of the free market, even in the UK. The labour party were just as guilty of mismanaging the public purse with it’s unbelievable failure of numerous PFI’s. But in a bit of pathetic grandstanding they are now claiming they’ll buy these contracts out, or nationalise them, suggesting they had nothing to do with the train wreck they orchestrated.
The problem with the UK isn’t capitalism, it’s government interpretation of capitalism and their desire to be in the midst of it. That’s not what governments are for.
And the problem with the Conservative party is that it no longer represents the right wing, indeed, it’s barely a centrist party, it has one foot firmly in the left camp.
And my belief is the overriding opinion of the general public is that we need less politicians, not more as promoted by Corbyn and his communist sidekick. But the labour party are seducing the young and gullible with ideological nirvana, a state run garden of Eden.
I find it difficult to believe even Corbyn and McDonnell imagine they can make a success of an ideology which has proven such a failure over the generations almost everywhere it has existed.
As for their Anti Semitism, it’s now so entrenched in the Labour party they hold publicised meetings promoting it.
If this doesn’t mimic a certain former National Socialist Workers Party leader in Germany in the 30’s/40’s, I really don’t know what does.

Reply to  Sasha
September 28, 2017 1:18 am

So much economic illiteracy it is staggering.
When foreigners buy a UK business, we get the value of future profits, usually in cash. And when we buy something from that business, yes, the foreigners get our cash, but we get a thing – chocolate, a car, a hair-cut, whatever. We pay the price willingly because the thing is worth the cash to us. You seem to want your cake and to eat it – but you can’t.
As for Thames Water, you ignore the amounts invested – so your claims are meaningless. And depending on when the £1 billion dividend was paid, even on your numbers RWE made only a 4% return. Oh, evil.
And you say Macquarie lent itself money at low rate – since interest is tax-deductible, that was DECREASED the tax saved. And since debt is far cheaper than equity, having lots of debt LOWERED prices. And corporation tax? It is paid by customers: this is explicit in regulated industries. See the airports, where it is spelt out: investors are allowed a post-tax return. Lower tax rates means lower prices charged. And since 2007, Thames Water has invested at least £1 billion each year. £1 billion a year.
And you really, really can’t blame Thames Water for a lack of rain.
There are lots of problems with water, but your rant touches on none of them, and just shows how little you understand.

September 28, 2017 1:16 am

On a more positive side, GIG seems to be strolling openly towards mockery however spelled. To increase transparency further, they could call it Emperor’s new banking.

September 28, 2017 2:22 am

Macquarie has left Thames Water with an extra £2 billion debt burden. The £2 billion was borrowed by Thames Water in 2007 and 2010 but used for the benefit of the bank and its investors, which owned and controlled Britain’s biggest privatised water company. This was in contravention of conditions laid down by the regulator when Macquarie bought Thames in 2006.
Macquarie said its ownership had made Thames ‘financially stronger.’ They sold their last share of Thames Water in March 2017. Martin Blaiklock, a consultant with international experience of privatised utility funding, concluded that under Macquarie’s control, the total returns made by the bank and its investors from Thames Water averaged between 15.5% and 19% a year. Blaiklock has 40 years of experience in such matters and said these returns were ‘twice what one would normally expect.’
Diabolical maintenance
The disclosures follow scrutiny of the possible financial causes of Thames water’s extensive pollution of the Thames, and other rivers, with untreated sewage between 2012 and 2014 when the company was under Macquarie’s control. The Environment Agency prosecuted Thames Water over the pollution and, in March 2017 the company was fined £20m – a record for such an offence.
At Aylesbury Crown Court, Judge Francis Sheridan said there had been ‘inadequate investment, diabolical maintenance and poor management.’ Assessing incidents as being in the ‘reckless’ or ‘borderline deliberate’ category, Judge Sheridan concluded: ‘Knowledge of what was going on went very high indeed.’
Thames Water (Macquarie) accepted that there was a failure of management, but denied there was a link between the sewage pollution and high investor returns. Macquarie said there have been ‘significant management changes’ since that time.
Pay-back time
The transactions which culminated in Thames Water having the additional £2 billion of debt on its books took place inside a network of companies set up by Macquarie at the time it bought Thames Water. A consultation paper published in February 2007 by the water regulator Ofwat showed that Macquarie and its investors paid £5.1 billion for Thames Water, of which £2.8 billion was money Macquarie had borrowed to help fund the purchase.
What subsequently happened to that £2.8 billion so-called ‘acquisition debt’ is revealed in a letter, dated October 2016, from Thames Water’s then-chairman, Sir Peter Mason, to Martin Blaiklock. It was written in reply to questions arising from Mr Blaiklock’s attempts to understand Thames Water’s offshore financial structure.
Sir Peter revealed that, of the £2.8 billion acquisition debt, no less than £2 billion had subsequently been repaid. Not by Macquarie and its investors, who had originally borrowed the money, but from new borrowings raised by Thames Water through a Cayman Islands subsidiary. Blaiklock said ‘That letter was a red flag to me because it showed clearly that the debt which Macquarie funds had used to buy Thames Water had been transferred over to Thames Water. So now, it was a responsibility of Thames Water and not of Macquarie.’
The transactions are particularly surprising because, in a February 2007 consultation, Ofwat disclosed that as part of Thames Water’s license to operate as a regulated business, it was to be treated as a ‘separate company’ from Macquarie and the investors who owned it. Referring specifically to the £2.8 billion acquisition debt, Ofwat’s consultation said: ‘This debt would be fully ring-fenced from Thames Water as the regulated entity.’ But, as Sir Peter Mason’s letter discloses, that is not what subsequently happened.
In reply to inquiries from the media, neither Ofwat nor Macquarie denied that the transactions transferring the £2 billion debt from Macquarie and its investors to Thames had taken place. Nor did they deny that it ran counter to conditions set out at the time Macquarie bought Thames Water.
Since selling its final share of Thames Water (or rather Kemble, its parent company), Macquarie and its investors are out of the picture, taking the benefit of the £2 billion debt repayment with them while leaving Thames Water with total debts of £11 billion (up from £1.6 billion when they took it over) and an on-going £4.5 billion five-year capital expenditure to deliver by March 2020.
For Thames Water and the 15 million customers it serves who are forced to pay the bills the regulator sets for them, it looks like just another case of rip-off Britain.

September 28, 2017 2:48 am

So let’s sum up here :
Macquarie bought Thames Water then overloaded it with debt that it borrowed from itself then avoided paying British corporation tax by charging itself the interest on the debt then achieved a record fine by dumping vast quantities of sewage into the Thames then deliberately broke the law by forming yet another company to act as a ‘middleman’ which they used to dump Macquarie’s massive debts from Macquarie’s own shareholders onto Thames Water then sold Thames Water’s parent company Kemble to another foreign investor then Macquarie finally walked away having paid themselves at least £2 billion out of the ten-fold debts they piled onto Thames Water and their customers.
Yeah. Macquarie is a real Father Christmas.

james whelan
Reply to  Sasha
September 28, 2017 1:32 pm

I think you will find that a gentleman ex-UK electricity industry lies behind a lot of Macquaries investments in energy and utilities in the UK. He regularly employs the ‘Enron’ model of financing.

michael hart
September 28, 2017 3:25 am

The green economy is a false economy. The more that is “invested” now, the worse the pain will be later. Besides, it is largely not about true investing, but about farming the available government subsidies and ripping off electricity consumers and distributors are are legally compelled to buy an over-priced product from these “investments’.
You need to have a greenpeace mind-set to think that is true investment. It seems to be a cyclical disease of the mind that recurs every two or three generations. The last time I remember it was this bad was in the 1970’s just before Thatcher was elected.

frederik wisse
September 28, 2017 3:50 am

Now ,that GIG was bought Macquarie is going full green , no more scheming , no more cheating , fully responsible and sustainable without a thread of doubt about their good intentions . Where did we hear these stories before ? Albion , do you trust foreign masters ? Brittania once ruled the waves , but now ruling its own country is becoming an utopian dream . Be safe and ……

frederik wisse
September 28, 2017 3:50 am

[Duplicate post. Trashed. -BNL]
Now ,that GIG was bought Macquarie is going full green , no more scheming , no more cheating , fully responsible and sustainable without a thread of doubt about their good intentions . Where did we hear these stories before ? Albion , do you trust foreign masters ? Brittania once ruled the waves , but now ruling its own country is becoming an utopian dream . Be safe and ……

September 28, 2017 4:33 am

Ministers stated as far back as 2015 that Government ownership was holding back GIB’s ambition and that it was limited to operating within the UK.

The government should do something only if it needs to be done and nobody else is doing it. An example would be the army, or the space race. Ceding control of outer space to the Soviets would have been suicidal.
Of course the GIB should have been limited to operations in the UK. The government can say whatever it wants but it is clearly admitting that the GIB isn’t necessary. Everything else is political bafflegab (lies).

Reply to  commieBob
September 28, 2017 6:31 am

Others such as Goddard were researching rockets long before the government got into the act.

Reply to  MarkW
September 28, 2017 5:59 pm

At the end of WW2 there was a race between the US and Soviets to see who could snatch up the most German rocket scientists. link

September 28, 2017 9:14 am

Sounds to me like the UK government dumping a money loser to get off their books.

Warren Blair
Reply to  James
September 28, 2017 5:11 pm

A loser of their own creation.
Politicians and their PS hacks usually incapable of making a profit even from a monopoly utility,
Corruption in the form of a merchant-banks usually follows.
Happens the World over regularly.

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