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Macquarie, the Australian infrastructure bank, has signed a £2.3bn deal to buy the UK’s Green Investment Bank, marking the first major privatisation since Theresa May became prime minister last July.

The sale had been delayed since January amid political opposition from Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Green party. A legal challenge from a rival bidder – Sustainable Development Capital – was also rejected by the High Court last month.

The £2.3bn price consists of £1.7bn in equity paid to the government, and a further £600m that the GIB has committed but not yet paid to several construction projects.

Macquarie is also expected to commit to £3bn over the next three years to future projects. The transfer is expected to take place in the first half of this year.

Nick Hurd, climate change and industry minister, said:

The Green Investment Bank has been very successful in attracting private capital to the UK’s green economy. It now makes sense to move it into the private sector where it will be free from the constraints of public sector ownership, allowing it to build further on its success.

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