LONDON Australian investment bank Macquarie (MQG.AX) looked set to acquire Britain's Green Investment Bank (GIB) after a court rejected the claim of a rival bidder on Friday.
The British government set up GIB, which backs green projects with public funds, in 2012 as a commercial venture to spur private sector investment in green projects. It has invested more than 2 billion pounds ($2.5 billion) in projects such as offshore wind farms and waste management.
The government decided to sell a majority stake in 2015, saying it would give the bank greater freedom to borrow, removing state aid restrictions, and allow it to attract more capital.
Some British lawmakers have opposed a sale to Macquarie, worried that it could lead to job losses.
Competing bidder Sustainable Development Capital (SDCL) said in a statement that it had lost a judicial review in the High Court on Friday, having argued against the government awarding the preferred bidder status to "another party", which bankers said was Macquarie.
"Meanwhile the preferred bidder's offer remains to be signed some six months later, though the government told the court that it was now in a position to sign a binding agreement with the preferred bidder," SDCL's Chief Executive Jonathan Maxwell said in the statement.
Macquarie, which says it has invested 8.5 billion pounds in renewable energy projects since 2010, declined to comment.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy welcomed the ruling but declined to comment further because of the commercial sensitivity of the process.
"As we have said, any government decision on the sale of the Green Investment Bank will be driven by what best achieves our objectives, including continued investment in the green economy and a sale which is in the best interests of the taxpayer."
($1 = 0.8070 pounds)
(Reporting by Dasha Afanasieva. Editing by Jane Merriman)