‘Vampire Kangaroo’ Macquaire buys another big chunk of Britain’s gas network

‘Vampire Kangaroo’ Macquaire buys a large part of the British gas network again

National Grid has again sold a large part of the UK gas infrastructure network to Macquarie.

The deal means that a consortium led by the Australian infrastructure giant, once dubbed the “vampire kangaroo,” will own 80 percent of National Gas, which powers thousands of miles of pipes that power homes.

It follows an earlier deal in which Macquarie and British Columbia Investment bought 60 per cent of the gas infrastructure business for £4.2 billion, with an option to take more shares in the FTSE 100 energy group.

National Grid will take around £700 million from the sale, which will go towards corporate uses, including debt service.

It told investors it has entered into a new deal, which could result in a full takeover.

Debt threat: Australian infrastructure giant Macquarie now owns 80% of National Gas, which operates thousands of miles of pipelines bringing supplies to British homes

But the attack needs regulatory approval, according to national security laws.

National Grid, which owns the remaining 20 per cent of the company, has focused on a pivot into electricity, where it is seeing higher growth after electricity distribution profits rose 39 per cent to £1.2bn at the end of March.

A major part of this shift will be to move away from gas for cooking and heating homes and, looking at heat pumps, to electrically heat homes.

Macquarie has gained more attention in recent months as Thames Water struggles with a mountain of debt that grew between 2006 and 2017 while under ownership.

The Australian company owns large parts of Britain’s infrastructure: a majority stake in Southern Water and co-ownership of Cadent, Britain’s largest gas distribution network operator.

Gary Carter, an official with the GMB union, said: ‘Macquarie’s stranglehold on gas transmission and distribution should set alarm bells ringing. Macquarie left Thames with huge debts that brought it to the brink of collapse.

Macquarie owns the failing Southern Water, which has been fined repeatedly for discharging wastewater into rivers and seas in the South East.

“It also owns Cadent Gas, which is making huge profits – £950m last year – and paid out £350m in dividends as it seeks to close its employee pension scheme.”

John Pettigrew, chief executive of National Grid, said: ‘We are delighted to have reached the next milestone in this process and will continue to work closely with the consortium.’

Martin Bradley, European Head of Infrastructure for Macquarie Asset Management, said: ‘We are pleased to continue our strong relationship with National Grid and aim to acquire the remaining interest in due course.’

National Grid shares rose 2.6 percent, or 26.5 pence, to 1,040 pence.