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No conflict of interest in maiden CIIF investment, government insists

Image: Current±​

Image: Current±​

The Infrastructure and Projects Authority has insisted it is confident there is no conflict of interest in the maiden investment of the Charging Infrastructure and Investment Fund (CIIF).

Rapid charging provider Instavolt is the first to benefit from the £400 million fund, with £200 million to be raised from the private sector and then matched by the government.

However, this initial investment into Instavolt has garnered criticism due to Zouk Capital- the private equity firm running the fund – being the largest shareholder in the company, with questions raised over a potential conflict of interest.

The Guardian reported last week that the decision had been criticised by the Labour party, and that whilst Zouk did not disclose the exact figure of the investment, it is “less than 50%” of the initial £70 million raised.

However, speaking at Current± publisher Solar Media’s Everything EV Live London event, Axel Jaegle, commercial specialist at the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, insisted there was not a conflict of interest and that due diligence had been conducted.

“The process has been managed to our satisfaction in a very professional way by Zouk and has also had a fairness of opinion by one of the big four professional services firms.

“It has also had due diligence from the core investor in the fund, so we are confident that everything was managed in an appropriate way as best as can be,” he said.

Jaegle went on to say that deploying part of the fund from day one is a “good thing” that helps with the “ramp up issue that a new fund always has”.

“It also helps with the future fundraising of the fund as potential investors can already see what kind of investments in what kind of companies this fund is capable of doing,” he added.

Zouk was announced as the preferred bidder to run the fund in February and was later given full reign, allowing it to decide which companies will receive investment as part of the CIIF.

The first £35 million was raised from Masdar, which was then matched by the government.

Massimo Resta, partner at Zouk Capital, also made clear that Instavolt formed part of Zouk’s initial bid to manage the CIIF and that both government and private investors were aware of it and “saw it as an opportunity more than a problem".

Resta also touched on the future of the fund and whether there would be other recipients alongside Instavolt.

“We are talking to many people in the market and so far it looks positive. It is a nascent industry so we saw different business models, different approaches to the markets and we’re scrutinizing them to see what we believe is more promising.”

The CIIF was described as a “catalytic” fund in September and is designed to help improve public perception and range anxiety.

It is to explore all charging speeds and geographies and a range of public use cases, alongside other complementary solutions such as battery storage and software solutions.

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