Economy

Investors rally behind chancellor Rachel Reeves’ growth agenda

In a significant show of confidence, leading global investors have pledged their support for Chancellor Rachel Reeves’ ambitious plans to revitalise the UK economy by leveraging private sector funds.

This endorsement comes as Reeves, the first female Chancellor appointed by Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer, sets out to attract billions of pounds in investment for key infrastructure and green energy projects.

Reeves has articulated a clear objective: to drive economic growth by reducing reliance on public debt and instead fostering private investment. Key players in the investment world, including Macquarie, Blackstone, and various investors from the Middle East, have expressed their readiness to back this vision.

Paul Plewman, who heads Macquarie’s operations in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, praised Labour’s approach as providing “a strong platform for a positive partnership with the private sector.” Blackstone’s head of European real estate, James Seppala, highlighted the UK as their primary market in Europe, noting the incoming government’s supportive stance towards inward investment as a crucial factor.

From the Middle East, Matein Khalid, chief investment officer for a prominent UAE family office, noted that the return of political stability post-Brexit and the Tory infighting, including the fallout from Liz Truss’s mini-budget, has significantly improved the UK’s investment appeal.

Among Reeves’ early strategies is the establishment of a national wealth fund, seeded with £7.3 billion from taxpayers, aimed at catalysing private investment in large-scale projects. Drax CEO Will Gardiner emphasised that swift action from the new government would bolster confidence, enabling significant investments in the UK’s energy infrastructure.

Despite this optimism, investors have also cautioned about the need for a more transparent and predictable political and regulatory environment. Concerns about the instability illustrated by the plight of Thames Water have been raised, with some investors recalling past challenges with UK regulated assets. A senior infrastructure investment fund manager highlighted the reduced willingness of major investors to commit substantial funds to UK projects due to these uncertainties.

As part of her efforts to reassure and attract investment, Reeves plans to host a large-scale investment summit within the next 100 days, a continuation of her campaign that began earlier this year at the Davos summit. This initiative is seen as crucial in repositioning the UK as an attractive destination for global capital, especially in light of the current political dynamics in other major economies such as France and the USA.

Energy firms, including SSE, Octopus, and E.ON, have signalled tentative support for co-investment opportunities with the proposed Great British Energy quango, provided the terms are favourable. Executives from these companies have expressed a willingness to collaborate with the new government initiative to drive investment and deliver tangible benefits to local communities.

In the words of Sir Nigel Wilson, former CEO of Legal and General and current chair of Canary Wharf Group, Britain’s political and economic stability currently compares favourably to that of the USA, France, and Germany. M&G’s CEO Andrea Rossi also sees the upcoming investment summit as a vital opportunity to demonstrate that the UK is indeed “open for business.”

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