An infrastructure investor owned by Schroders, the fund management behemoth, is in pole position to buy a solar farms operator that received hundreds of millions of pounds from a scandal-hit local authority.

Sky News understands that Schroders Greencoat has become the leading contender to acquire Toucan Energy, which collapsed into administration exactly a year ago.

It was unclear this weekend whether Schroders Greencoat was in formal exclusivity to buy the portfolio of more than 50 solar parks.

Interpath Advisory, which is overseeing the administration process, appointed KPMG – the accountancy firm from which it was spun out – to handle the auction.

Other bidders which had been in contention until recently included GLIL and CKI, the Hong Kong-based infrastructure giant.

Toucan’s collapse came after Thurrock Council had invested more than £650m into the business over a four-year period.

Although the local authority will receive a significant repayment from the sale of the solar assets, Toucan’s collapse could yet cost taxpayers tens or even hundreds of millions of pounds.

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Thurrock’s financial mishaps echo those of other councils that have invested in ill-fated private sector companies, including a significant number in the energy sector.

Thurrock Council Pic: Google Street View
Thurrock Council Pic: Google Street View

The timetable for a deal being completed was also unclear.

A spokesman for Schroders declined to comment.


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