West Sussex County Council invests millions into Sussex frackers

West Sussex County Council investmentsWest Sussex County Council (WSCC) is deeply invested in Sussex fracking companies – even as the Council is poised to make planning decisions involving these same companies.

New data from WSCC’s pension fund shows the council holds investments in Cuadrilla Resources, Igas and Celtique Energie. All have drilling prospects in the county. By packaging and re-packaging its investments the Council attempts to deny its complicity, yet by clearing the financial foliage a cash trail becomes apparent – one which connects WSCC straight to the companies it is charged with overseeing.

WSCC staff are required to declare “an interest … affected by any business, operational procedure, contract, planning application or any other matter being or expected to be considered by the Council.”

It is clear that WSCC’s investments in Igas, Cuadrilla and Celtique Energie constitute an interest. The Council, however sees no obligation to declare the same interests as its staff.

IGAS

WSCC pension fund invests £187,000,000 into what’s called a pooled fund run by Ballie Gifford & Co.

Ballie Gifford & Co are the second largest shareholder in driller Igas, which has three license blocks in Sussex. Ballie Giffiord & Co own 6.09m shares in Igas, or 2.98% of the company.

Via Ballie Gifford, WSCC has thus lent substantial cash to Igas (amongst others). WSCC Officers are constitutionally required to generate a financial return on this investment, as best they can. Hence the Council has a direct conflict of interest between its financial interests in Igas and Igas’ planning applications.

Cuadrilla Resources

WSCC also has financial dealings with Cuadrilla Resources, via a fund known as Pantheon Pantheon USA Fund VIII.  This link shows Pantheon holds $43m of investments in another fund called Riverstone/ Carlyle Global Power Fund IV, which part owns Cuadrilla. WSCC admits that their holdings in Pantheon constitute an investment into Cuadrilla Resources.

WSCC invests more than £106,000,000 into various Pantheon investments, hence once again we find WSCC providing cash to companies operating in Sussex that it’s overseeing.

A second business link between WSCC and Cuadrilla is through the latter’s partner: Centrica PLC.

In 2013 Centrica bought a share in Cuadrilla’s Lancashire operation, known PEDL 165.  WSCC owns nearly £4m of shares in Centrica, and hence co-owns 25% of Cuadrilla’s Lancashire fracking block.

Celtique Energie

The trail of WSCC investments also leads to Fernhurst fracker Celtique Energie. Once again we find that WSCC’s investment in Pantheon links them straight to Celtique’s door.

A leading shareholder in Celtique is Avista Capital Partners. Avista have received nearly £9m from WSCC-supported Pantheon (see above); part of that sum comes from WSCC.

Be it shares, loans, or via second or third parties, WSCC invests widely in fracking companies. The money flows indirectly into drilling companies and via various routes, yet WSCC has a direct financial interest in the success of fracking in Sussex.

The County council is clearly hoping it can hide its financial secrets in the financial undergrowth.

3 Responses to West Sussex County Council invests millions into Sussex frackers

  1. head gasket leak November 9, 2014 at 2:08 pm #

    Touche. Solid arguments. Keep up the amazing effort.

  2. Greg Dance October 17, 2014 at 6:37 pm #

    When ever there is a filthy act of self serving criminality its nearly always got to do with power lust through money.

    If the WSCC truly represented their pension fund beneficiaries and constituents interests they would hold a free vote for both on whether they support this move or not.

    To not do so would be proof of greedy complicit cowardice by untrustworthy fools

  3. Lisa scott October 17, 2014 at 5:53 pm #

    Surely this should come under inside dealing. These persons have the ability to positively I fluence these companies prospects.

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