The Macquarie Group is favourite to buy the UK’s Green Investment Bank (GIB), according to press reports.

The UK government last year began a “staged privatisation” of GIB.

The sale is likely to be completed this year, with first-round bids due due next month and a second round in June, followed by a final decision and completion of sale by year-end.

The UK government was initially aiming to sell a majority stake in the bank by 2020.

GIB is being advised by UBS, while the UK’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is being advised by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Macquarie would not comment.

Sajid Javid, secretary of state for business, innovation and skills, last year said reducing the government’s stake would give the institution the “room and resources” to grow.

A privatisation would allow GIB, currently subject to European Union state aid rules, to invest in a greater number of green infrastructure sectors.

At present, it is limited to five areas – including offshore wind, community-scale renewables and energy-efficiency projects.