Zouk Capital, the government’s preferred bidder to manage the £400 million Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund, is to prioritise networks over associated technologies, the firm has told Current±.

Last week HM Treasury’s Infrastructure and Projects Authority confirmed that following a seven-month bidding process, Zouk Capital had emerged as its preferred candidate to manage the CIIF.

Initially unveiled in chancellor Philip Hammond’s 2017 Autumn Budget, the CIIF will see £200 million of government funds matched by at least £200 million of private investment to create a pot to be used to stimulate the country’s EV charging infrastructure.

But despite its name, the government’s mandate for the CIIF very much allows for investments to be made into associated technologies such as energy storage.

But while Zouk is refusing to rule out supporting any particular battery storage-related projects or technologies, Colin Campbell, senior partner at the investment firm, told Current± that its priority would remain squarely with supporting the development of the country’s networks themselves.

“Our fundamental interest is in networks and the technologies. Clearly where batteries make sense and there is the ability to do that we’re open to it, but I wouldn’t say it’s the absolute core of where we’re coming from,” he said.

Zouk will also maintain a technology-agnostic approach to investment, seeking to support charging technologies right the way through from domestic charging units to workplace chargers to ultra-rapid, DC charging units, the likes of which are manufactured by existing Zouk-investee Instavolt.

Despite the delay in selecting a preferred bidder, it is both the government’s and Zouk’s intent to have the fund up and running by the Spring, with the coming months set to be taken up by various due diligence processes.

Once complete, Campbell said Zouk would get to work in building out public charging networks.

“We’re keen to look at some of those opportunities and we’re speaking to some of those people at the moment, all the way through from infrastructure assets to the technology,” he said.

Campbell also moved to allay some industry concerns surrounding the fund’s establishment, with some in the industry suggesting that the fund may end up “skewing” the market.

In response, Campbell pointed to the fact that the CIIF will be a commercial fund, and suggested that the government’s decision to select just one manager – HM Treasury reserved the right to select multiple bidders if it decided to do so – would prevent the fund(s) from being too overpowered.

“We’re looking to put the fund to work, and we actually think it’s helpful that it’s just one fund so it shouldn’t be a ridiculous force. We’re out there to help the government achieve its objectives and investors theirs. We’ve proven that you can make that work already,” he added.

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