Business interventions investment returns received by Scottish Government: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

For each of the government business interventions in Prestwick Airport, Ferguson Marine and BiFab please can you give me the investment returns actually received by the government in the fiscal years 2020/21.  For each can you give me the nature of the return - interest income, dividends or other (please state).

For the government intervention in the Lochaber Smelter and associated power plant, please can you give me the guarantee fee actually received by the government in each of the fiscal years from 2016/17 to 2020/21.


As of the date of this letter, the investment returns received by the Scottish Government in the fiscal years 2020/2021 is in the table below.

Fiscal Year


Investment Return


Prestwick Airport



Ferguson Marine





Lochaber Smelter
The Scottish Government receives a fee in return for the guarantee that exists with respect to the Lochaber smelter and the associated hydro-electric power plant. In 2016, the total discounted value of the fee premiums over the 25 year period was valued, as per methodology required by IAS 17 Provisions, at £18.7m.

The Scottish Government Consolidated Accounts for the year ended 31 March 2020 (published in December 2020) show the carrying value of this financial asset in the accounts was reduced to nil as a result of the implementation of the new accounting standard.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because an exemption under section 33(1)(b) FOISA (commercial prejudice) applies to the actual guarantee fee amount received by the Scottish Government in particular years. The reasons why that exemption applies are explained in the Annex A.


An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance an exemption under section 33(1)(b) of FOISA (commercial interests) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption has been applied to specific pieces of information related to the commercial interests of the parties to the GRA. We have applied this exemption as release of the information would – or would be likely to – prejudice substantially the commercial interests of the commercial entities involved. Release of this information is likely to weaken the negotiating position of the business while providing commercially sensitive information to competitors. It is also likely to have an impact on the long term profitability and attractiveness of the business to future investors.

This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. In applying that test, we conclude that release of this information is not in the public interest given it could have a bearing on and potentially prejudice the commercial interests of the parties involved in terms of placing them at a competitive disadvantage. It is in the public interest that the GFG Alliance can negotiate effectively in commercial contexts to ensure the continued profitability and viability of the business, given its position as a major source of employment in the West Highlands.

About FOI
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

Back to top