Companies and Markets

Recharge buys technology of failed battery start-up Britishvolt

Australia’s Recharge Industries has bought the fledgling battery technology of collapsed start-up Britishvolt.

It has been given until the end of next month to close a deal to buy the failed start-up’s site in Northumberland, according to two people close to the process.

Administrator EY said on Monday that the “majority” of Britishvolt’s business and assets had been sold to Recharge for an undisclosed sum.

“We are thrilled to have been successful in our bid for ownership of Britishvolt,” said David Collard, chief executive of Recharge Industries and a former PwC partner.

The start-up styled itself as the UK’s best hope for a homegrown battery champion, with plans for a £3.8bn gigafactory in Blyth in Northumberland.

But the group collapsed into administration last month after running out of cash, forcing it to lay off most of its 200 staff and starting a sales process that attracted dozens of potential buyers that finally reduced to Recharge, also a start-up.

EY agreed to sell the business to the Australian group for about £30mn on February 3, but completion of the deal dragged on for weeks after the company scrambled to raise funds, according to multiple people.

Recharge has finalised its deal to buy Britishvolt’s IP, including its prototype battery technology and 26 employees. It has also been granted an exclusivity period until March 31 to secure money to buy the start-up’s land, according to the people.

Britishvolt’s technology was developed with the aim of supplying high-performance cars. Before it collapsed, the start-up had already secured a small order from Mercedes-Benz, and was in talks with several other manufacturers.

While it was not clear how much Recharge had agreed to pay for Britishvolt’s intangible assets, it had agreed a figure of between £50mn and £100mn to gradually pay off a large number of creditors, according to one of the people.

The price tag to buy the land and pay the creditor whose debt is secured against the land is nearly £10mn, according to the people.

The site is considered one of the UK’s best for a battery manufacturing plant because of its access to clean energy, a deep seaport and railhead. Covenants on the land require a battery factory is built on the site.

Recharge’s difficulties in raising financing and the high levels of debt that it will take on underline the challenges in rescuing Britishvolt, which had been bloated with unnecessary costs and expensive creditor bills.

EY had originally expected to wrap up the acquisition by February 13, according to a statement issued this month.


Business Asia
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