Australian battery group tops shortlist to buy Britishvolt

The administrator of Britishvolt EY has narrowed the list of potential buyers of the collapsed UK battery startup to five suitors, with Australia’s Recharge Industries among the candidates. Top.

According to three people familiar with the matter, a consortium of existing investors in Britishvolt, which attempted to rescue the battery maker one last time before it fell into the hands of authorities this month, was among the Another group made it through.

EY is under pressure to wrap up the sale of a package of corporate land and intellectual property by the end of the month after receiving bids on Tuesday. According to the four, the shortlisted bidders were notified that they had been selected on Thursday.

Britishvolt had planned to build a huge £3.8 billion factory in Blyth, north-east England, which would form a key cornerstone of the UK’s electric car industry but has already fell into the hands of the authorities this month after running out of cash.

If no deal is reached by the end of January, the site will be sold independently of its intellectual property, including battery technology and Britishvolt’s 26 employees.

Recharge Industries, which is also planning to build a battery factory in the Australian city of Geelong, has put in a bid of around £30 million. It provided proof of funds to EY and company executives who were visiting the Blyth website on Friday, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The Australian company was launched in 2021 by Scale Facilitation, a New York-based investment vehicle that has backed a number of startups in the green energy and health technology sectors.

With just five days to go, EY is reviewing bids to assess the proposed value to creditors and the extent to which the arrangements can pay off key suppliers who owe money and can then do so. work with new businesses.

Taking on this business would be complicated for any buyer because of the large cash flow outlays required to execute Britishvolt’s strategy or to redraw it from scratch, which adds challenge for EY in determining whether contractors have access to sufficient capital.

26 employees are retained, out of a former workforce of 300, including many of the company’s well-paid battery specialists.

Before it falls into administration this month, the company is seeking nearly £200 million in funding to keep it afloat until the end of the year, when it expects to receive orders from suppliers. car manufacturing.

Britishvolt’s in-house technology is at a late stage of testing and needs more funding to commercialize. According to two sources, several automakers and battery experts who have tested their product have said it is impressive, and Mercedes-Benz placed a small order with the business last year.

Buyers who show they have enough working capital will hope to secure the £100m funding the UK government has previously pledged to Britishvolt, although the eventual buyer may have to reapply for this amount, according to two people with process knowledge. Covenants on the site in Blyth require it to be used for a battery base.

EY declined to comment.

Sabic, the Saudi Arabian petrochemicals company controlled by state oil group Saudi Aramco, has expressed interest in Britishvolt but has not yet made an official bid, according to two people familiar with the matter. Sabic did not respond to a request for comment.

Additional reporting by Michael O’Dwyer and Thomas Wilson in London

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