Australian firm Recharge Industries has been named as the preferred bidder for Britishvolt, a UK battery start-up that went into administration in January.
Recharge Industries, which is owned by New York-based fund Scale Facilitation Partners, has entered into an agreement to purchase the assets and business of BritishVolt. The completion of the acquisition is expected to occur within the next seven days, according to EY, the accountancy firm and administrator for Britishvolt that has been overseeing the sale.
Britishvolt had planned to build a large electric car battery factory in Blyth, Northumberland, as part of its long-term strategy to boost UK manufacturing of electric vehicle batteries. The £3.8bn factory was expected to create 3,000 skilled jobs, but more than 200 employees lost their jobs when the company collapsed.
Recharge Industries is building a battery facility in Australia to produce batteries for electric vehicles, as well as HGVs, and has not yet released details on its plans for the Britishvolt business. The acquisition of Britishvolt gives Recharge a foothold in Europe, as they beat several other interested parties to become the preferred bidder.
The UK government has stated that it is “monitoring the situation” but considers this a matter between private businesses. However, industry leaders are frustrated that ministers are not taking a more active role in such a crucial development.
David Collard, CEO of Scale Facilitation and founder of Recharge Industries, expressed his excitement for getting started on building the UK’s first gigafactory. The company is already building a battery-making factory in Geelong, Melbourne, which is expected to begin operating in 2024.
Britishvolt’s collapse was a setback for the UK government’s “levelling up” agenda and its impact on the economy in Blyth, which was one of the main seats to change from Labour to the Conservatives in the 2019 General Election. The government had committed £100m in funding for the project and helped the company secure £1.7bn in funding from private investors.