The future of collapsed British electric vehicle battery start-up Britishvolt is once again in the headlines, after a report of a possible rescue bid.
Last week Britishvolt went bust after it filed for administration after its lifeline money ran out. This resulted in the immediate redundancy of most of its 300 staff – a bitter blow after they had taken a pay cut when the firm ran into financial difficulties in late 2022.
In October 2022, reports had suggested that Britishvolt was near collapse and was set to enter administration, after the company’s efforts to bring in more funding reached a dead end.
But a few days later in early November, chairman Peter Rolton told the Financial Times that the firm had secured a lifeline deal that would give the battery start-up enough money to last until early December.
Rolton also told the FT that Britishvolt staff had agreed to take a “significant” pay reduction during November in order to make the money last, while company executives are working with no pay for the month, he said.
But in mid January the UK firm went into administration.
On Wednesday however, the Australian Financial Review first reported that Australian-based startup, Recharge Industries, has made a nonbinding offer for Britishvolt.
The bid was lodged in the UK late on Tuesday, it was reported, and a successful offer would give Recharge, owned by New York-based investment firm Scale Facilitation, immediate scale in a burgeoning industry.
Recharge Industries also reportedly plans to start building a battery factory in Geelong, Australia.
The proposed lithium-ion battery plant would not use Chinese or Russian materials, but would instead utilise Australia’s vast mineral deposits.
Britishvolt is said to be an attractive prospect as has an extensive intellectual property portfolio which includes various licences, patents and module designs.
Its management had been in talks with a number of potential investors, including existing investors and an obscure Indonesia-linked group.
The Guardian previously revealed that DeaLab Group, a UK-based private equity investor, and an associated metals business, Barracuda Group, were in talks over a £160m rescue deal.
Prior to entering adminstration, Britishvolt had been developing a £3.8 billion “gigafactory” at Blyth in the north-east of England which had been backed by a number of companies including Glencore.
The Northumberland factory was expected to create 3,000 jobs and was hailed by former prime minister Boris Johnson for potentially bringing “thousands of new highly-skilled jobs to communities in our industrial heartlands”.
Britishvolt had received a promise of £100 million from the British government, but that funding was only to be provided once the factory’s construction work hit a certain milestone that has not been reached.
There is already European competition.
Sweden’s Northvolt battery project for example, which has been backed by the European Union, began production at the end of 2021.
And there is another UK EV battery venture looking to compete.
In July 2021 a joint venture between Coventry City Council and Coventry Airport Ltd filed a planning application for a battery Gigafactory at Coventry Airport.
Essentially, this West Midlands Gigafactory joint venture will manufacture electric car batteries.