Britishvolt in talks to sell majority share in bid to rescue Gigafactory plans
Battery developer Britishvolt has confirmed that it is in talks to potentially sell a majority stake in the company, in an attempt to ensure it can deliver its £3.8m Gigafactory planned for Northumberland.
Britishvolt sent a statement to existing investors on Monday (9 January), according to media reports, confirming that it is in talks with a “consortium of investors”, including new investors. The talks regard the sale of a majority stake in the company.
The firm was close to appointing administrators late last year but its existing investors, including Glencore, provided fresh funding to avoid this situation. Staff also agreed to take a steep pay cut on a temporary basis – reportedly 25% for directors and 50% for other employees.
Britishvolt has attributed its troubles to the economic shockwaves of Covid-19 and Russia’s war in Ukraine, plus the fact that the UK Government did not provide a £30m grant as the firm had previously expected. Grant funds were expected to be released in November 2022 but should not be released later this year.
Britishvolt has stated that the new round of discussions are aiming “to secure legally-binding terms that would provide Britishvolt with long-term sustainability and funding necessary to enable it to pursue its current plans to build a strong and viable battery cell R&D and manufacturing business in the UK”.
At this point in time, details regarding which investors are in the consortium and what stake in the company is on the table are not being disclosed. Existing investors are being asked to approve Britishvolt’s request.
Britishvolt is planning to develop a 30GWh Gigafactory on a 93-hectare site near Blyth, for which it gained planning permission in 2021. Timelines for the project have been pushed back over time and the first batteries are now expected to be produced in 2024. The site should reach full capacity by 2028. BritishVolt has previously stated that it expects to receive its first large orders from auto manufacturers in the first half of 2023.
Other UK Gigafactories in the pipeline include Coventry’s flagship project and a 9GWh facility in Sunderland, operated by Nissan. The BritishVolt site in Blyth was initially set to be the UK’s first, but time will tell whether this plays out.
The UK Government has already been urged several times to set more robust plans for growing the nation’s Gigafactory stock this decade, to avoid relying on imports and therefore missing out on opportunities for green job creation and international battery trade. It has also been urged to clarify plans for scaling battery recycling.
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