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Recharge Industries finalises Britishvolt takeover

27th February 2023
Kristian McCann

Recharge Industries is confirmed to have bought Britishvolt following the company emerging as the 'preferred bidder' among rival bidders, with a deal being finalised with administrators late on Sunday in the UK. The agreement revives hopes for the construction of a £3.8bn  “gigafactory” in Northern England and supply the next gene nge and change Britishvolt's production. 

Recharge Founder David Collard has described the site as "shovel ready" but said it would be six to 12 months before the first shovel would be used on site. The buy out will reportedly see Britishvolt retain its brand name but move with planned changes to its production.

The administrators of Britishvolt, EY, said the company had been sold for an undisclosed sum, with its remaining employees transferring to Recharge as part of the deal. This follows the Australian-based startup's preliminary offer of £30mn for the collapsed battery manufacturerThe nonbinding bid was lodged in the UK on 24th January, just one week after the cash-strapped company was announced to have gone into administration.

Collard reportedly waited to tour the Britishvolt site in Blyth, Northumberland and meet UK government officials before making a formal offer.

"Strengthening our friends in the UK, especially when most others are kicking them when they're down, is in our interest and definitely in the spirit of Aukus," Collard had said at the time of the bid.

Business Minister Nusrat Ghani said in the Commons the government would 'seriously' consider any takeover bid and UK-Australia Trade Envoy Lord Botham had backed the announcement and was 'proactively assisting' Recharge Industries. The news will come as a welcome announcement for the government following its claims the company's plans to build a £3.8bn 'gigafactory' in Northumberland was an example of 'Brexit success' and the UK's journey to becoming a world-leading global battery maker, months before its collapse. But despite the bid reviving the factory's future, the British battery manufacture once valued at £700mn is only reported to attract bids of less than £10mn, with Recharge up against a dozen potential bidders, like Tata Motors and DeaLab, for the site. Collard said Recharge would be aiming to secure the £100mn grant, offered by the government to Britishvolt under the condition they begin construction work on the Northumberland site, if it takes over. The government stated £150m in working capital would be a requisite for any bidders to access this.

The takeover of the company could see Recharge switch the technologies of the batteries made at the Blyth factory from cobalt and nickel, as was Britishvolt's plan, to lithium, the materials Recharge plans to manufacture at its factory in Australia. Collard states the switch would enable Recharge to scale by constructing both plants at the same time. The Recharge founder claimed Britishvolt had approached him six months ago when the company was battling with its finance, but states his focus was then on Recharge Industries future Geelong site. Collard attributes Britishvolt's administration to a fundamental weakness in its business model, where they only focused on batteries for the electric vehicle market, didn't diversify into energy infrastructure systems and spent a large amount on building intellectual property for new battery technologies.

Founded in 2021, Recharge Industries is aiming to pioneer Australia's first large-scale lithium-ion battery production facility, with its Geelong site. Its short life has already seen it secure backing from New York-based Scale Facilitation and secure equipment for the first 2GWh of annual battery cell production, for Geelong's 2024 open date.

Administrators were earmarked to sell what's left of the business, the site in Blyth and its 26 staff in tow, at the end of January.

This article was amended on Monday 27th of Feburary. Since publication, Recharge Industries has emerge as top bidder for Britishvolt and bought the company.

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