Britishvolt: Who's Going to Turn the Lights Out?

Posted on Jan 25, 2023. by NTI

When you access the website of Britishvolt Limited you are greeted by a cartoon click-'on' image and a time lapse sequence of an impressive (but as yet imaginary) factory being built and swathed in solar panels. The shame is that some of the footage is a bit difficult to see now as it is covered by a notice that reads: "On 17 January 2023, the Company entered Administration and Dan Christopher Hurd, Joanne Honor Robinson and Alan Michael Hudson, partners of EY Parthenon, were appointed as Joint Administrators ('the Administrators'). The appointment was made by the directors in accordance with paragraph 22 of Schedule B1 to the Insolvency Act 1986." Regrettably, staff were told the “majority” of its 300 employees would be immediately made redundant last Tuesday.

On the tenth of this month it was reported that Britishvolt was in talks to sell the majority of its shares to a consortium of investors, in a deal that could allow it to continue pursuing its goal of building a UK 'gigafactory'. We looked up the word 'gigafactory', but the Oxford Dictionary disavowed itself of any meaning or responsibility. However, the word 'giga' is in there - meaning a use of measurement to a factor of ten to the power of nine.

Britishvolt was said, at the beginning of this year, to be in talks to sell the majority of its shares to a consortium of investors, in a deal that could allow it to continue pursuing the building of this factory of ten to the power of nine to be built and maybe that is something Dan, Joanne and Alan of EY will be looking at as Administrators. It appears the Administration was due to insufficient equity investments for both the ongoing research and the development of its sites in the Midlands and the north-east of England. You just can't get the investment for a factory so large it needs ten to the power of nine levels of investment these days.

Britishvolt managed to dodge the first bullet in October of last year, when it narrowly avoided entering Administration after it secured a last-minute injection of £5 million from Glencore, the FTSE 100 mining company, which was already an investor. Glencore has a deal with Britishvolt to supply cobalt to the factory, if it is built, and it also has a battery recycling joint venture with the company. We in the NTI newsroom imagine that EY have already put in a couple of calls to Glencore ... and we wonder how those went. The Administrators are now occupying themselves assessing the company’s assets, including its intellectual property and research, in an effort to pay creditors and will subsequently wind down its affairs.

Batteries may be the future, but what price investment now?

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