Gigafactory setback

Britishvolt value cut as chief executive departs

Proposed plant in Northumberland

Britishvolt, the electric battery company that attracted significant funding support from Edinburgh-based abrdn, has seen its valuation trimmed amid a management crisis that has seen its founder and chief executive resign.

The company, which plans to create 3,000 jobs in Northumberland producing batteries for electric vehicles, has deferred the operational start date for its £3.8 billion gigafactory by a year to 2024.

Orral Nadjari, who set up the company, has stepped down and has been replaced temporarily by former Ford of Britain chair Graham Hoare who joined last year as operations chief.

Its HQ is in the Midlands, close to the UK automotive industry and its research partners at Warwick Manufacturing Group. Northumberland was chosen for its gigafactory as it is close to an abundance of renewable energy.

Britishvolt has received £100 million of UK taxpayer support for construction of the plant near Blyth and has ambitions to float on the stock exchange. But neither Mr Hoare nor chairman Peter Rolton has much experience leading a listed company.

Mr Nadjari holds a 25 % stake in the business and earlier this year attracted investment from Abrdn and Tritax who will become long-term partners with investment of between £1.7 billion and £2bn to complement an estimated £100m from the Automotive Transformation Fund, a government programme to oversee the move to a zero emission automotive supply chain in the UK.

Commodities company Glencore is also an investor and is said to be increasing its stake alongside a possible new investor, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, a renewable energy fund that has backed five biomass or waste incinerator plants in the UK.

However, City sources say the company’s valuation has been cut from £2bn to £1.5bn.

Nadjari has said his decision to step down was “difficult” but “now is the right time for me to pass the reins.” The Emirates-based financier’s departure follows that of Lars Carlstrom, his co-founder, after questions were asked about his conviction on Swedish tax offences and his association with Vladimir Antonov, the disgraced Russian oligarch and one-time owner of Portsmouth football club..

Commenting on the cut in its valuation, a Britishvolt spokesman said: “No business is immune from the current market conditions.”

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