Gigafactory setback

Abrdn-backed Britishvolt close to administration

The proposed gigafactory would employ 3,000

Battery manufacturing startup Britishvolt, which is backed by the UK Government and Edinburgh finance house Abrdn, may go into administration with the potential loss of almost 300 jobs.

It has been struggling to find investors willing to fund its effort to build a giant £3.8bn “gigafactory” in Blyth, Northumberland.

The plant was intended to employ 3,000 workers and be capable of powering 300,000 electric vehicles each year, or 25% of current UK production.

But the project has devoured cash and as has struggled to raise further finance. The accountancy firm EY has been lined up in the event of administration, although Britishvolt is said to be assessing other options.

These options are said to include assuming a minority stake to a full takeover. India’s Tata Motors, the owner of Jaguar Land Rover, is one potential suitor, while other talks include at least one other carmaker and several energy companies.

A Britishvolt spokesperson said: “Company policy is to not comment on market speculation.”

Britishvolt was set up three years ago with tens of millions of pounds of investment including between £1.7bn and £2bn from Tritax, a property investment company majority-owned by the investment house and former FTSE 100 firm abrdn.

The Swiss commodities miner Glencore and the equipment rental company Ashtead have also given support.

The government promised the company £100m through the Automotive Transformation Fund but the money but the money has not yet been released as the company attempted to establish operations amid a number of setbacks.

Co-founder, Orral Nadjari, left in July and there have been frantic attempts to raise capital to cover growing start-up costs.

Graham Hoare, a former executive at Ford who took over after Mr Nadjari’s departure, told the Financial Times the business needed to raise £200m to fund it until next summer.

Labour’s shadow Business Secretary Jonathan Reynolds called the crisis “disastrous news”.

“The blame here lies with a Conservative government that has run Britain’s economy down over twelve years, failed to back growing industries as other countries have, and has completely failed to grow our economy,” he said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked as *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.