Australian startup Recharge Industries, which is building a lithium ion cell factory at home, is set to buy Britishvolt, a UK company that collapsed last month after struggling to fund a major electric vehicle (EV) battery recycling plant in northern England.
Cited by administrator EY as the preferred bidder for the takeover, Recharge Industries has put together an aggressive package that also revives plans to build the failed British firm’s £3.8bn ($4.7bn) plant and cover the target-company’s debts of £120 million ($145m).
Recharge, which counts with the financial backing of New York-based investment firm Scale Facilitation, will simultaneously work on Britishvolt’s planned facility, while also pursuing pre-existing plans to build a plant in Geelong, a former car manufacturing hub in Australia.
“We’re thrilled to be progressing with our proposed bid for Britishvolt and can’t wait to get started making a reality of our plans to build the UK’s first gigafactory,” David Collard, CEO of Scale Facilitation and founder of Recharge, said in an emailed statement.
The £2.6 billion ($3.5bn) battery plant Britishvolt wanted to build has been considered key to the prospects for the UK automotive sector, which is moving away from internal combustion engines towards zero-emissions EVs.
Recharge industries, founded in 2021, didn’t specify how it plans to fund the construction of the UK factory, though Collard stated he had received commitment letters from a number of funders.
“It is not surprising that Britishvolt has attracted a number of potential buyers, but perhaps a little surprising it has not gone to one of a number of British bidders,” Jordan Roberts, analyst at Fastmarkets NewGen, told MINING.COM.
“Recharge’s intentions for the Britishvolt business have not been detailed, but its US ownership and location in Australia, may finally provide the missing pieces of the jigsaw (capital, raw material supply and customers) to get the project off the ground,” Roberts noted.
Europe’s car industry needs to meet tighter carbon-dioxide emissions targets that take effect next year or face billions of dollars in fines if they exceed them.
Global battery supply is dominated by manufacturers in China, Japan and South Korea, but Europe and the US are racing to catch up.
By recycling batteries, the UK will secure some local supply of lithium and cobalt, and also reduce the amount of the metals the country needs to import to make EVs.
The EU Battery Regulation proposes that from 2030, all new batteries must contain 4% nickel, 12% cobalt and 4% lithium, by weight, from recycled materials, with higher targets from 2035.
In addition to battery research and production via Recharge Industries, Scale Facilitation also invests in medical technology and artificial intelligence.
Recharge’s buyout deal should be completed within the next seven days, EY said.