Battery firm Britishvolt seeks funding to avoid collapse
Britishvolt, a battery firm that announced in May that it was planning to build cell scale-up facilities in the Midlands and a Gigaplant in Northumberland, could be facing administration after the government rejected a £30 million advance in funding.
The government already committed £100m to Britishvolt and it’s understood that the firm wanted to draw down nearly a third of the funding early but the government refused, leaving the £3.8bn project, which has already been delayed several times, in doubt.
Britishvolt has struggled to find investors to help fund the construction of its so-called gigafactory in Blyth, Northumberland, which was expected to create 3,000 jobs.
The firm, which is yet to make any revenue, and has in recent months held urgent talks to try to secure fresh funds to stay afloat.
A Britishvolt spokesperson said the company was “aware of market speculation” and was “actively working on several potential scenarios that offer the required stability”.
Ian Lavery, the Labour MP for Wansbeck, where the site is based, told the BBC he had spoken to the chairman of Britishvolt on Monday who said the company asked the government for £30 million for the project to continue. He explained: “The chairman informs me that the government have replied overnight [with] Grant Shapps the new Business Secretary, saying that they are not prepared to do that and as a consequence it very likely that Britishvolt will go into administration.”
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said the government was “determined to ensure the UK remains one of the best locations in the world for automotive manufacturing as we transition to electric vehicles, while ensuring taxpayer money is used responsibly and provides best-value”.
The firm blamed “difficult external economic headwinds including rampant inflation and rising interest rates” for delays.
The original promise of government funding had helped Britishvolt raise a further £1.7 billion from private investors. These included UK asset investment giant Abrdn and fund manager Tritax.
Britishvolt had already struck memorandums of understanding to make batteries for UK car firms Aston Martin and Lotus.
Update, 2 November – The Britishvolt gigafactory in Blyth has staved off administration – for now – after it secured short-term funding from a mystery investor and its 300 staff agreed to take a big cut in pay.