electric vehicle battery

EV battery firm Britishvolt under threat of administration

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Troubled electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturer Britishvolt is preparing for the possibility that it could enter administration – putting almost 300 jobs at risk.

The company has been developing a £3.8bn gigafactory intended to produce batteries for electric vehicles, in Blyth, Northumberland, where it had hoped to employ up to 3,000 workers.

However, the group has been in emergency fundraising talks in recent weeks. The Financial Times reported that the company could slide into insolvency as soon as today (Monday). It is understood that Britishvolt has lined up advisers from accountancy firm EY to oversee the potential administration process.

The government previously backed the firm's plans – at least, in terms of vocal support – for the gigafactory in January and had said that it would provide Britishvolt with undisclosed funding, understood to be worth around £100m. However, the firm has yet to receive any of the promised funding.

The project was expected to cost around £3.8bn in total, with around £1.7bn of that allocated to the initial building of the gigafactory itself.

Britishvolt has received tens of millions of pounds of financial backing from FTSE 100 metals firm Glencore, which saw its shares dip on Monday morning in light of the latest developments.

The company has faced uncertainty in recent months, with co-founder Orral Nadjari leaving the firm in July. It has also held urgent talks to access more funding to pump into its development until it can start production and deliver its own revenues.

A spokesperson for Britishvolt said: “We are aware of market speculation. We are actively working on several potential scenarios that offer the required stability. We have no further comment at this time.”

Shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds said: “This disastrous news is a further reminder that the economic crisis made in Downing Street is costing jobs and investment. It is a sight that has become all too familiar – businesses going under, jobs being lost and investment in the industries of the future going abroad rather than the UK.

“The blame here lies with a Conservative Government that has run Britain’s economy down over 12 years, failed to back growing industries as other countries have, and has completely failed to grow our economy.”

“Labour will end this scandal. We will buy, make and sell more in Britain. Our industrial strategy will give firms the certainty to invest and our national wealth fund will invest in the industries of the future. Labour will bring good jobs back to our industrial heartlands and secure the future of the automotive industry for decades to come.”

In December 2020, Lars Carlstrom announced that he was resigning as the chairman of the firm, after it emerged he was convicted for tax fraud in Sweden more than 20 years ago.

The surprise news led to a union boss expressing concerns over Britishvolt's “ability to deliver on their plans”, especially in light of the firm's earlier announcement that it would build its gigaplant in South Wales, a decision it subsequently reversed before shifting its attentions to Northumberland instead.

In a Facebook post written at the time, Jamie Driscoll, North of Tyne elected Mayor, said: “Despite all the headlines and spin, this deal is not over the line. It’s a growth sector and a gigafactory will be built somewhere in Europe, by someone, that’s 100 per cent certain. The trick is to make it happen here.

“We could still lose it, just as Bro Tathan in South Wales did. Investors don’t stump up over a billion quid unless everything is in place.”

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