A bid by Australian start-up Recharge could lead to a revival of UK battery company Britishvolt

An Australian-based startup, Recharge Industries, has made a non-binding offer to Britishvolt for crumbling batteries in the UK that could revive plans to build a large factory in northern England.

The bid was submitted in the UK late Tuesday, shortly after a liquidity crunch at Britishvolt sent the company into administration. The crash severely affected the country’s attempts to modernize its car industry and supply the next generation of UK-made electric vehicles.

Hundreds of jobs were cut as money ran out, and plans to build a £3.8 billion (AU$6.7 billion) “giga factory” near Blyth in Northumberland were left in tatters.

The transshipment industries show was first reported by the Australian Financial Review.

A successful bid would give Recharge, an Australian subsidiary of New York-based Scale Facilitation, immediate scale in a booming industry. It also plans to start building a battery plant in Geelong, the former center of car manufacturing southwest of Melbourne.

The proposed lithium-ion battery plant would not use Chinese or Russian materials, a decision that boosts Australia’s deep mineral deposits and reduces supply chain risks.

Scale Facilitation founder and CEO David Collard said the Britishvolt deal made strategic sense.

“Strengthening our friends in the UK, especially when others kick them when they fall, is in our interest and certainly in the spirit of Aukus,” said Collard, referring to the tripartite security agreement.

Britishvolt said earlier this month it was in talks for a majority sale deal, but quickly entered administration, with accounting firm EY now valuing its assets. The company has an extensive intellectual property portfolio that includes numerous licenses, patents and unit designs.

Management has been in talks with a number of potential investors, including existing investors and a shadowy group linked to Indonesia. The Guardian previously revealed that DeaLab Group, a UK-based private equity investor, and associated metals firm Barracuda are in talks over a £160m rescue deal.

EY previously said the UK company did not have enough equity for its research and development of the facilities, prompting the appointment of officials.

The next stage of the sale process will usually involve approved bidders entering the data room, where detailed information about the company’s operations is kept.

Britishvolt had hoped to build the plant in phases to take advantage of growing demand for electric vehicles ahead of the UK’s 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel cars. The plant was expected to employ about 3,000 workers when fully operational and would have been able to supply 30 gigawatt-hours of batteries per year.

The UK government has promised £100m to support the project as countries around the world try to modernize and clean up their industrial processes to take advantage of the new technology.

Recharge Industries CEO Rob Fitzpatrick said the operation would provide the Australian company with greater access to Europe if supply continues.

“The demand for storage of lithium-ion batteries continues to be through the roof,” said Fitzpatrick.

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