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UK: Giant battery developer Volt seeks SPAC deal

By Chris Stonor

UK giant battery developer, Volt, is looking to float on the Stock Market via a SPAC deal, reports The company has appointed Barclays and Guggenheim Capital as advisers. Options include listing in the U.S through a merger with a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC).

Orral Nadjari, founder and CEO of BritishVolt, said in a recent interview, the deal could be announced soon. The float should help towards the proposed USD3.6 billion “green project” that plays a central role in delivering Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan.

The UK has banned sales of new gasoline and diesel cars by 2030 and needs a factory producing batteries for electric vehicles on a very large scale, to avoid falling behind in the global race to lead manufacturing for the energy transition. The Green Plan hopes to create 250,000 new jobs.

Nadjari commented, “The SPAC market is very interesting and is the result of the mature capital markets in the U.S. that have identified the fourth industrial revolution happening now, when we move from the era of internal combustion engine towards an era of electrification.” Adding, “There will be a lot of scale-ups that need a lot of capital.”

Orral Nadjari

Based in Blyth in northeast England, BritishVolt is planning to launch its series B funding round next week to raise as much as UKP100 million with Barclays as its financial adviser. The round already has “a lot of interest” and series C will follow before the summer with a cap of UKP250 million.

The series A funding round, which closed in February, made William Harrison, CEO of private equity firm Cathexis, the second-largest shareholder after Nadjari. According to its website, Cathexis is the family office of Harrison, investing from a low of USD3 million in niche EV deals, to more than USD100 million when buying established companies or financing infrastructure and real estate.

Because of its exit from the European Union, the UK’s auto industry has little time to localise production of batteries. The Brexit deal requires 30 percent of the content of battery packs UK-built cars to be sourced domestically; the regulation then become more rigorous in 2024.

Stephen Gifford, Chief Economist at the Faraday Institution that researches commercial battery developments, explained, “The new rules offer the conditions for the UK automotive industry to succeed. But, to do so, it is now more important than ever that gigafactories are built, and quickly, and with well-developed local supply chains.”

UK Ministers are determined to stay in the mix of leading battery-makers in Europe. Johnson has committed UKP1 billion to help build factories that can produce batteries at scale. BritishVolt has applied for some of this funding.  Nadjari continued, “We have had very fruitful conversations with the government. Certainly, government funding is critical for large industrial investment like us.”

The Faraday Institution estimates the UK will need seven giant factories by 2040, each producing 20 gigawatt-hours per year of batteries. BritishVolt is looking at building multiple plants in the UK, Europe and elsewhere to produce 150 to 200 gigawatt-hours by 2030.

Nadjari concluded, “It’s a very exciting period and there is a lot of money in the capital markets looking at ESG propositions. We are uniquely positioned to potentially become the British champion within the energy industry.”

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