Recharge Industries named preferred bidder by administrators

ISG has said it is ready to re-start work on a stalled £300m gigafactory in Northumberland, after administrators named a preferred bidder for car battery firm Britishvolt. 

EY announced this morning that Australian business Recharge Industries had entered into an agreement to buy the majority of the business and assets of the doomed firm, which went into administration last month after running out of cash. 

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ISG said the gigafactory designs had ‘inherent flexibility’, meaning they may not need to be significantly adapted for use by the new owners

The collapse of the business – a standard bearer for UK car battery production – triggered a race to take ownership of the firm’s battery technology intellectual property and the site for its proposed facility in Blyth. 

The site’s size, transport links, deep seaport and access to clean energy are understood to make it an ideal location for a battery factory. 

EY said it had received numerous offers from interested parties with “multiple approaches” considered. 

The Times reported last week that up to five potential buyers, including a consortium of Britishvolt investors, were in the running, with Lord Botham of Ravensworth – a former England cricketer and now trade envoy to Australia – brokering the interest of the Australian firm. 

The deal with Recharge, which is wholly owned by New York fund Scale Facilitation Partners, includes both Britishvolt’s intellectual property and the Blyth site, according to EY. 

Completion of the acquisition is expected to occur in the next seven days. 

Few details have emerged regarding the Recharge’s plan for Britishvolt, but founder David Collar said he “can’t wait to get started making a reality of our plans to build the UK’s first gigafactory”, indicating that work may be set to continue on the gigafactory. 

Whether those plans will involve ISG, which paused work on the site last August, is yet to be established.  

Building understands that ISG’s pre-construction services agreement ended at the end of last year and that the firm had been paid fully for its work up to the stoppage. 

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But a spokesperson for the business said that ISG would be “ready, willing and able” to re-start work on the construction of the project almost immediately and that it would be the “obvious choice” given its established supply chain in the area. 

He noted that the existing designs for the gigafactory had been designed with “inherent flexibility” to allow it to be built for different battery products, meaning it may not need to be significantly adapted for use by the new owners. 

Construction lawyer John Wallace told Building it was “unlikely” that Recharge would choose a third-party contractor, “because ISG knows the site, have started work and bringing on a new contractor is always expensive”. 

Wallace, a director at law firm Ridgemont, speculated that ISG would be in a “strong position” as it will have bargaining power knowing that Recharge will likely want them to continue. 

Recharge’s own battery facility, which is currently being built in Geelong, Melbourne, is set to begin operating in 2024.