Britishvolt: Australian firm bids to save battery company

Britishvolt's proposed gigafactory in north east England
Britishvolt's plans for a gigafactory at Blyth were much vaunted but came to nought

Collapsed electric car battery business Britishvolt might have found a lifeline after an Australian start-up lodged a late rescue bid.

The UK company entered administration on 17 January when it failed to attract any viable bids to keep it afloat, with the loss of hundreds of jobs.

It had planned to build a giant factory to make batteries for electric vehicles in Cambois near Blyth, Northumberland.

However, Recharge Industries tabled a last-minute takeover move on Tuesday.

The company, which is backed by New York-based Scale Facilitation, confirmed it had made a non-binding offer, as first reported in the Australian Financial Review.

Recharge is already understood to be planning a similar electric car battery plant in Geelong, near Melbourne.

A takeover of Britishvolt would make "strategic sense," according to David Collard, Scale Facilitation's founder and chief executive.

"Strengthening our friends in the UK, especially when most others are kicking them when they're down, is in our interest and definitely in the spirit of Aukus (the Australia-UK-US security pact)."

Labour MP Ian Lavery welcomed the potential rescue, as he led an adjournment debate on the matter at the end of Wednesday's sitting in the House of Commons.

The Wansbeck MP, whose constituency is home to the site, said it was "very encouraging" but warned another collapse must be avoided at all costs.

"We cannot have another false dawn, we cannot have another Britishvolt, where a project of this magnitude, the land, the planning, everything in place, for the government to go cold and step back from assisting our regions," he said.

Business minister Nusrat Ghani told the Commons the government would "seriously" consider any takeover bid and it was committed to the site in Northumberland.

"This is a fantastic site. All the ingredients are in play. I can confirm that any credible options going forward, that we will of course take them very seriously.

"This government is determined to make that site work for Blyth as it will for the whole of the United Kingdom."

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