Australia's Recharge to buy failed EV battery startup Britishvolt

(Reuters) -Australia's Recharge Industries was on Monday selected as the preferred bidder to buy Britishvolt, the collapsed UK startup which had struggled to fund a major electric vehicle battery factory in northern England.

The deal, which comes just three weeks after Britishvolt fell into administration, could help revive Britain's ambitions of building a home-grown EV battery industry that can support domestic car production.

Privately owned Recharge, a division of New York-based portfolio company Scale Facilitation, is building a large-scale lithium-ion cell factory in Australia expected to begin production next year.

"We're thrilled to be progressing with our proposed bid for Britishvolt and can't wait to get started making a reality of our plans to build the UK's first gigafactory," Scale Facilitation CEO and Recharge founder David Collard said.

"After a competitive and rigorous process, we're confident our proposal will deliver a strong outcome for all involved."

The accounting firm EY, appointed as Britishvolt's administrators, said the bidding process saw "multiple approaches from interested parties and numerous offers".

The Recharge buyout deal should be completed within the next seven days, it added, without specifying the details of the bid.

Britishvolt had previously outlined ambitious plans for a 3.8 billion pound ($4.57 billion) 38 gigawatt-hour plant in England's industrial north to build electric vehicle batteries.

The planned plant site at Blyth is regarded as Britain's best "shovel-ready" location to make EV batteries at scale, with the land already acquired and planning permission in place.

The British government under former prime minister Boris Johnson had touted Britishvolt's project as a major milestone toward building an EV industry as the country heads toward a ban on combustion engine cars in 2030.

But Britishvolt had only raised around 200 million pounds by summer 2022 and had pushed back its production timeline.

Its failure was seen as a step back for Britain's car sector, as industry officials consider domestic EV battery plants as essential to keeping UK car production from shifting to mainland Europe.

($1 = 0.8309 pounds)

(Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar in London and Sneha Bhowmik in Bengaluru; Editing by Nivedita Bhattacharjee and Kate Holton)