Australian battery group Recharge Industries has been selected by EY as the preferred bidder to buy Britishvolt out of administration, beating three other offers that were submitted earlier this week, according to two people with direct knowledge of the decision.
Administrators at EY informed the company of its status on Friday evening and intend to carry on working on the bid over the weekend, the people added.
“A clear bidder has emerged, subject to them showing to all parties they have proof of finance,” said one person directly involved in the process.
EY aims to sign a contract by Monday, with the aim of receiving the funds early next week, the person added.
Britishvolt collapsed two weeks ago after the battery start-up ran out of cash, forcing it to lay off almost all of its 200 remaining staff. It had hopes of building a £3.8bn battery factory in Blyth, Northumberland.
While its failure dashed UK hopes of creating a homegrown start-up, covenants on its factory site mean that a battery facility may well be erected there in the future. The company’s prototype battery technology, if sold to a new buyer by Recharge, also has the potential to be commercialised.
Over the past fortnight, more than 50 interested buyers were whittled down to four companies that submitted bids on Wednesday.
If the deal closes, the Australian group will have seen off rival bids from a group of Britishvolt investors and one from private equity group Greybull Capital. A fourth bid was tabled by the Saudi British Bank, a retail bank partly backed by HSBC, according to two people.
EY and Recharge did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Recharge was launched in 2021 by Scale Facilitation, a New York-based investment vehicle that has backed a handful of start-ups in the medical technology and green energy sectors. The company is also planning to build a battery plant in the Australian city of Geelong.
Katch Fund Solutions, a creditor to Britishvolt, will be repaid the near £10mn of debt it is owed that was secured against the land, according to a person familiar with the matter. The remaining amount paid above that level will go to EY in administrator fees and to repay other creditors, many of whom will receive little to nothing.
Additional reporting from Michael O’Dwyer in London