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Britishvolt’s £1.7bn North East battery megafactory in doubt once more as buyer defaults on payments

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The Australian company which was due to buy collapsed battery start-up Britishvolt has missed the deadline to pay for the business.

Filings from administrators EY said the final instalment of the near-£8.6m payment for the assets of the firm, which was due on April 5 was still outstanding.

EY said that the buyer, Recharge Industries, had defaulted on its agreement to buy the business, which was meant to build a massive battery factory, valued at close to $2bn and employing around 3,000 people, in the North East.

“The sale to the buyer had not completed as the final amount of deferred consideration was due to be paid on 5 April 2023,” the report from EY to creditors said.

“As detailed earlier in this report, this amount remains outstanding and as a result, the joint administrators have had to spend a greater amount of time than anticipated in taking steps to preserve and recover this amount.”

It added: “As noted in the proposals, the buyer purchased the company’s business and assets for £8.57 million.

“This amount was payable in a number of instalments. The final instalment remains unpaid and overdue. As a result, the buyer is in default of the business sale agreement.”

The report showed the Britishvolt likely owed somewhere between £130m and £160m when it went out of business.

The biggest debt, of around £26.7m, is to DC Energy, a company which was meant to supply around 100m (£86 million) worth of electrode manufacturing gear to the British start-up.

Korea’s Hana Technology, which also had an agreement to supply Britishvolt, was owed £22.3m, while mining giant Glencore, an investor, was owed £20m.

HMRC is also hoping to get around £3m, largely in income tax and VAT, that the business owes to the exchequer.

The administrators managed to raise around £74,000 from selling off Britishvolt’s IT equipment and a further £77,000 by selling three vehicles used by staff, while employees are owed around £279,000, according to the administrators.

Doubt had already been cast over the future of the sale in June, when the offices of Recharge’s parent company were raided by Australian police over alleged tax fraud.

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