Plans to build a car battery factory in Northumberland have been dealt a fresh blow as a company owned by the man attempting to take over the project was declared insolvent.
The site in Cambois, near Blyth, has been earmarked for the gigafactory for a number of years - with the council selling the land to now-bust Britishvolt in 2021.
Britishvolt was bought by Recharge Industries, owned by David Collard, in March this year but now another company owned by the businessman, Sanitex Global, has been declared insolvent and ordered to close by an Australian court.
In a hearing on Wednesday 22 November at the Supreme Court of Victoria in Melbourne, Judicial Registrar Kim Woronczak found that Sanitex Global was insolvent.
She also determined that the business should be wound up to pay more than £75,000 of debts.
Sanitex Global owed AU$100,000 (£52,000) to a supplier, Lake Advisory, and another AU$55,000 (£29,000) to a former employee in unpaid wages.
In a 13-minute hearing, Leo Freckleton, representing Lake Advisory, asked that the court to proceed with winding up Santiex Global, saying the company had had “ample opportunity” to repay its debts.
Kelvin Tay, representing Sanitex Global, requested an adjournment saying that “late last week my client received confirmation of funding that will be available to it by the end of this week” and would be in a position to pay the debt.
Judicial Registrar Woronczak rejected the adjournment request, noting that “the defendant has not put in any evidence” that the funding would be available.
She added that she was “satisfied that the winding up application is in order” and that “there’s no evidence that's been filed by the defendant to oppose the application”.
Accordingly, she ruled that Sanitex Global “be wound up in insolvency” and appointed a liquidator for the purposes of winding up
In a statement to ITV News, a spokesperson for Scale Facilitation, the owner of Recharge Industries, said: “Sanitex Global Pty Ltd is a stand alone entity in Australia that was owned by David Collard. The entity is not part of the Recharge Industries or Scale Facilitation groups.
They added that “services were provided to Recharge Industries and Scale Facilitation by the entity which have been materially reduced over the past 6 months".
Ian Lavery MP, who se Wansbeck constituency includes the Cambois site, said: "The deal should have been concluded some weeks ago, if not some months ago, and it hasn't been concluded. So I am naturally concerned."
But, he added: "I've been in touch with the chief executive and he assures me that this is still happening. It's still very much part of his vision for the site in Cambois, and he believes it will be concluded very shortly.”
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