The administrators of the failed car battery company Britishvolt have asked for an extra year to settle the company's affairs, as the wait continues for the final instalment to be paid on the sale of the business and its assets.
Britishvolt, which planned to build a gigafactory in Cambois near Blyth, went into administration in January after running out of money.
In February the Australian startup Recharge Industries, owned by US-based parent company Scale Facilitation, agreed to buy the business.
However, the purchase has yet to be completed - after it emerged in August that the company was “in default of the business sale agreement” after failing to pay all of the agreed instalments.
At the time, Scale Facilitation, owned by Australian businessman David Collard, said “we dispute we are in default” of the business sale agreement.
In a letter to creditors, administrators EY announced its intention to seek a 12 month extension to either complete the sale or find a new buyer.
According to the letter, “a meeting was held with the Creditors’ Committee” which “did not raise any queries or concerns with the Joint Administrators’ intentions to extend the Administration for a period of 12 months.”
The letter, dated 30 November, EY says it will seek to approve the extension by “deemed consent”, and that unsecured and preferential creditors have until 14 December to raise any objections.
The administrator says that further time is required “to either (i) allow the buyer of the Company’s business and the majority of its assets to pay the remaining outstanding deferred consideration or (ii) sell the remaining assets to an alternative purchaser”.
It adds that the extension is also required as it is “awaiting the submission of the final claim from the Redundancy Payments Service” before it can distribute a dividend to preferential creditors.
Scale Facilitation have been approached for comment.
If approved, the administration period would be extended to 16 January 2025.
What has happened so far?
Britishvolt, which had planned to build a £3.8 billion battery gigafactory with a promise of £100m in grant funding from the UK government, entered administration on 17 January 2023.
On 27 February it was announced that the Australian battery startup Recharge Industries, owned by New York-based Scale Facilitation, would take over the business.
In May it emerged that Recharge Industries had yet to take possession of the land in Cambois, Northumberland, where a battery factory could be built. The company had refused to settle a £9.7 million pound debt with Katch Fund Solutions, which would allow it to take ownership of the land, until a dispute with Northumberland County Council of a buy-back clause over the land is resolved.
In a statement, Northumberland County Council said: "We are continuing to work closely with representatives of Recharge on a range of financial and legal points associated with this significant transaction and investment into our county."
In June, the Australian offices of David Collard's businesses were raided by the serious financial crime task force of the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Tax Office as part of an investigation into an alleged taxation fraud.
At the time, Scale Facilitation said: “We deny any wrongdoing and will continue working with our legal and other advisors to defend any matters arising from these discussions.”
In August ITV News revealed that the the final instalment on Recharge Industries' takeover of Britishvolt had not been paid.
On 22 November, one of David Collard's Australian businesses, SaniteX Global, was declared insolvent by an Australian court over unpaid debts.
At the time, 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".
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