Lord Botham hails Australian battery maker's rescue bid for Britishvolt

Cricketing legend Sir Ian Botham leaving the Palace of Westminster after being sworn into House of Lords - Geoff Pugh for the Telegraph
Cricketing legend Sir Ian Botham leaving the Palace of Westminster after being sworn into House of Lords - Geoff Pugh for the Telegraph

Lord Botham is “proactively assisting” an Australian battery maker which has made an 11th hour bid for the assets of collapsed Britishvolt.

Recharge Industries confirmed its interest in saving the UK company and acquiring the site near Blyth, in the North East.

Its chief executive also hailed the “proactive assistance” of cricket legend Lord Botham, who is the UK-Australian trade envoy, ahead of its bid.

David Collard, chief executive of Recharge, told the Australian Financial Review: “Keeping Britishvolt viable and in the hands of friendly nations and companies is critical to the security of British and European supply chains and advanced manufacturing capabilities.

“Recharge Industries has done in 18 months what Britishvolt has struggled to do in three years working by themselves. By combining, we can put the sort of acceleration into Britishvolt that you’d expect from the best EV on the market.”

He added that Recharge had been in talks with Lord Botham, who promotes two-way trade between the UK and Australia on behalf of Rishi Sunak's government.

Lord Botham said: “The UK is home to the most innovative and exciting companies in the world. It’s fantastic to have an Australian business wanting to invest in UK-Australia trade and investment opportunities.”

Britishvolt plunged into administration earlier this month after failing to secure a rescue deal. More than 200 staff were made redundant as part of the collapse.

It had been hoping to build a £3.8bn gigafactory near Blyth and had £100m in government funding earmarked for the plant.

But repeated delays put the project into doubt. The government funding was also contingent on the company meeting milestones, which it had failed to achieve.

Despite securing lifeline funding in November, that cash ran out and the company appointed EY as administrators.

The company’s factory site is viewed as prime real estate for industry, due to its close links to a deep port and other infrastructure.

Several other companies are thought to be interested in the plot, among them Slovakian battery maker, Inobat, which is led by former Aston Martin chief executive Andy Palmer.

Jaguar Land Rover had been mooted as a potential customer to Britishvolt, and it had signed a memorandum of understanding with sports car maker Lotus to develop next generation batteries.

Recharge, the Australian firm, is planning to build a gigafactory in Geelong by 2024.