Britishvolt, the startup aiming to build the UK’s first “gigafactory” making batteries for electric cars, is poised to choose London over New York for a float next year after being encouraged by the chancellor’s planned reforms to stock market listing rules.
The company, which recently secured investment from global commodities trader Glencore, plans to invest up to £4bn in building a large-scale battery factory in Northumberland, to serve the market for electric vehicles and energy storage.
While it has yet to secure any customers for its batteries, which are in the prototype stage, chairman Peter Rolton said the company was moving closer to a stock market float, with London now the most likely host.
“You know what, we’re a British company and our preference would be the London Stock Exchange,” said Rolton. “It’s the right home for us.”
Britishvolt had been widely expected to list in the US through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company, or Spac, a cash-rich company looking to invest in a promising business.
Rolton said Britishvolt, which is being advised by Barclays, could not “rule anything out”, with several US Spacs understood to be interested in taking the company to market.
But Rolton said proposed changes to UK stock market listing rules, via two reviews commissioned by the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, had helped edge London in front of New York as the most likely home for the company’s plan to go public.
The Treasury is keen to coax more technology firms into listing in London by tweaking City rules to make raising cash more efficient and faster, as well increasing participation from retail investors. The UK is also looking at measures, proposed in a review by Lord Hill, that could allow company founders to retain more control.
“From what I’m told by advisers, it does help,” said Rolton, referring to the planned rule changes.
The US has often proved more attractive for startup tech companies because it already allows many of the fund-raising mechanisms that the UK is now considering.
The founder and chief executive of Britishvolt, Orral Nadjari, said in June that the company would choose the location for its float within three months, indicating a final decision could be imminent.
Nadjari founded the company in 2019 but suffered a setback a year later when it emerged that his cofounder and the company’s then chairman, Lars Carlstrom, had previously been convicted of tax fraud.
The company has since attracted investors including Glencore and plans to invest up to £4bn in a gigafactory on a site next to the North Sea in Northumberland.
Despite being based near Nissan’s huge Sunderland car factory, the Japanese car marker has not opted to work with Britishvolt, instead announcing plans in the summer for a £1bn electric vehicle hub that includes expansion of an existing battery plant adjoining its site.
Britishvolt has yet to announce a construction contractor, although it is expected to do so before the end of the year. The company also hopes to secure a grant from the government’s Automotive Transformation Fund, with recipients likely to be announced within weeks.
Rolton said Glencore’s investment, which is undisclosed, showed that Britishvolt was a “serious and investable business”, adding that a successful British batterymaker could help the UK fulfil its ambitions to decarbonise without relying on imports, using a domestic supply chain.
“I want to produce a battery that doesn’t rely on components from Asia, from China,” he said. “We want to do everything in house and locally.”