NG Bailey owed more than £2m by collapsed gigafactory client

Britishvolt, the start-up electric vehicle battery manufacturer behind a £3.8bn gigafactory in Northumberland, went under owing around £160m, it has emerged.

A new report from administrators at EY shows that those owed money by the company included mechanical and electrical (M&E) giant NG Bailey, which is out of pocket by more than £2m.

The report shows that £500m-turnover specialist NG Bailey is owed £766,000 and facilities management and power engineering services firm The Freedom Group – which NG Bailey acquired in 2018 – was owed £1.25m.

NG Bailey was a partner in the project, holding contracts at both the Northumberland plant and for a planned “battery cell scale-up” facility in Warwickshire. It was also an investor in the company, although the exact value of its investment has not been disclosed.

The report says NG Bailey is the 23rd-largest shareholder in the firm, owning 536,276 shares.

Last week, Ashtead, the owner of construction plant rental firm Sunbelt Rentals, said in its financial results that it had written off a £35m investment in Britishvolt, comprised of £31m in equity and a £4m convertible loan. According to the EY report, Sunbelt owned 997,340 shares in the company.

An NG Bailey spokesperson said: “Like many, we were disappointed to see Britishvolt enter administration. However, at NG Bailey we are still committed to playing our part in the decarbonisation of the UK economy.

“As a business, we continue to have a very strong pipeline of work and high-quality forward-order book. We are looking forward to working with our partners and customers to continue driving forward the UK’s transition to net-zero in the next year and beyond.”

ISG, which won a £300m design-and-build contract to deliver the factory at Cambois in December 2020, is not owed anything. After being appointed to the job, its owner William Harrison joined the board of Britishvolt in March 2021. A spokesperson for the contractor said it was paid in full for the work it delivered.

Harrison is also the second largest shareholder in Britishvolt, via his company shares, holding 11.3 million as of 5 January, according to EY.

A pause on the build of the factory announced in August last year was one of the first external signs of the problems at Britishvolt.

EY’s report shows that it made a loss of more than £154m during its creation in 2019 until it went under in January this year. It had aimed to raise £800m in equity in 2022 and a further £1.7bn in the following years, but only managed £168m.

It had secured a £100m UK government grant but did not meet the milestones in business development attached to the funding and so could not access any cash.

Other companies owed money by Britishvolt include EY itself, which worked with the start-up on a potential rescue plan from last August, and is owed £4m.

A spokesperson for EY said it would not vote on any creditor resolutions that may be required as part of the administration process and will bring in a third-party company to carry out the liquidation of the company when it reaches that stage.

“EY will get the same return as other unsecured creditors,” she added.

Its report says that while it is currently unknown how much unsecured creditors will receive after the administration process, it is likely to be less than 1p in the pound.

Consultants Gardiner & Theobald are another construction-related firm named among creditors, and are owed £335,870, the report says.

Meanwhile, former employees of the company should receive any outstanding wages they are owed, the report adds.

In February, EY accepted a bid to acquire the majority of Britishvolt and most of its assets from Recharge, an Australian subsidiary of US firm Scale Facilitation Partners.

The new report reveals the bid valued the deal at just £8.6m. The final payment for the business is due to be received within the next month, it says.

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