Battery startup Britishvolt enters administration as rescue talks fail

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 17th Jan 2023) London, Uk – –

Staff told majority of firm’s 300 employees would be immediately made redundant on Tuesday morning

The battery startup Britishvolt has collapsed into administration with the majority of its 300 staff made immediately redundant after talks about a rescue bid from several investors failed.

Britishvolt filed notice to appoint an administrator in the insolvency courts on Tuesday and the accountancy firm EY has confirmed it has taken on the administration.


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Staff were told the “majority” of its 300 employees would be immediately made redundant on Tuesday morning.

The company’s efforts to build a large facility near Blyth in Northumberland had stalled in recent months as it struggled to find a cash injection to pursue the project.

EY said the company had entered administration “due to insufficient equity investment for both the ongoing research it was undertaking and the development of its sites in the Midlands and the north-east of England”.

The administrators, one of the big four accountancy firms, will now assess the company’s assets, including its intellectual property and research, in an effort to pay creditors and will subsequently wind down its affairs.

Britishvolt had said on Monday that it was in talks over a “majority sale” of the business but those discussions appear to have failed.

Shareholders had been voting on potential new investors in the £3.8bn “gigafactory” project, which was seen as a key pillar in supplying the next generation of electric vehicles built in the UK.

The company’s management had been in talks with a number of potential investors, including existing investors keen to prevent the value of their holdings from being wiped out, and an obscure Indonesia-linked group with little experience in manufacturing.

The Guardian revealed last week that DeaLab Group, a UK-based private equity investor, and an associated metals business, Barracuda Group, were in talks over a £160m rescue deal.

Sources close to the situation said the existing investors had been closer to securing a deal than the Indonesia-linked consortium which “did not have the necessary funding” required to take on Britishvolt. However, ultimately, both appear to have failed to reach a deal.

The administration came after numerous delays to expected announcements in recent days as executives weighed weaknesses in the bids. Most notably, the company’s leadership had concerns that it had no guarantees that promised follow-on funding would materialise, according to two sources with knowledge of internal discussions.

Dan Hurd, joint administrator and partner at EY-Parthenon, said: “Britishvolt provided a significant opportunity to create jobs and employment, as well as support the development of technology and infrastructure needed to help with the UK’s energy transition.

“It is disappointing that the company has been unable to fulfil its ambitions and secure the equity funding needed to continue.

“Our priorities as joint administrators are now to protect the interests of the company’s creditors, explore options for a sale of the business and assets, and to support the impacted employees.”

Britishvolt was hoping to build the 30 gigawatt hours gigafactory in phases, manufacturing enough battery cells a year for more than 300,000 electric vehicle battery packs, equivalent to about a quarter of current UK vehicle manufacturing. However, construction work stopped last autumn as its focus turned to staving off collapse.

Building gigafactories is seen as a key aim by the government, which had promised £100m support to the project.

Britishvolt asked for a £30m advance on the funds last year but was rejected as the company had not hit certain milestones needed to access the funds. That was reportedly followed by two further requests, for £11.5m and then just £3m, raising concerns in government about the financial stability of the project.

Ian Lavery, the Labour MP for Wansbeck, where the factory was to have been built, said the situation was “deeply concerning” and noted that the project was “once the crown jewel of the government’s levelling up policy in the north-east”.


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Britishvolt narrowly avoided entering administration in October after it secured a last-minute injection of £5m from the FTSE 100 mining company Glencore, which was already an investor. Glencore had a deal with Britishvolt to supply cobalt to the factory.

A Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy spokesman said: “We remained hopeful that Britishvolt would find a suitable investor and are disappointed to hear that this has not been possible, and therefore no ATF [Automotive Transformation Fund] grant has been paid out.

“Our thoughts are with the company’s employees and their families at this time, and we stand ready to support those affected.”

By Alex Lawson and Jasper Jolly

 

KPMG escapes record fine over Carillion, Regenersis audit checks

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 26th July 2022) London, UK —

KPMG was fined 14.4 million pounds ($17.27 million) on Monday after the accounting firm admitted to providing false and misleading information to its regulator during spot checks on audits of construction firm Carillion and outsourcing firm Regenersis.

The Financial Reporting Council, the regulator involved, also ordered KPMG to appoint an independent reviewer into the firm's current Audit Quality Review (AQR) policies and procedures.


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KPMG would have been fined 20 million pounds had it not earned a discount for self-reporting the incidents, co-operating with the FRC and admitting to the misconduct, the FRC said.

Without the discount, the fine would have been the largest FRC fine ever, eclipsing Deloitte's 15 million pound penalty in September 2020 for an audit of software company Autonomy.

KPMG, one of the world's “Big Four” auditing firms, also paid 3.95 million pounds towards the costs of the FRC and Tribunal.

Five KPMG employees had challenged FRC allegations of misconduct relating to the audits, but an independent Tribunal found against them. A sixth employee settled hours before Tribunal hearings began in January.

The FRC had told the hearing that the former KPMG employees had “forged” and “manufactured” missing documents which had been requested by the regulator.

“The seriousness of the misconduct that we have found proved scarcely needs explanation,” the Tribunal said.

KPMG faced the same allegations as its employees because it is liable for their conduct.

Four of the five staff who took part in the Tribunal hearing were fined between 30,000 and 250,000 pounds, and banned from the profession for between seven and 10 years. The fifth person was severely reprimanded but escaped a fine.

“I accept the findings and sanctions of the tribunal in full,” said KPMG's chief executive in the UK, Jon Holt.


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Since the incidents, KPMG said it has worked hard and with complete transparency to the FRC, to assure itself that the behaviour of the individuals concerned does not reflect the wider culture of the firm, Holt said.

The FRC is still investigating KPMG's audit of Carillion, whose collapse sparked reviews on how to improve auditing standards.

By Huw Jones

EasyJet summer comeback driven by European travel demand

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 20th July 2021) London, UK —

LONDON, July 20 (Reuters) – EasyJet (EZJ.L) plans to fly 60% of its pre-pandemic capacity in July-September as a travel recovery takes hold in mainland Europe, and Britain is expected to catch-up in the coming weeks.

The British airline said it was confident on demand for the summer and autumn, issuing its most buoyant update since the start of the pandemic almost a year and a half ago, and allowing it to lift capacity from just 17% of 2019 levels in March-June.

The travel pick-up has to date been led by the European Union, said easyJet, leading it to shift planes from Britain to markets including Scandinavia and Holland.

Two-thirds of bookings are currently coming from the rest of Europe, while normally its business is evenly split between Britain and the continent, but easyJet expects that to change now travel rules for fully-vaccinated Britons have been relaxed.

“I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that the UK demand will follow the same pattern that we're seeing outside the UK in mainland Europe,” chief executive Johan Lundgren told reporters on Tuesday.

Lundgren has been one of the most vocal critics of Britain's approach to travel over the last two months, slamming last-minute changes which have resulted in booking surges and mass cancellations.

Britain should add more countries to its “green list” of low-risk destinations, Lundgren said.

Asked about worries quarantine could be reintroduced for Britons returning from Spain, as it was for France recently, he said easyJet was flexible. 

“We set ourselves up to be able to cope with shifting demands,” he said.

Shares in easyJet traded up 2% to 785 pence at 0845 GMT. The stock has lost about 20% of its value over the last month over worries about the impact of strict UK travel rules.

The airline's plan for more flights in July-September, when it tends to make almost all of its profit, is being mirrored at rivals such as Ryanair (RYA.I) and Wizz Air (WIZZ.L).

EasyJet, which has shed staff, cut the size of its fleet and taken on new debt to survive, said it was well-placed financially, with 2.9 billion pounds ($4 billion) of liquidity, and had cut costs to improve its cash burn rate.

But it said limited visibility and ongoing uncertainty meant it could not provide guidance for the rest of the year. For the three months to June 30, easyJet posted a pretax loss of 318 million pounds.

P&O Cruises cancel until 2021

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Fri, 18th Sept 2020) London, Uk – –

P&O Cruises has cancelled all its sailings until early 2021, further extending the suspension of its operations because of the continued spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The British cruise line, which is owned by the Carnival group, has repeatedly put its voyages “on pause”, most recently until mid-November.

All P&O’s Caribbean cruises have now been cancelled until the end of January 2021, and all cruises from or to Southampton have been suspended until the end of February. The company had already cancelled its longer cruises, including a round-the-world voyage, which ordinarily would have departed from Southampton in January.

P&O said that evolving restrictions on travel from the UK made the further cancellations necessary. Paul Ludlow, president of P&O Cruises, said the company was monitoring the situation closely and would reintroduce cruises when feasible.

The company was working with scientists and government on new health measures for use on board when cruises resume. “We cannot wait for restrictions to ease, borders to open and for us to once again be able to set sail for a new beginning,” Ludlow added.

Customers who have bookings on cancelled cruises will be notified, and will receive a full refund or a credit worth 125% of their booking for a future cruise.

Cruising was hit hard in the early stages of the pandemic, when passengers on Carnival’s Diamond Princess were confined to their cabins after hundreds became infected with Covid-19, while other ships also became breeding grounds for the virus.

Carnival cut hundreds of jobs in the UK in May.

Earlier this week, the group reported an almost $3bn (£2.3bn) quarterly loss, as much of its global fleet remains suspended, including its other British cruise line, Cunard.

However, earlier in September Carnival restarted its first cruise in months with a seven-day voyage operated by its Italian subisdiary, Costa. Its German cruise line, Aida, is due to resume sailings in the autumn.

By Joanna Partridge