Britishvolt ‘moved too fast’, says former boss after company is saved from collapse after securing a last-minute funding lifeline

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Criticism: Lars Karlstrom, who stepped down as chairman of Britishvolt in December 2020, said the wrong people may have been in power

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The former Britishvolt boss turned to its current management after the firm narrowly avoided collapse by securing last-minute funding.

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Lars Karlstrom, who stepped down as chairman in December 2020, wondered if the project, which “accelerated too quickly because of too many people,” is being held accountable.

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The former Britishvolt boss turned to its current management after the firm narrowly avoided collapse by securing last-minute funding.

He said: “Probably we could see a more successful project if a number of things were done differently.”

His comments come after Britishvolt received an 11-hour package from investors to keep it afloat after reports surfaced that it was on the verge of going into administration, putting about 300 jobs in the UK at risk.

The company is building the UK’s largest EV battery plant in Blyth, Northumberland, with a £3.8bn “gigafactory” that will employ up to 3,000 people by the time it is fully operational.

But the group ran into difficulties due to delays and the resignation of its co-founder and later boss, Orral Najari, in August. He had to fight for emergency funding to keep from going bankrupt.

The situation worsened after ministers abandoned plans to invest £100m in the company when it emerged that the cash would be used to keep it afloat and not to build the Blyth plant.

Speaking on the BBC Today programme, Karlstrom said the government could make a “very good return” on its investment in Britishvolt, but admitted he did not agree with the way the firm was run.

He left after it was revealed that he had been convicted of tax fraud in Sweden in the 90s, although he claimed disagreements over how to run the business were the main reason for his departure.

He said: “There are some shortcomings and the reason I left was because we couldn’t agree.

“There were collaboration issues and we couldn’t agree on how to move this forward in a good way.”

Carlstrom added that someone “added fuel to the fire” with the news of his tax conviction to “make my exit smoother and faster.”

Britishvolt was established in 2019 to make batteries for electric vehicles and help drive the clean energy revolution in the UK.

The plans for Blyth were hailed by then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson as “a level-up opportunity”.

Government funding of £100m helped the firm raise another £1.7bn.

But with its future in doubt, potential buyers are circling the plant, which is considered one of the best battery manufacturing locations in Europe thanks to its rail and sea connections and access to clean energy.

Credit: www.thisismoney.co.uk /

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