French battery startup Verkor raised more than €2 billion ($2.2 billion) to fund a factory in northern France as President Emmanuel Macron steps up efforts to attract electric-vehicle investments and better compete with China and the US.
(Bloomberg) — French battery startup Verkor raised more than €2 billion ($2.2 billion) to fund a factory in northern France as President Emmanuel Macron steps up efforts to attract electric-vehicle investments and better compete with China and the US.
Construction of the new €1.5 billion plant, located in the port of Dunkirk, will start next month, Verkor Chief Executive Officer Benoit Lemaignan said in a phone interview. It will create 1,200 jobs and have initial production capacity of 16 gigawatt hours a year and is expected to be operational by 2025.
“We are working hard to make sure these batteries can be more competitive in terms of costs,” the CEO said. “We want our clients to be able to sell affordable cars. There is an increasing awareness that Europe needs a local battery ecosystem.”
The factory is among four of its kind planned in France, as Macron pushes to compete with green-technology incentives in the US and Asia. Verkor studied 40 potential locations in France, Italy and Spain before choosing Dunkirk.
Investors including Macquarie Asset Management, Meridiam, state-owned Bpifrance’s SPI investment fund as well as Verkor’s original partners Renault SA and EQT Ventures joined the Series-C funding round, according to a statement Thursday. The wider deal, which includes funding for research, contains about €650 million in French subsidies at both national and local level.
The investments in Verkor are “a bold sign of our ambition for re-industrialization,” Macron said. “It also demonstrates the full coherence of our innovation policy at national and European level, with the support of everyone, investors, large companies and local territories.”
The deal comes on the heels of another win for Macron, after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday that officials are investigating China’s subsidies policies for EV makers.
The area around Dunkirk has been attracting other investments, such as those from Taiwanese battery maker ProLogium Technology Co., thanks to its location close to electric-car factories in France and neighboring nations, its deep-water harbor and rail connections that can be used for exports.
Grenoble-based Verkor earlier this year announced a deal to supply Renault with high-performance batteries starting in 2025 for vehicles such as the upcoming Alpine electric C-Crossover GT. Renault, which used to own about 20% of Verkor and currently has two seats on the company’s board, is expected to remain with an about 10% stake.
The successful financing of Verkor is “a decisive step for the development of an electric ecosystem in France,” Renault CEO Luca de Meo said in the statement.
Jefferies Financial Group Inc. acted as lead financial advisor for Verkor alongside Ceres Partners and Santander Corporate & Investment Banking. Hogan Lovells acted as legal advisor.
(Updates with details on plant in second paragraph, advisers in final paragraph.)
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