Brisbane-based fast charger manufacturer Tritium will merge with a US company and list on the New York-based NASDAQ stock exchange, in a deal that will inject an extra $520 million to fund aggressive expansion plans.
The merger is with US-based Decarbonization Plus Acquisition Corporation II, a so-called “blank cheque company” set up solely for the purpose of making acquisitions of this sort. The deal values the company at $US1.2 billion ($A1.55 billion) – a valuation that gives it the coveted status of “unicorn” as an unlisted start-up worth more than $US1 billion.
Following the merger Tritium says it plans to build a new manufacturing facility in Europe to meet growing demand for battery electric vehicles.
Tritium was founded in 2001 by David Finn, James Kennedy, and Paul Sernia in Brisbane. Their technology uses liquid rather than air-based cooling technology, and specialises in operating in extreme climates, both hot and cold. Kennedy and Finn remain at the company as chief technology officer and chief growth officer respectively.
Twenty years on from its founding, Tritium has sold 4400 chargers in 41 countries around the world. It counts among its most sizeable contracts a deal to supply the UK’s largest national charging network The Electric Highway.
EVs already make up more than 10 per cent of new sales in the UK, and the government there will ban the sale of petrol cars from 2030 and hybrids from 2035. EV growth in continental Europe is running at a similar pace.
Tritium manufacturers 50 kilowatt, 75 kW, 175kW and 350kW chargers. The company says the 350kW ultra-fast charger can provide 350 kilometres of range in “10 minutes or less”, making it a well-suited to busy highway service stations where motorists need a substantial charge quickly.
Tritium markets its products to network operators, fleet operators, heavy commercial transport operators, retail and hospitality businesses, and dealerships.
There will be no major management changes following the merger and NASDAQ listing, with chief executive Jane Hunter and other key executives – including Kennedy and Finn – staying on in their roles.
Hunter, a former executive at aviation giant Boeing, said, “The accelerated electrification of the transport sector globally is now underway and has extraordinary implications beyond the benefits to individual consumers. We plan to expand to three global manufacturing facilities, enhance our products, grow our global sales and service operations teams, and so much more.
“This agreement funds that growth plan, enabling us to expand our business operations, expedite product development, assess and achieve the company’s environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) goals, and provide even more services to our customers.”
Tritium, which was founded in Brisbane in 2001, has financial backing from coal magnate Trevor St Baker, who caught public attention in 2015 for buying the Vales Point coal power station from the NSW government for $1 million – after which its valuation temporarily rocketed to $800 million.
St Baker is expected to stay on the board of the listed company, along with other backers including fellow-coal entrepreneur Brian Flannery, managing director of White Energy; and Kara Frederick, managing director of Tiger Financial Group.
“Today is an incredibly proud day for Tritium’s founders, David, James and Paul, and also for Australia’s
technology and e-mobility sectors,” St. Baker said.
“We’re proud to have supported the Tritium success story from a start-up in Brisbane, to a global exporter and manufacturer of advanced charging technology with a leading global market share.”
James Fernyhough is a reporter at RenewEconomy and The Driven. He has worked at The Australian Financial Review and the Financial Times, and is interested in all things related to climate change and the transition to a low-carbon economy.