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Blackstone to invest in Northumberland data centre

Written by Tue 16 Apr 2024

Image Credit: Reuters

A Britishvolt gigafactory in Northumberland may be repurposed as a data centre, due to an investment from alternative asset manager, Blackstone.

The BBC reported the Northumberland city council may exercise the buy-back option for the site, thanks to a £110 million ($137.1 million) investment from private equity firm Blackstone.

This initial Blackstone investment is part of a plan to invest more than £10 billion ($12.4 billion) in the site, creating upwards of 1,600 direct and 2,700 indirect jobs throughout the development of the data centre. According to council leader Glen Sanderson, this money will be used to create an investment fund to finance economic projects along the reopened Northumberland Line.

“We applaud the council’s focus on revitalising a stranded site and we look forward to engaging with them and the wider stakeholder community as we progress this meaningful potential investment,” said a spokesperson at Blackstone.

While the investment firm and city council seem to be aligned on the plan for repurposing the site as a data centre, there has been no mention of which organisation will oversee the construction and operation of the facility. The council’s cabinet is expected to solidify plans at an upcoming meeting on 23 April.

The History of the Site

Startup manufacturer, Britishvolt, had ambitions to supply EV car batteries to support the modernisation of the UK automotive industry. However, economic pressures from the recession and high-interest rates made funding difficult to secure.

Britishvolt collapsed in January 2023, after failing to secure necessary funding to complete the factory buildout and continue operations.

Australia-based Recharge purchased Britishvolt out of administration and was poised to take over the project and complete the factory. The BBC reported that upon completion the Northumberland site would be focused on building power units for Australian military vehicles.

“Members of the Northumberland County Council have misgivings about Recharge’s ability to deliver on its plan and have an option to repurchase the site in December 2024 if substantial progress has not been made to develop the site,” reported the BBC.

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Written by Tue 16 Apr 2024

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