The rumour that first surfaced in January that the fast-charging network Ionity could soon get external investors has been fuelled by a new media report. According to the report, the joint venture has hired major bank BNP Paribas to find investors.
Citing “several people familiar with the matter”, Reuters news agency reports that Ionity is planning to sell a minority stake worth between 400 and 500 million euros. This would correspond to a share of 20 to 25 per cent of the company. According to the insiders, among the potentially interested parties are a number of investors such as Macquarie, EQT, Meridiam, OMERS and IFM. First bids are apparently expected after Easter.
Reuters also quotes an official statement from Ionity that saying that Ionity is in constant dialogue with its joint venture partners and is examining further investment opportunities for the expansion of the fast charging infrastructure. It goes on to say: “In principle, additional shareholders are welcome for the joint venture.” Ionity is backed by the carmakers Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Ford, Volkswagen (via Audi and Porsche) and, more recently, Hyundai-Kia. To date, the five shareholders each hold 20 per cent of the joint venture.
Managing Director Michael Hajesch recently spoke about the future of Ionity in our online conference with our German language broadcast electrive.net live focussing on High Power Charging (HPC). “For 2021, we expect a significant increase in numbers,” Hajesch said. As further projects, he mentioned the introduction of Plug&Charge by the second quarter in all markets and the piloting of battery-based charging stations in Spain and the UK.
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Ionity is famously behind schedule in rolling out its HPC parks, with only 336 of the 400 charging parks the joint venture has promised to complete by the end of 2020. The company’s CEO only hints at what activities the company is basically aiming for after the 400 completed charging parks. “We are in intensive talks with our shareholders.” What he can say is that “we are certainly not letting off the gas in our progressive approach”.
However, two or three of Hajesch’s comments on the digital electrive stage left further room for interpretation: firstly, he welcomed the German government’s initiative to build 1,000 DC “federal charging parks” and indicated that Ionity would “of course look at the tender, although everything depends on what the regulation looks like at the end of the day”. On the other hand, Hajesch advocated “more HPC and denser coverage” to prevent long queues at Ionity charging parks in the future, especially on weekends.
Incidentally, in January, in line with the current Reuters report, the German publication Manager Magazin also reported that the owners were considering attracting private equity capital for Ionity “because the expansion of the fast-charging network is progressing too slowly”. The article spoke of at least 500 million euros in fresh capital. At the time, the German business publication cited “financial circles” as sources.
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