Unicorn dehorned: Nasdaq-listed Brisbane EV charging venture Tritium collapses into receivership

- April 19, 2024 2 MIN READ
The Tritium team in 2021 ahead of the company's Nasdaq listing
Less than three years after listing on the US Nasdaq, Brisbane-based electric vehicle charging company Tritium has been placed in receivership in a spectacular collapse for the 23-year-old business.

McGrathNicol Restructuring has appointed partners Shaun Fraser, Katherine Sozou, Matthew Hutton and Jamie Harris as receivers of Tritium DCFC Ltd (Nasdaq: DCFC), less than a day after the board called in KPMG as voluntary administrators. 

On April 18, the company’s directors resolved that the business and three of its Australian subsidiaries, Tritium Pty Ltd, Tritium Holdings Pty Ltd and Tritium Nominee Pty Ltd were “insolvent or likely to become insolvent”, appointing KPMG as administrators.

The company had been on the market, with several interested suitors, but the last one pulled out earlier this week and it’s understood that the company’s lenders pushed Tritium into receivership.

McGrathNicol partner and receiver, Shaun Fraser said they’ll look to find a buyer. 

“Our immediate focus is to stabilise operations and work closely with Tritium’s employees, customers and suppliers as we attempt to secure the best possible outcome for all parties,” he said.

“A sale process for Tritium’s business and assets was underway prior to our appointment – we will be re-engaging as a matter of urgency with interested parties and the broader market to seek to find a long-term capital and/or ownership solution for Tritium.” 

Tritium’s implosion comes just as the federal government was seeking to bolster local manufacturing with the Future Made in Australia Act.

The Queensland tech company was seen as example of those hopes.

Founded in 2001 by e-mobility pioneers Dr David Finn, James Kennedy, and Dr Paul Sernia, Tritium turned its attention to designing and manufacturing proprietary hardware for DC fast charging, having begun life developing tech for solar race cars.

In 2021 the company headed offshore, listing on the Nasdaq exchange under a deal with a US-listed special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that valued the business at the time at A$1.55 billion (US$1.2bn). It remained headquartered in Brisbane, with a majority of the product development and engineering team based there, while it had a manufacturing plant in Tennessee, USA.

Prime minister Anthony Albanese referenced Tritium manufacturing in the US in his Future Made in Australia policy announcement.

At one stage Tritium was worth more than $2bn as a listed company, but in recent times, amid capital concerns, its shares plunged and the business had a market cap of less than US$4 million (A$6.2bn).

The plummet in the share price saw the Nasdaq warn the company about a potential delisting, and then a fortnight ago on April 5, the Nasdaq said Tritium didn’t currently meet the minimum 1.1 million publicly held shares required for continued listing following a consolidation of equity.

Tritium’s backers include coal billionaire Trevor St Baker through his private fund, the St Baker Energy Innovation Fund. He was an early investor in Tritium and up until the Nasdaq listing its largest shareholder, at around a 26% stake. He’s also been a major lender to the business as it struggled with capital and profitability.

Tritium chargers are sold throughout the USA, Europe and Asia Pacific region, with around 13,000 chargers sold into 47 countries. 

Its most notable client was film director James Cameron, with Tritium supplying the battery management system for his Australian-made “Deepsea Challenger” submersible, which descended to the bottom of the Mariana Trench in 2012.

A date for the first creditor’s meeting has yet to be set.

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