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ChargePoint to go public in $2.4bn reverse merger

Mergers & Acquisitions

ChargePoint to go public in $2.4bn reverse merger

World’s largest electric car charging network latest to list using special purpose acquisition company

A ChargePoint charging location. The company has installed 115,000 stations across the US and Europe © VIA REUTERS

The world’s largest electric vehicle charging business will list its shares through a reverse merger with a blank-cheque company as it becomes the latest group to shun a traditional initial public offering.

ChargePoint will trade on the New York Stock Exchange at an initial value of $2.4bn through a merger with Switchback Energy, a publicly listed special purpose acquisition company or Spac.

Existing ChargePoint investors include Daimler, BMW and Siemens as well as Scottish investment trust Baillie Gifford, which has large holdings in technology groups.

The company will raise close to $500m, which will be used to fund its expansion across Europe and growth in North America, as the group aims to ride the growing demand for battery vehicles.

It booked $147m of revenue and made a net loss of $133m in 2019, which the company said was because it is still expanding. 

“We are in a breathtakingly large market,” chief executive Pasquale Romano told the Financial Times.

Demand for electric cars has risen across the world despite overall car sales falling because of the pandemic, he said.

While the company has installed more than 100,000 charging points worldwide, more are needed with some leading developed countries expecting to phase out sales of new petrol models within the next 15 years.

Merging with a Spac allows a private business to list shares without the rigours or scrutiny of a traditional IPO.

A handful of companies have come to market recently using the reverse merger financial manoeuvre, including electric truck group Nikola that was more than a year away from generating revenues when it listed in the summer.

Critics contend that these takeovers lack transparency and are often riddled with hot-money investors who have no intention of becoming long-term shareholders. 

Mr Romano stressed that ChargePoint, which was founded in 2007 and installed its first recharging stations a decade ago, was a legitimate business.

“This is a well established company, we have been in revenue for 10 years, we have got a well-built market, and facilities all over the world, in every market,” he said.

“The timing is right for us to be a public entity, there is really no motivation other than it aligned with what the business needs.”

He said the coronavirus pandemic had spurred a “tremendous interest” in electric delivery vehicles among fleet owners, as the amount of goods ordered to homes has increased.

At the same time, electric car demand in Europe is seeing a “huge acceleration,” he added.

So far, ChargePoint has partnerships with 4,000 businesses including Target and Ikea.

It has installed 115,000 stations across the US and Europe. Through roaming agreements with other providers its customers have access to an additional 130,000 charging bays in the US and Europe, which Mr Romano said was key to convincing motorists to switch to battery cars.

“Anything that increases electric penetration helps us in the long term,” he said.

“Now there’s consumer choice, it’s just logical that this market is here and it’s going to accelerate.”

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