Lithium metal batteries developer SES going public in SPAC deal

by Michael Green
Investor GM announced a joint development agreement with SES earlier this year to accelerate lithium metal battery commercialisation. Photo: Steve Fecht for GM
Lithium metal batteries company SES is to go public through a merger with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), Ivanhoe Capital Acquisition Corp, in a deal that values the combined company at about $3.6bn (£2.6bn), including a $300m earn-out.

Ivanhoe said the deal, announced today, will bring $476m in proceeds for SES, including a private investment in public equity (PIPE) of $200m from General Motors, South Korea’s Hyundai group and Chinese automotive group Geely.

The merger comes just weeks after GM led a funding round that raised $139m for SES, formerly known as SolidEnergy Systems, to build a manufacturing line for "high-performance” prototype electric vehicle batteries in the US state of Massachusetts by 2023.

'Third-party testing'

Ivanhoe founder, chairman and CEO, Robert Friedland, said the company had consulted "several of the world’s leading battery advisors” to assess SES’s approach to Li-metal batteries, in addition to commissioning independent third-party testing of the performance of its technology.
"We concluded that SES’s approach to Li-metal batteries has led to it being the most competitive industry player today when measured by performance,” Friedland said.

SES chief executive Dr Qichao Hu, who founded the firm in 2012 as a spin-out company of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said its batteries can deliver energy density of 400 watt-hours per kilogram, with fast charge capability up to 80% in less than 15 minutes. SES operates battery-prototyping facilities in the US and China.
The merger is expected to be completed later this year, after which the combined company will trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

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