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Amid surge in green financing, UK battery startup Zenobē Energy secures £241M to accelerate mass adoption 


As the UK government aims to ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2035, the market for battery operated automobiles is increasing. And so is the investment in battery startups!

Now the news is in, the leading EV fleet and battery storage specialist from the country Zenobē Energy has established a bumper debt structure of £241 million to accelerate the EV fleet sector’s expansion radically. 

Service and finance up to 430 new e-buses

The first of its kind funding platform advised and structured by NatWest, draws on several financial institutions’ support and will enable Zenobē to initially service and finance up to 430 new e-buses in the UK and Ireland. The innovative structure takes total debt finance support from financial institutions to over £300 million.

Since 2017, the company has also raised equity of over £220 million, including a £150 million investment in November 2020 from Infracapital, the infrastructure investment arm of M&G, which has allowed Zenobē to provide services and finance the acceleration of the UK’s transition to a green road transport system. 

The institutions took into account the green credentials of Zenobē, and the debt’s application and the company benefited from reduced financing costs accordingly.

This transaction is an innovative and bespoke funding package which will play a vital role in financing Zenobē’s turnkey fleet electrification offering. The multi-source debt structure will enable the company to raise senior debt financing against the service contracts that Zenobē has entered with bus operator customers.

The structure comprises long-dated term financing, including from UK private placement institutions Aviva and Scottish Widows, alongside a shorter-term facility provided by six banks (Lloyds, MUFG, NatWest, Santander, Siemens and Sociētē Gēnērale) that is intended to fund capital investment to support e-bus and charging infrastructure provided under service contracts to bus operators. The funding platform will be used to raise additional financing over time, and in doing so broaden its funder base as Zenobē expands fleet activities in the UK and Ireland. 

Zenobē is a UK market leader in EV fleets and battery storage, with 175MW of operational and contracted storage assets and 394 EV buses or an estimated 25 per cent market share of the UK operational EV bus sector. It currently works with all major bus operators in the UK, including Arriva, Abellio, McGills, National Express and Stagecoach, as well as local authority-owned bus companies, and is enabling the faster take up of EV buses in the UK, helping to meet legally binding climate change targets and improve air quality across the country. Zenobē’s services can act as match funding to government grants, enabling the available grant finance to go further and bring more electric buses onto UK roads.

Nicholas Beatty, Founder Director, Zenobē Energy said: “This is an incredibly exciting step for both Zenobē and the transport sector as a whole. This innovative funding structure marks the coming of age of structured finance solutions for fleet electrification, and signifies substantial growth for our business, allowing us to accelerate the rollout of electric buses across the UK.

“We are delighted to have worked with NatWest to complete this ground-breaking financing of a new asset class for the market. The funds we are able to draw on from our new and existing funding partners through these and future contracts will support Zenobē in our aims to assist our customers to achieve the UK’s vehicle electrification targets.” 

Joe Taylor, Head of Infrastructure & Asset Finance at NatWest said: “We are thrilled that the pioneering funding platform we’ve advised Zenobē on will help speed up the use of electric vehicles and create a greener transport system in the UK.

“NatWest has set out a clear ambition to play a leading role in helping to address the climate challenge, a key part of which is developing financing structures for innovative businesses that are moving to greener energy. We look forward to continuing to work with businesses to empower them to deliver on their green ambitions.”

Andy Matthews, Head of Greenfield, Infracapital said: “We are delighted that Zenobē has secured additional funding to support its expansion plans. There is a critical need to decarbonise the transport system and Zenobē is leading this transition. There is a significant opportunity for continued growth, both in the UK and internationally, and this innovative, bespoke funding solution will further enhance Zenobē’s ability to deliver long-term, sustainable solutions to its customers.”

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