Chemicals and engineering company Johnson Matthey has revealed plans to close its battery materials arm after failing to secure a sale in a move that is set to affect around 430 staff – some of them based at its site at Milton Park near Didcot which only opened last year.

The firm, which describes itself as “a global leader in sustainable technologies” – including batteries for electric cars – put the division up for sale in November as it said it was unable to compete with alternative technologies and larger, lower cost manufacturers. It said it had been unable to strike a deal, despite talks with a number of possible buyers.

Johnson Matthey is now consulting with the 430 workers at the division over a proposal to shut the business and sell off its assets.

The firm said it is in active talks over asset sales and hopes to be able to transfer some jobs as part of any potential deals, while it will also look to redeploy remaining workers internally to “minimise” redundancies.

The majority of the division’s staff are based in the UK, at its Oxfordshire base, which it calls a “state of the art” Battery Technology Centre, and at offices on Teesside and near Cambridge.

There are also some overseas staff in Poland, Finland and Canada.

The group said: “We have held discussions with a number of parties about a sale of the entire business.

“These discussions have not resulted in an agreement to sell the entire business as a going concern.

“Consequently, we are announcing today that we are commencing consultation with our employees about our proposed closure of the Battery Materials business, and we are pursuing the sale of its individual assets.”

Johnson Matthey said it expects to book around £150m of costs in its annual results for impairment charges from the sale, including redundancy costs.

Oxford Mail: Boris Johnson visited a Johnson Matthey laboratory in Enfield in 2015

Boris Johnson visited a Johnson Matthey laboratory in Enfield in 2015

It had already reported £314 million in impairment charges in its half-year results relating to the value of the division.

The £13m Battery Technology Centre launched last May, officially opened by Business Secretary Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng. It was billed as a hub for skills in the battery sector.

The company had said it was at the heart of the shift to electric cars, which it said was crucial to a net zero future. It was working on next generation battery materials to enable electric cars to drive further and recharge faster.

Robert MacLeod, Chief Executive, said at the time: “This new facility represents an important milestone on our journey towards developing a sustainable battery materials ecosystem and emphasises the progress we are making on the commercialisation of our battery materials business. Johnson Matthey has a growing range of solutions to help society decarbonise at scale, and at the same time we are doing our bit by driving our own operations and supply chains to achieve net zero by 2040.”


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