The Norwegian government fund Investinor is putting NOK 12 million into the rescue of the electric car manufacturer Think Global AS, with the option to increase its investment to NOK 30 million (€3.46 million).
Other named investors in a placing of shares to refinance the company were the US battery manufacturer Ener1, Inc. and Valmet Automotive of Finland. At the same time as announcing the new investment Think said the Norwegian courts had approved its debt settlement plan, enabling it to exit court protection.
This puts Think back in business and in a position to resume manufacture its latest all-electric vehicle, the TH!NK City model. Following the investment by Valmet Automotive, production of the TH!NK City EV will be transferred from Think’s plant near Oslo to Valmet’s manufacturing base in Uusikaupunki, Finland. Production in Finland is due to start during the fourth quarter of this year.
Production at Think’s existing assembly facility in Aurskog, Norway, will be suspended indefinitely in light of the agreement with Valmet Automotive. Also, plans to open a US assembly plant have been cancelled.
Think was founded in the early 1990s and for four years up to 2003 was owned by Ford. It was subsequently acquired by a group of Norwegian investors in 2006. The company continues to be backed by some individual Norwegian investors as well as venture capital and clean-tech investment firms from the US and the UK.
The new funding, which raised $47 million in total, brings Ener1’s holding to 31 percent. As part of the investment EnerDel and Think have entered into a long-term battery supply agreement. They also intend to combine their expertise to co-manufacture and market electric drive systems.
Investinor was launched by the Ministry of Trade and Industry in February 2009. The fund invests in Norwegian companies on strict commercial terms in return for share capital. Investinor will hold a 5.5 per cent share of Think, with investment manager Steinar Fossen joining the board.
Investinor AS invests in Norwegian based, high potential companies that are internationally oriented and in the phases ranging from early growth to expansion. It has NOK 2.2 billion under management and focuses on companies within the energy, cleantech, maritime, marine and travel sectors. Cleantech and marine sectors are of particular interest, with NOK 500 million earmarked for the marine sector. Investinor has a co-investment strategy, contributing up to 49 per cent in each round, and can take up to 49 percent equity ownership of a portfolio company. Investinor is fully owned by the inward investment body Innovation Norway , which is owned by the Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry.