Mercedes, Stellantis battery JV nears $4.7B debt deal

Mercedes, Stellantis battery JV nears $4.7B debt deal

Automotive News Europe — 2024-02-09

Automotive Industry

The electric-car battery venture led by Stellantis and Mercedes-Benz is close to raising €4.4 bn ($4.7 bn) in debt to finance its expansion in Europe, according to people familiar with the matter.

Automotive Cells Company is in talks with a series of banks and may announce a debt agreement in the coming days, the people said, declining to be identified discussing confidential information. There is no certainty a deal will be reached.

ACC would use the money to expand its existing factory in France and fund plans for similar sites in Germany and Italy, the people said. A consortium of commercial banks such as BNP Paribas and state-owned lenders including Bpifrance may support the debt package, they said.

Battery plants are key for Europe’s efforts to set up a local electric-vehicle supply chain to rival Asia’s dominance. Automakers in the region have been trying to secure long-term cell supplies as they retool their factories to make EVs.

Stellantis and Mercedes also are planning to gradually raise their equity stakes in ACC by modifying the shareholdings of the venture’s third backer, TotalEnergies’s Saft, one person said.

Stellantis and ACC declined to comment. Media representatives for Mercedes and TotalEnergies did not immediately respond to requests for comment outside regular business hours.

ACC plans to invest €7 bn in the early stages of its development, according to its website. The company inaugurated its first major plant in May of last year in Douvrin, France, is building a factory in Germany’s Kaiserslautern and has plans to set up a third site in Termoli, Italy.

While development of cell factories in Europe is accelerating, the continent remains dependent on China for supplies. After years of exponential growth, the growth of EVs has slowed in recent months, stoking concerns about the trajectory of the transition.

ACC is going up against other companies including Sweden’s Northvolt, the battery manufacturer co-founded by former Tesla executives that has won contracts with Volkswagen Group and BMW.