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Swiss parent of Concord battery maker Alevo may also file for bankruptcy, filings say

This 2016 file photo shows an Alevo production line at its Concord facility.
This 2016 file photo shows an Alevo production line at its Concord facility. rlahser@charlotteobserver.com

Alevo Group SA, the Swiss parent company of the Concord battery maker that filed for bankruptcy protection last month, may pursue a bankruptcy filing of its own, according to court documents.

The company arrived in Cabarrus County in 2014 with great fanfare, vowing to create hundreds of jobs through its revolutionary energy-storage technology, but production and hiring lagged projections. On Aug. 18, Alevo’s two U.S. companies filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and said they would lay off 290 workers in Concord.

According to filings in federal bankruptcy court in the Middle District of North Carolina, Alevo Manufacturing and Alevo USA did not generate enough revenue to support operations and relied on loans from their parent.

“Unfortunately, the key investor that advocated for continuance of the United States operations was unable to bring sufficient new investment in time to avoid the chapter 11 filings,” the filings say. “Alevo Group SA may also be seeking relief under the Swiss bankruptcy process.”

The company wouldn’t provide further details on the investor. Alevo’s highest-profile investor is Russian oligarch Dimitry Rybolovlev, who installed a number of former colleagues as Alevo executives.

In February, the state of North Carolina pledged $2.3 million in tax incentives in return for Alevo creating 200 new jobs, but those incentives were never paid out.

Other filings in the case provide more details on the company’s operations and efforts to liquidate assets:

▪ Alevo is seeking court approval to sell Alevo Analytics, a unit that provides grid and storage usage analysis, to a consulting firm called Enovation Partners for $200,000, according to the filings. Ten employees in that business have already been laid off, but Enovation “intends to hire the majority of the employees interviewed and will be able to keep them in the Charlotte area,” according to the filings. In a response filed Tuesday, a company called Acelerex, founded by the former head of Alevo Analytics Randell Johnson, offered $235,000 for the business.

▪ Alevo has asked certain key employees to stay on board to wind down operations and wants to pay them bonuses equal to 50 percent of their base pay for remaining on board. The bonuses, which need court approval, would cost $115,294, according to the filings.

▪ Alevo had been using 10 to 15 percent of the usable square footage of the 1,600-acre campus it’s been leasing, part of a former Philip Morris cigarette factory. Sulfur dioxide is contained in batteries and storage tanks on the property, and the company must monitor the lethal chemicals 24 hours a day.

Rick Rothacker: 704-358-5170, @rickrothacker

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