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Bill Gates-backed vehicle battery supplier to go public through SPAC deal

A solid-state battery development lab for QuantumScape.

QuantumScape

A battery supplier for electric vehicles backed by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Volkswagen is the newest automotive company to announce plans to go public through a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC.

QuantumScape Corp., a developer of what are known as “solid-state” batteries, on Thursday said it has entered into a definitive agreement to merge with blank check company Kensington Capital Acquisition Corp. to become a publicly traded company in the fourth quarter.

It’s the latest SPAC deal for an automotive company following electric vehicle company Nikola‘s IPO in early June.

The implied value of the combined company, which will list under “QS” on the New York Stock Exchange, is $3.3 billion. QuantumScape is expected to receive more than $1 billion in cash and funding commitments, led by Volkswagen and Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, as part of the transaction.

In 2018, Volkswagen and QuantumScape announced the formation of a manufacturing joint venture to prepare for the mass production of solid-state batteries.

Many believe solid-state batteries are the next best power source for future electric vehicles. Compared to today’s lithium-ion batteries, solid-state batteries charge quicker and have a greater energy density, meaning vehicles can go farther with the same size battery pack. However, the batteries are extremely costly to produce.

Justin Mirro, chairman and CEO of Kensington, said it was the potential for the technology as well as the company’s progress in developing the batteries that attracted him to the company.

“We’ve done a lot of work on the technology,” he said. “This is really a revolutionary step in terms of technology.”

Mirro, who will be a board member of the combined company, said his team evaluated hundreds of companies before determining that QuantumScape was “by far” the best to create long-term shareholder value.

Mirro was an automotive engineer for General Motors and Toyota Motor before becoming an investment banker for 20 years. He formed Kensington Capital Partners in 1999.

Other current investors in QuantumScape with Gates and Volkswagen include German auto supplier Continental,  Chinese automaker SAIC Motor and several venture capitalist firms, according to the company’s website.

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