Electric car firm Better Place raises $350 mln
FRANKFURT Jan 25 (Reuters) - Better Place, an infrastructure provider for electric cars founded by former SAP (SAPG.DE) executive Shai Agassi, has raised $350 million in fresh equity as part of a second round of financing.
Better Place's concept is for battery-swapping stations to complement a network of charge spots so that electric cars like partner Renault's (RENA.PA) planned Zoe can extend their range without the need of an additional back-up engine that burns fossil fuel. [ID:nLD574217]
Nine investors participated, including HSBC (HSBA.L), Morgan Stanley Investment Management (MS.N) and Lazard Asset Management, the company said in a statement on Monday.
"This is one of the largest investments made yet in the 'clean tech' sector. The value of Better Place is now estimated at $1.25 billion," it said.
HSBC invested $125 million of its own funds in the company, giving it an equity stake of roughly 10 percent in Better Place.
"We are absolutely convinced that the paradigm change from cars with internal combustion engines to electric vehicles offers great possibilities for growth both in the auto industry as well as for utilities," said Stuart Gulliver, HSBC executive director and head of its Global Banking and Markets business.
The company reaffirmed its original target to begin full commercial operations at the end of 2011, when industry partner Renault plans to offer the first car with a replaceable battery.
"Due to our technology our concept and the stable partnership with Renault, we have a lead over all other alternative energy mobility concepts of at least two years," Shai Agassi said in the statement. (Reporting by Christiaan Hetzner; Editing by Greg Mahlich)