Shai Agassi's electric car venture Better Place LLC has raised $200 million in its third financing round in the US from a consortium of investors and partners, nearly doubling the company's valuation to $2.25 billion (after money). The launch of the first nationwide electric car networks in Israel and Denmark is just months away. Israel Corporation (TASE: ILCO) invested $50 million in round, which reduced its stake to 26.9-28.6% from 29.43%.
Since it was founded in 2007, Better Place has raised more than $750 million in an economic climate where investors continue to seek a competitive alternative to oil. In the previous financing round in January 2010, the company raised $350 million at a valuation of $1.25 billion.
New investors include General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) and UBS AG (NYSE: SWX: UBI). Existing shareholders, including Israel Corp., HSBC Holding plc (LSE: HSBA; HKSE: 005; NYSE, Paris: HBC), Morgan Stanley Investment Management, VantagePoint Capital Partners, Ofer Holdings Group and Maniv Energy Capital, also joined the round.
Better Place will use the proceeds to expand into Western Europe while it continues to advance the company’s deployment projects in Northern California, Southern China, Japan, Ontario, and Hawaii. The company will launch its initial commercial service in Israel and Denmark early next year and has already announced a series of consumer offerings for electric mobility services that are competitive with gasoline-based cars. Better Place will begin initial commercial service in the second quarter of 2012 in Australia, starting in Canberra.
Better Place founder and CEO Shai Agassi said, "We’ve worked hard over the past four years to engineer and build a technology solution that competes with oil-based transportation. We are entering the next phase of growth for our company where we prove that our solution works, that it’s in demand, and that it scales, as we begin to push into new markets and attract new investors and new partners. I believe that our investors should be applauded for having the vision to finance the future of transportation.”
In Israel, Better Place has seen strong market demand from both fleets and consumers, as over 400 corporations, representing a potential of 80,000 employee cars, have signed letters of intent to begin switching their fleets to Better Place as the cars and the service become available.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 13, 2011
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