Client stories

NatWest and Zenobē agree £241m in “first of its kind” debt structure

Innovating battery storage

Established in 2016, Zenobē is an independent owner/operator of battery storage in the UK with 394 Electric Vehicle buses and 175MW of operational and contracted storage assets. The company is investing in bespoke software to optimise the monitoring, utilisation and dispatch of its batteries. It was the first battery owner to develop software to enter the Fast Response and Reactive Power markets and recently won a contract with National Grid ESO to provide reactive power on the transmission network utilising battery technology – a world first.

Applying the expertise gained through its grid-scale battery operations, combined with its financing capabilities, the company provides fully-funded services to transportation and other customers with the aim of turning their clean energy ambitions into a reality, while reducing costs, increasing flexibility, and improving the resilience of their power supply.

It currently works with all major bus operators in the UK as well as local authority-owned bus companies, helping to meet legally-binding climate change targets while also supporting the drive to improve air quality across the country. By 2025, Zenobē aims to have a fleet of at least 3,000 EV buses, and 1GW of battery storage. 

New funding platform to help service and finance 430 new EV buses

Having worked with NatWest on an innovative contracted receivables funding solution last year (see more information below), Zenobē turned to the NatWest team again to advise on a multi-source debt structure to help accelerate the expansion of the EV fleet sector.

In the role of Debt Advisor, the NatWest team advised on and structured a funding platform with an initial volume of £241 million, which will enable Zenobē to service and finance up to 430 new e-buses in the UK and Ireland.

The structure comprises long-dated term financing, alongside a shorter-term facility provided by six banks, including NatWest. The long-term debt will be used to refinance the existing contracts with Zenobē’s EV fleet customers, while the shorter-term facility will fund capital investment to support e-bus and charging infrastructure provided under service contracts to bus operators. The multi-source debt structure will also enable the company to raise senior debt financing against the service contracts that Zenobē has entered into with bus operator customers.

This transaction followed NatWest’s support for Zenobē in 2021 through a £20 million contracted receivables funding solution, which is secured against the cashflows generated by Zenobē’s contracts with the operators to provide charging infrastructure and managed EV bus services. Combined with Zenobē’s technical expertise, this NatWest funding enables the company to offer end-to-end services to the bus operators including the design, installation, financing and operation of electrical charging infrastructure in the depot, the financing and optional replacement of the battery in the bus and the financing of the non-battery components of the bus.

NatWest funding solution a major step for the whole UK transport sector

Joe Taylor, Head of Infrastructure & Asset Finance at NatWest, said: “We are thrilled that the pioneering funding platform we’ve advised Zenobē on will help speed up the use of electric vehicles and create a more sustainable transport system in the UK. NatWest has set out a clear ambition to play a leading role in helping to address the climate challenge, a key part of which is developing financing structures for innovative businesses that are moving to sustainable energy. We look forward to continuing to work with businesses such as Zenobē to empower them to deliver on their sustainability ambitions.”

Nicholas Beatty, Founder Director, Zenobē Energy, said: “This is an incredibly exciting step for both Zenobē and the transport sector as a whole. This innovative funding structure marks the coming of age of structured finance solutions for fleet electrification, and signifies substantial growth for our business, allowing us to accelerate the rollout of electric buses across the UK. We are delighted to have worked with NatWest to complete this ground-breaking financing of a new asset class for the market. The funds we are able to draw on from our new and existing funding partners through these and future contracts will support Zenobē in our aims to assist our customers to achieve the UK’s vehicle electrification targets.”

The information provided in this article has been prepared by National Westminster Bank Plc (NatWest) for information purposes only and is subject to change from time to time. The information and views expressed should not be treated as advice or a recommendation of any kind. NatWest makes no representation, warranty, undertaking or assurance of any kind (express or implied) with respect to the adequacy, accuracy, completeness, or reasonableness of the information provided and disclaims all liability for any use you, your affiliates, connected companies, employees, or your advisers make of it. NatWest accepts no liability whatsoever for any direct, indirect, or consequential losses (in contract, tort or otherwise) arising from the use of this material or reliance on the information contained herein. However, this shall not restrict, exclude, or limit any duty or liability to any person under any applicable laws or regulations of any jurisdiction which may not be lawfully disclaimed.

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