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11 Jun 2024

Stephenson Harwood advises Hitachi ZeroCarbon Limited (HZC) on investment into its EV business

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Law firm Stephenson Harwood has advised Hitachi ZeroCarbon Limited (HZC) on the investment by Japan's MUFG Bank into HZC's electric bus batteries business, part of its 'Next Gen' EV project.

As a result of the deal, MUFG Bank and HZC will jointly own Hitachi ZeroCarbon Battery Holding Limited (HZCBH). MUFG Bank will invest up to £7.4 million into the project, following HZC's investment in November 2023.

"When we established decarbonisation as an area of strategic focus for our firm, we knew that it was an area in which we have meaningful expertise to share, and which has real opportunities for growth," said Jonathan Cripps, partner, Stephenson Harwood. "Supporting clients like HZC on this ground-breaking work, which has the potential to revolutionise access to electric bus batteries, demonstrates just that, and we were pleased to be able to come alongside them in realising the next chapter in this important project."

This deal follows the underlying 'NextGen' EV project, which saw the purchase and leasing of up to 1,000 electric bus batteries, valued at approximately £100 million – a matter on which Stephenson Harwood also advised last year. The project involved Stephenson Harwood client NextGen AssetCo Limited (AssetCo), a 50:50 joint venture vehicle established by HZC and FirstGroup plc. HZCBH forms part of the AssetCo group. 

The project offers affordable financing for batteries for use in electric buses to its customers through a shared ownership approach, reducing the upfront costs of electrification and allowing fleet owners to benefit from new revenue streams without the responsibility for ongoing management. Further details on this project can be found here.

The Stephenson Harwood projects, energy and infrastructure team was led by partner Jonathan Cripps, with support from managing associate Phil Harris and associate Maneet Sehmi.

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